From food halls and distilleries to hotel restaurants and dining al fresco, Tennessee is a mouthwatering destination. Check out some of the must-visit restaurants while you're in the state.
Travelers and locals alike take advantage of some fantastic hotel restaurants across the state. Chez Philippe at The Peabody Memphis has been an elegant dining institution for decades. For more casual fare, stop by Bleu Restaurant & Lounge at The Westin Memphis Beale Street, which offers salads, burgers, pizza and barbecue, as well as a full breakfast. More recent outstanding hotel restaurants include The Continental in the Grand Hyatt Nashville, Yolan in The Joseph, Marsh House in Thompson Nashville, and Henley in the Kimpton Aertson Hotel – all in Music City. Also of note are Oliver Royale in The Oliver Hotel and The Drawing Room in The Tennessean, both in Knoxville, and Bridgeman’s Chophouse at The Read House in Chattanooga.
You might as well nickname Nashville “Brewsic City,” thanks to all the excellent craft breweries popping up in town. Favorites include Yazoo, Jackalope, Black Abbey, Tennessee Brew Works, Bearded Iris, Tailgate and more than a dozen others. Wiseacre’s recent brewery expansion makes it a Memphis favorite, along with Ghost River, Memphis Made and High Cotton. Other beer tourism destinations include Hutton & Smith and OddStory in Chattanooga, Knoxville’s Next Level and Crafty Bastard, and Johnson City Brewing Company, Yee-Haw and Tennessee Hills Brewstillery in the Tri-Cities, and Murfreesboro’s Mayday.
Dining al fresco in the great outdoors somehow makes great food taste even better. The sweeping mountain vistas from the deck at Cliff Top high above Gatlinburg at Anakeesta are awe-inspiring. If a river view is more your thing, The Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar offers views of the Tennessee River rolling through Chattanooga. Follow that river upstream to Knoxville, and you’ll discover the delightful Lakeside Tavern and a popular surf ’n’ turf menu. Enjoy fajitas and enchiladas at one of the outdoor tables at Cafe Olé in the hip Cooper-Young district of Memphis or bring the family to Belly Acres’ two Bluff City locations for a grass-fed burger or free-range chicken alongside a yummy milkshake. Rooftop patios are all the rage in Nashville, and dining poolside at White Limozeen is a vacation must-do.
Tennessee Food Halls
It’s often difficult to agree with a group on choosing a dining destination, so food halls have been a great development, offering a variety of restaurants under one roof. In Nashville, Assembly Food Hall houses more than 30 dining options, including outposts of favorite local restaurants. Hunters Station and The Wash are fun East Nashville choices, with the latter constructed out of the stalls of a former car wash. Marble City Market gathers a dozen vendors in Knoxville, and Chattanooga offers pizza, Asian fare, craft beer and more at Market South.
The Volunteer State has plenty to offer along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. In addition to long-timers like Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg and Tullahoma’s Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., many inventive craft distilleries are also worth checking out. Old Dominick in Memphis represents a rebirth of a more than 150-year-old distillery, while distilleries like Short Mountain in Woodbury and Prichard’s in Kelso will get you out in the countryside. East Tennessee embraces its moonshine heritage at Sugarlands and Ole Smoky in Gatlinburg and Old Forge in Pigeon Forge, while Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery has invented an entirely new category with its Tennessee High Malt.
Dietary-Friendly Stops in Tennessee
An important part of hospitality is respecting the special wants and needs of your guests, and many Tennessee restaurants are happy to accommodate gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan meal requests. Mangia Nashville is known for their gluten-free pizzas, pastas and focaccia, while the entire menu at Knoxville’s Benefit Your Life Bakery revolves around celiac-friendly options. Vegans needn’t sacrifice anything at fantastic restaurants across the state including The Southern V and Crave in Nashville, City Silo in Memphis and Germantown, Imagine Vegan Cafe in Memphis and Clarksville’s Don’t Have A Cow Cafe.
When it comes to “farm-to-table,” you can’t beat restaurants that actually grow their own produce. At the luxurious Blackberry Farm in Walland, they’re ardent proponents of sustainable agriculture and grow vegetables and herbs for use in their restaurants and bars. They also maintain heirloom seed preservation programs. Southall near Franklin grows vegetables on 325 acres of land, and the menu revolves around seasonal ingredients. Employees of Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel help out on the historic Glen Leven Farm to cultivate ingredients for the kitchen at Drusie & Darr.
Tennessee’s wineries may focus on sweeter bottles than some other states, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. Check out Sugarland Cellars, Smoky Mountain Winery and Tennessee Homemade Wines near Gatlinburg; Chestnut Hill, Stonehaus and DelMonaco along the Cumberland Plateau; The Winery at Seven Springs Farm in Maynardville and Kix Brooks’ Arrington Vineyards in the hills of Arrington. Grinder’s Switch, Natchez Hills and Amber Falls are worth a stop along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, and don’t miss Century Farm, White Squirrel and Crown Winery in West Tennessee.
Photogenic Tennessee Restaurants with Instagrammable Artwork
“We eat first with our eyes” has long been a popular expression among chefs, and the ambiance of a restaurant has been scientifically proven to affect the perception of flavors. At Gray & Dudley in the 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Nashville, dramatic sculptures stare down at diners from the upper corners of the dining room, adding a little tension to keep your taste buds on edge for the bold culinary salvos coming out of the kitchen. Chef Kelly English rotates artwork from local artists on the walls of his charming Restaurant Iris in Memphis to augment the romantic ambiance of his Louisiana-inspired cuisine. Nashville’s Fairlane Hotel revamps its top-floor bar every season. In the spring, you can literally stop and smell the roses before ordering a snack or a drink or take in the cascading floral walls at the Bloom Bar at Dream Nashville. Daniel Lindley is both a renowned chef and a talented artist and showcases his work and that of others to heighten the drama at his restaurants Alleia in Chattanooga and Nashville’s 5th & Taylor. Sean Brock’s shrine to the food and culture of Appalachia at Audrey also serves as a gallery space for scores of the chef’s personal pieces of historical folk art.
When you're hungry, Tennessee has a restaurant to satisfy your cravings. Explore even more dining spots.