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Nashville: Monell's, Prince's, Stan's, Wilma Kaye's. Who's the best?

I have just two nights in Nashville in August and I don't want fine dining nor BBQ nor "fun" places. I live in NYC and can get my fill of those. What I don't get is food like my relatives make (all my family's from the South).

So, I trolled and come up with the following. How would you rate them? Any additions?

*Monell's Dining
*Swett's Restaurant
*Stan's (Country Kitchen?just south of Nashville off I-65)
*Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
*Wilma Kaye's

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  1. Stan's is fantastic. It's exactly what you're looking for. Down home country food. And lots of it. I'd go there for breakfast myself. Totally worth the trip.


    1. I'll also throw out Silver Sands, though I haven't been to Stan's. I'll have to check that out. Silver Sands is in a concrete block building a block off the Bicentennial Mall near the state capitol. But it's some mighty fine cooking!!

      1. Stan's is about 45 minutes south of Nashville and only OK in my book. Swett's and Prince's are authentic for Southern soul food. Monell's food isn't anything special for the price if you grew up on rural southern homecooking, but the boarding house table experience appeals to many. (Monell's and Stan's have food on par with Cracker Barrel, which I happen to like in a pinch.)Wilma Kaye's has very good cajun food. Rotier's on Elliston Place near Centennial Park in Nashville has a meat and three selection plus good burgers, and is a very real place. So is Wendell's Corner in the 5400 block of Charlotte Avenue/Pike -- good neighborhood meat and three. I'm a 7th generation Tennessean from a family of good farm cooks, so my bias probably shows.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TNExplorer

          Cracker Barrel only wishes it is as good as Stan's. CB food is horrible.


        2. Greetings from Music City USA!

          Some comments and suggestions:
          Swett's reigns supreme among locals looking for that venerable Southern meat 'n' three lunch/dinner. It's a must.

          Prince's Hot Chicken is an experience in itself. Unless you are very brave, you should order the mild or medium "hot" chicken and it is best to call ahead to place your order as it is cooked to order. Otherwise, you may wait for 30 to 40 minutes after arriving for your order.

          Another Nashville institution is Sylvan Park restaurant -- a small meat 'n' three that has several locations around town. The best is the original at 4502 Murphy Road. It's worth a trip for the chocolate pie alone (only offered on certain days and always on Saturday). 292-9275. Hours: 10:30 am to
          7:20 pm Mon-Fri.

          You should also check out Arnold's Country Kitchen, located at 605 Eighth Ave. S., a few blocks from downtown, but note Arnold's is only open from 10.30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., weekdays only. It's worth it.

          Monell's is certainly worth a visit, but I would not place it above these other restaurants.

          1. A very popular and often written about "Southern" restaurant is The Loveless Motel. Although it is not one of my favorites, most people rave about it.


            I ate at Stan's for many years on trips between my hometown and Nashville. Although it is good, there are plenty of restaurants in Nashville and I don't think I would spend the time to drive there and back on a two night visit.

            Re: Princes--be sure to check to see if they are open before you head out there. There are several days that they are closed (sorry I don't recally which days).

            1 Reply
            1. re: suebro

              I would agree. Unless you're in the Columbia area, skip Stan's.


            2. Sounds like you have a good list, however, I disagree about Sylvan Park, it's just OK. If Martha's at the Plantation is open for dinner, go there. Her food may not be as basic as the others on this list, but is wonderful. The historic location is also great for an out-of-towner.

              1. And for an afternoon snack to beat that August heat, go get a dip cone at Bobbie's Dairy Dip on Charlotte Avenue. Great character and even greater ice cream. I have pics on my blog.


                1. Also, if you decide you want to try a little more upscale that the places recommended above, we have recently eaten at Cabana which describes their food as "casual Southern comfort cuisine". We went there with 6 people, all had something different including 3-4 appetizers, and everything was wonderful. There are some classic Southern dishes on the menu. It would be a good idea to make a reservation. Here's the menu:


                  1. Is Wilma Kayes still open? I know the old location on 3rd is not there anymore - but I don't know if they moved or not.

                    Swett's is very good.

                    Monell's is so-so.

                    Rotiers is one of my favorites, although I haven't been there in a while.

                    1. I'd throw in Bro's. Locally-owned and run by Acadania transplant Darrell Breaux. Charlotte Pike and 36th. Good cajun/southern and exceptional daily specials.

                      1. Arnolds on 8th in town is my pick and they are now doing breakfast. Monell's is more atmosphere than quality since you sit family style and can have some very interesting conversation so it can be worth it for that alone.

                        1. Thanks for all the great input. I am now in Nashville and have just come back from Sweatt's, surely one of the best meals I have ever had in a restaurant. Exactly what I was looking for.

                          As I only have one more night, I will try Prince's, if they are open and will report back.

                          I decided against Wilma Kayes as I am headed down to New Orleans in a few days.

                          Again, thanks for the advice.