Williamson County is riddled with hidden gems, from stunning, tucked-away farms to historical landmarks, seemingly on every street corner. There’s much to discover county-wide, and we’re here to share a little secret with you: Many locally-owned restaurants are nestled in strip malls and off side roads, and while their locations may seem unassuming, what you’ll find inside will be enough to keep you coming back time and time again.
Coffee shops, restaurants with well-kept secrets, and one of the best burgers in town call strip malls home, and today we’re opening up our box of secrets to share seven surprising finds that should be on your itinerary.
The Good Cup
You’ll find a mix of quirky decor, knickknacks for sale, and locals catching up over coffee at The Good Cup in the Grassland area of Franklin. The shop may be in an off-the-beaten path destination, but don’t be fooled—it can be tough to find a table in this locally beloved hotspot. Grab a classic drip coffee or a seasonal special and a sausage biscuit for breakfast, or head over for lunch for some of the best chicken salad in existence, made even better (and even more Southern) with a side of fruit ambrosia.
Bishop’s Meat & Three
Franklin is harboring a secret: The world-famous Nashville hot chicken chain Hattie B’s shares an owner with a Cool Springs strip mall resident, Bishop’s Meat & Three. The beloved spicy recipes are shared between the two restaurants, but Bishop’s stands apart by also offering a rotating menu of Southern delicacies like pork chops, turnip greens, and turkey and dressing (yes, all year long).
Chrysalis Modern Italian
Cool Springs’ Carothers Parkway corridor is quite literally lined with hidden gems, from restaurants to boutiques, fitness studios, and more. Don’t miss a visit to Chrysalis, a modern Italian eatery with an ambience that matches the beauty of each dish. Cozy up to the bar for a craft cocktail or mocktail, or opt for a table for larger groups ready to indulge in Italian favorites like bruschetta, Bolognese, and flatbreads (at remarkably impressive price points, might we add!)
The beautiful thing about strip malls is that businesses can change drastically from one suite to the next, and while Ground might be a hop, skip, and a jump from Chrysalis, it’s home to a drastically different (but equally impressive) culinary experience. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ground has the best burger you can get in Williamson County. As its name suggests, Ground touts the freshest ingredients with everything from their beef to their spuds, which comes through beautifully in each carefully prepared dish. Be sure to grab a side of their house-made ranch!
Also on the Carother’s corridor is Franklin newcomer Mi Kitchen, a modern Asian tapas restaurant serving up beautifully-plated dishes like wok-tossed cauliflower, spicy pork tacos and crispy tuna. Enjoy whichever dish (or dishes) you choose under glistening chandeliers.
Sugar Drop Bakery
This hidden gem is packed with even more surprises. Sugar Drop is a bakery first and foremost, but it also offers a plethora of events and activities for wanna-be bakers big and small. Drop in for a treat or book an extra sweet birthday party complete with decorating supplies, cotton candy, popcorn and more.
Before it was an elegant steakhouse, it was Pie in the Sky, a beloved pizza shop that I had the honor of working at for many years. While I still miss the spiral bread, The Honeysuckle has earned a thumbs up from me for a number of reasons. The exterior sets it apart from its next door neighbor (a furniture store), thanks to its striped awning with pops of red that set the stage for elegance with the curb appeal alone. Inside, expect to find tufted booths and a menu comprising everything from oysters to filet mignon.
Have a strip mall find we missed? Let us know!