Restaurants in Tennessee
From barbecue to James Beard-nominated fine dining, restaurants in Tennessee fit every cuisine profile and can appease even the pickiest taste buds. These are some famous Tennessee restaurants and cuisines to try:
Tennessee barbecue is all about the pig. Throughout the state, you’ll be able to find juicy, smoky pulled pork, served on a plate or between two buns. If you head over to Memphis, you’ll also get your hands on Memphis-style ribs. These are served “wet” – basted in sauce before, during, and after the slow cooking – or “dry” – seasoned with a flavorful rub.
The state also has more than its fair share of down-home joints. This ranges from classic “meat and three” spots throughout the state that’ll ladle up famous Southern and soul specialties, like fried okra and cobblers, to simple fried chicken shacks. An amazing specialty in the state is Nashville’s hot chicken: the fried poultry here comes extra spicy and, therefore, extra delicious.
There’s also plenty of fine dining throughout the state. Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga all play host to James Beard-nominated chefs, creative cocktails, and playful takes on classic French, Italian, and American cuisines.
Romantic mazelike café
Located in the thick of honky-tonk bars on Music City’s tourist strip, Jack’s Bar-B-Que nevertheless draws local rockabilly kids and alt- country scenesters for remarkable beef brisket, pork ribs, and smoked chicken.
The dark wood paneling and oversize booths make it seem like a roadhouse tavern, until the aroma sets you straight: Neely’s means business. Don’t miss the succulent pulled-pork platter, served with amazingly rich beans—dark, sweet, and thick with threads of caramelized meat.
Come in for eccentrically flavored Mexican popsicles like tamarind, rose petal, or raspberry-lime.
Funky supper club and live music venue
Prepare yourself for the best traditional Memphis-style ribs ever—flat-out sensational. The velvety, succulent meat at A&R simply glides away from the bone.
The dining room here is more like a freestanding screened porch. Grab a seat and enjoy an outstanding pulled-pork sandwich, perfectly seasoned and lubricated, plenty smoky, with a chunky home-cut slaw on top for tonic balance and a sauce that hints at spice without overstating the obvious.
Open since 2002, and full of students from nearby colleges, Central has a breezy, spring-break feel and outdoor deck seating to match. Order a pork plate with extra “bark” (the dark, heavily smoked crust).
Locals line up for a superb rendition of chopped pork on a bun, as well as excellent grilled short ribs.
Asian-inspired restaurant and sushi bar
A local chain that’s been around since 1952, Tops makes for a nice introduction to Memphis eats. No matter where you are in the city, you’re near one. The hickory-flavored chopped sandwich combo with mustardy slaw and beans will fortify you while you plan the rest of your ’cue odyssey.