Next Up

Vittles in the Volunteer State: What to Eat in Tennessee

Hot chicken, fluffy biscuits, dry-rubbed ribs and potent moonshine are a few of the great-tastes in Tennessee.

1 / 27

Whiskey and Beyond

There’s no getting around the fact that Tennessee is a long ole state. From mile marker 0 at the Mississippi River to number 455, where Interstate 40 enters North Carolina, if you’re driving across Tennessee, you’d better pack a lunch. Fortunately, that also means that there is plenty of geographic diversity among the state’s cuisine, so there is an abundance of excellent choices for you to stop and get that lunch, or breakfast or dinner. Maybe instead of a lunch, you’d better pack a cooler...

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

More photos after this Ad

2 / 27
Photo: Craig Thompson

Dry Ribs

While there's nothing technically wrong with slathering a slab of spare ribs with sauce like they do in other states, Memphis barbecue fans have learned to complement the flavor of the pork with a dry rub instead of concealing it under sweet, sticky sauce. The Vergos family revolutionized ribs by developing a spice mix based on the rubs their Greek ancestors used to flavor lamb. At their Rendezvous restaurant, they still serve hundreds of racks every day cooked over charcoal and seasoned with their proprietary rub.

go to

More photos after this Ad

3 / 27
Photo: ttbphoto

Ramps

These powerfully pungent alliums are halfway between a leek and garlic, and only appear in the spring, growing in the wild near forest streams at higher altitudes. Foragers hunt them like hillbilly truffles, and restaurants such as Knoxville’s J.C. Holdway are experts at harnessing the strong flavors to create delicate dishes that lure rabid ramp fans. In the home kitchen, fry up some Benton’s Bacon and then cook sliced potatoes and ramps in the bacon grease for a doubly authentic taste of Appalachia.

More photos after this Ad

4 / 27
Photo: Courtesy of Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

Nashville, Tennessee: Half Chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken

Legend goes that Nashville Hot Chicken was invented in the 1930’s when a scorned lover tried to exact revenge by spicing up Thornton Prince’s fried chicken with an insane amount of pepper until it was an infernally dark red color and blazingly hot in flavor. It turned out he loved it and asked his paramour to cook more of it for him and his friends, eventually opening a restaurant to serve it to the masses. Today, there are multiple places to buy and try the piquant poultry, but the current generation of the Prince family still serves the original version, which many consider to be the best.

go to

More photos after this Ad

Next Up

We Recommend