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Whether you’re exploring a country in Europe or taking a short road trip near your own hometown, traveling offers the chance to immerse yourself in new experiences. And although it may be easy to find restaurants via a brief Google search, there’s something particularly charming and authentic about following the locals to see which restaurants they frequent, which lends itself to discovering nostalgic comfort food that remains in our memories for years to come. If you haven’t yet checked out our article on 10 Rural TN Restaurants Worth the Drive, we encourage you to do so … because here are 10 MORE rural, locally-owned restaurants that you should put on your bucket list!

10 MORE Rural TN Restaurants Worth the Drive

Blue Bank Fish House and Grill

813 Lake Dr, Hornbeak, TN 38232 •

A fishing and hunting oasis set against the beautiful backdrop of Reelfoot Lake, Blue Bank Resort boasts everything from lakeside lodging to sunset canoe tours and bald eagle sightings. But it’s the Blue Bank Fish House and Grill that will elevate your trip — particularly if you love stuffed shrimp, which happens to be an appetizer favorite. Dine outdoors and indulge in the scenic views as you eat. Even if shrimp isn’t your cup of tea, the Fish House menu is chock full of fresh local dishes that include meats and produce sourced from local Tennessee farmers, as well as vegetables and herbs grown in the property gardens. You can find everything from burgers to surf and turf, and the extensive list of wine and local craft beer ensures you won’t go thirsty!

The stuffed shrimp appetizer at Blue Bank Resort, with wine pairing.

The stuffed shrimp appetizer at the beautiful lakeside Blue Bank Resort is not-to-be-missed. Image: Blue Bank Resort

The Grind Mac and Cheese Burger Bar

112 Lovelace Ave, Martin, TN 38237 •

Any restaurant with a burger named after Luther Vandross (a burger topped with cheddar cheese fondue and bacon, and smashed between two grilled glazed donuts) is simply too intriguing not to visit. Located in Martin, roughly two and a half hours from both Nashville and Memphis, the beloved burger joint is a haven for kids and grown-ups alike. Over-the-top monster shakes with titles such as S’more the Merrier and Churro Champion are like something straight out of Candyland, with mounds of whipped cream and sauce, topped with candy and cookies galore. Plus, you can order from several other classic American dishes with a twist, such as the Buffalo chicken mac and cheese or the bourbon and candied bacon deviled eggs.

Pink milkshake with candy and a cherry on top.

A thing of beauty! This monster shake from The Grind Mac and Cheese Burger Bar is the best kind of sugar rush. Image: Tara Wilkey

RELATED: Your Southern BBQ Bible

Shelby Forest General Store

7729 Benjestown Rd, Millington, TN 38053 •

Rumored to be one of Justin Timberlake’s favorite childhood hangouts, this charming (dare we say, rustic) cabin in Millington, Tennessee, is home to the Shelby Forest General Store. An old-school favorite amongst the locals for roughly 18 years, the General Store is a down-home spot for everything from basic supplies like milk and toilet paper to grill selections like the “world-famous cheeseburger.” And where else can you get a yummy homemade burger for $3.99? The General Store has suffered some recent hardship as they’ve navigated the pandemic, reducing hours and placing their wildly popular “Steak Night” on a temporary hold, which featured live bluegrass music. So, even if you can’t make it out for their cooked-to-order burger, you can support their Go Fund Me campaign and look forward to future visits.

Pat’s Café

110 E Court Ave, Selmer, TN 38375 • (731) 645-6671

A subtle little café that features breakfast, sandwiches, and burgers, Pat’s Café in Selmer, Tennessee, is a small-town gem. Comfortable with friendly and fast service, you can expect smiles and Slugburgers — and the latter might be what put Pat’s on the map. What is a Slugburger, you ask? While the thought of it may conjure up less-than-stellar thoughts of slimy creatures, the Slugburger is anything but. An authentic taste of Depression-era Mississippi, the Slugburger is technically a patty made from beef, flour, and soy grits that originated in Corinth, Mississippi, in the early 1900s. We don’t claim to know the secret behind owner Pat Knight’s famous Slugburger, but we do know that people come from far and wide to try it. Are you next?

Helen’s Bar-B-Q

1016 N Washington Ave, Brownsville, TN 38012 • Facebook

One of only a few female pitmasters in the country, Helen Turner serves up some mean barbecue. And that’s putting it mildly! Located about a mile from the center of Brownsville (around one hour from Memphis), Helen’s Bar-B-Q is a legend in its own right, featured on everything from ESPN to the Food Network. That recognition is due, at least in part, to her fantastic rib sandwich — perfectly smoked pork piled high on a bun with housemade coleslaw and her unique hot sauce blend that will have you begging for more. Her menu also features other oak- and hickory-smoked meats such as shoulder pork, ribs, and bologna, accompanied by traditional sides. Whatever you do, be sure you’re hungry!

Helen Turner at Helen's Bar-B-Q, stoking the fire.

Owner and pitmaster Helen Turner tends to the fire at her restaurant, Helen’s Bar-B-Q. Image: Southern Foodways Alliance

Cotton’s Café

 200 W Eaton St, Trenton, TN 38382 • Facebook

Omelets, and pancakes, and cinnamon rolls, oh my! This eatery in Trenton features some serious down-home Southern cooking, but it’s the breakfast that has everyone talking — including the Saturday all-day breakfast. You can stop by for classics like bacon and eggs or French toast, or opt for more Southern-inspired morning fare such as biscuits and country ham. You can’t go wrong either way. If breakfast isn’t your bag, hit up the main menu for daily specials like Mama used to make — from a barbecue bologna sandwich with baked beans and coleslaw to butter beans and Salisbury steak smothered in gravy.

Overholt’s Farm Market

14520 TN-13, Hurricane Mills, TN 37078 •

Homemade ice cream and deli sandwiches abound at this wonderful farm market in Hurricane Mills. Plus, you can find pies, pastries, fresh bread, bulk items, and a stellar candy selection to boot! Known for its small-batch ice cream list complete with seasonal flavors, this family-owned joint may look like a barn, but it’s so much more. Perusing the shelves gives way to tasty treasures like hot pickled garlic, dandelion jelly, Amish country popcorn, and Buffalo chicken cheese balls. Custom crafts such as birdhouses are also on display, so it’s genuinely a one-stop-shopping experience for all things gourmet and giftable. Plus, indoor and outdoor seating allows for ample space to enjoy your delicious goods, no matter the season.

The exterior of Overholt's Farm Market

Small-batch ice creams and gourmet goods are calling our name at Overholt’s Farm Market. Image: Ernest Lynn Jr.

RELATED: Introducing Juniper Green’s New Nashville Culinary Destination!

The Commodore Hotel Music Café

114 E Main St, Linden, TN 37096 •

A self-proclaimed “oasis of Southern hospitality,” the Commodore Hotel’s Music Café is a hotspot for live tunes and perfectly delicious dishes, too. Located off of the hotel’s main lobby, the mecca for locally-sourced food is full of vibrance and ambiance. The menu boasts Southern-inspired entreés such as fried buttermilk chicken, Nashville hot chicken, and grilled salmon. A speakeasy-style lounge offers a fun place for locals and guests to mingle. Plus, the surrounding area boasts plenty of activities, with a focus on fishing in the summer and hunting in the winter. Alternatively, you can head to Mousetail Landing State Park for picturesque photo ops and a view of the Tennessee River.

Exterior of the Commodore Hotel

The Commodore Hotel offers a home away from home … and great food, too! Image: Charles Vernier

Charlene’s Just Divine Tea Room

2257 TN-88, Halls, TN 38040 • Facebook

More than just your average tea room, Charlene’s Just Divine Tea Room in Halls, Tennessee, is the place to go for comfort food. With an exterior that makes you feel like you’re strolling into Grandma’s house, the restaurant is a quaint space with pretty floral tablecloths and a smattering of timeless blue-and-white china. The menu offers everything from scratch-made daily specials like shepherd’s pie and chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl to seasonal desserts like gooey pumpkin cake and limoncello mascarpone cake, and locals swear by the chicken salad. If you’re an animal lover, the Tennessee Safari Park is less than 30 minutes away, where you can get up close and personal with giraffes, peacocks, and even wallabies. Just keep your eyes on the ostriches. They can get a little sassy!

Bell Buckle Café

16 Railroad Sq E, TN-269, Bell Buckle, TN 37020 •

An hour outside of Nashville, Bell Buckle is a lovely little town that’s home to less than 500 residents. Small though it may be, the town is also home to the Bell Buckle Café, which has become a destination for many — be it weary travelers or locals. While the casual restaurant offers a plethora of tasty comfort food items, including country-fried steak, smoked pork chops, and catfish, it might just be the fried biscuits with apple butter that stand out the most. Plan to hit up the local antique stores, visit the charming downtown, and indulge in some home-style Southern fare that will have you checking your calendar and penciling in your next trip.

Enjoy even more small-town dining adventures!


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