I love being boujee. As a former resident of both Seattle and Brooklyn, I spent many years on the cutting edge of style and taste. While Chattanooga may not be as hip as those elite cities, my new home has its own ways of being boujee… like for instance charging upscale prices for what’s basically glorified bar food. Nothing typifies this trend more than the price of a burger on Main Street. Yes, burgers… what was once considered pedestrian pablum has evolved into an epicurean experience for sophisticated diners and thrill-seeking foodies alike. So which Southside dining concept delivers the most expensive — and therefore best — hamburger?
MAIN STREET MEATS
Any discussion of boujee burgers must begin with Main Street Meats. This farm-to-table favorite sets the bar in a number of ways, from its limited selection to the overall price. There’s only one burger on the menu at Main Street Meats (the celebrated “House Burger”) which includes bacon, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese. This means that for purposes of fair comparison, all other burgers in this review must include bacon and cheese as well. Cooked medium rare and served on a warm Niedlov’s bun, this burger offers a singular experience that will cast a long shadow over every burger you eat for the rest of your life. The burger is priced at $10.25, which is even more impressive when you realize it doesn’t include a side or a drink. A side of fries (which are actually chips) will cost an extra five bucks, and a soda will add another $3.75. With tax and a 20% tip, your total will come to a delectable $24.90. But the service is so great, I’m sure you’ll just round up to $25.
Stir gets extra boujee points for offering separate dinner and lunch burgers. But at a paltry 5oz, the lunch burger isn’t a fair comparison. The dinner menu’s burger is twice as big and includes fries and cheese (a rather pedestrian cheddar) for an solid 13.95. Bacon adds only a dollar while a soda will cost you three more. Tax and tip will bring your total to $23.53. That’s not quite as delicious as Main Street Meat’s $25.00 take on the burger combo, but it’s still an impressive achievement nonetheless.
Clyde’s is popular destination for young alcoholics and old alcoholics alike. Their menu includes a bacon cheeseburger priced at $11. A side of fries will cost you another $2.50 and a soda will tack on another $2.75. With tax and tip, you’ll be looking at $21.30. Not bad, Clyde’s! That’s more deliciously priced than I assumed, based on the restaurant’s frat-friendly decor.
The signature Feed burger is made with their proprietary blend of Angus beef. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I know it must be good otherwise they wouldn’t bother pointing it out. The burger’s modest sticker price of $9.50 actually includes fries. Adding bacon and cheese will cost another three bucks, and expect $2.75 for a soda. With tax and tip, your total should be $19.99, falling just one penny short of the twenty dollar threshold I usually associate with a quality meal.
Urban Stack is a delicious reminder that the word “urban” no longer exclusively refers to rap music. This semi-upscale family-friendly burger concept offers lots of dim lighting and a bacon cheeseburger at the low, low price of only $8.00. A side of fries comes in at $3.00, while a soda adds another $2.50. Tax and tip should bring your total to around $17.70.
Other Southside restaurants may offer burgers, but Slick’s specializes them. Select from beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, or veggie options. Each burger can be topped with a truly dazzling array of accoutrements. I can’t think of anywhere else in Chattanooga where you can get a house-made fig chutney burger with balsamic vinegar reduction and a side of truffle fries. But strictly for the purposes of comparison, I went with the 7oz beef burger (oddly, the biggest offering) topped with bacon and cheese for ten bucks. Fries and a soda complete the combo for only three bucks more. Tax and tip brings the total to $17.04, though you could probably justify tipping less since diners place their own orders, refill their own drinks and eat out of tacky plastic baskets.
Nuzzled between Hush and STIR (two cocktail bars at the Chattanooga Choo Choo) is the comparably tiny Backstage Bar (another cocktail bar). At $10, the house burger includes cheese and fries. Bacon can be added for only one dollar more. Menus don’t include a price for sodas and despite the posted hours of operation, they never seem to be open when I try to stop by. So, whatever… I’ll just guess 2 bucks. Tax and tip would bring that total to $17.04, assuming they’re actually still in business.
At only $8.50, Terminal Brewhouse offers one of the most affordably priced burgers on the Southside — if you’re into affordable meals, which I’ve heard some people are. Somewhat unbelievably, that price actually includes a side of fries. Cheese and Bacon can be added for only two dollars more. Even the soda is a curiously low $1.95. With tax and tip, that brings your entire burger experience to only $16.32.
I had never heard of Armando’s before researching this article. In fact, i wasn’t even aware that Main Street continued east of the train tracks that border my neighborhood of Jefferson Heights. Much to my surprise, people actually live and dine on what is literally the other side of the tracks! Armando’s is located along a somewhat questionable stretch of storefronts. The ceilings are low and the floors are not polished concrete. Their menu offers a bacon cheeseburger for the highly suspicious price of only $5.10. However, the chef was unable to answer any basic questions about the farming practices used with the beef, so I wasn’t comfortable eating it. A side of fries is only $1.95 and a soda is only $1.90. That means with tax and a generous tip, you can buy a bacon cheeseburger, fries and soda for only $11.73. Although it’s highly unlikely they expect you to leave a full 20% tip as there’s no traditional table service. I don’t know about you, but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable paying less than $15 for a burger lunch. That said, Armando’s seemed to have many regular customers. It’s great to see all kinds of business flourishing in the new South!