Deep Dive: Nashville

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Unless you've spent some time in Nashville, chances are, you're not exactly sure what to expect from the food scene.  

Meat and Three
Unless you've spent some time in the south, chances are you don't know what a meat and three is.  For simplicities sake, it's basically just a menu/restaurant format where the diner selects one meat, which can range from things like fried chicken to meatloaf, and then three vegetables, or sides. Since we're in the South the definition of "vegetables" can run the gamut from collard greens and fried okra, all the way to non-vegetable "vegetables" like mac 'n' cheese and cornbread stuffing.

Arnold's Country Kitchen
As far as meat and three restaurants in Nashville go, Arnold's Country Kitchen has earned the reputation as the go-to spot in town. The best pro-tip I can give you for eating at Arnold's is to plan ahead, because the doors open at 1030, and by the time "lunch" starts calling your name, the line is out the door and across the parking lot…
Read the full review here.

Monell's Restaurant
Long before the north Nashville neighborhood called Germantown was the hip and trendy hot spot, there was Monell's Restaurant. Previous to hipsters roaming the sidewalks with ironic fashion choices or "dinks" walking their hypo-allergenic labradoodles around the newly minted ballpark, there was Monell's Restaurant
Read the full review here.

Swett's Restaurant
Just down the street from Wendell Smith's is Swett's Restaurant. While these two exist in the same category, there are stark differences between the two. First and foremost, Swett's revels in its reputation as being the meeting place for various Nashville political "movers and shakers." Think: dixie-fried fat cat southern politicians with seer sucker suits and big husky drawls who split their time evenly between dabbing the sweat off their foreheads with a handkerchief and downing giant tumblers full of sweet tea. And once you have that image in your mind, dial it back to reality. This is Nashville in 2015, not "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Read the full review here

Wendell Smith's Restaurant
Wendell Smith's is located in the older part of West Nashville off of Charlotte Pike, a major thoroughfare running in and out of town. Immediately upon walking up to the restaurant you see a giant neon sign. It's both impressive, and unimpressive all at the same time.  Which, I guess, is appropriately analogous to the restaurant itself. The neons are bright and impressive when lit, but because the restaurant closes around 7:30 every evening, it's rare that you actually get to see them when you're dining there. Meat and threes are traditionally a lunch locale. Neon lights aren't exactly all that impressive during the peak daylight hours. That said, when the neons are lit, they're a great throwback to days gone by, just like Wendell Smith's…
Read the full review here.

History and Heritage
What's the difference between a relic and a treasure? Relics outlast time. They survive. Not because they're particularly special, although they can be, but rather because they have the survival skills necessary to simply not die off. Relics, though, are dated. Treasures, on the other hand, are cultivated and cared for. Treasures are saved and stored because someone believes so much in them, they want to preserve it and share it with the future. People they don't know and probably won't meet. Nashville's meat and three restaurants are treasures. Sure, many of them are "trapped in the past" but if we don't know where we've been, we won't know where we're going.

Related

Touring Nashville's best meat and threes reminds me of the heritage that is ever-present in southern culinary. Heritage is passed down from generation to generation within the restaurants, but also passed along to the hungry masses that line themselves out the door. It passes down because it's something special. It's treasured. In the south, grandma's biscuit making tools are passed down. That well seasoned cast iron skilled it passed down. And most notably core tenants like history, tradition, attention to detail, care for ingredients, they're all shared from generation to generation because they're special and it's important.