Tennessee: Southern Fried Everything

Having been born and raised in the immediate vicinity, I have eaten at a fair portion of the restaurants in and around Nashville. Thinking back over all of the places I’ve frequented, and what I’ve ordered at each one of them, a theme emerges. I tend to order traditional Southern food. Perhaps I find Southern food comforting. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread and cold milk were readily available my whole childhood.

And this.

Cornbread

I would like some of this.

Fried chicken and cold milk

What comes to mind when thinking about traditional Southern food? Fried chicken? Mashed potatoes? Cornbread? Collard greens? Grits? Here is Wikipedia’s take on Southern food: “A traditional Southern meal is pan-fried chicken, field peas (such as black-eyed peas), greens (such as collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, or poke salad), cornbread or corn pone, mashed potatoes, sweet tea, and a dessert that is usually a pie (sweet potato, chess, shoofly, pecan, and peach are traditional southern pies), or a cobbler (peach, blackberry, or mixed berry are traditional cobblers). At least a dozen soups also have their origins in the American South. Some other foods and beverages commonly associated with the South are grits, hushpuppies, country ham, Southern styles of succotash, mint juleps, chicken fried steak, buttermilk biscuits (may be served with butter, jelly, preserves, honey, gravy or sorghum molasses), pimento cheese, boiled or baked sweet potatoes, pit barbecue (especially ribs), fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, bread pudding, okra (fried, steamed, stewed, sautéed, or pickled), butter beans, pinto beans, and black eyed peas.”

Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies

Grits

Grits

Wikipedia continues, “Fried chicken is among the region’s best-known exports. Pork is an integral part of the cuisine. Virginia ham is one example. Stuffed ham is served in Southern Maryland. A traditional holiday get-together featuring whole hog barbecue is known in Virginia and the Carolinas as a “pig pickin”. Green beans are often flavored with bacon and salt pork, biscuits served with ham often accompany breakfast, and ham with red-eye gravy or country gravy is a common dinner dish. It is not uncommon for a traditional southern meal to consist of only vegetables with no meat dish at all, although meat or meat products are often used in the cooking process. “Beans and Greens,” which consists of either white or brown beans alongside a “mess” of greens has always been popular in most parts of the South. Turnip greens are generally prepared mixed with diced turnips and a piece of fatback. Another Southern staple is “Beans and Cornbread,” consisting of pinto beans, stewed with ham or bacon, and cornbread. This is served sometimes with collard, turnip, or mustard greens.”

Chess Pie

Chess Pie

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Curious about the origins of Southern food, I turned to The Learning Channel, where I came across this brief history of Southern food: “A medley of cultural influences from around the world has helped make Southern food what it is today. At its core, Southern food is rooted in local and imported ingredients, necessity and frugality. It all began in Africa and Scotland — fried chicken that is. The Scots had a tradition of deep-frying chicken in fat. Scottish immigrants came to the South where African slaves had already introduced a tradition of frying food. Over time, deep-frying became a common way of cooking chicken and other food. African ingredients like okra and black-eyed peas became a staple of the Southern diet, in addition to the homegrown green staples of collards, mustard, turnips and kale. Other highly used crops include pecans and peanuts, sweet potatoes and peaches. The region’s lakes, rivers, tidal pools and oceans served up oysters, shrimp, crawfish, crab and Mississippi catfish. Local game included opossum, rabbit and squirrel, the main ingredient of Brunswick Stew, which historians say was popular in Virginia and Georgia. Prior to the Civil War, most southerners were subsistence farmers who lived off the land. Pork and chicken, not cattle, were typically raised. Farmers working outside needed a lot of calories to get through the day, therefore they indulged in big breakfasts and suppers.”

Of the fifteen restaurants, five bakeries/ice cream shops and 2 bars I have listed, the majority serve Southern food. Since an University of Alabama study concluded that people who eat Southern food 6 times per week have a 41% higher chance of having a stroke than people who each it once a month, I would recommend, as I always do, moderation.

Bleacher’s Sports Grill | 1010 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064 +1 (615) 791-4160
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 11 am – 11 pm | Saturday – Sunday, 11 am – Midnight.

Just to the right of the entrance to my childhood neighborhood, this was the closest place to get food when growing up. I always ordered the Mozzarella Sticks, a steal at $5.95. My brother always ordered a Club Sandwich. This may be where my love of fried and cheesy things originates. Though I have tried Mozzarella Sticks the world over, Bleacher’s remain the best. Here is their menu. Also, if it isn’t immediately obvious, there are links to each of the restaurants I have listed in the actual address line of each restaurant.

Bleacher’s website describes itself as follows: “We have been serving up great food in a family oriented atmosphere for over 22 years. You will enjoy signature items from our menu in a smoke free environment as you relax while watching your favorite ballgame or just catching up with friends. We invite you to check out our extensive choice of the finest imported and domestic beers along with our liquor and wine selections. Bleachers Sports Grill is known throughout the Franklin community for great food and excellent service in a relaxing atmosphere.”

There used to be a dartboard right next to the bathroom door. I don’t know if it is still there anymore, but I always thought it seemed like the worst possible place for a dartboard.

A meal for one costs $10 USD.

Bricktops | 3000 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 +1 (615) 298-1000
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm | Friday – Saturday 11 am – 11 pm |Sunday 10:30 am – 10 pm.

Bricktops has the most whacked out salads I have ever had the honor of eyeballing. Look at Mt. Vesuvius-like Cobb Salad I ate there recently, with a substitution of cheddar for blue cheese.

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad at Bricktops

Their Sunday Brunch is famous throughout Nashville. I always get the Cobb Salad, come hell or high water, but the Huevos Rancheros (two over easy eggs, corn tortillas, black beans, chorizo, and salsa) is what the people around me always seem to order.

Here are Bricktops BrunchLunchDinnerDessert and Gluten-Free menus. The glassed-in patio is the best place to sit, both in terms of people watching and natural lighting.

Brunch for one, without wine, costs approximately $20 USD.

Christie Cookies | 4117 Hillsboro Pike #104, Nashville, Tennessee 37215 +1 (615) 297-0274
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 6 pm | Saturday 10:30 am – 6 pm | Closed Sunday.

I first discovered Christie Cookies in high school. Barring cookies made in my own kitchen, these are the best cookies I have tasted in my life, all gooey and full of melted caramel. Although there are also Sandwich Cookies, Brownies, and Gelato on offer, I always stick with the traditional chocolate chip cookies. Here is a link to some of the cookies they offer on their website.

Christie Cookies

Christie Cookies in Green Hills

Christie Cookies website reads: “Inspired by a childhood memory of a neighbor’s homemade cookies, Christie Hauck quit his corporate job, determined to master the “perfect cookie.” His quest involved experimenting with gourmet ingredients from all over the country and frequent taste testing by close friends. In 1983, Christie suddenly outgrew his apartment kitchen with the receipt of his first order, and hence, The Christie Cookie Company was founded. Three retail stores followed shortly thereafter, and Christie often rented a tuxedo and offered free samples to entice customers. Millions of cookies later, The Christie Cookie Company is known for elegant gift packages and unique corporate gifts and continues to thrive in the retail, mail order, and wholesale markets.”

One cookie runs between $1.25 – $2 USD.

Cracker Barrel | 4210 Franklin Commons Court,  Franklin, Tennessee 37067 +1 (615) 794-8195
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 6 am – 10 pm | Friday – Saturday 6 am – 11 pm.

Cracker Barrel is a part of my childhood. I spent many a Sunday afternoon on the front porch of this restaurant, rocking back and forth on the rocking chairs thoughtfully put out for waiting customers. I love their Buttermilk Pancakes. I have never tried anything else on the menu, despite going there at least 30 times in my life.. Cracker Barrel’s gift shop, with its Yankee Candles and homey blankets, is fun to browse. The little peg game on each table in the restaurant, put there to play with while waiting for the food to come out, is fun. Cracker Barrel also has the people watching ever. Some of the people that come in here that seem to have stepped right off the set of The Beverly Hillbillies, while others are exquisitely dressed, with Rolexes sparkling in the sunlight. Here are Cracker Barrel’s Seasonal OfferingBreakfastLunch and DinnerKids, and Dessert Menus.

Check out the rocking chairs on the front porch.

Check out the rocking chairs on the front porch.

Cracker Barrel’s website reads: “Traveling the highways of America, you drive through the places where many folks in this country still live: the small towns. One of them, just off the stretch of I-40 that runs between Nashville and Knoxville in Tennessee, is a place called Lebanon. Now, unless you’re a hunter and collector of antiques, you probably haven’t heard of Lebanon. But that’s okay because folks in Lebanon like it just the way it is: comfortable, friendly, and a great place to come home to. No wonder Dan Evins thought it was just the place to start a business that, as it turns out, would someday become anything but small!

While working in the family gasoline business back in the late 1960s, Dan began thinking of ways to better meet the needs of folks on the road. Back then, the interstate system was still young and goods and services were hard to come by and often not to be trusted. What’s more, with the rise of fast food, the little places that served up some of the real flavor of America seemed to be getting pushed out. Fast food might be a good business idea, Dan thought, but it sure wasn’t such a hot eating idea. Truth is, Dan always saw mealtime as special – a time to catch up with your family, your friends, and your thoughts. Meals weren’t meant to be swallowed down in three bites with a squirt of ketchup. One of Dan’s stories was to tell how, at the beginning of the suppers he remembered from childhood, his mother would let the family know they could start eating by pointing to the wide variety of country vegetables spread out across the table and saying, “Well, there’s the crop.” Dan began to think about all the things that would make him feel comfortable were he far from home. Things like big jars of candy and homemade jellies, pot-bellied stoves, folks who let you take your time. He thought about simple, honest country food, and a store where you could buy someone a gift that was actually worth having. What Dan had in mind was the kind of place he’d been to hundreds of times as a boy. It was a place called the country store, something every small community once had. Out west, they called them trading posts; up north, they were general stores. Where Dan grew up, in Middle Tennessee, they were old country stores, and Dan figured maybe folks traveling on the big new highways might appreciate a clean, comfortable, relaxed place to stop in for a good meal and some shopping that would offer up unique gifts and self-indulgences, many reminiscent of America’s country heritage.

Well, people liked Cracker Barrel and word got around. Pretty soon, folks were waiting in line for turnip greens, biscuits and gravy, and all the other good country cookin’ that Cracker Barrel had to offer. As time marched on, Cracker Barrel grew. Yet even now, the mashed potatoes are scratch-made every day, the made from scratch biscuits come served with real butter, and the unique items in the gift shop offer genuine value. Things are likely to stay this way, too. Call it nostalgia if you want, but the goal isn’t simply to recreate to a time gone by – it’s to preserve it. Because the way we see it, the lifestyle of rural America isn’t about where you live. It’s about how you live.”

Breakfast for one is approximately $20 USD.

Donut Den | 3900 Hillsboro Pike #2, Nashville, Tennessee 37215 +1 (615) 385-1021
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 5 am – Midnight | Saturday – Sunday 6 am – Midnight.

Donut Den is another staple of my childhood. It has the best Cinnamon Twists, Old Fashioned Cake Donuts and Glazed Donut Holes anywhere in the world. I may be biased, I admit. Here is their menu.

Some delicious donuts

Some delicious donuts

Donut Den’s website reads: “Fox’s Donut Den has been serving up the greatest pastries you can sink your teeth into for more than 30 years. Right in the heart of Green Hills in Nashville, Tennessee (next door to Hillsboro High School on Hillsboro Road), this Nashville landmark is a tradition for families, businesspeople looking for a place to meet, and college students cramming for tests. The coffee is fresh and hot and delicious, and the sweet treats are unforgettable!”

One donut runs between $1-2 USD. Don’t take the last Cinnamon Twist before I get there.

Fleming’s | 2525 West End Avenue , Nashville, Tennessee 37203 +1 (615) 342-0131
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 5 pm – 10 pm | Friday – Saturday 4:30 pm – 11 pm | Sunday 4 pm – 9 pm.

I love Fleming’s petit filet mignon. Due to its location on West End Avenue, just down the street from Vanderbilt University, parking can be tricky.

From the outside.

From the outside.

Fleming’s website reads: “A new kind of steakhouse, one with an atmosphere that  is stylish, lively and inviting — an inspired, contemporary evolution of an American classic. From the beginning, Fleming’s has always featured the very finest aged prime beef and fresh seafood with service that is both gracious and indulgent. Our award-winning Fleming’s 100, offering 100 premium wines served by the glass, is an industry benchmark. With a menu featuring Small Plates, generous sides, decadent desserts and an innovative Bar Menu, Fleming’s has raised the standard of steakhouse dining to a whole new level.”

Here are Fleming’s Food and Bar menus and Wine list.

Dinner for one, without wine, costs approximately $40.

F. Scott’s | 2210 Crestmoor Road,  Nashville, Tennessee 37215 +1 (615) 269-5861
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 5:30 pm – 10 pm | Friday – Saturday 5:30 pm – 11 pm | Closed Sunday.

F. Scott’s holds a special place in my heart. As evidenced by the title of my blog, I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. Few things are as delicious as F. Scott’s 4 oz. Tenderloin with Foie Gras butter and its White Truffle Parmesan Pommes Frites. For those wanting to splurge, a bottle of Billecart-Salmon’s Brut Reserve Champagne is $155 USD. Here are the Food, Wine By The Bottle and Wine By The Glass menus.

Inside.

Inside.

F. Scott’s website reads: “F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar features Nashville’s finest contemporary American cuisine in a setting that combines the comfort of a neighborhood restaurant with flair and sophistication. With more than 300 wine selections and a menu that boasts the finest seasonal fare, F. Scott’s is a restaurant for all occasions, all the time. Located in the heart of Green Hills, F. Scott’s presents live jazz six nights a week, and is a smoke-free restaurant.”

Dinner for one, without wine, is approximately $80 USD.

Gigi’s Cupcakes | 1000 Meridian Boulevard, Franklin, Tennessee 37067 +1 (615) 472-1508
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 7 pm | Saturday 10 am – 7 pm | Closed Sunday.

For the decadent swirls of brightly colored buttercream and flavors such as Chocolate Salted Caramel, Kentucky Bourbon Pie and Scarlett’s Red Velvet, Gigi’s has the best cupcakes in Tennessee. Gigi’s website reads: “Each delectable cupcake on today’s menu was lovingly baked and decorated this morning by one of our 84 local Gigi’s bakers. To ensure that we’ve prepared something that fits your fancy, our menu changes every day. So visit us today and find your new favorite!” Here is the weekly menu.

Gigi's cupcakes

Gigi’s cupcakes

One cupcake costs approximately $3.25 USD.

J. Alexander’s | 1721 Galleria Boulevard  Franklin, Tennessee 37067 +1 (615) 771-7779
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm | Friday – Saturday 11 am – 11 pm.

Oh, J. Alexander’s. How many Friday nights of my youth were spent in one of your booths? This restaurant has seen more of me, over the span of my entire lifetime, than any other restaurant in Tennessee.

Very Best Chocolate Cake

Very Best Chocolate Cake

J. Alexander’s website reads: “J. Alexander’s is a contemporary American restaurant, known for its wood-fired cuisine. Our core philosophy is to provide you with the highest possible quality dining experience. The menu features a wide selection of American classics including prime rib of beef, steaks, fresh seafood, sandwiches and entrée salads. The menu in each restaurant includes a varied and rotating selection of features like Seafood Czarina, Tuscan Steak, Grilled Fish with Mango Papaya Salsa and Chicken Milanese. The restaurant has a full-service bar that includes an outstanding selection of wines both by the glass and bottle.”

I always get the Southern Fried Chicken Salad, but even while I am eating it, I am anticipating the Very Best Chocolate Cake, which is one of the best desserts I have ever had. Monstrously huge, thick and gooey, it is big enough to share with up to 3 other people. Here is a link to J. Alexander’s food menu.

Dinner for one, without wine, costs approximately $30 USD.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams| 1892 Eastland Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37206 +1 (615) 262-8611
Opening Hours: Daily, 11 am – 11 pm.

Absinthe and Meringues, Juniper and Lemon Curd, Pistachio and Honey, and Savannah Butternut Mint are just some of the jaw-droppingly delicious ice cream flavors on offer at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Oh, the choices, the choices. Here are Jeni’s SignaturePerennialLimited EditionSorbet, and Frozen Yogurt menus for you to freak out over.

I recently went to Jeni’s for the first time, so I can only recommend what I, and my friend, tried. “You have to try this,” my friend enthused repeatedly, while eating a scoop of Yazoo Sue With Rosemary Bar Nuts ice cream. I was too busy devouring to my Salted Caramel with Smoked Almonds Ice Cream Sandwich to respond. The sandwich part was two golden almond macaroons, while the salted caramel ice cream was pretty much the most perfect thing I have ever tasted . I wanted to escort it directly to a church and marry it.

Seasonal Flavors at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Signature Flavors at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

More flavors at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

More flavors at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Absinthe Meringues Ice Cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Absinthe Meringues Ice Cream at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Jeni’s website reads: “We create ice creams we fall madly in love with, that we want to bathe in, that make us see million-year-old stars. We devour it out of Mason jars, coffee mugs—whatever we can get our hands on. Handmade American ice cream = Bliss with a big B. Every single thing we put in our ice cream is legit. Generic chemist-built ice cream bases and powdered astronaut-friendly gelato mixes? No, ma’am. We build every recipe from the ground up with luscious, Snowville milk and cream from cows that eat grass. With that exquisite base, we explore pure flavor in whatever direction moves us at any moment, every day, all year.”

Yazoo Sue With Rosemary Pine Nuts has rave reviews.

Yazoo Sue With Rosemary Pine Nuts has rave reviews.

Some of the other ce cream sandwiches available.

Some of the other ice cream sandwiches available.

One Salted Caramel with Smoked Almonds Ice Cream Sandwich costs roughly $7 USD.

Loveless Cafe | 8400 Highway 100, Nashville, Tennessee 37221 +1 (615) 646-9700
Opening Hours: Daily, 7 am to 9 pm.

Loveless Cafe is the place in Nashville to go for traditional Southern food. Everything is scrumptious here, which is why one can wait upwards of two hours for a table. The Fried Chicken Salad is what I order, though I can usually only manage a few bites after stuffing my face on the world’s best buttermilk biscuits. Check out the menu to see some of the most popular Southern dishes around.

Loveless Cafe

Loveless Cafe

Fried chicken and biscuits. These tried and true Southern food staples have been a part of Loveless Cafe’s history for more than sixty years. In 1951, Lon and Annie Loveless began serving them right out the front door of their home to travelers who passed by on US Highway 100 in Nashville, Tennessee. Beginning as a party house in the forties, the little white structure that sits next to what is now the Natchez Trace had one of the largest hardwood living room floors around – perfect for dancing the night away. Weary travelers found comfort and refuge in the cozy home and in the food the owners served. As the tiny house became a planned stop for treks along Highway 100, the then private home became known as the Loveless Motel and Cafe. Lon Loveless built and ran the property’s 14 motel rooms while hungry crowds were drawn to Annie’s homemade preserves and scratch-made-biscuits – a secret recipe that remains unchanged to this day.

Outside Loveless Cafe

Outside The Loveless Country Market

Despite cultural changes that dot the timeline over the years, the Loveless Cafe remains true to what started it all in 1951: Serving true southern comfort food, encompassing a time when people ate what was indigenous to where they lived. Before the “super highways,” the rural South was a remote area with back roads leading to treasures known only to those who ventured down them. For years the Loveless was one of those treasures, located just yards from the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, one of America’s oldest roads that extends south from Central Tennessee 444 miles to Natchez, Mississippi. The Loveless Cafe represents a treasure trove of memories “out Highway 100” and the generations of families who regularly return to relive those memories. Take the Oliphant family, for instance, who has eaten Easter Sunday breakfast at the Loveless Cafe every Easter for the past 49 years – now, that’s a family tradition!

That sounds about right.

That sounds about right.

The best buttermilk biscuits I have ever had.

The best buttermilk biscuits I have ever had.

Today the Loveless Cafe serves more than 450,000 guests a year and makes between 4,000 to 7,000 biscuits a day — still using that same secret recipe from Annie Loveless all those years ago. If only Lon and Annie could see today what their little cafe has become. As Donna McCabe, another long-time owner of the Loveless said, “People just like real food.” The Loveless Cafe will always be a place where real people are welcome to come enjoy real Southern food!”

Lunch for one runs approximately $15 USD.

Mère Bulles | 5201 Maryland Way, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027  +1 (615) 467-1945
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 11 am – 9:30 pm | Saturday 4 pm – 9:30 pm | Sunday Brunch 10 am – 2 pm | Sunday Dinner 5 pm – 8:30 pm.

I first stepped foot in Mere Bulles last December, which is ridiculous for someone that lived in close proximity for it the majority of their childhood. Yes, I always knew it was there, regally keeping watching over Maryland Way, but I never took the time to check it out. When I finally succumbed, I could have kicked myself for waiting so long. I could have been eating Charleston She-Crab Bisque for years. Well, better late than never, right? Mere Bulles is currently my favorite place to eat when I am in Tennessee. On my most recent trip, I ate at Mere Bulles 3 times in 2 weeks. Here are the Lunch, Dinner, Patio and Weekend menus and Wine list for you to drool over.

Lovely Southern architecture at Mere Bulles.

Lovely Southern architecture at Mere Bulles.

Besides sitting inside, there is both balcony and patio seating available.

For those that don’t want to sit inside, there is both balcony and patio seating available.

Patio seating at Mere Bulles.

Patio seating at Mere Bulles.

Mere Bulles website reads: “At Mère Bulles we strive to recreate the atmosphere of the Charleston plantation home that French-born Civil War widow, Michele Rutledge, lived in after the Civil War. The War left the Rutledge family land rich and cash poor. Ever the survivor, Michele opened a small restaurant in 1866 on Charleston’s fashionable King Street in a building left to her by her husband. The family was scandalized because no Rutledge woman they had ever known had run her own business. The restaurant was an immediate success and wound up being one of the more popular in the city. She ran the front of the house as Charleston’s favorite hostess, but she also had complete control over the kitchen, which served dishes either created by or approved by her. After a few years, any negative feelings the family had toward Michele’s decision turned to admiration, and in later years she became its matriarch. One thing Michele loved throughout her life was champagne. She was known to have as many as a dozen toasts during an evening at her restaurant, and the bubbly was never far from her stove when she was cooking. Her love of champagne earned her the nickname Mother Bubbles, which in French is translated as Mère Bulles.”

Fried artichokes

Fried artichokes

Charleston She-Crab Bisque

Charleston She-Crab Bisque

I always order the same things at Mere Bulles: Fried Artichokes as an appetizer and a bowl of Charleston She-Crab Bisque as my main course. All of the bottles of wine on their wine list are permanently 50% off, which is a great little marketing ploy. My only criticism is that they do not know the correct temperature to serve Pinot Noir at (58-63 degrees Fahrenheit). Room temperature Pinot Noir is simply sad. I love everything else about the restaurant though.

Dinner for one, with a moderately-priced bottle of wine, costs approximately $50 USD.

Morton’s | 618 Church Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37219 +1 (615) 259-4558
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 4:45 pm to 11 pm | Sunday 4:45 pm – 10 pm.

Morton’s is known as one of the finest restaurants in Nashville, and one of only a handful of place to go for a really good cut of meat. I’ve eaten the Filet Mignon, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake. All three dishes were technically perfect. This is a great place to impress a date by throwing down mad cash.

Morton’s has gone a bit menu crazy. Get comfortable before checking them all out: Lunch, Dinner, Bar, Gluten Sensitive Lunch, Gluten Sensitive Dinner, Soy Sensitive Lunch, and Soy Sensitive Dinner. Don’t forget the Cocktail and Wine lists!

A nice piece of meat.

A nice piece of meat.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake

Morton’s website reads: “Morton’s The Steakhouse is conveniently located downtown, only blocks from some of the city’s finest attractions.  With Bridgestone Arena and LP field in close proximity, Bar 12.21 is the perfect location for pre-game and post-game dinner or Bar Bites and cocktails.  Also within walking distance of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Ryman Auditorium, Schermerhorn  Symphony Center, and a string of infamous live music venues – it is ideal for an early or late dinner to accompany a big performance!  With three private boardrooms, a spacious dining room and Bar 12.21, the restaurant is equipped for any occasion – from upscale private functions to post-work cocktails and special occasion dinners. Morton’s features an extensive wine collection, prime-aged beef, succulent seafood, signature steakhouse sides and elegant desserts – all available during dinner service.”

Dinner for two, with a moderately-priced bottle of wine, costs approximately $200 USD. Dress up.

Nero’s Grill | 2122 Hillsboro Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37215 +1 (615) 297-7777
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 am – 9 pm | Friday  11 am to 10 pm | Saturday 4 pm till 10 pm | Sunday 11 am till 2 pm.

Nero’s has great Cobb Salad and Heath Bar Crunch Pie. Here are the Lunch and Dinner menus.

Nero's Grill

Nero’s Grill

Nero’s website reads: “Nero’s Grill boasts a modern twist on tradition. The menu offers classic American comfort foods featuring delicious signature dishes. True to Nashville, the Bar and Lounge promotes live music several nights of the week.”

Dinner for one, without wine, costs approximately $40 USD.

O’Charley’s | 1202 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin, Tennessee 37064 +1 (615) 794-9438
Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am to 11 pm.

This is one of the restaurants I frequented most as a child. I love O’Charley’s. Besides the insanely good rolls that come at the beginning of every meal, I always look forward to eating the Southern Fried Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing and a slice of Caramel Pie. When I was last home, I ate here 6 times in 12 days. This is a great place to come with family. Here is the menu.

O’Charley’s website reads: “At O’Charley’s, it starts with those incredible, unsliceably soft rolls that our guests just can’t resist. Then follow up with our butcher’s cut Premium steaks, fresh-never-frozen salmon, signature salads, inspired pasta dishes, double hand-breaded chicken tenders, Sunday Brunch and more. All served up with our genuine hospitality. At O’Charley’s we put the Oh’s in good food.”

Southern Fried Chicken Salad

Southern Fried Chicken Salad

Lunch for one, without wine, costs approximately $20 USD. I’m jealous of you if you go.

Puffy Muffin | 229 Franklin Road, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027 +1 (615) 373-2741
Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am to 11 pm.

If I am meeting up with a group of friends, Puffy Muffin is always my suggestion. The wait can be brutal but the menu is full of tasty, simple Southern dishes. I always order a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. After finishing lunch, I meander over to the bakery and sometimes pick up a cookie or a brownie. The words that come to mind when I think about Puffy Muffin’s bakery are: spoilt for choice. Here are the BreakfastLunch and Bakery menus.

Puffy Muffin

Puffy Muffin

Puffy Muffin’s website reads: “Like your Mother used to make – or better is our goal! We use the highest quality ingredients in our baking – imported Guittard Chocolate®, Wholesome Farms® dairy products as well as Clabber Girl®, Pillsbury®, Richs®, and Gold Medal® ingredients delivered fresh daily. An Austrian Pastry Chef is on staff to oversee the production of all our wonderful creations.”

Lunch for one costs approximately $10 USD. Don’t forget to order some Sweet Tea.

Rosepepper Cantina | 1907 Eastland Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37206 +1 (615) 227-4777
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, Lunch: 11 am – 2 pm | Dinner: 2 pm – 9:30 pm | Friday to Saturday 11 am – 10:30 pm | Sunday 11 am – 9 pm.

Rosepepper is the only reason I know East Nashville. When I am in town, I come here for lunch with friends. The Carne Asada Burrito is as big as my arm, and impossible to finish, but quite tasty.

I love the colorful decor.

I love the colorful decor.

Inside of Rosepepper.

The view from where I was sitting.

Rosepepper’s website reads: “Specializing in Sonora Style Mexican cuisine, Rosepepper offers an eclectic menu only to be matched by its equally unique vibe and atmosphere. With its full bar and over seventy varieties of tequila, it is the ideal jumpstart for a night on the town or a festive dinner among friends. Rosepepper Cantina mirrors the food of the Mexican state of Sonora – a fusion of traditional Mexican, french and native influences. the food is as diverse and creative as the environment, with options ranging from Chile Verde to Cabo Tacos and Carne Asada. These flavorful selections are accompanied by one of the most extensive tequila lists in town. Our well-trained, knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you pick the right spirit to compliment you meal. Located on the corner of Chapel and Eastland Avenues, we are just a few minutes from Five Points. In addition our dining area, we have a large outdoor patio adorned with lights and colorful works of art. Rosepepper is more than authentic food and award winning margaritas; it is also an experience. We invite you to indulge your senses in bold Mexican flavors, vigbant colors and spirited fun. Rosepepper strives to capture the soul of Old Mexico in the New Heart of Nashville.”

Delish.

Carne Asada Burrito.

Here is the menu and drinks list.

Lunch for one, without any alcohol, costs approximately $15 USD.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse | 2100 West End Avenue,  Nashville, Tennessee 37203 +1 (615) 320-0163
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 5 pm – 10 pm | Saturday 5 pm – 10:30 pm | Sunday 5 pm – 9 pm.

Ruth's Chris

Ruth’s Chris

Don't you want a piece of this?

Temptation.

Here is the menu and the wine list.

Ruth’s Chris’s website reads: “Ruth’s Chris Steak House was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by Ruth Fertel, a single mother of two who wanted a better life for herself and her two sons. She purchased “Chris” steakhouse in New Orleans which had been operated for the 38 years prior. She changed the name to Ruth’s Chris when a fire forced her to move from the original location.”

Dinner for two, with a nice bottle of wine, will set you back at least $500 USD.

The Palm | 140 5th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 +1 (615) 742-7256
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 am – 11 pm | Saturday 5 pm – 10 pm | Sunday 5 pm – 10 pm.

The Palm is yet another great place in Nashville to go for steak. I always order the 9 ounce Filet Mignon.

The Palm

The Palm

A nice place for dinner

Notice the wall

Here are the Business Lunch, Lunch, Dinner and Prime Bites menus, as well as the Wine and Cocktails List.

The Palm’s website reads: “When you start with the best ingredients available, you don’t need to rely on overly elaborate recipes or culinary fads. That’s why The Palm Restaurant’s menu features honest, satisfying dishes that reflect the best of our Italian-American heritage – from prime aged steaks and jumbo Nova Scotia lobsters to Italian classics like Chicken Parmigiana and Veal Martini.”

Some of the local celebrities who have visited The Palm.

Some of the local celebrities who have visited The Palm.

Dinner for one, without wine, costs approximately $75 USD. Dress up.

Sweet Cece’s | 500 West Main Street, Franklin, Tennessee 37064 +1 (615) 807-1412
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, 11 am – 9 pm | Friday to Saturday 11 am – 11 pm | Sunday Noon – 5 pm.

Once TCBY petered out in Franklin, Brentwood and Nashville, I was left with a dilemma. Where could I go for yogurt as good as TCBY’s? Then, Sweet Cece’s opened. Problem. Solved. What I love about Sweet Cece’s, besides the fact that it has frozen yogurt, is that you make your own sundae. All of the toppings are neatly lined up, waiting to be pillaged. You can have a demure 300 calorie dessert or blow it out of the water with a 3000 dessert, the choice is yours. The final price is based on the weight of your creation. Children love this place. Here are the flavor and toppings menus.

Yummers.

Yummers.

Sweet Cece's is quite popular.

Sweet Cece’s is quite popular.

Sweet Cece’s website reads: “If you’ve been inside a Sweet CeCe’s before, you get it. The friendly atmosphere. The sweet smells. The mouth-watering choices. It’s a place to celebrate the big things and the little ones. A place to go to “just because.” Sweet CeCe’s is more than just a yogurt shop, it’s an experience. With a nearly endless array of combinations of frozen yogurt and toppings, Sweet CeCe’s offers an experience that is new every time. Featuring staples like Original Tart and Country Vanilla to crowd-pleasers like Cake Batter and Pomegranate Raspberry Sorbet, there is always something delicious to try.”

One cup of yogurt, with toppings, costs approximately $7 USD.

Taziki’s | 2190 Bandywood Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37215 +1 (615) 873-1027
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11 am – 9 pm | Sunday, 11 am – 8 pm.

I only discovered Taziki’s a few weeks ago, but I’ve been twice since then. I only go on Wednesdays, because the only thing I have tried is the Wednesday Special, SpanaKopita, and I have no desire to try anything else. Taziki’s location is perfect for meeting up with friends for lunch.

Here is the menu.

I love the Wednesday Special.

I love you, Wednesday Special.

The Wednesday Special.

SpanaKopita

Lunch for one is approximately $15 USD.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge | 422 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 +1 (615) 726-0463
Opening Hours: Daily, 9 am to 2 am.

For a touristy place, lots of locals come to Tootsie’s. The history is incredible, the drinks aren’t bad, and it is a fun place to kill a bit of time on a Friday night.

Tootsie's

Tootsie’s

Tootsie’s website reads: ‘Mom’s was the original name of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Tootsie Bess bought Mom’s in 1960. She credits a painter with naming Tootsie’s. She came in one day to find that he had painted her place orchid…thus the name Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. She was a singer / comedienne with “Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys”. Jeff Bess was the bandleader and Tootsie’s husband. She recorded, “My Little Red Wagon” and “Tootsie’s Wall of Fame” Records recorded about Tootsie’s include “The Wettest Shoulders in Town” and “What’s Tootsies Gonna Do When They Tear the Ryman Down?” Charlie Pride gave her the jeweled hatpin that she used to stick unruly patrons. It is rumored that Roger Miller wrote “Dang Me” in Tootsies. Famous early customers were Kris Kristofferson, Faron Young, Willie Nelson, Tom T. Hall, Hank Cochran, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Webb Pierce, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline and many more. Movies filmed at Tootsie’s include “W.W. & the Dixie Dance Kings” starring Bert Reynolds, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” about Loretta Lynn and starring Sissy Spacek, and “The Nashville Rebel” starring Tex Ritter, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Loretta Lynn, The Wilburn Brothers, and Waylon Jennings.

A segment of the Dean Martin summer show was filmed at Tootsie’s. TNN (The Nashville Network) did a 30-minute show about Tootsie’s, produced by Gus Barba. Esquire and Penthouse magazines did articles about Tootsie’s. Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsie’s. The photo and memorabilia lined walls are called the “Wall of Fame”. Tootsie was known to slip $5s and $10s into the pockets of luckless writers and pickers. It was said that she had a cigar box behind the counter full of IOU’s from where she had given drinks and food to hungry pickers and writers. Supposedly, at each years end, a bunch of Opry Performers would take all the IOUs and pay Tootsie so she wouldn’t lose the money. At her funeral were Tom T. Hall, Roy Acuff and Faron Young. She was buried in an orchid gown, with an orchid placed in the orchid-colored casket, so she could take her favorite flower with her to heaven. Connie Smith sang some of Tootsie’s favorite hymns at the funeral.”

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

One drink will set you back about $10 USD. It is worth it, if only so that you can tell people you’ve been to Tootsie’s.

The restaurants I have listed in this blog are my favorite in Nashville, but there are others out there, waiting, undiscovered. Find a place with fried chicken served just the way you like it. Become a mashed potato connoisseur. Listen to a group of men playing Mandolins on a Sunday afternoon, while you sigh over the exquisite decadence of yet another, unavoidable, buttermilk biscuit. The beauty of being in Tennessee is that Southern Fried Everything is all around you.

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Comments

  1. Rebecca, So glad that you are doing this! I am a fan!

  2. All this food looks amazing! I have family in Tennessee so I’ll have to check some of these places out if and when I ever go visit them! I did, however, have the pleasure of stumbling upon all this yummy food at midnight…now I want to eat!

  3. Ciao! Vorrei solo dire un grazie enorme per le informazioni che avete condiviso in questo blog! Di sicuro continuero’ a seguirvi|

  4. This really is a great blog, will you be interested in doing an interview regarding how you created it? If so e-mail me!

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