Best Restaurants in Franklin, Tennessee

A visit to Middle Tennessee isn’t complete without some traditional, down-home Southern cooking


Franklin has plenty of restaurants, serving all kinds of food—but if you’re looking for real Southern fare, you’ll definitely find it here. Don’t miss out on classic comfort food, hot and spicy chicken or "meat and three."

Big Shake’s Hot Chicken and Fish

You can’t visit Franklin without eating hot chicken; it’s a Tennessee tradition. Hot chicken is basically fried chicken with more than a hint of spice, and at Big Shake’s you decide just how hot you want to go: original; cry baby; stop, drop and roll; or executioner. Platters come with white bread—to nibble between bites of chicken to cool your mouth—and pickles. Just like the chicken, the whiting or catfish platters are breaded with four levels of heat. And what’s more southern for dessert than something sweet and deep-fried? Cap off your meal with deep-fried Oreos. You’ll find Big Shake’s in two Franklin locations: Murfreesboro Road and downtown.

Cool Cafe

Cool Cafe has been voted, “Best Meat and Three establishment,” several times over. Meat and three restaurants encourage the choosing of one meat along with three side dishes, but in the South, the practice is named, claimed and promoted as an originally Southern tradition. Cool Cafe’s menu changes daily, but meat choices can include catfish, meatloaf, chicken, chicken-fried steak or pot roast. Choose tempting sides of okra, turnip greens, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes or green salad to complement your meat with southern favorites. Regulars at Cool Cafe love the World Famous Banana Pudding, made from scratch daily.

55 South

Southerners are famous for their comfort food, and Chef Jason McConnell is a comfort food master. Bustling, friendly and comfortable, 55 South offers a wide array of down-home cooking. Start with an order of their famous gulf oysters, fried pickles or smoked queso with barbecued brisket. Then choose a Southern-style main dish. Try the hot chicken, gumbo, shrimp and grits or chicken-fried chicken. 55 South also offers a full bar; check the chalkboard for a full list of bourbon, Scotch, Tennessee, Irish or rye whiskies and beers. Enjoy drink specials and discounted oysters during weekday happy hour. Eat 10 dozen oysters in less than 30 minutes and get your name on the Oyster Wall of Fame.

Mack and Kate’s

For an upscale restaurant with traditional Southern food, look no further than Mack and Kate’s. Owners Jane and Bernie Strawn prepare local favorites and present them with an urban flair. Do fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese and bacon marmalade before moving to the main course. You can’t go wrong with the house meatloaf or steak and homemade biscuits—both local favorites. Another top seller is Kate’s bouillabaisse—an enticing mixture of shrimp, crab, fresh fish, mussels, Andouille sausage, peppers and onions. Find Mack and Kate’s on Maddox Way.

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