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.
Bell Buckle Cafe & Music Parlor
Something fresh and different is happening seven days a week at Bell Buckle Cafe on Railroad Square. We have delicious, tasty food in a world-class cafe, with live music on Thursday-Saturday. ...more
Besso's Gelato & Coffee
Take a break in this European-style coffee shop, named in honor of the owner's Italian grandparents. Enjoy a scoop of gelato or sip a fresh cup of coffee, and notice the tables made from the barrels Grandpa Besso used to age his homemade Italian wine. ...more
Perched in a little house on a hill overlooking Gainesboro to the east and the Cumberland River to the northwest, this local treasure offers an amazing view to top off your delicious meal. ...more
Big Fatty's Catering Kitchen
It's upscale comfort food in a neighborhood hangout. Customers love the sandwiches, from the black bean burger to the crabcake po' boy, and the entrees like the pork tenderloin with mango salsa. ...more
Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Chattanooga
In the heart of Chattanooga's waterfront entertainment district, Big River Grille & Brewing Works features innovative cuisine, award-winning ales & lagers and a spacious outdoor patio. Enjoy championship billiards or see live entertainment at Big River's music venue, Rhythm & Brews. ...more
Bistro 105 affords a fine local dining experience in Jonesborough, a picturesque place where the storytelling revival began. Whether driving to Jonesborough for the Storytelling Festival or to see the oldest town in Tennessee, Bistro 105 is worthy of being the point of destination. ...more
Bistro By the Tracks
This is a small, upscale bistro that welcomes its guests into a warm, contemporary decor. Visit the Bistro By the Tracks and find yourself in the midst of tapestry-upholstered booths and chocolate brown carpet. ...more
Black Horse Pub & Brewery
The Black Horse Pub & Brewery brings an old-time brewery atmosphere and authentic home-brewed craft beer to Clarksville, along with friendly service and a diverse full menu of steaks, seafood, pastas, grilled flatbreads, pizzas and sandwiches. Handcrafted beers include red and pale ales, vanilla cream, and stout. ...more
Blue Orchid Bistro
Family owned and operated just across from point 114, this local restaurant occupies a century-old historic building that was once the site of the town pharmacy. Enjoy an extensive and creative selection of fresh soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as hot-off-the-grill favorites. ...more