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Eating around a bit in TN and KY

Holly Moore

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Holly, by the way, I was travelling down I-81 in VA a few weeks ago and stopped at a couple of the places that you had on your website.

Next time you're down in Middle Tennessee, you've got to go to Miss Mary Bobo's in Lynchburg. It's good, simple food served family-style. If you can't get reservations there, try the Iron Skillet on the courthouse square.

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Thank you sooooo much for your spur of the moment recs!!

My husband and I were in Nashville for 5 days for a convention. We stayed at The Opryland Hotel. This is an extraordinary place to visit, but I wouldn't want to stay there again. Very expensive for rooms on a caliber of the Holiday Inn. The draw to the place is its unbelievable lobby full of inside gardens (9 acres) and a river (you can take a boat ride on it for $5). People compare it to Disneyworld and rightly so, but like Disney it also has a downside. Our room was not convenient to the convention center and was a brisk 10 minute walk away. All the hotel amenities were overpriced, $3.29 for a one liter bottle of Disani water, (hey I see the Dis there as in DISNEY...), $18.95 for a DISposable camera, and $6.85 for a slice of DevIl'S food cake to go. We decided to purchase none of these. Like the luxury prison that it is, keeping our rental car there cost us $7 each night even though we rented the car from the hotel's front desk. Sadly, shopping malls and the downtown are all going vacant and dwindling down. I assume its from the Opryland corporate behemoth but I wouldn't know. Clearly the hotel wants to keep you there to patronize their facitilites. We were one of the very few in our group that had a vehicle and ventured past the gates.

Once out those gates, there was a lot of fun in Nashville! We loved the Parthenon (WHOA NOW THAT'S AN ATHENA!!!), and The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's Home. The Monell's at the Hermitage serves iced tea sweetened with pineapple and orange juice. It was most REFRESHING in the 90 plus heat! Also enjoyed a performance at the Grand Ole Opry (I didn't know Porter Waggoner was still alive).

On the chow side:

Rotier's had excellent burgers, and a great chocolate shake. Liked it a lot because it did not seem touristy and was a nice spot for a cheap, unpretentious, delicious lunch.

Fat Mo's...oh we had a little trouble here... We went to the Fat Mo's in a converted KFC building (on Lebanon Pike on way to Hermitage). The place is somewhat of a wreck and I'm not sure how it got a CO.... anyway CH (convention hubby) wanted to leave, but I said No, this place is recommended, it MUST be good... so we got 1/2 pound burgers which I thought were pretty darn good and well deserving of the title heart attack on a plate... CH thought they tasted like Wendy's and then he started mocking me calling the restaurant Mo Fat. 'Nuff said...

The Bound'ry was my favorite meal. Had a romantic (low lights) and delicious dinner here. The bread basket is shaped like a large ice cream cone and comes filled with delicious lavasch and rolls, served with a tomato garlic butter. We shared lamb chops which were perfectly done and juicy to the max, a bison steak which was flavorful and fork tender, scrumptious pommes frites which matched perfectly, and a couple glasses of house red wine to wash everything down nicely. Bananas Foster for 2 for dessert was nicely butterscotchy Our server was very sweet and helpful.

The next night we hit Zola, which is touted as Nashville's best restaurant. We did have a very nice meal here, but it wasn't my favorite dining experience. One thing that was unpleasant was the smell of the dining room upon entering, it smelled strongly like someone with bad breath who just ate salmon. :shock: I looked around and didn't see anyone eating salmon, so not sure where the odor came from but it was not appetizing. The bread basket was not on the table, instead a server came by in between the salad and dinner courses and offered us a small slice of bread from a basket. One was raisin date, which was good, and the other offering was a cheese stromboli which had clearly been reheated because it was hard as a rock and had no sign of cheese in it. The pineapple kiwi soup starter was refreshing and exciting with a nice cayenne zip. We enjoyed filet mignon, it was nicely seasoned, and smoky tomato chicken with eggplant. I'm sorry I can't remember more details, I think I drank too much white sangria. The salads were really good and well dressed with yummy homemade croutons. The dessert menu was sparce with items like brownies and cheesecake--we passed. The draw to Zola is Chef Paquette's strong use of every veggie under the sun. I think I counted about 25 different ones in my salad before I stopped counting. Overall it was a good meal.

Hog Heaven... We drove by it at first, never would have suspected there was a restaurant here, had the chicken sandwich with white bbq sauce YUMMMMMMMM!!! Good Eats!!

Jack's (up by Opryland)... Ribs so smoky my fingers smelled like smoke even after a shower... But the meat was melt in your mouth tender, and the pulled pork and brisket were good eating too. The collard greens, red potatoes, and corn bread were terrrific as well. Of the sauces we liked 2 out of 3...only one didn't care as much for was the Nashville one with it's vinegar tang...It was a good last dinner in Nashville.

For our last breakfast we drove down to the famous Loveless Cafe and had the ham, biscuits and pancakes. The ham is salty and the biscuits are flaky. Why don't more places cook stuff like this?

At some point we went to F. Scott's for a drink and listened to some jazz. Noticed that this Sunday they are having a special tasting meal featuring Vietnamese cuisine paired with Joseph Phelps wines, sounds like it might be a fun event, wish we were there for it. :wub:

Thank you again for the recs!! I don't think I gained any weight either because of all the walking done in the hotel. Would definitely visit the area again! :smile:

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You are quite welcome Trish, I'm glad it mostly worked out well for you. Wow, I didn't even know they had a Fat Mo's out on Lebanon Road -- sounds like it's not up to the level of the one in the Melrose area of Franklin Road -- that's the one to visit (although the one on Murfreesboro Road is close to the same level)!!

You are absolutely right: the Opryland Hotel is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to stay there... Glad to hear that Jack's & Hog Heaven did you right!!

Edited by pogophiles (log)

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I noticed that no one has mentioned either Parco Cafe or Wilma Kaye's. Are these relatively unknown places or just not very popular? I loved both and had lunch at Wilma Kaye's twice during a 4-day weekend trip (no mean feat, given WK is only open on weekdays!). My attraction to these places may have been influenced by the company, however. Wilma Kaye and Randy were a treat to talk with, and Chun at Parco was helpful and ever-so-willing to talk, despite being very busy. He even gave me his cell phone number in case he manages to build his own place before I make it back to Nashville (I was worried I wouldn't be able to find him again).

I had a relatively disappointing meal at Bound'ry. I had the calamari grilled cheese sandwich and some sort of lobster ravioli. Both were tasty, though the calamari sandwich was unwieldy and the sauce was slightly too sweet. It also would have been better on a crusty roll, rather than the slightly too dry soft-ish roll it was on. The lobster ravioli had a spectacular sauce but it completely overwhelmed the lobster. It would have been much better on a non-filled pasta or something relatively flavourless like a chicken breast. What's the point of having lobster if you can't taste it? I did like the conical bread 'basket' but I thought the whole place (based on my meal) was more show than substance.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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No, I think they are both quite good and very popular lunch spots. Wilma Kayes is excellent, but is only open for lunch and not at all on the weekend -- I am very fond of their savory fried pies. Parco Cafe (in the Farmers Market) is awesome -- great desserts (I am especially fond of their fruit tarts -- it's like eating a delicious work of art), sandwiches (particularly the herbed salmon), salads, teas... One of my favorite reasons to go to the Farmers Market...

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

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For the record, here is the list that I originally sent Holly for his trip to Nashville (note that it DID include Wilma Kaye's):


In your "Holly Eats the South" thread, you requested a list of places to eat in Nashville. My apologies for taking so long in responding, but here are some of the places in Nashville that I think are worthy of your trying out (one caveat -- I don't eat out nearly as often as I used to so some of these are based on past experiences, not necessarily recent ones -- I have put an asterisk by any restaurant which I have not personally visited in the past 12 months):


Pancake Pantry-- I am fond of their potato dishes, particularly their hash browns, though their potato pancake is also quite good. My standard meal there is pecan pancakes w/ bacon & hash browns.

Loveless Cafe-- Many will tell you that the Loveless has good fried chicken & sides for lunch & dinner. I disagree and contend that most meat & three's in Nashville do lunch & dinner better. In my opinion, breakfast is the best thing the Loveless does by far. Get there early and have country ham, two eggs over easy and lots of lard biscuits which are good both with the red-eye gravy and with the preserves (I prefer the peach). The big table looking out the front window is an especially good spot early in the morning.

City Cafe*-- Located just off the square in Murfreesboro. I have heard good things about this place but have not eaten there in a very long time. It used to be excellent.


Meat & three only --

Sylvan Park -- This is my favorite meat & three, but I am biased since I used to live in the neighborhood and could walk there from my house. That being said, I love the cornbread muffins here, but hate the biscuits. Their fried chicken & country-style steak is good as are their vegetables. Be sure and get pie here, particularly if they offer a version topped with meringue. The chocolate pie reminds me of the ones my grandmother made when I was a kid. Order the pie when you order your other food as they tend to sell out. Sylvan also serves dinner, but lunch is preferable.

Arnold's -- Downtown, lunch-only cafeteria-line meat & three. I have not eaten here much lately, but some of my co-workers are regulars and report that it has not slipped.

Swett's -- Excellent, cafeteria-line meat & three/soul food restaurant. Arnold's & Swett's have many devotees who will argue that they are the best, just as I will with Sylvan Park. All three are good (Swett's also has an outpost in the Farmer's Market, but it is not as good as the main restaurant). I believe that Swett's also serves dinner.

Monell's* -- Monell's takes a bit different approach, serving family-style at communal tables (on the weekends, anyway) at the main restaurant. Probably is best on the weekend...

Kleer-Vu Lunchroom -- Cafeteria-line meat & three/soul food in Murfreesboro. I go here frequently and love their "hot water cornbread". These folks really know their way around pork dishes.

You may also want to check out the Pie Wagon* (though it has moved from it's long-time location) and Hap Townes* (if it still exists), though I have not eaten at either in a very long time.

Meat & three/Combination:

These places serve meat & three, but also have grills:

Rotiers -- Known primarily for their "Cheeseburger on French Bread" (which should be ordered with onion rings and a chocolate milkshake, though these things are not on the menu per se) and waitresses with attitude, Rotier's has good meat & three type dishes as well (and other grill items). But the burger rocks. Equally good at lunch or dinner (maybe even a bit better at dinner).

Elliston Place Soda Shop -- Good meat & three at lunch (especially on Tuesday and Saturday which are the only times they have fried chicken). Decent grill. Full line soda fountain with excellent malteds. Still looks like 1956 inside...


Belle Meade Buffet -- Old-line cafeteria, excellent food. Sort of a meat & three on steroids.

Burger Joints:

Brown's Diner* -- True dive. Good burger.

Bobbi's Dairy Dip -- Seasonal walk-up ice cream stand with good burgers & dogs (by Nashville standards, though probably not by yours).

Fat Mo's -- Drive-thru only. Huge burger available, though I generally get the 1/2 pound.

Buster's Place -- Murfreesboro's best burger, just happens to be in a bar (becomes a biker hang-out at night).

Hot Chicken:

Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

Mr. Boo'sThese two places are running neck & neck for the hot chicken crown in Nashville. Both are worthy contenders. I slightly favor Prince's, but Mr. Boo's is closer so I eat there more often. Both are good. Get the medium heat for the best flavor.


Beacon Light Tea Room -- This may be my favorite place of the lot: great pan-fried chicken, tiny little biscuits (two crusts with little in between, just like I prefer them), excellent country ham (they even offer a choice between center slices or breakfast slices), decent sides. Way out in Bon Aqua (just into Hickman County on Hwy 100), but well worth the drive. Wierd hours. Make sure and call before making the trip.

Wilma Kaye's -- Downtown, lunch only, weekday only. Louisiana Cajun place offering excellent savory fried pies, among other things.

Slick Pig Barbecue -- Murfreesboro. Only go by here if you are going to hit the Kleer-Vu, Buster's and or City Cafe also. But if you do, get their hickory-smoked chicken wings. They market them like buffalo wings, but just ignore the blue cheese & celery. The wings are incredible. Best smoked meat I have had in this state outside of Memphis and Ridgewood Barbecue (in East TN).

Not an exhaustive list, but maybe this will get you started! Feel free to contact me if you need more information.

A couple of notes -- I did not include Parco Cafe because it did not seem to fit the model of the type place Holly normally reviews. I have been to the City Cafe since sending this and can also recommend everything I had there highly, except for the biscuits, which had been frozen. The freshly breaded and fried tenderloin was excellent, as were the potatoes, eggs, country ham and grits...

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

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holly, refering to the post back in aug 6, you said trio's was your first choice. Are you refering to the one in cincinnati? I used to work there a couple of years ago. Its a very nicely run resturant. As for camp washington chili, I live just around the corner. Please let us know when you are in town again and I will give you a couple more resturants to try.

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My mention of Trio was not in regards to choices but that Camp Washington and Trio are the two Beard Award winners that I have visited this year. The Trio I referred to is in Evanston, IL and does not serve chili or goetta.

Thanks for the offer of restaurant suggestions, but no reason to wait until I have a trip planned. Why not tempt me now?

How do you rate Camp Washington among Cincinnati's Chili Parlors?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."



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No, I think they are both quite good and very popular lunch spots.  Wilma Kayes is excellent, but is only open for lunch and not at all on the weekend -- I am very fond of their savory fried pies. 

I took 4 of their shimp and crab au gratin pies home to Winnipeg with me (along with one peach, one apple, and two pralines)! I keep thinking of trying to duplicate them, but I suck at pastry. I wonder if they'd send me the recipe...

Parco Cafe (in the Farmers Market) is awesome -- great desserts (I am especially fond of their fruit tarts -- it's like eating a delicious work of art), sandwiches (particularly the herbed salmon), salads, teas... One of my favorite reasons to go to the Farmers Market...

Funny thing is, Chun doesn't think he bakes that well! He's very humble about his desserts. He told me that he was an excellent cook but when it comes to desserts, he just follows the recipes he gets from the Cordon Bleu. I think both are superb! He does want a larger restaurant (he had one before, but gave it up for an "easier life" which turned out to be quite difficult) so he can really showcase his cooking skills. I hope he can find the space to build one, but not before I can go back for that eggplant sandwich again!

I have pictures from Parco's, if anyone is interested, up at Nashville pictures under "Nashville Food." I loved Nashville and was pleasantly surprised at all the great food I found there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Back in the late 80's early 90's I was a G.I. with the 101st airborne at Ft Campbell Ky...There was a place called Tommy's on Hwy 41a just past the base on the Tenn side...The had the best grub for the lowest prices..its kinda famous among the grunts (Infantrymen)....might be worth a quick stop for some cheap Chinese.

Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!

The Hungry Detective

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