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Roadtrippin Eats: Memphis, Nashville

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Hey everyone!

We will be leaving Asheville soon and heading West - stopping in Memphis, Nashville, and Hot spring AK along the way (and any other must visit areas (let me know if you know of any!).

Where do we "have to" eat?? Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, I am open to all suggestions!

Thanks kindly,

Lavendula

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  1. A lot depends on whether you're staying in town, or just stopping near the interstate, and where you're staying, and what you like to eat. Our local cuisine here is called meat-and-three, and there are several good places in town: Monell's (couple of locations), Arnold's (8th Avenue downtown), Dandgure's (within a couple of blocks of Arnold's ), Swett's (which combines with a nice walk around the pretty Bicentennial Mall). Others that are perhaps more adventurous to find are Silver Sands (Mapquest it) near Swett's and US Tobacco, and Carolyn's in the National Baptist building on about fourth and Charlotte (parking is hideous, though).

    Barbecue is also a good bet: Hog Heaven by Centennial Park is nice, near two interstates, and you can have a picnic in the park. Mothership Barbecue is in a suburb but reasonably near I440and I 65. I think it's the best 'cue in town, but I don't get out much.

    When I'm driving, I'm usually looking for somewhere near the interstate to dash in and out of. There's a a really really good lunch place called Phat Bites off I40 near the airport. Take Donelson Pike north and Phat Bites is about 4 blocks on the right, on the corner of Donelson and Allen Rd. It's in an old 7-11, and it's not much to look at. Great handmade sandwiches with premiun ingredients, handmade bread. I usually get the choice-of-three salad place with red potato salad, sesame noodle salad and the almond tarragon chicken salad.
    There have been a lot of discussions in the last week about
    nashville eats. Page down these boards a few days for discussions of everything from barbecue to pricey eats to hidden gems.
    Good houndin'!

    1. Of course you need to eat BBQ in Memphis. My favorite spots:

      Cozy Corner - BBQ'd cornish game hen
      Leonard's - good Q buffet
      Rendevous - ribs
      Germantown Commissary - ribs
      Central BBQ - ribs, BBQ sandwich
      Tops - BBQ sandwich and cokes with the best ice

      8 Replies
      1. re: Den

        We will be staying in town - not sure where yet, but we travel for our food! Thanks for the suggestions :)

        1. re: lavendula

          We're here! We are staying right downtown.

          Looking for "the best" BBQ/Meat & 3 for lunch ( casual & fun) and something a little more involved for dinner that will cater to a vegetarian but still have the local flavor.

          Also, I know 2nd ave is the best place for the Honkey Tonk Bars - are there any "must have a beer heres" and any that aren't touristy that are worth a visit?

          Thanks ya'll -

          Lavs

          1. re: lavendula

            Ok - just did some research....

            Thinking either Arnolds or Jacks BBQ for lunch and Watermark Grill for dinner. What do you guys think?

            What is up with Swetts? Is there a farmer's market going on everyday? Where is it located?

            :)

            1. re: lavendula

              Go to Arnold's for lunch -- but go today, because I don't think it's open Saturdays. Swett's is great, too, and you can combine l;unch with a walk around the Bicentennial Mall. If you're right downtown,you're near the National Baptist Building -- the soul food joint Carolyn's is on street level on Charlotte at about 4th avenue. Friday is fried fish day, baby!

              Watermark is a reasonably good choice. Lots happening in the Gulch, which is the local name for that area, which until about 5 years ago was vacant lots and a railroad Gulchy (and where I parked when I worked for the daily newspaper). Now it's hot real estate. There are restaurants I prefer to Watermark, but you'll enjoy it, especially if you like game. For entertainment, check what's on at the Station Inn (bluegrass across the street from Watermark) and City Hall (next to Watermark).
              Jack's is not the best barbecue in town. Go about 2.5 miles out West End Avenue to Hog Heaven alongside Centennial Park (behind the MacDonald's) instead.

              1. re: fluffernutter

                thanx fluffer! we changed our plans and are going to be hitting up a concert at 6:45 - which means we need some early eats & drinks to get us through the show and then maybe some munchies afterwards. any ideas?? i heard something about the san antonio taco company - any good? i am a vegetarian so i don't mind eating sides for lunch but would like something i can eat for dins - preferable something still "nashville". THANKS!

                1. re: lavendula

                  Just to finish up here, Arnolds was Awesome with a capital A. Best meat and 3 we have ever had and such friendly service too. The owners son entertained us while he sliced the "roast beast". A great experience. We ended up at Elrays or something, a cheap & gross Mexican restaurant....we needed something quick before the show and we wanted to sit outside. Oh well, at least lunch was good! This morning we journeyed over to the Loveless Cafe to soothe our hangover-ed souls with some home cooked biscuits. Well, there was a 45 minute wait to get in, and then once we ordered there was a 45 minute wait for our food...the biscuits and grits were worth it, the rest of the food was just okay - no Arnolds!

                  1. re: lavendula

                    Don't know if this is too late to be of any help, but if you are in Memphis and want breakfast, you really can't beat Bryant's BBQ on Summer Avenue in East Memphis. Don't let the name throw you- I don't even know if they serve BBQ anymore- their thing is breakfast, and it is probably the best I've ever had.

                    Their biscuits alone are worth the trip- add some country ham and eggs and you have something legendary!

                    That part of town has seen better days, and nobody but a true food person would particularly like the atmosphere, but I have never been disappointed, and I ate there three times last week alone! They are only open from 5AM- 1PM, and I understand that they are packed on the weekend, but do go there if you can!

                    1. re: lavendula

                      I'm sorry about your icky Mexican experience. I'm afraid that in Nashville, "Mexican is the new Chinese" -- i.e., there's on in every neighborhood, but none is particularly good.
                      I'm really happy that you had a chance to experience Arnold's, and proud of you for trekking out to Loveless -- it's a lovely area, and grits plus biscuits are perfect hangover food. On behalf of all Nashvillians, I apologize for the wait at Loveless. People say weekdays are easier Y'all come back to see us!

        2. In Memphis I'd suggest these places for some inexpensive, lunchy places:

          The Arcade - A fun little diner that offers a lot of choices from pizza to country fried steak to sweet potato pancakes. (which are very delicious) Because of their ambitious menu listing some items fall short but they do most things very well. The best part about The Arcade is it's location, right on South Main Street. That area is really growing up with lots of art studios, little gift and clothes shops, AND if you can ever catch it when it's open, there is a little bakery that specializes in cheesecakes. Yum.

          You'll get good barbeque no matter where you go and the debate for which is the best place could go on forever. If you've never been to Memphis, definitely hit up the Rendezvous and get the ribs. If you go, ask to sit on the bottom floor for the most authentic Rendezvous dining experience because the upstairs is a newer remodel. Neely's Interstate BBQ has GREAT pulled pork so I'd head there or the Commissary in Germantown for sandwiches.

          For some good Beale Street fare, check out Blues City Cafe. They have delicious catfish, tamales, but my favorite thing is their apple dumpling which they serve piping hot with vanilla ice cream in a small cast iron skillet. Delicious.