As Nashville becomes increasingly known as a foodie town, it can prove increasingly difficult to land a reservation at the city’s most popular dining destinations. Sound familiar? Then perhaps it’s time to take a little drive to check out some amazing restaurants in rural locations. Welcoming staff, delicious food and a comfortable atmosphere are some of the things that make a restaurant great, and we’ve found 10 great rural restaurants that are absolutely worth the drive.
Rural Restaurants That Are Worth the Drive
4150 Old Hillsboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064 • (615) 614-3964
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Monday and Tuesday
This cozy, upscale restaurant is located in the middle of Leiper’s Fork. The unique atmosphere is undeniable with old wooden tables in the dining room paired with fresh smells coming from the kitchen. Chef Dylan Morrison is living his dream as his very first restaurant — one that is especially impressive. The food is “country French,” and Chef Dylan puts his own passionate twist into each plate. The menu features entrées like braised lamb, Alaskan halibut with a sweet corn purée and spicy ricotta-stuffed spaghetti squash, just to name a few. Seating only 32, this restaurant may be small, but the flavors are impressive.
951 TN-48, Nunnelly, TN 37137 • (931) 729-3481
Hours: Friday, 11 a.m to 9 p.m; Saturday, 8 a.m to 9 p.m; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Monday through Thursday
If you have a knack for all things vintage, Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile is definitely somewhere to check out. Located inside a vintage gas station (yes, they still sell gas), the casual cafe has a menu of fresh flavors that come right from the farm across the street! Husband and wife team, Lee and Mee McCormick, wanted to keep all dishes made the old-fashioned way, steering clear of GMOs, pesticides, additives and preservatives. If you want something lighter to eat, their Shawty’s GF and Vegan Buddha Bowl is filled with quinoa and veggies with a dash of teriyaki sauce and ranch for the perfect amount of tang. Not to worry though, the Hickman County Classic Burger will have no problem filling you up with its grass-fed beef and fresh brioche bun to finish it off. The McCormicks always have health and flavor in mind when Pinewood dishes hit the table!
5022 Old Hydes Ferry Pike, Nashville, TN 37218 • (629) 888-9284
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The Old School Farm lies in the heart of Bells Bend, sourcing fresh, local foods. Their menu is constantly changing as each season comes and goes, pulling produce from local farms as well as the non-profit farm that shares their property. Not only is their food out of this world, but their mission draws consumers in even more. Their non-profit farm is dedicated to producing delicious farm-to-table foods along with providing employment for people with all abilities. With the homestead atmosphere and the ever-changing menu, you will never be disappointed with what’s plated for you at this unique restaurant.
5418 Murfreesboro Rd, Readyville, TN 37149 • (615) 563-6455
Hours: Friday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m to 2 p.m.; Closed Monday through Thursday
If you’re looking for something different to do on a weekend, The Mill is the perfect daytime spot to change things up! As soon as you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Yes, 19th-century mills are still used to grind corn and wheat to make stone ground grits, cornmeal and whole wheat flour for their restaurant. You’ve got to try their famous pancakes and corn cakes fresh from the mill, but this historic restaurant doesn’t stop at homemade breakfast foods. They also have burgers, salads, soups and more. Once you’ve finished your meal, don’t forget to walk the historic grounds and check out the gift shop to take home some of their homemade goods!
1144 Riverside Dr, Columbia, TN 38401 • (931) 388-7770
Hours: Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Sunday through Wednesday
Owners Kathy and Glenn Truelove knew the unlikely combination of pizza and grits would raise some questions when they opened. With Glenn’s passion for serving pizza and Kathy’s special grits recipe, they have been beating all odds since 2011. The restaurant has no wait staff, allowing guests to move about freely to mingle and enjoy company. The Trueloves give back to the community not only through the love they put into their restaurant but also through the restaurant’s charitable donations to organizations like Hope House, United Way and Columbia Cares. This raved about restaurant has everything from shrimp and grits, chicken and grits, salads, wings and a variety of pizzas that will satisfy many different taste buds!
6276 TN-100, Bon Aqua, TN 37025 • (931) 670-3880
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Monday
Homemade biscuits with blackberry and peach preserves? We’re in! Since 1936, The Beacon Light Tea Room servers have been friendly and ready to pile customers’ plates high with fresh biscuits and hot fried chicken straight from the cast iron skillet. The tradition of the restaurant has been carried on with the help of various owners throughout the years, including Annie Loveless of Loveless Cafe. Today, this small old-fashioned Southern restaurant has plenty of room for breakfast, lunch and dinner customers.
3419 Fly Rd, Santa Fe, TN 38482 • (931) 682-0040
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
There’s nothing better than Cajun food made by a true-blood Louisiana family! And with the restaurant’s maximum capacity at 30, you can expect it to be wall-to-wall from open to close. Papa created a casual feel with the BYOB concept and their made-to-order dishes. Learning the Cajun flavors came easy to Papa being born and raised in N’awalins’, as his most vital education on the cuisine came from the French Quarter. When you visit this lively establishment, you can’t go wrong ordering the boudin balls for an appetizer, any andouille and shrimp dish, and let’s not forget a side of their famous gumbo. Everybody knows everybody in the joint at the end of this dining experience because it feels like you’re at one big Cajun eating party!
1232 Old Hillsboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37069 • (615) 794-9533
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Saturday
The best Southern food can often come from the most unexpected places, and Barbara’s is no exception! This hidden gem on Old Hillsboro Road has an eclectic, ever-changing menu that will wow you every time. The poppyseed chicken, rolls, fried chicken and veggies are raved about, along with just about everything else on the menu. Feel at home at Barbara’s Home Cookin’, and don’t forget to bring your appetite!
107 S Main St, Dickson, TN 37055 • (615) 441-0085
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Sunday through Tuesday
Not in the mood for Southern food? Lugo’s offers traditional American cuisine with added influences from the Caribbean and other countries around the world. Owners Victor and Jennifer wanted to move away from the city life to embrace the charm of historic downtown Dickson. The couple fulfilled their dream by moving there and offering something unique to the town as well. This menu definitely brings a different flavor, with dishes like pork wontons, lamb meatballs and shrimp scampi. Change it up and visit this secret gem in the midst of a Southern town!
208 E Main St, Watertown, TN 37184 • (615) 237-0102
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Monday
This little Italian pizzeria has a comfortable atmosphere that leaves pizza lovers wanting more. Nona Lisa is known for their homemade Nona bread and fresh pies. The taste of true Italian food with the most welcoming staff has customers spreading the word about this Watertown restaurant. The next time you’re craving homemade Italian food, take a trip out to Watertown, and you won’t be disappointed!
Here are a couple of noteworthy restaurants that are a bit farther away. If you decide to take a day trip from Nashville, consider these destinations — and check out their delicious dining as well.
5545 Rugby Hwy, Rugby, TN 37733
Hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Since the 1880s, Harrow Road Cafe has been sitting on the grounds of a historic Victorian English village on the Cumberland Plateau. If a restaurant has been standing that long, the food must be something worth talking about … and Harrow Road Cafe certainly is! This cafe offers American and British specialties and homemade desserts that have been feeding guests for hundreds of years. If you make a trip to taste the foods of the cafe, the quaint town also offers lodging, tours and gift shops to make your stay worthwhile.
6007 AL-117, Mentone, AL 35984 • (256) 634-0066
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the middle of Mentone, Alabama, lies a hippy-chic restaurant that serves all things Southern, organic, gluten-free and vegan. This little cafe doesn’t lack in the charm department, either, with every room decorated with twinkle lights, plants and eclectic items. When you have a free spot on your calendar, take a trip to Wildflower Cafe and peruse their country store for hand-made pottery, cards, artwork, clothes and other Wildflower mementos and get a taste of their house-favorite tomato pie.
Enjoy your dining adventures!
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