Nashville loves its comfort food, and it doesn't matter if its 90 and humid or 30 and snowy. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and hearty mac-and-cheese are always appropriate options for lunch, and dinner if you can get it. Of course, many of our favorite homestyle restaurants are only open during the day, so lunch is usually when we get our fill of local favorites. Arnold's Country Kitchen is one such lunch spot, and as a James Beard Foundation America's Classics Award winner, a must-eat spot in town. Grab a tray, get in line, and pick your favorites from fried catfish and brisket to bacon-y green beans. All it takes to get to Loveless Cafe is a bit of a drive and a craving for their world-famous biscuits. Monell's has locations all over the city, which makes it easy to get a plate of their food no matter if you are in Germantown or Gallatin. From Puckett's and their perfect fried green tomato BLTs and delicious pies, to Rotier's and their rich hashbrown casserole, you could eat at a comforting new place every day of the month and never be at the same table twice.
Copper Kettle Green Hills
Sunday brunch is a bountiful buffet but they are known for their delicious omelets made to order and mimosas. They also have a carving station, smoked salmon, biscuits and gravy, and fresh fruits and pastries. During the week, they offer a variety of European-inspired sandwiches, wraps salads, and meat and threes. Two locations are available, (downtown and Green Hills). Note: they are not open on Saturdays. Diners near their SoBro location have the benefit of cashing in on their limited scooter-delivered lunch service. And with brunch limited to just one day a week, expect long lines after church lets out. (615-383-7242)
Puckett's in Leiper's Fork is not an artificial cafeteria for tourists, but an institution. Founded by the Puckett family in the 1950s, it served as a country store to several communities in Williamson County. From fresh groceries and a good southern meal, to a tank of gas and a place to catch up with friends, Puckett's became a staple in the community. The store and restaurant feels like home, with cheerful staff members and killer live music. These aren't your average bands - these are top notch performers. The experience, combined with mouthwatering barbecue and southern dishes. Try Mojo, with cole slaw, BBQ pulled pork, baked beans, pickles and a drizzle of barbecue ranch sauce. ((615) 794-1308)
Located in the back of a liquor store, this meat and three features breakfast all day, homemade desserts like strawberry shortcake and blackberry cobbler, and true Southern decor. Fresh turnip greens, excellent sandwiches, and an array of traditional veggies keep locals coming back for more. The menu rotates daily of course, and without Sylvan Park serving similar fare down the street, it is a true Nashville institution with staying power. Perhaps the macaroni and cheese has something to do with it. For fast, friendly service with a side of hush puppies, Wendell Smith's more than delivers. (615-383-7114)
Lines still form right before doors open at Kleer-Vu, one of the few spots where you can find honest-to-goodness soul food, including chitterlings and pig's feet. Roots author Alex Haley once said he's prefer a meal at Kleer-Vu over the five-star Maxim's in Paris. "This right here takes you back home," he said. That is, if your home included their famous hot water cornbread and homemade chess pie. Line up to get your food cafeteria style - complete with authentic lunch trays - and choose from the daily options, which could include incredible fried chicken, catfish, spaghetti, okra, greens and more southern staples. (615-896-0520)
Located on trendy Elliston Place, Rotier's is Nashville's number one spot for an unbeatable burger and fries. John and Evelyn Rotier started the restaurant after WWII in 1945, and the building was originally a carriage house for the Elliston mansion. What started as a beer joint with cheeseburgers and pinball machines later evolved into a full-scale restaurant soon after gambling became illegal in Tennessee. Since then, the restaurant has been a favorite for decades with its charming decor and surprisingly delicious fares. It's the perfect locale for a cheeseburger in paradise, and an old-fashion milkshake. Beyond burgers, you'll be hard-pressed to find better hashbrown casserole, barbecue and rolls in the city. (615-327-9892)
Swett's began as a tavern in 1920, but turned to the meat-and-three scene in 1954. The family-owned business is proud of the diversity of its clientele. Recipes at Swett's are never written down, ensuring a different experience every time you visit. The cooks put their heart and soul into this food, and the popularity of their dishes attest to the care and attention paid to the items. A second location at the Nashville Airport serves as a delicious way to be welcomes to the city, as well as a tasty sendoff for those leaving the land of meat and threes for a while. (615-329-4418)
The Nashville Biscuit House
After two years in business, The Nashville Biscuit House has found a big base of East Side love thanks to their commitment to consistently serving up solid breakfast dishes and tasty meat-and-three options for lunch. They're only open until mid-afternoon and serve breakfast the entire time, so you know there has to be some winners on the menu. In the morning, try the classic Nashvillian with two eggs, bacon or sausage, grits or homefries, and toast or a biscuit. Sugar-lovers will gravitate to the pancakes or French toast and the brave can opt for the Ultimate Platter. Filled with their famous biscuits and layered with gravy, ham, bacon, cheese, four eggs and then covered in sausage gravy, the is a perfect post-drinking or pre-nap meal. Maybe both. ((615) 228-4504)
Monell's Dining and Catering
Monell's occupies an historic Victorian house in Germantown. Dining is communal, and long wooden tables and an all-you-eat menu (choices of entree, vegetables, breads, and desserts) set the scene. Simply ask fellow diners to pass around the family-style dishes and you'll have all you'll need while the attentive staff refills dishes chicken, green beans, cheese grits, cornbread, biscuits, pork chops or pot roast as it comes by, so don't even try. With multiple locations including Gallatin, the Cafe Monell's offers takeout meals seven days a week so you never have to go too long without. (615-248-4747, 615-726-4938)
Arnold's Country Kitchen
On the red walls of this meat 'n three are signed portraits of famous Nashvillians who frequent the place, including the Dixie Chicks and local sports columnist Joe Biddle. Meats include fried chicken, pork chops, fish, and beef; sides include macaroni and cheese, fried okra, and turnip greens. Make friends with your fellow diners, because you'll be sitting with them family-style.Their mac and cheese and fried green tomatoes set a new standard and roast beef is a cut above the rest. Rounding out the "sides" menu are mash potatoes, turnip greens, corn bread, and creamed corn. Be aware that Arnold's closes by 2:30 pm so get there early and grab a tray. (615-256-4455)
Nashvillians absolutely love Loveless Cafe. It's the perfect spot for a heavenly, home-cooked breakfast or dinner. Known for their Southern specialties made from scratch, including fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, pit-cooked pork, southern-fried catfish and pork chops, Loveless has been satisfying patrons for decades. If you're craving breakfast, any time of day, they serve up an incomparable all-day breakfast menu featuring favorites like country ham and red-eye gravy, homemade granola, buttermilk pancakes and steak biscuits, this local gem has been satisfying wearing travelers since the 1950's. A true music city gem, Loveless is proud to use all local and regional ingredients. As the restaurant embarks on its seventh decade, its welcoming neon sign that glows along Highway 100 promising hot biscuits and country ham continues to draw road-food enthusiasts, local families, working folks and celebrities alike. (615-646-9700)
About Hollie Deese
Hollie Deese is a Nashville-based writer who has spent the past 10 years falling in love with the sights, sounds and flavors of Music City. Hollie has 15 years experience as a writer and editor for regional and national publications, including The Tennessean, USA Today, Nashville Interiors, and the Nashville Ledger.
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