Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

Review by: Michael Stern

Painted screaming purple at the foot of Lookout Mountain, adjacent to the terminal of the incline railway, on the road to Rock City Gardens and Rubyfalls Caverns, Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe attracts a lot of visitors eager to experience all that Chattanooga has to offer. Yes, it is designed to make tourists happy. Yet for all the hullabaloo, it has an undeniable local vibe. Sitting at a picnic table out front, I eavesdropped on conversations of Chattanoogans talking politics, local sports, their kids’ schools, and palaver having nothing to do with a travel itinerary.

The dish I came looking for was Frito pie. When I didn’t see it on the menu, the waitress kindly pointed me to an item billed as Chili Pie. Sure enough, it is a bowl full of chili, cheese, chives, jalapeno chips, and sour cream burying a layer of Fritos. The chips are literally supporting players, softened to salty cornmeal under all those toppings. Texture-wise, it’s monotonous, but it is a winning flavor combo and a satisfying plate of food. I also was advised to eat Purple Daisy banana pudding. I did. It’s not terrible. But gosh, it is gummy; the banana custard part put me in mind of a heat-softened Circus Peanut.

The go-to dish at Purple Daisy is barbecue. A sandwich of pulled pork sandwich is a lively mix of very soft shreds and a few chewy edges, moist enough to not require sauce, but humble enough to welcome a spicy infusion. Meaty, tender ribs come dry-rubbed; sauce is optional.

What To Eat

Frito Pie

BBQ Sandwich

Banana Pudding


Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe Recipes


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