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Help to avoid Nashville disappointments

  • w

I will be in Nashville shortly and going out to dinner with friends. They like upscale places and sent me menus, but all the places are so un-southern, I am hugely disappointed. I checked out some of the dinner places recommended here, and they are the same: Margots, F Scotts, Sunset Grill, etc etc . . . not a single southern dish on the menu! Mirror at least has fried green tomatoes as appetizer--but that's the only dish with any local flavor. And Mad Platter for LUNCH has shrimp n grits, but I really need to go for dinner, and their dinner menu is the same old same old boring boring boring to me (I know other people have different taste but I am just so not interested in fine dining I can do generically any place in the US). Also, the places were so expensive! If I am going to spend, I want it to be southern nouvelle, at least (like SNOB or 82 Queen in Charleston, or the South Kitchen place in Atlanta) or a nice pleasant place with southern homestyle, pulled pork, hot fish, fried chicken, sweet tea, like that, and it has to be not too far out of town, because we are tourists and don't want to spend too long driving away from the tourist areas. . . and remember, it needs to be for DINNER, not lunch . . .

What about Swetts, would that be any good?

Any other suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks so much!

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  1. My friends in Nashville took me to a Southern place called Monell's that was wonderful. It's not really upscale, it's served family style at shared tables, but it's in an old house, so the setting is still quite lovely. Perhaps your friends might slum it a little so you can try some great southern fried chicken for dinner?

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    Monell's Dining & Catering
    1235 6th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

    1. While Nashville is in the South, our dining options are not only Southern. The best time of day to get Southern food here is lunchtime, which you already said is not an option for you.

      Watermark in the Gulch is upscale Southern. The only time I ate here, it was very good but I didn't care for Watermark as much as I like Margot Cafe.

      I think your only other option for dinner is Monell's.

      There are loads of great Southern or Southern inspired places for lunch. If you do have an opportunity to eat lunch or weekend brunch, I would recommend Martha's at the Belle Meade Plantation. Martha's will be more Southern inspired than traditional Southern or Meat and Three. Her fried green tomato salad might still on the menu, and it is not to miss. If you want the best meat and three in town, go to Arnold's for lunch M-F.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jennie

        I thought of another meat and three dinner option: The Copper Kettle. They serve very good food, most of it is Southern, cafeteria style. It's a nice, pleasant place to eat. Definitely not upscale, and it's only open for dinner (they close at 8pm) M-F.

      2. Real Southern food like that is a lunch thing in Nashville. Swett's is good, but it's only open for lunch (I think) and it's very definitely not upscale. If it's open for dinner, the food will be pretty wilted by then.
        For upscale Southern-influenced food, try Cabana for crab hushpuppies and Tennessee ssliders, smoked local trout and buttermilk fried chicken. I think Ombi often also has southern things -- seems like I had shrimp and grits there this summer. But true Southern food is really a lunch thing. And breakfast -- Arnold's and Silver Sands serve breakfast. Grits galore!

        1 Reply
        1. re: fluffernutter

          Swett's is open for dinner, they close at 8. Another meat&3 option for dinner is Sylvan Park restaurant, but they close at 7. Radius 10 in the gulch gives a few nods to southern cuisine on their menu, and I think Watermark would also be a decent choice. Like fluffernutter suggested, Cabana probably fits the theme of "Southern Nouvelle" best, but its a trendy place that focuses heavily on the scene/alcohol. Monell's would be a unique and unabashadely Southern experience, but it is decidely not fine dining, which is the draw of the place. It might as well be your grandmother's house (assuming she makes killer fried chicken).
          Prince's hot chicken will likely be open, but it does not lend itself to an enjoyable dinner with friends, definitely more of a to-go place, as are most of the other hot chicken/fish places.

        2. The recommendations so far are good. I would add Neely's barbecue, which has awesome meat and good sides. It's open for dinner and is an eat-in place, but is definitely not upscale.

          2 Replies
          1. re: nm1

            As an addition to nm1's rec, I'd like to add that I have tried giving directions for Neely's to out of towners on two different occasions, and both times the parties took terribly long to find Neely's, blasted Metro Center!

            1. re: notgreg

              Just a couple of notes to the above suggestions -- Radius 10 is great and Jason Brumm makes the best grits I've ever had. His signature shrimp/scallop/grits is amazing. Cabana is a scene, but if you go early (7'ish) and make a reservation you should be fine. The real scene doesn't get going until later in the evening. Also, Copper Kettle is open for Sunday brunch as well as dinner. Good luck!

          2. Check Tayst in Hillsboro Village. They have some regionally inspired things on the menu and have been a good business dinner place for me, decent wine list too.

            Just a heads up but Monell's is a family seating place so your party will be seated with who ever else is there. There is no menu, they just bring out food. Good, grandma's cooked all day, southern food.

            The Germantown Cafe has regional food too and is open for dinner. Fried green tomatoes, cheese grits etc. And your party will have its own tabel :)

            Margot Cafe is a favorite of mine and is consistently good.

            You mention hot chicken in your post. Send someone to pick up dinner or lunch from Princes Hot Chicken. You don't want to try eating there, but it is my favorite for hot chicken. (Gourmet magazine did an article on Nashville hot chick/fish last month)

            If you are looking for a meat and three experience you are limited to lunch time for the best. (Sylvan Park, Swett's, Arnold's)

            4 Replies
            1. re: bubblet4me

              Sylvan Park and Swett's are open for dinner. Monell's can be a bit disconcerting if you weren't expecting the communal experience, its a good thing you mention that, bubblet. However, the food more than makes up for the discomfort. I would also agree with Margot Cafe. I've eaten Chef McCormack's food probably 2 dozen times between Margot cafe and Marche and can't recall one bad dish.

              1. re: bubblet4me

                Where's the best hot fish in Nashville? I pass through from time to time generally using the Briley by-pass since I'm traveling from I-24 (southeast) to I-65 (north), so the closer to that the better. I've stopped at Prince's several times but never seem to get there when they are open so remain a hot chicken virgin----maybe fish would be better?

                1. re: johnb

                  I've found Arnold's (lunch only) and Sylvan Park to lead the pack of meat-and-threes in Nashville, both always spectacular.

                  1. re: johnb

                    Eastside Fish is the best hot fish. Take 65 and get off at Gallatin Rd/Due West. It's on Gallatin Rd. But Jane and Michael Stern just did a story on them, so be prepared to wait.