Get a taste of Tennessee, from homemade goodies to fresh farm-to-table plates to classic dishes like saucy barbecue, hot chicken and fluffy biscuits. Beyond the traditional, Tennessee is brimming with upscale eateries and fusion restaurants. Indulge in the warmth and comfort of hospitality combined with world-class culinary experiences.
You can sample Southern staples in the state’s fine dining restaurants, mom-and-pop eateries and hidden gem cafes. Grilled, fried or blackened catfish and hush puppies; slow-cooked barbecue; hot chicken, crisp and crumbly cornbread; red-eye gravy; fried apples and banana pudding. Tennessee’s specialties mean secret family recipes, comforting and soulful, like your oldest and best friend.
Whether you like your biscuits with butter, jam, honey or sorghum, get your fix hot out of the oven at Biscuit Love or Loveless Café in Nashville, Cumberland Biscuit Company in McMinnville, Aretha Frankenstein’s in Chattanooga or Willington’s Restaurant in Johnson City.
Embark on a barbecue journey with dry-rubbed ribs or slow-cooked pork in simmering sauces at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis, Helen’s Bar-B-Q in Brownsville, Top Hog BBQ in Gallatin and Heavy’s Barbecue in Harrogate. Lure in catfish, hush puppies and coleslaw at Boyette’s Dining Room at Reelfoot Lake, Catfish House in Springfield, Hagy’s Catfish Hotel in Shiloh or Top O’ the River in Michie.
Try the classic meat-and-three home-cooked to perfection at Arnold’s Country Kitchen in Nashville, the Old Country Store at Casey Jones’ Village in Jackson or Moss’s Southern Cooking in Clarksville. Pull up a chair with a plate of country ham at Nick and J’s Café in Chattanooga. Heat things up with hot chicken, at Prince’s or Hattie B’s in Nashville. Chef Joseph Lenn converts comfort foods like chicken and dumplings to an elevated culinary experience at J.C. Holdway in Knoxville. Try the simple-yet-elegant smoked catfish-onion dip with barbecue chips.
Immerse yourself in juicy burgers, comfort food and local culture at Tennessee’s diners and neighborhood dives, such as Chandler’s in Knoxville; Herman’s Soul Food in Chattanooga; Penny Hill Shoppe in Union City; Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton; Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville; and the Pig N Whistle in Bartlett.
Whether you’re looking for southern comfort food that feeds your soul or farm-to-table eateries, award-winning restaurants are standard fare from east to west. The Gray Canary in Memphis explores how cooking techniques influence flavor. Chef Sean Brock’s curated list of heirloom vegetables, pastured meats, ember-fired grill dishes and garden-to-glass cocktails delight at Husk in Nashville. Savor pizza at Tomato Head in Knoxville or truffle fries at STIR in Chattanooga, or experience Gourmet & Company’s seasonal favorites in Johnson City.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at local bakeries famous for flaky croissants and decadent desserts. Get treats at Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City; a chocolate peanut butter square from Phillip Ashley’s Chocolates in Memphis; ice cream from Hattie Jane’s Creamery in Murfreesboro; a scoop from Asbury’s Cruze Farm; Mayfield Dairy’s blueberry cream pie ice cream, a hand-dipped milkshake at Cream City in Cookeville; a cone from the recreated 1890s Ice Cream Parlor and Fudge Shoppe in Casey Jones Village in Jackson; Bush’s Baked Beans’ pinto bean pecan pie; a Goo Goo Cluster in Nashville; or a Moon Pie, first produced by a Chattanooga Bakery more than 100 years ago. A staple of backyard picnics, grab a spoon and dip into layers of crunch and gooey goodness with banana pudding from Ooletwah’s Countryside Café, Germantown Commissary in Memphis, Peter D’s in Murfreesboro or Sweet P’s Barbecue and Soul House in Knoxville. Load up on a short stack at Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg and Nashville, Elvira’s Café in Sevierville, Staks Pancake Kitchen in Memphis and Pete’s Coffee Shop in Knoxville.
Sip and savor iconic Southern creations at any of Tennessee’s famous breweries and distilleries. The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is made up of approximately 30 distilleries statewide. Experience history, heritage, tradition and great whiskey at Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, George Dickel in Tullahoma, Corsair in Nashville, Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis and Ole Smoky Moonshine in Gatlinburg.
Craft beer is what’s on tap at breweries across the state. Kick back with a glass of sour ale brewed with peach at Mantra Artisan Ales in Franklin; the Tiny Bomb American Pilsner made with wildflower honey at Wiseacre Brewing Co. in Memphis; or blackberry Weisse and live music in the train-depot turned brewery and taproom at Yee-Haw Brewery in Johnson City. Sample other creative specialties at Yazoo Brewery in Nashville, Cookeville’s Red Silo, Chattanooga Brewing Co. or Gypsy Circus Cider in Kingsport.
Six wine trails are tucked into the hills of Tennessee, including Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, Century Farm Winery in Jackson, Beachaven Winery in Clarksville and Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville. Don’t forget to get your trail passport stamped along The Rocky Top Wine Trail in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Sample tastings while traveling back roads and enjoy spectacular views through small historic towns on the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail, featuring Tennessee’s oldest winery, Highland Manor in Jamestown. Explore the treasured history along the Natchez Trace Wine Trail.
You’ll never go hungry at festivals and events in Tennessee. For those craving barbecue, check out the Memphis in May International Festival or the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg. Paris features the World’s Biggest Fish Fry, while South Pittsburg may put your grandma’s cornbread to shame at the National Cornbread Festival. For a taste of Tennessee freshness, visit homegrown treats at the Grainger County Tomato Festival, Unicoi County Apple Festival or West Tennessee Strawberry Festival. Indulge in sweet treats at the Centerville’s National Banana Pudding Festival and Bell Buckle’s RC MoonPie Festival.
Unwind with a cup of coffee at Chattanooga’s Rembrandt’s Coffee House; Cookeville’s Poet’s Coffee; Nashville’s Barista Parlor and Memphis’ Bluff City Coffee.
Whatever you’re palate craves, Tennessee’s “I’ve died and gone to heaven” cooking will have you coming back for more again and again. For more information, visit https://www.tnvacation.com/experiences/eat-drink.