With its distinctive regional culinary traditions and a growing list of nationally recognized restaurants, Tennessee has dining options that will satisfy just about any palate.
You can easily go from a farm-to-table breakfast in the morning to a dinner menu curated by a James Beard Award-winning chef in the evening. Take a look at this small sampling of Tennessee’s tempting cuisine that will satisfy your appetite during your visit.
In a state so well known for its home-style cooking, you simply must find the places where the locals go.
Located in Ooltewah (20 minutes east of Chattanooga), Countryside Café is all about old-fashioned country cooking – think fried pork chops and steaks smothered in gravy. Their “meat and three” (a main dish served with three sides) and daily specials are especially popular.
In the town of Leiper’s Fork (45 minutes south of Nashville), the restaurant 1892 has garnered many loyal followers with its farm-to-table fare of meat, fish, in-season vegetables and house-baked bread. Try the 1892 Burger or the grilled cheese with brie and apples.
Catherine & Mary’s in Memphis is one of several restaurants owned by chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, a culinary duo with an impressive list of awards and James Beard nominations. Catherine & Mary’s boasts a changing menu of Italian comfort foods such as homemade pastas, seasonal fish and tender steaks.
The Smoked Salmon Toast, a small plate at 1892 Restaurant
Fine Dining Stand-Outs
When your special occasion requires a touch of formality, you’ll find Tennessee’s fine-dining options won’t disappoint.
Check out Husk in Nashville, where James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock proclaims, “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.” He uses regionally-sourced ingredients ranging from vegetables grown on-site to Tennessee beef to seafood from North Carolina and Florida. The offerings change accordingly and might include trout roe or okra-topped deviled eggs.
Renowned Chef Kelly English brings the culinary influences of his Louisiana childhood to Restaurant Iris in Memphis, where you can sample creative takes on Creole-French cooking in an elegant setting.
If you’re looking for somewhere to take your special someone (for a proposal, perhaps?), Wellington’s in Johnson City is the perfect fit. Located in the Carnegie Hotel, Wellington’s serves farm-to-table southern meals with inspiration from around the globe, offers a lengthy whiskey list and has jazz music on Thursday nights.
A table of Southern goodies, including regionally sourced charcuterie, at Husk
Wine and Spirits
Tennessee has a long tradition of distilling spirits, especially whiskey and moonshine, a high-proof grain alcohol. Taste your way through this distilling history along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, featuring nearly 30 distilleries including the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg. In downtown Lynchburg, dine at the 110-year-old Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and Restaurant (reservations required). As production facilities are located across the state, you can easily fit a distillery tour and tasting into your vacation plans.
Wine lovers will be happy to learn Tennessee’s fertile landscape is dotted with more than 70 wineries and six wine trails to follow. Check out the Rocky Top Wine Trail in the Smoky Mountain Region or the small towns along the mid-state’s Upper Cumberland Wine Trail.
Sampling local Tennessee wine paired with cheese and fruit at Beachaven Vineyards & Winery in Clarksville
Memphis International (MEM) is conveniently located for exploring Memphis and western Tennessee towns. In the center of the state, look for flights into Nashville International (BNA). For points east and the Smoky Mountain region, check out Chattanooga Metropolitan (CHA), McGhee Tyson (TYS) or Tri-Cities Regional (TRI).