Though Nashville may be called Music City, when it comes to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the food options are right in tune. Over the show’s many seasons, Guy Fieri has visited Tennessee countless times, often stopping through Nashville to feast on Southern classics, burgers, Jamaican dishes and classic meat-and-three fare. There are many beloved restaurants in the greater Nashville, Franklin and Hendersonville areas that Guy Fieri has visited on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Tennessee is legendary for its barbecue restaurants, including whole hogs and exceptional pulled pork. Guy stopped by Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, just outside Nashville, for pulled pork sliders that wowed him with their flavor and moistness. (The restaurant is also beloved for its fried bologna sandwiches.) Center Point Pit Barbecue, in nearby Hendersonville, is the place to go if you love ham. Owner Robert Duke smokes his pork until it is as dark as the smoker. Guy went for the holiday ham, learning that it’s a one-of-a-kind dish. Brined for four days, then smoked for six hours, it’s sugar-sprinkled and bruleed, creating a candy-like exterior that Guy declared to be ham brittle, and raved about.
Restaurants like 55 South, in Franklin, draw crowds for fabulous Southern fare, including Nashville's legendary hot chicken and a dish of char-grilled oysters that had an alluring "wood-smoke" component that earned raves from Guy.
One Tennessee must-try — or should we say three — is the meat-and-three platter. Diners choose their main, which could be chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, meatloaf, brisket, pot roast, fried catfish, chicken and dumplings or other hearty mains, then choose three sides, like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, succotash and more. One of the indisputably best places to try meat and three is Arnold’s Country Kitchen, a legendary family-run spot in Nashville. Guy stopped in and feasted on chicken and dumplings with a side of turnip greens, and quickly understood the hype.
At Athens Family Restaurant on Franklin Pike, there's a fitting Greek spin on diner classics, including soups, salads and burgers. Guy devoured the hefty bacon-lamb burger, which is seasoned with "love spice," and enjoyed a chicken turnover that was a delight for the egg-averse Guy.
This food truck’s gourmet take on comfort food draws the crowds, but regulars say it’s worth the wait. The Pimento Mac & Chee has Guy dreaming of childhood. Served with tomato soup, this best-seller features pimento cheese, cheddar, macaroni, bacon bits and sliced tomato on country white bread.
Guy heads to Caffe Nonna for a rustic Italian meal, and nothing on the menu is more rustic than the Lasagna Nonna. This delectable eight-layer dish is filled with butternut squash, spinach, pasta, ricotta and sauteed Swiss chard, and it's finished off with two sauces and lots of cheese.
Mas Tacos por Favor started in a 1974 Winnebago and has since become one of Nashville's favorite eateries, known and loved for serving scratch-made Mexican cuisine. Guy adored the holiday tamales and quinoa tacos. As for the pozole verde soup? He says, the "depth of the broth is ridiculous."
When Guy visited this Italian eatery on Triple D, he found one-of-a-kind homemade fettuccine that is rolled not with a pasta machine but a broomstick. Also worth a try: any of Savarino's signature sandwiches, of which there are over a dozen, paired with cantaloupe Italian ice for dessert.
Guy loves Phat Bites’ Long Life Salad served on a bed of kale with black-eyed peas, Christmas lima beans, black beans, split lentils, red quinoa, pecans, dried cranberries, gold raisins, plums, mangoes and a citrus vinaigrette. Prefer a sandwich? Try the Big Jerk with jerk pork, cheese and onions.
55 South serves up traditional Southern dishes like the Nashville Hot Chicken and the Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. But the fresh seafood served here is also a major highlight. Guy loves the “wood smoke component” of the char-grilled oysters topped with garlic-lemon butter and Parmesan.
It's all authentic and homemade at this Jamaican hole-in-the-wall. The silky ackee and salt-fish intrigued Guy, and he enjoyed the crunchy fried chicken with mango chutney sauce and munching on the coconut drops. Customers praise the curried goat and oxtail stew.
At Center Point Pit Barbecue, owner Robert Duke smokes his pork until in turns "black as night." But as Guy learned on DDD, the holiday ham is unlike any other. After a four-day brine and a six-hour smoke, the ham is sprinkled with sugar and torched, resulting in a delicious "ham brittle," Guy says.
At Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, to go "whole hog" literally means roasting a 200-pound hog in its entirety. The meat is hit with a signature blend of spices, then cooked over hickory wood for 24 hours, which Michael Symon said results in “the perfect bite of pork.” Michael’s favorite order is the whole hog platter accompanied by sides such as the bacon-studded broccoli salad and onion-flecked hushpuppies. The succulent meat also serves as the filling for the sliders, which made Guy Fieri a fan. He called the pork “beyond juicy and moist and flavorful.”
The "Meat & 3" (entree and three vegetables) at Arnold's Country Kitchen is arguably the best in Nashville, especially with the roast beef. In 2009, they even won a James Beard award. But Guy swung over not for the roast beef but for the plump chicken dumplings and "super tasty”"turnip greens.
You don't normally think about Cajun food in Nashville except when the owners come from Louisiana, like they do at Bro's Cajun Cuisine. Get the gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish cooked in fiery red spices or the Cajun-style pork chops. If the locals say "it is true Cajun food," then it's gotta be!
Cafe Rakka is no ordinary restaurant. Rather, it's a "Nashville-Mediterranean-Indian experience in Music City," according to Guy, where you'll find country music legends among the regulars. Try the filet mignon kebabs, cooked on a sizzling Himalayan salt block, for a flavor-packed meal.
At Athens Family Restaurant, owner Adel Elostta aims for the "best quality for the money." As Guy learned, that meant giant bacon lamb burgers (made with their "love spice" blend), gargantuan Greek suzukakia meatballs and kotopita, a tasty chicken turnover Guy called his kind of breakfast.