Best Tennessee Foods

Ten Quintessential Tennessee Foods and Where to Find Them

Banana Pudding: An iconic Tennessee desert involving a bed of ‘Nilla wafer cookies layered with rich vanilla pudding and fresh slices of banana, this is a delightful finish to any meal! If you are watching your sugar intake, pop into Muddy’s Bake Shop in Memphis for a shot-sized serving of the delicious treat. If you want to truly indulge, visit Peter D’s in Murfreesboro. This place won the 2015 banana pudding contest, priding itself on building every ingredient from scratch for a truly authentic southern flavor!

Barbecue: Tennessee is a state that is almost synonymous with delicious barbecue. With a number of regional influences, it is not unusual to find ribs slathered with a tomato-based sauce vs a sweet and spicy dry rub. It is ultimately the intense flavor that makes Tennessee BBQ so appealing! Of course, there are the classic favorites, such as pulled pork, chopped beef and smoked brisket, yet some will argue that a truly fantastic barbecue plate is as much about the sides as the meat itself. For the full experience, you can do no better than to stop by Central BBQ on Central Avenue in Memphis. This place smokes their meat with hickory and pecan wood, incorporating a secret mixture of seasoning that makes each bite absolutely delicious. Be sure to sample the ribs as well as the smoked turkey, accompanied with a serving of home-cooked pork rinds and green beans!

Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy: Biscuits and gravy are one of the most famous dishes in the South, yet Tennessee is infamous for its red eye gravy. This simple yet delicious concoction is made from country ham drippings combined with coffee and served over a flaky, fresh baked biscuit. Particularly popular for breakfast, be sure to stop by the Loveless Café in Nashville, where you can sample this classic dish alongside two farm fresh eggs and homemade hash brown casserole.

Catfish: Catfish is one of the ultimate comfort foods of the south. Rolled in cornmeal and fried, there is nothing better than sitting down to a few fresh catfish filets accompanied by a simple squeeze of lemon. Catfish are plentiful in the Tennessee rivers, so most people prefer to catch and cook their own, but if you want a great meal without putting in the work, stop by Uncle Bud’s in Donelson for a treat! For less than $20, you can eat all the catfish you can hold, either in the form of a whole fish or the more classic boneless fillets!

Cornbread: One of the most quintessential Southern foods, everyone has their own idea of what cornbread should be. A simple concoction of cornmeal and baking powder, there are many different variations on how cornbread can be made. Some like it sweet, some like it dry and crumbly, and others like a softer texture. In spite of individual preference, almost everyone can agree that the best cornbread in Tennessee, and maybe even the entire South, can be found at Husk in Nashville. Made with buttermilk, egg and bacon, this treat is cooked in a wood-burning oven before being brought to the table, still sizzling in its cast iron skillet! Be sure to slather it with the honeyed pork butter that accompanies the dish for the ultimate taste of the South!

Country Ham: One of the most popular forms of Southern protein, country ham is cured in salt and smoked with hickory or another hardwood. After the process is complete, the meat is allowed to age for anywhere from several months to a few years before being cooked and served. While this may seem like an invitation for food 

poisoning, the meat is kept unspoiled by the curing process. A popular holiday dish, you can find country ham available year- round at Shirley’s Home Cooking in Hampton. This cozy place offers lives up to its name, serving delicious food made from scratch in a family-style manner, meaning you can eat all you can hold!

Grits: A popular breakfast food, grits are to the South what oatmeal is to other regions. Grits are made from boiled, coarse ground corn that is typically served 

piping hot. On their own, grits are typically topped with butter, salt and pepper or mixed with cheese, though some like them sweet and will add sugar and honey. When combined with shrimp, grits create one of the most iconic comfort foods associated with the south! The Loveless Café in Nashville is most-well known for their delicious biscuits, yet they offer some delicious stone ground grits that make a perfect accompaniment to breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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