Friday, December 19, 2014 · 4:40 p.m.
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The Urban Spoon balances sweet with savory on the brunch menu, with frequently served chicken and dumplings and MoonPie banana pudding. (Photo: Staff)

There is one meal out of the week that, in recent years, has been rising in the general diner’s mind, and in Chattanooga, the menu is as varied as it is delicious.

Whether it’s the excuse to enjoy an alcoholic beverage before noon or the opportunity to test out restaurants whose dinner prices eliminate them from an average night out or even the time to gather the whole family around one table, brunch is now a trendy staple of weekend plans.  

Chafing dishes at The Urban Spoon are filled with Southern fare. (Photo: Renee Dyson-Merritt)

“It forces us to take time out for ourselves on Sunday. It’s a quiet moment on Sunday to enjoy friendship,” said Greg Filter, chef at The Urban Spoon, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Charla. “I see our lives so busy, running around in circles. Brunch is a good time out to enjoy your friends and family and good food.”

The North Shore lunch joint opens on Sundays for a buffet of Southern fare, the kind of comfort food found on Grandma’s country table after church. There are steaming chafing dishes with egg and vegetable casseroles, grits, pancakes and french toast next to stands of desserts like red velvet cake, coconut cake and MoonPie banana pudding.

Although the individual dishes on the all-you-can-eat buffet can change from week to week, the eggs Benedict dish with homemade hollandaise is a mainstay, as is the live bluegrass music. 

The Urban Spoon does not serve alcohol, but diners are encouraged to bring anything from champagne to a six-pack.

Ashley Krey and Terry Johnson, owners of Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Cafe, noticed the same casual pace when they launched the restaurant's brunch three months ago. 

“Here, it’s a chance for people to unwind a little bit and a time to actually enjoy their food. As someone who worked in a kitchen, I find it hard to sit down to eat my food. I usually stand up and eat,” Krey said. “Whether [diners] come in with their family or their friends, it seems like they are really savoring their food.”

Sluggo's North Vegetarian Cafe serves brunch on Sunday. (Photo: Staff)

The cafe’s brunch stays true to its vegan roots with an omelet made entirely of squash, granola bowls with soy yogurt, greens like the spicy peanut ginger kale salad, and even grits and cheese grits. 

Because the Sunday service is a chance for the owners to get into the kitchen and experiment in new ways, the menu features a weekly waffle and sandwich. This week, a raison pecan waffle and a bourbon barbecue tofu sandwich with Brooklyn-style slaw and garlic aioli are gracing plates and tables.

Another obvious choice for locals and visitors alike is Food Works on the North Shore. Although the Julie Darling Donut breakfast sandwich and the chicken and waffles paired with the endless $1 mimosas are recommendations enough, the wait for those who neglected to make a reservation is just as endless.

This weekend, pencil in plans at The Urban Spoon, Sluggo’s or one of the other Chattanooga options for a relaxed Sunday brunch, including:

Broad Street Grille
Blacksmith's Bistro and Bar
Cafe on the Corner
Chato Brasserie
Easy Bistro
Hair of the Dog

Can’t wait until Sunday? Bluegrass Grill on Main Street and Lillie Mae’s Place in Red Bank serve breakfast into the early afternoon. 

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