Lowbrow is the New Highbrow Casual Eateries are Nashville’s Fine Dining
Nashville locals understand that dining doesn’t have to be fancy to be fine. From the classic “meat and three,” to the city’s very own Hot Chicken, these casual restaurants suit the city’s signature combination of laid back style and high culinary standards.
Meat and Three
Invite someone from outside Nashville to a “meat and three” restaurant, and they’ll have no idea what they’re getting into: cafeteria style meals where the customer chooses their meat and three side dishes.
During peak hours, there can be a line out the door at Arnold’s Country Kitchen, but it’s worth every minute spent waiting. Hot and fresh rolls, spectacular greens and perfect sweet iced tea are some of the highpoints—but what about the meat? Well, that’s on point, too. Favorites include roast beef, country fried steak and, of course, fried chicken. Make sure to try the fried green tomatoes, and don’t you dare skip dessert. http://www.arnoldscountrykitchen.com/, 605 8th Avenue South, 615-256-4455.
Speaking of dessert, the Nashville Biscuit House makes delectable desserts in-house every day. As for the rest of your meal, among familiar offerings like catfish, coleslaw and fried okra, you’ll have the chance to savor the kind of classic southern dishes you almost never find in restaurants, including yummy carrot raisin salad. Sit down inside and relax while you enjoy the food, or hit the drive-through if you’re in a hurry. http://www.nashvillebiscuithouse.com/, 805 Gallatin Ave, 615-228-4504.
Hot, Hot Chicken
So spectacular there’s even an annual festival in its name, Hot Chicken is a local specialty that cannot be missed.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is sure to be found on any Best of Nashville list—which is no surprise considering this is where Hot Chicken was born. Legend has it that back in the Great Depression, Thorton Prince was caught stepping out on his steady girl, and instead of calling him out on his tomcat ways, she cooked him some revenge fried chicken with enough spicy heat to make him miserable. Unfortunately for her, Prince fell madly in love with her creation and asked for seconds. After he perfected the recipe, he opened his now famous restaurant. The chicken is fantastic, but be prepared for a long wait. http://princeshotchicken.com/, 123 Ewing Dr, 615-226-9442.
Another contender for Best in Nashville is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. You can choose light or dark meat, and as for spice, you’ve got four choices: Southern (not at all spicy), Mild or Medium, Hot, and Damn Hot—and yes, that’s how it’s listed on the menu. There are two Nashville locations (and one in Alabama), and the service is good at all of them. However, you’ll likely have to wait in line. On the plus side, if you plan ahead, you can order takeout online and have your food ready as soon as you walk in the door. http://hattieb.com/, 112 19th Ave S, 615-678-4794, and 5209 Charlotte Ave., 615-712-7137.
West Tennessee’s legendary whole-hog BBQ tradition is the cornerstone of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. The restaurants have been featured on the Food Network, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, and The Today Show and in publications such as Bon Appetit, Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler, and Men’s Journal. http://www.martinsbbqjoint.com, 410 4th Ave South, 615.288.0880 and 3108 Belmont Blvd. 37212, 615.200.1181
Edley’s BBQ is a deeply satisfying combination of barbeque and meat and three. Like Jack’s, Edley’s now has multiple locations (three local and one in Lexington, Kentucky); unlike Jack’s, Edley’s specializes by cultivating delectable family recipes—the kind your great-aunt would guard with her life. In addition to slow, white oak smoked meat, the pleasures here include homemade pimento cheese, Brunswick stew, banana pudding and the best fried pickles in town. The distinctive mason jar cocktails are a refreshing treat, especially the seasonal Spiked Watermelon. http://www.edleysbbq.com/, 908 Main St, 615-873-4085, 2706 12th Ave S, 615-953-2951, and 4500 Murphy Rd, 615-942-7499.
Contemporary Nashville has a number of less traditional, but equally delicious, restaurant options. Puckett’s roots stretch way back to the ‘50s and a little grocery store in the village of Leiper’s Fork, Tenn. Ever since then, they’ve been focused on providing friends new and old with great food and Southern hospitality. Puckett’s has built a name on hosting live, local musical acts and serving Southern staples. Authentic comfort food - classics like the meat-and-three and our famous slow-smoked BBQ - in a laid-back and down-home atmosphere. https://puckettsgro.com/nashville/, 500 Church St Nashville, 615-770-2772.
For Latin and Mediterranean food with “a strong Southern backbone,” head over to Fido, which is part upscale coffee shop and part casual restaurant. Dedicated to cooking locally sourced food, Fido offers a charming mix of the organic, the exotic and the down-home-comforting. For breakfast, try the sweet potato French toast, and for lunch or dinner, try the Eden salad, filled with mesclun, apples, sun-dried figs, strawberries, parmesan crisps, candied walnuts, feta and caramel-champagne vinaigrette. You can get it topped with veggie burger, grilled chicken, flank steak or grilled salmon. The green chile mac and cheese is another winner. http://www.bongojava.com/fido-cafe/, 1812 21st Ave S, 615-777-3436.
Mas Tacos Por Favor is a cash-only, hole-in-the-wall that has, many would argue, the best Mexican food in the city. It started out as a food truck, and now has a permanent location in East Nashville. The vibe is no-frills, the clientele is eclectic, and the food is superb. The pulled pork tacos are a highlight, as are the fried tilapia tacos and the chicken tortilla soup. The sides are excellent as well; try the fried plantains and the elotes, spicy grilled corn on the cob topped lime juice and cotija cheese. Vegan and vegetarian options are available, such as the potato, quinoa and corn tacos. The fresh strawberry margarita is nothing short of a dream come true. https://twitter.com/mastacos, 732 McFerrin Ave, 615-543-6271.