Every community has a local favorite: a one-of-a-kind place where locals gather for a special dish, a certain atmosphere, or a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors over good food.
Like the folks on that television classic "Cheers," we all like to stop at a place "where everybody knows your name." Those local favorites have become more than restaurants. They are extensions of home, where someone is always glad you stopped by. That's just how Tennessee's own Cracker Barrel got started.
The interstate system was young, in the late 1960s, when Dan Evins cogitated on how to keep the real flavor of America available to folks on the road. To Evins, mealtime was that connection between the comfort of made-from-scratch food and time to enjoy catching up--with family, with friends or just with your own thoughts. That first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened in 1969 on the outskirts of Lebanon. Standards were firm: cornbread came from cornmeal, not a mix; prices could not "break" people; and, fortunately, the people who worked there made sure a trip to Cracker Barrel was like a friendly visit to a neighbor's home. Soon, people were lined up for turnip greens, biscuits and gravy and the good things served at Cracker Barrel.
Local favorites keep people coming back. Ruby Tuesday was founded on the campus of the University of Tennessee by Sandy Beall, who had a vision of food and drinks handcrafted, made fresh with quality ingredients and full of flavor, served by friendly people.
Not all local favorites have grown to cover the state. Many remain what they have always been: a neighborhood eatery with a reputation for good food and friendly service.
Capture vintage classic at Memphis' Arcade Restaurant, located in the middle of the historic district. Charming Fountain City, in North Knoxville, sees Litton's Market, Restaurant & Bakery spin platters of mouth-watering burgers, chili dogs, key lime pie, red velvet cake and more, while locals gather in a back room to discuss "the truth according to Litton's." An institution in Nashville, Monell's family-style hospitality serves up the finest fried chicken, cornbread, green beans, sweet tea, catfish--and the desserts are something else.
Leonard's Pit Barbecue
Leonard's has been featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," distiguished as "the best barbecue in Memphis. " A leading pork barbecue restaurant & caterer since 1922, Leonard's specializes in pit-cooked barbecue. ...more
Leonards Memphis' great love affair with pit smoked barbecue began in the early 1920's. This was when Leonard Heuberger opened his stand with only 5 stools, selling his barbecue sandwich for only five cents. ...more
Memphis' great love affair with pit smoked barbecue began in the early 1920's. This was when Leonard Heuberger opened his stand with only 5 stools, selling his barbecue sandwich for only five cents. ...more
This hole-in-the-wall, tucked away in Knoxville's downtown, is a tasty trip to Cuban climes, with delicious traditional Cuban fare. Try the classic Cuban sandwich or the popular media noche on sweet pressed bread, or the lechon asado (traditional Cuban roast pork with white mojo sauce). ...more
Litton's Market, Restaurant & Bakery
Now run by the fourth generation of Littons, the restaurant continues to offer the best in beef, seafood, desserts, home-cooked vegetables and, of course, those famous, juicy Litton's burgers, featured in magazines and television shows for decades. Todd Blackledge of ESPN called it "The best I've ever had. ...more
Live & Let Live Drugstore
This spot is home to an old-fashioned soda fountain, complete with its original green marble counter from the 1890s. Stop and enjoy an ice cream cone or “Cherry Smash," or a classic chocolate milkshake made delicious the old-fashioned way. ...more
Long’s Drug Store
Established in 1956, this is one of the last survivors of its American breed: the drugstore soda fountain, with both a lunch counter and pharmacy window in the same not-too-big room. Make a stop here for a bite to eat locals rave about the breakfast grill. ...more
Looking Glass Cafe & Gourmet Bakery
Enjoy a full Breakfast, lunch or dinner in a fun, relaxed setting, either in the restaurant or in the Zen Garden. The menu changes monthly and features made-from-scratch recipes from the Edington's travels. ...more
Lookout Mountain - Cafe on the Corner
Welcome to Cafe on the Corner. What was once the town grocery in the early 1900’s has been repurposed as a place of community — a comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy food. ...more
Locals and knowledgeable travelers fill up this east Knoxville spot for breakfast and lunch. Home cooked vegetables; blue plate specials (get there early on turkey and dressing days!); fried, thick-cut bologna sandwiches and burgers; biscuits and sausage gravy like your Mama made. ...more