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.
Macon County Farmers Market
A farmer's market featuring local farmers selling local produce, canned jellies and fried pies. Open during growing season (usually late May to mid September) Monday through Saturday until noon. ...more
Cookeville's best kept secret for more than a decade, Mamma Rosa's gets people talking about authentic Italian food. Hand-tossed pizzas with either New York style thin crust or Sicilian thick crust, homemade sauces, plentiful specialty dinners and traditional Italian pastas, calzone, stromboli, sausage roll and Italian subs. ...more
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
From the front porch to the music, from the redneck taco to mama's coconut cake, Martin's is a real barbecue joint, serving up pulled pork, ribs and brisket that boast 22 hours of slow cooking. It's a place that barbecue purists love and place for locals to gather and catch up on the news. ...more
Mary's Hot Tamales
This Deltastyle dish was formed in the flood plains of Mississippi and is wrapped in the history of slavery. Owner Clara Robinson can remember as a little girl the thrill she had, along with sister Mary, buying hot tamales from Mississippi street vendor Charlie Green. ...more
Memphis In May International Festival
For over 30 years, Memphis in May has meant great music, great BBQ, great fun! It kicks off with the Beale Street Music Festival featuring over 65 performers in rock & roll, blues, and soul. Every year, an international country and culture is celebrated with cuisine and wines, exhibits and commerce. ...more
Located just off West End Avenue, this small, upscale restaurant conjures up a very romantic atmosphere with indirect lighting and bold displays of art. The design has been pulling in Nashvillians for years. ...more