Tennessee **** (Original list created Feb. 2013; Restaurants are verified open as of Feb. 2023)
Bristol–Mad Greek-2419 Volunteer Pkwy. (Greek) Open Daily. Has moussaka, Greek chicken. No. 1 rated rest. in Bristol on Urbanspoon.
Chattanooga–Hickory Pit-5611 Ringgold Rd. (BBQ) Closed Mon. Pulled pork is the most recommended, but everything seems to be good. People say it has the best hamburgers in the city.
Chattanooga–Hillbilly Willy’s-115 Browns Ferry Rd. (BBQ). Looks like you should come here for the best ribs, or Hickory Pit for the best pulled pork (but both are good at both places).
Chattanooga–Sweet Basil-5855 Brainerd Rd. (Thai) Open Daily. Good reviews, but they serve sushi (so it’s hard to tell if the Thai is the “real deal”). From the photos, the food looks authentic.
Cleveland–Farm House-2260 Harrison Pike (American) Good Southern style food.
Fayetteville–Chuck Wagon-702 Norris St. (BBQ) Country cooking & great BBQ in the same place.
Johnson City–Freiberg’s-203 E. Main St. (German) Good German food. Everything is authentic except the potato salad.
Kingsport–Thai Noodle Town-800 Stonegate Rd. (Thai) Closed Sun. Pad thai is the most popular dish. Authentic Thai street food (pad thai & other noodle dishes). Curry is good (such as Massaman).
Knoxville–Bida Saigon-8078 Kingston Pike (Vietnamese) Closed Tue. Seems to be the best and most authentic Asian rest. in Knoxville.
Knoxville–King Tut’s Grill-3716 Nolensville Pike (Egyptian). Try the Egypian sampler.
Knoxville–Sweet P’s BBQ-410 W. Jackson Ave. (BBQ) Closed Mon. BBQ, mac & cheese, banana pudding.
Knoxville–Zhu Garden-128 S. Peters Rd. (Thai) Open Daily. Good Chinese dishes (a few seem authentic), but best choices are the Thai curries (Pananag, red, masaman).
Maryville–Rocky’s Jamaica Sunrise-501 N. Cusick St. (Caribbean) Closed Sun & Mon. Jerk chicken, ribs, mac n cheese.
Memphis–Abbyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant-2600 Poplar Ave. (Ethiopian) Closed Sun evening. Excellent food with great variety. Small, family run rest. This may be one of the best Ethiopian rests. in the country.
Memphis–A&R Bar-B-Que-1802 Elvis Presley Blvd. (BBQ) Lunch Mon-Sat; Dinner Fri & Sat. BBQ pork sandwich, BBQ ribs, and BBQ spaghetti are recommended (the latter is pasta with BBQ sauce instead of Italian sauce).
Memphis–Asian Palace-5266 Summer Ave. (Chinese) Open Daily. Authentic Chinese available (from Chinese menu). Has dim sum, but food from the menu has better reviews.
Memphis–Bar-B-Q Shop-1782 Madison Ave. (BBQ) Closed Sun & Mon. Reviews say it’s the best in Memphis. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork are all good.
Memphis–Central BBQ-147 E. Butler Ave. (BBQ) Open Daily. Known as one of the best places in Memphis for ribs, but reviews in 2014 cast some doubt that this is still the case.
Memphis–Cozy Corner-735 N. Parkway (BBQ) Closed Sun & Mon. The Sterns say it has solid Memphis barbecue, but the best item is the BBQ Cornish game hen.
Memphis–Dyer’s Burgers-205 Beale St. (Hamburgers). This is a Memphis institution that uses somewhat of a gimmick–the grease is strained daily and reused the next day. Customers say the burgers are great but get at least a double patty.
Memphis–Payne’s BBQ-1762 Lamar Ave. (BBQ) Lunch only (closed Sun-Mon). One of the top BBQ places in Memphis. Sliced pork sandwich (with or without slaw) is recommended. Smoked bologna also recommended.
Memphis–Pho Binh-1615 Madison Ave. (Vietnamese) Open Wed-Sat. Reviewers on Urbanspoon said it is one of the best Asian restaurants in the city–especially ones in the cheap price range. Lemongrass tofu plus beef dishes are said to be a specialty.
Memphis–Pho Saigon-2946 Poplar Ave. (Vietnamese) Open Daily. Vermicelli noodle dishes are especially recommended
Morrison–Prater’s BBQ-9576 Manchester Hwy. (BBQ) Closed Sun. night. One of the best BBQ places in Tenn.
Morristown–Davy Crockett-3282 E. Morris Blvd. (American) Closed Sun. Good variety of southern cooking.
Nashville–Kien Giang-5825 Charlotte Pike (Vietnamese) Seems to be the best choice in Nashville for authentic Asian food. Miss Saigon is in the same block, and is another good choice.
Nashville–Pancake Pantry-220 Molloy St. (Breakfast) Open daily 6 am to 2 pm. The Sterns liked their “creations” such as sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon cream.
Nashville–Prince’s Hot Chicken-5055 Broadway Place (American) Open Daily. Very popular, a Nashville favorite.
Nashville-Silver Sands Cafe–837 Locklayer St. (Soul Food). Cafeteria style soul food.
Nashville–Woodlands-3415 West End Ave. (Indian) Complex flavored Indian food-good selection of vegetarian dishes.
Oak Ridge–Mediterranean Delight-160 Bus Terminal Rd. (Mediterranean) Closed Sun & Mon. Everything on menu seems to be good-good choice available. (Greek & Middle Eastern food).
Sevierville–El Paso Mexican-560 Winfield Dunn Pkwy. (Mexican) Open Daily. Supposedly the most authentic Mexican food in Tenn. Several good salsas. It does not look like El Paso style food, though.
Sevierville–Thai Basil-530 Winfield Dunn Pkwy. (Thai) Excellent Thai, but not extremely spicy unless you ask for “Thai hot.” This looks like the best Thai in E. Tenn.
Summertown–Shaffer Farms BBQ-4 Vaughn Staggs Rd. (BBQ) Closed Sun. Texas style BBQ. Brisket is very good. 3 styles of cole slaw.
- This is an Abbreviated List , compiled from a limited number of sources
- Original list came primarily from Urbanspoon.com in 2013-2014
Jane & Michael Stern, “500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late”
This work by the Sterns, published in 2009, focuses on individual dishes and “the Very Best Places to Eat Them.” Although the list is dated by more than a decade, it is worth taking a look at the choices which include the following in Tennessee (partial list and edited for places that have closed–Bold for No. 1 recommendation in the U.S.):
- Banana Pudding–Loveless Cafe Nashville (No. 2 in the US)
- Barbecue Beans–Ridgewood Barbecue Bluff City (No. 2 in the US)
- Barbecue Pork Sandwich—Payne’s Memphis (No. 1 in the US), A&R Bar-B-Que Memphis (No. 2 in the US), Cozy Corner Memphis (No. 3 in the US), Leonard’s Pit Barbecue Memphis (No. 4 in the US), Interstate Bar-B-Que Memphis (No. 6 in the US)
- Barbecue Ribs–Cozy Corner Memphis (No. 2 in the US), Germantown Commissary Memphis (No. 11 in the US), Charles Vergo’s Memphis (No. 16 in the US)
- Barbecue Spaghetti—A&R Bar-B-Que Memphis (No. 1 in the US), Cozy Corner Memphis (No. 2 in the US)
- Biscuits–Loveless Cafe Nashville (No. 6 in the US)
- Catfish–Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish Nashville (No. 2 in the US)
- Hot Fish Sandwich—Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish Nashville (No. 1 in the US)
- Hot Fried Chicken–Prince’s Hot Chicken Nashville (No. 3 in the US)
- Lemon Icebox Pie–Elliston Place Soda Shop Nashville (No. 2 in the US), Cupboard Memphis (No. 4 in the US), Zarzour’s Cafe Chattanooga (No. 5 in the US)
- Meat and Three—Silver Sands Cafe Nashville (No. 1 in the US)
- Pancakes–Pancake Pantry Nashville (No. 5 in the US)
- Pimiento Cheese—Merridee’s Breadbasket Franklin (No. 1 in the US)
- Tamale (Delta Style)–A&R Bar-B-Que Memphis (No. 5 in the US)
Jane & Michael Stern, “500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late,” 2009, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcort.
Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)