South Pittsburg, Tennessee is only about a 2-hour drive from Hartselle, AL and is an easy destination to reach via Highway 72 East. Coming from other directions, you can find it just to the west of Chattanooga. If you have time, I’d like to suggest 3 reasons why you might want to make a special stop.
Any good cook worth her apron knows and loves her black skillets, especially when it’s time to make cornbread. We’ve been carefully taught not to put them in the dishwasher or any kind of soapy water, for that matter, but instead to keep them well-seasoned. If you’re lucky, you have cast iron pieces in all sizes and are still healthy enough to wrestle these heavy pans. They are not for those who only pass through the kitchen to microwave a frozen dinner. 🙂
South Pittsburg is the headquarters for Lodge manufacturing and has been in business since 1896. Yes, you can order pieces of Lodge Cast Iron online, but the beauty of the factory store in South Pittsburg is 1) you get to see and feel many products other than the basics, 2) you can ask the knowledgeable clerks all kinds of questions about their use, 3) you can find factory seconds that are slightly blemished but cook the very same way and are priced lower, and 4) you can see the other temptations lurking on the shelves. In my case, I found a couple of grill pans for my gas cooktop, special tools, popcorn oil and Mexican vanilla, just in time for holiday baking.
The South Pittsburg store is only a block off of Hwy. 72 at 220 East 3rd Street, and it is open Monday-Saturday from 8:00-6:00 and on Sunday from 9:00 to 5:00.
After browsing all of the cookware at Lodge, you’ll work up an appetite. Keep going straight up the East 3rd Street, and you’ll see Stevarino’s on the corner. Find a parking place on the street in front or alongside. Stevarino’s is closed on Sundays but open for lunch and dinner the other 6 days a week.
Be sure to start your meal with an order of Beach Bread. According to the owner, he first tried a similar concoction when he was at the beach and decided to make his own version when he got back home. A fresh baguette is sliced open and stuffed with bleu cheese, fresh tomatoes and bacon, then covered with mozzarella cheese, toasted and served with marinara sauce. So, so good.
Steve and I also shared their Mediterranean chicken with green beans and pasta. It was very satisfying. Beware that the pepperoncini peppers have quite a kick. 🙂
Don’t worry. There are plenty of pizza, pasta dishes and other choices on the menu.
The atmosphere was relaxed, and the service was attentive. You could make your grocery list while you wait, if you want, since crayons are provided to use with the white butcher paper covering the tables.
It made sense that Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia were represented in the wall decor. After all, South Pittsburg sits right where those three states converge. However, when I mentioned to the server that I kept looking for some sign of Auburn, he said, “You won’t get much love for Auburn in South Pittsburg. You’ll have to drive back into Alabama for that.” Oh well. At least, he was honest. 🙂
Just a few miles west of South Pittsburg, look for signs pointing to Russell Cave National Monument. If you’re not in a hurry, this detour is well worth your time. Russell Cave is not a place you walk THROUGH, instead you walk TO it. It is actually an archaeological site where more than 100,000 Native American artifacts were excavated, representing four separate culture time period. Interesting displays are in the welcome center, and a 7-minute film can be shown if you have time.
The walk to the cave opening was my favorite part. Exquisitely peaceful, an easy trail, and nature galore.
There is no admission charge. Always a plus.
So now you have my suggestions if you decide to make a day trip to South Pittsburg. Have fun!