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Meats and Threes


wcmckinney
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Just returned to Raleigh after spending the first part of the week in Nashvillle, TN. What the city doesn't have in mountains or beaches by the sea, it makes up for in hot chicken and meat and three cafeterias.

My question is such: what other cities in the South have as many strong meat and three restaurants and what dishes are requirements on a cafeteria line?

As far as metropoli with this many good country cooking spots, I am hard pressed to find a counterweight so maybe that is a loaded question.

However as far as classic meat and three dishes I think cucumber/tomato salads, chess pies, greens, beans, a roast, and offal meat (liver) belong, in that order actually.

William McKinney aka "wcmckinney"
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You've really asked 2 different questions. One about meat and threes - another about cafeterias. As for cafeterias - I think most Piccadilly's in the south answer your question. We eat at Piccadilly at home - and on the road if there's one in the general vicinity at lunch time. Note that Piccadilly bought Morrisons a while back (it was the other major cafeteria chain here). We've also found some Western Sizzlin' restaurants in the south that do a nice job of "southern cafeteria food". The one that comes to mind immediately is the one in Pooler Georgia (a couple of miles off I-95).

By the way - I think roasts and offal would be far down on the list of meat courses I'd expect to find at a meat and three. Except perhaps on Sunday. Roasts would be more common at cafeterias - or places like Holiday House (a Florida meat and three/cafeteria style small chain). At Holiday House - you can get a roast - or turkey - every day. The one I'm most familiar with is the one in Deland, Florida - and I understand it's better than other Holiday Houses. Robyn

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How about this kind of food in the Knoxville area....going there in June and want to stuff myself with biscuts etc.... :shock:

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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The Nashville area is well represented. Sweatt's, Monell's, Sylvan Park, Elliston Place Soda Shop, Rotier's, Arnold's, Dotson's, Wendell Smith's and probably a dozen other places I haven't yet happened upon. And a bunch more in small towns within a stone's throw as the crow flies.

I'd add fried chicken, chicken fried steak, some version of corn (fried, creamed or pudding) to your list of classics and, though sometimes not always included in the price, banana pudding for dessert.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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what other cities in the South have as many strong meat and three restaurants and what dishes are requirements on a cafeteria line?

Here in Atlanta, the ones mentioned most often, and which are both well-respected old favorites, The Colonnade ...

from Atlanta Creative Loafing

We like the lamb shank and the fried chicken best. Lots of people love the roast turkey. Fresh greens are a good side dish and the wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing is standard.

and the now famous Mary Mac's Tearoom:

from Holly Eats

fried chicken, creamy cheese grits, good ol' fried green tomatoes and, of course, a bowl of greens.  To drink, a tall icy glass of lemonade.  For dessert, super sweet banana pudding, overflowing with sliced bananas, all atop a vanilla wafer and topped with a square of meringue.

Similarly, these also share the spotlight:

Son's Place:

Hoecakes, collard greens, gooey mac and cheese and, of course, fried chicken are the stars of this reliable down-home lunch destination. Vegetables--especially candied turnips, buttery lima beans and whipped potatoes--are fresh and tend to outshine the main dishes. But the pork chops, meatloaf and the fish special are good, as well. Be sure to save room for the cobbler of the day, the caramel cake or the to-die-for banana pudding.

Busy Bee Cafe:

Alongside chitlins, giblets, ham hocks and neck bones,you'll find such classics as "beelicious" fried chicken (try it smothered in gravy), pork chops and meatloaf. Two fresh veggies--don't miss broccoli cheese casserole or a Tuesday special of baby limas--come with each dinner. Desserts, especially red velvet cake and banana pudding, are in a league of their own.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Here in Atlanta, the ones mentioned most often, and which are both well-respected old favorites, The Colonnade ...

I can attest to the Colonnade. I used to live off Lenox Road and we would often take the kids to Colonnade. The Loaf has it right, though - stick to the basics. They serve good fried chicken with all the sides. They do not, however, serve family style. Ditto with Mary Mac.

I also used to live in Nashville near Centennial Park - we loved Rotiers and the Loveless Motel - how I love the Loveless's biscuits and ham!

In North Carolina, try to visit Tryon (off hwy 74 on the way to Asheville) so you can eat at The Caro-Mi Restaurant. The owners split their time between NC and Miami (hence Caro-Mi). The setting is charming, the food served family style. You get your choice of meat (ham, fried chicken, pan fried mountain trout) and they bring the sides family style. Many years ago, Jan and Michael Stern of Road Food fame reviewed this place. It is worth a stop and their macaroni salad is famous in these parts!

No place in Charlotte, NC for family style that I know of, but plenty of meat and threes here as well - The Coffee Cup is probably the best. They make anexcellent salmon patty, good fried chicken and great sides, but you can't beat their breakfast. Hmmmm

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How about this kind of food in the Knoxville area....going there in June and want to stuff myself with biscuts etc.... :shock:

tracey

If you're venturing south of Knoxville at all, you can't go wrong with the Dinner Bell - there's one in Lenoir City and one in Sweetwater, both off I-75. (I believe there's one at the KY/TN state line at Jellico too, but I've never been to that one.)

The breakfast buffet is good, but it's the lunch/dinner buffet that really stands out. It covers a bunch of the traditional meat-and-three dishes - standard assortment of vegetables/starches, plus a pretty good assortment of meats. Their fried chicken and chicken and dumplings are particularly good, although I think they only do the fried chicken on Sundays. They've generally got an assortment of desserts as well, cobbler and banana pudding being the standouts assuming you have room for them.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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The West Gray Cafe in the shadow of downtown Houston is a good place to get a great meat and three.

The daily selections vary, but I would expect to see and respectable meat and three place offer in the rotation:

Chicken and dumplings

Hamburger steak

Smothered chicken (or pork chops)

Fried chicken

Chicken fried steak

This Is It! Soul Food place, also on West Gray is a cafeteria style meat and three place that is also very good.

If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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No place in Charlotte, NC for family style that I know of, but plenty of meat and threes here as well - The Coffee Cup is probably the best.  They make anexcellent salmon patty, good fried chicken and great sides, but you can't beat their breakfast.  Hmmmm

What about the United House of Prayer for All People on Beatties Ford? It's replaced the old McDonalds Cafeteria as the quintessential Southern cafeteria line. K&W also has a huge following and a certain appeal, for their vegetables alone. It's based in Greensboro, but the Charlotte location does big business.

On the dishes you have to have on a meat-and-three line, I'd add baked chicken, which I find even more often than fried chicken, and chicken and dumplings. Turnip greens turn up as often as collards, and mac and cheese is a must. Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart (and unfortunately, around my belly) for the UHOP's coconut pie, which is weepy enough to soak the crust with syrup.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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What about the United House of Prayer for All People on Beatties Ford?

I have heard about this place from several folks. My daughter goes to Northwest School of the Arts on Beatties Ford, and I have seen the UHOP.I think I will have to try this. I love coconut pie. Remember the coconut pie at the Cupboard?

When we first moved to Charlotte in 1992, my family went to McDonald's Cafeteria. It was the only time we went, sadly. It was good. I also miss Belk's cafeteria, though their veggies weren't always that great.

I have also been to the Diamond on Commonwealth - not bad at all.

And you are definitely right - baked chicken is a classic meat-and-three offering. here in Charlotte, beef tips and rice, fried chicken livers or liver and onions are popular.

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Just returned to Raleigh after spending the first part of the week in Nashvillle, TN.  What the city doesn't have in mountains or beaches by the sea, it makes up for in hot chicken and meat and three cafeterias.

My question is such:  what other cities in the South have as many strong meat and three restaurants and what dishes are requirements on a cafeteria line?

As far as metropoli with this many good country cooking spots, I am hard pressed to find a counterweight so maybe that is a loaded question.

However as far as classic meat and three dishes I think cucumber/tomato salads, chess pies, greens, beans, a roast, and offal meat (liver) belong, in that order actually.

Dishes required for all self-respecting Southern meat'n'threes (rotating basis, Meatloaf Tuesday, etc., quite acceptable):

Fried Chicken

Chicken Livers

Chicken and Dumplins

Meatloaf

Country Fried Steak

A big ole pink ham for Sunday Dinner, cloves optional

Whole Turkey Breast, sliced into the gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Gravy

Mac N Cheese

Butterbeans

Fried Okra

Snap Beans w or w/o Baby Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Squash smothered with Onions

Cabbage with big ham hunks

Greens, any kind, every day (NOT spinach)

Blackeyes or Crowders or Purplehulls

Potato Salad

Slaw

Kidney Bean Salad

Pea Salad

Devilled Eggs

Combination Salad (Iceberg, tomato chunks, cucumber, bell pepper) with choice of 1000 or Ranch, or sometimes already tossed, with just mayo and salt

Three Bean

Five Cup

Jello Cubes (NOT blue)

Congealed Salad--Crushed pineapple and KoolWhip stirred in before jelling

Cornbread---any version, including jalapeno and sour cream; sticks, wedges, squares or muffins, but they better not APPROACH it with the sugar bowl unless they're north of the Tennessee/Kentucky line

Rolls

Light Bread

Biscuits

Coconut Cake

Chocolate Cake

PIES:

Chess

Chocolate

Lemon Icebox

Karo Pecan

Peach Cobbler

And our good fortune: though we live in what my husband calls the "Northernmost Southern State," we have at least three places very close by which serve exactly the above menu, done in exactly the way you'd find it in Natchez or Nashville or Atlanta. :wub:

Edited by racheld (log)
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Just returned to Raleigh after spending the first part of the week in Nashvillle, TN.  What the city doesn't have in mountains or beaches by the sea, it makes up for in hot chicken and meat and three cafeterias.

My question is such:  what other cities in the South have as many strong meat and three restaurants and what dishes are requirements on a cafeteria line?

As far as metropoli with this many good country cooking spots, I am hard pressed to find a counterweight so maybe that is a loaded question.

However as far as classic meat and three dishes I think cucumber/tomato salads, chess pies, greens, beans, a roast, and offal meat (liver) belong, in that order actually.

Dishes required for all self-respecting Southern meat'n'threes (rotating basis, Meatloaf Tuesday, etc., quite acceptable):

Fried Chicken

Chicken Livers

Chicken and Dumplins

Meatloaf

Country Fried Steak

A big ole pink ham for Sunday Dinner, cloves optional

Whole Turkey Breast, sliced into the gravy

Mashed Potatoes

Gravy

Mac N Cheese

Butterbeans

Fried Okra

Snap Beans w or w/o Baby Potatoes

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Squash smothered with Onions

Cabbage with big ham hunks

Greens, any kind, every day (NOT spinach)

Blackeyes or Crowders or Purplehulls

Potato Salad

Slaw

Kidney Bean Salad

Pea Salad

Devilled Eggs

Combination Salad (Iceberg, tomato chunks, cucumber, bell pepper) with choice of 1000 or Ranch, or sometimes already tossed, with just mayo and salt

Three Bean

Five Cup

Jello Cubes (NOT blue)

Congealed Salad--Crushed pineapple and KoolWhip stirred in before jelling

Cornbread---any version, including jalapeno and sour cream; sticks, wedges, squares or muffins, but they better not APPROACH it with the sugar bowl unless they're north of the Tennessee/Kentucky line

Rolls

Light Bread

Biscuits

Coconut Cake

Chocolate Cake

PIES:

Chess

Chocolate

Lemon Icebox

Karo Pecan

Peach Cobbler

And our good fortune: though we live in what my husband calls the "Northernmost Southern State," we have at least three places very close by which serve exactly the above menu, done in exactly the way you'd find it in Natchez or Nashville or Atlanta. :wub:

damn I just ate and I am hungry....cant wait to get to Knoxville this June still dont know where to eat yet....my mother said their must be a Cracker Barrel there :wacko:

We have Cracker Barrel in Jersey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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How about this kind of food in the Knoxville area....going there in June and want to stuff myself with biscuts etc.... :shock:

tracey

Weaver's Cafeteria on Middlebrook Pike. It's about as old-time Southern as it gets.

Kevin

Kevin

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain

Visit my blog at Seriously Good.

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Dinner this past Tuesday night at Swett's in Nashville helped me define a true Meat and Threes restaurant.

1. You know you're in a real Meat and Three when the follow up question to "Biscuit or Cornbread" if you answer "Cornbread" is "Baked or Fried."

2. You know you're in a real Meat and Three when the menu reads Chicken Fried Steak and not Country Fried Steak.

I'm sure there are others.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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3. when you order tea--note: not iced tea or sweet tea b/c there is no need to specify, besides it would be swee'tea any way--you are going to get brown syrup

4. the waitress does not know your name nor does she care to know your name b/c as long as you are there it will be "sweetie", "honey", "hon", "sUGAr", "darlin'", or some thing similar.

5. macaroni and cheese is a vegetable

6. so is rice

7. "save room for pie" is the last thing you hear fr/ your waitress as she leaves the table after taking your order.

Edited by Lan4Dawg (log)

in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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  • 2 months later...
First, let me admit to being a damn Yankee.

Second, what's a meat and three? Meat and three vegetables? This is a kind of restaurant?? :unsure:

You took the words right outta my mouth, chuchelo ! I was gonna say, "OK, I bite........what IS it ? "

:wink:

Kathy

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A meat and three is simply, and at it's best, a restaurant that serves a plate (often called a blue plate, both here and in other parts of the country) that consists of a meat choice and three vegetables with some kind of bread (usually corn bread or biscuits). There will usually be a choice of two or three meats (for example, meat load, fried pork chops, and maybe fried catfish) and there will be four or five choices for vegetables (peas, butterbeans, fried green tomatoes, yellow squash, corn of various preps, rice and gravy (yes, where I live rice and gravy is a vegetable), sliced tomatoes, okra and tomatoes, etc). This meal is usually on your table in about two seconds and hopefully is served with a large (like a quart) tea-and the tea, unlike the stereotype that you might believe is NOT always sweet. These things are located all over the South, one of my favorite areas for this kind of dining is the area surrounding Lafayette, LA-you can swing a cat and hit two or three good ones. It's a pretty great place for this kind of dining.

Oh yeah, it's usually really cheap.

So, that's a meat and three. Next question.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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...

Mashed Potatoes   

Gravy    

Mac N Cheese  

Butterbeans  

Fried Okra 

Snap Beans w or w/o Baby Potatoes 

Candied Sweet Potatoes  

Squash smothered with Onions

Cabbage with big ham hunks   

Greens, any kind, every day  (NOT spinach)

Blackeyes or Crowders or Purplehulls     

Potato Salad    

Slaw    

Kidney Bean Salad    

Pea Salad  

Devilled Eggs

Combination Salad   (Iceberg, tomato chunks, cucumber, bell pepper) with choice of 1000 or Ranch, or sometimes already tossed, with just mayo and salt

Three Bean      

Five Cup   

Jello Cubes  (NOT blue)   

Congealed Salad--Crushed pineapple and KoolWhip stirred in before jelling

Cornbread---any version, including jalapeno and sour cream; sticks, wedges, squares or muffins, but they better not APPROACH it with the sugar bowl unless they're north of the Tennessee/Kentucky line

Rolls     

Light Bread

Biscuits

...

To add to your nice list of sides:

stewed or scalloped tomatoes

stewed okra and tomatoes

casseroles or puddings: summer squash, corn, sweet potato, zucchini

and to expand on greens: turnip, collard, beet, mustard, kale

spiced peaches

coleslaw

succotash

pickled beets

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Just returned to Raleigh after spending the first part of the week in Nashvillle, TN.  What the city doesn't have in mountains or beaches by the sea, it makes up for in hot chicken and meat and three cafeterias.

My question is such:  what other cities in the South have as many strong meat and three restaurants and what dishes are requirements on a cafeteria line?

As far as metropoli with this many good country cooking spots, I am hard pressed to find a counterweight so maybe that is a loaded question.

However as far as classic meat and three dishes I think cucumber/tomato salads, chess pies, greens, beans, a roast, and offal meat (liver) belong, in that order actually.

Birmingham is saturated with meat and threes, often run by Greeks, oddly enough. The best (this is a matter of great debate in these parts) is Niki's West on Finley. The workers on the line are the "Soup Nazis" of soul food: you better know what you want or they are movin on to the next customer. But the stress is well worth it. I recommend the fried flounder, fried chicken and the creamed corn. Never had anything here I don't love. The lemon icebox pie is sweet and so is the tea. They use Red Diamond tea, which is the best I have had.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."- Virginia Woolfe

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  • 1 year later...

Just a quick "bump" of this old thread---mouth-wateringly homey and evocative in all ways of Grandma's kitchen.

I just hope the creamed corn is not from a can.

And those little ranks of tiny white bowls, with their scoop of banana pudding, the blackberry cobbler, the congealed desserts and the five-cup, the slumpy slices of cake and pie just barely fitting into the dish--too much for choosing.

Someday when the savory stuff is not calling so deliciously, I intend to make all my selections from the dessert shelf.

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