T.A.T. in Tennessee?
As told by Leena Kollar

Are These the 10 Best Southern Food Restaurants in Tennessee?

Mmm…do you smell that? It’s the sweet aroma of Southern style cooking, and it’s absolutely delightful.

I sure love a good home cooked meal, and in the South, there’s no shortage of those! From grits to collard greens to cornbread, you’ll find some of the best Southern food in good ‘ol Tennessee.

Better known as “comfort food,” home style cooking does just that- it comforts you. It makes you feel good and who doesn’t like to feel good?

Next time you’re passing through a small farm town or driving down a back road, make sure to stop and fill your belly with some delicious Southern food. You’re bound to run into at least one small family-owned diner, but if you want to know where to find the best of the best, add these 10 spots to your meal itinerary.

10. Gloria Jean’s Fine Southern Provisions

gloria jeans
Gloria Jean’s Fine Southern Provisions

Owned by Robert DeBinder, this family-friendly joint has a creative menu full of classic Southern dishes. Full of small town charm, the Kingston restaurant is the place to go for a warm meal and a warm welcome.

gloria jeans southern provisions
Big Daddy Dave

One of the most popular menu items is the shrimp and grits. With reasonable prices and portion sizes, your stomach and your bank account will leave very satisfied!

9. Knox Mason

Knox Mason
Knox Mason Facebook / Knox Mason

Travel Channel put Knox Mason on its “11 Knoxville Restaurants You Can’t Miss” list. It’s no surprise- this place is amazing! Chef and founder Matt Gallaher makes seasonally focused dishes like braised collard greens, cornmeal crusted Mississippi catfish and smoked duck wings.

Knox Mason TN
Facebook / Knox Mason

The restaurant’s food is what they call “contemporary Southern,” because it combines traditional Southern ingredients with new elements of taste.

8. Big Al’s Deli

Big Al's Deli
The Big 98

Located in downtown Nashville, Big Al’s Deli is a small restaurant with big flavor. Chef Big Al (Al Anderson) himself was featured on Food Network’s Heat Seekers and is a local celebrity to those in the Nashville area.

Big Al's Deli Food

If you’re in the mood for jerk chicken, fried catfish, biscuits ‘n gravy or meatloaf, Big Al’s got you covered. Stop by for breakfast or lunch any day except Sunday.

7. Huck Finn’s Catfish

Huck Finn's Catfish
Flickr / Karen Moore

It should go without saying, but Huck Finn’s Catfish has some amazing catfish. The family owned restaurant also serves all you can eat chicken dinners for those who aren’t catfish people.

Catfish in TN
Flickr / Karen Moore

You can even try frog legs if you’re brave enough. Stop by this wholesome place, located in Pigeon Forge, on your way to Dollywood or the Great Smoky Mountains. You’ll probably want to pass back through for dessert on your way home!

6. Maple Street Biscuit Company

Maple Street Biscuit Co
Facebook / Maple Street Biscuit Company

Have you seen the show Guilty Pleasures? You may have seen Maple Street Biscuit Company highlighted in an episode. The restaurant’s creation called The Squawking Goat was featured. It’s a delicious biscuit, filled with spicy fried chicken breast, seasoned goat cheese and jalapeno flavored jelly.

Maple Street Biscuit Company
Facebook / Maple Street Biscuit Company

If that isn’t enough to get you to Chattanooga, maybe The Iron Goat, the chain’s vegetarian dish, made with goat cheese and sautéed spinach, will.

5. Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Arnold's Country Kitchen
Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Offering a buffet style dining experience, people love Arnold’s Country Kitchen for its down home Southern hospitality. But the classic Southern menu doesn’t hurt either!

Arnold's Kitchen TN
Facebook / Arnold’s Country Kitchen

In fact, it’s so good, you’ll often see customers lined up outside the door. For more than 30 years, Arnold’s has served delectable dishes like sugar-cured ham, chicken & dumplings, turnip greens and stewed okra. Head to downtown Nashville to get a taste of these unforgettable foods.

4. Gus’s World Famous Hot& Spicy Chicken

Gus' Famous Chicken TN

Memphis is home to the blues, but it’s also home to Gus’s World Famous Chicken. Why is it famous? Because there is no other chicken anywhere that uses the famous spicy seasoning. It definitely has a kick to it!

Gus' Chicken TN
Facebook / Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Memphis TN

The original recipe, created by Napolean and Maggie Vanderbilt, continues to be used today. Order some fried pickles and baked beans to go with your chicken for a complete Southern supper.

3. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

Applewood Farmhouse
Facebook / Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

It’s a six-room house surrounded by orchards, but was originally a farmhouse that burned. Now the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant attracts visitors to its Sevierville location who come for the apple fritters, apple butter and homemade soup, which are served with every meal.

Applewood Farmouse
Facebook / Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

You’ll also find seasonal desserts like cranberry apple crisp and classic Southern drinks like sweet tea and applewood julep. If you like apple flavored anything, you’ll definitely like this place!

2. Loveless Cafe

Loveless Cafe
Facebook / Loveless Cafe

This restaurant should really change its name, because it is anything but loveless! Not only has it been a Nashville favorite for more than 60 years, it’s also got an attached barn that can be used for events like weddings, parties and live music shows.

Loveless Cafe TN
Facebook / Loveless Cafe

As for the food, you can enjoy it 7 days a week! Items like watermelon ribs, smoked beef brisket and peach bbq chicken are just a few of the daily specials you’ll find.

1. Monell’s

Nashville Guru

If you’ve ever wanted to befriend total strangers, now is your chance. The environment at Monell’s is friendly and inviting, and they seat you with people you’ve never met before.

Monell's TN
The Food Bible

Then they serve you a meal the size of a football field that the entire table shares, and you leave feeling more stuffed than a Build-a-Bear. You haven’t experienced true Southern dining until you’ve eaten at Monell’s.

I mean, how delicious do these places sound? I’m so hungry right now! Have you ever eaten at any of these Southern food restaurants? Which ones top your list of favorites?

Author: Leena Kollar

Leena Kollar is a freelance writer who has written on a variety of topics for several different websites. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending time with her family eating Southern food, tolerating the Southern humidity and spraying herself liberally with bug spray in the Nashville, TN area. She also has a fashion blog, Leather & Lip Gloss and recently founded a fashion website, The Style Spectrum.