You don’t need to be in a major metropolitan area to find incredible cuisine. The small towns sprinkled throughout Middle Tennessee are home to some incredible—and incredibly unique—dining options perfectly suited for a hearty breakfast, light lunch, memorable dinner or a toast among friends. If you’re embarking on a culinary food tour throughout South Central Tennessee, we’ve rounded up the can’t-miss restaurants you should visit from breakfast through nightcap.
Where to eat breakfast in South Central Tennessee
Puckett’s Grocery, Columbia
A stroll through Columbia’s downtown is good for the soul, home to eclectic shops, bookstores, boutiques and eateries. Kick off your day exploring the area with a visit to Puckett’s Grocery for breakfast, with hearty options like biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls and French toast or lighter fare like yogurt and omelets to keep you fueled all day long.
Photo: Puckett's Grocery
The Southern Table, Pulaski
The Southern Table is owned and operated by a Pulaski local, Ryan Yokley, who worked throughout Middle Tennessee before opting to bring his expertise back home. Brunch options range from savory to sweet across the elevated menu, offering everything from a hot chicken biscuit to salads and shrimp and grits. After a Southern Table brunch, you’ll be ready to return for dinner in no time.
Where to eat lunch in South Central Tennessee
Shenanigans has been a Sewanee favorite since opening in 1974, a quaint gathering place for locals, college students and visitors to connect over a picnic table lunch of grilled sandwiches or pizzas made from scratch. This perfectly Southern staple will have you feeling like you’re right at home.
Head to Fayetteville for a truly unique dining experience: a casual spot for lunch or dinner housed inside a former jail house. While the robust menu spans everything from pastas to steaks and burritos, the ambience is the star of the Cahoots show. The metal cells once used to hold and transport prisoners are still intact, though we’re grateful the haunt swapped fugitives for food.
Where to eat dinner in South Central Tennessee
Filo’s Tavern, Winchester
Your mouth is sure to water at Winchester’s Filo’s Tavern, a kitchen serving up melt-in-your-mouth steaks, seafood favorites and incredible craft cocktails. Celebrate a special occasion in this charming brick building along the city’s picturesque main street.
Photo: Filo's Tavern
Emil’s Bistro & Lounge, Tullahoma
Promising “big city dining with a small town vibe,” Emil’s blends the best of the city and the country in a Tullahoma home built in 1905. While the building may be historic, the cuisine is fresh and inventive, with Southern and French-influenced dishes lining the menu. Chef Georges Martin and his wife, Tammy, opened the establishment in 2001.
Where to get drinks in South Central Tennessee
Humble Baron, Shelbyville
A Shelbyville newcomer, Humble Baron is making waves around the globe—it’s officially the longest bar in the world at 518 feet. The cocktails and pair of stages (indoors and out) are just as noteworthy as the impressive accolade, which has been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Buck and Board, Columbia
Looking for a spot to sip great wine with a group of friends? Buck and Board in Columbia is it. Pair your pour with a variety of boards, from a traditional meat and cheese board to the trendy butter board. Bring your furry friends, too, as a "barkuterie" board is also on the menu.
Photo: Buck and Board
Kitchen 218, Pulaski
The menu at Pulaski’s Kitchen 218 is worth a visit for lunch or dinner, but the specialty drink menu will have you returning for a night cap. Try twists on traditional favorites like the basil gimlet, carefully merging gin and basil flavors sweetened with simple syrup. Or, up the ante with the jalapeno-infused spiced salty dog.