Downtown institution stands the test of time
Bars and restaurants come and go; it’s just the nature of the business. What was new yesterday is a memory tomorrow—but once in a great while, a place comes along with the perfect combination of quality, charm and location to grant it some true longevity. Now in its 33rd year of operation, the Pickle Barrel is just such a place; a Chattanooga icon and beloved local institution that’s so much a part of the downtown scene, it’s hard to imagine Market Street without it.
The restaurant is located in what was once the Plaza Hotel, whose foundation was laid in the late 1800s, and therein lies some of its charm. Composed mostly of flagstone and old wood, the Barrel has the look and feel of an Old World pub, from its beautifully polished wooden bar top to the cozy snugness of the point. An iron spiral staircase delivers you to the upstairs bar/roof garden which is THE place to be on a warm summer evening, particularly during the regularly scheduled performances by local musicians.
When it comes to atmosphere and ambience, this place has it in spades, but it takes a quality menu to deliver the full package. Fortunately, the Barrel has that, too. They offer standard pub fare for snacks and appetizers—but their sandwiches and burgers are where the kitchen really shines. Excellent recipes, fresh ingredients (much of which is sourced locally) and generous portions conspire to make their kitchen creations some of the best in town.
Top it all off with a full-service bar and it’s easy to see why the pub has been a favorite watering hole for locals for so long, and with the next generation of Bowers taking the reins (young Benjamin has taken over operations, allowing Nick to enjoy a cocktail or two) there’s no reason to suppose the Barrel won’t be serving up some of the best food, drink and atmosphere that Chattanooga has to offer for another 30 years.