Franklin Food Itineraries for Every Appetite
One of my favorite aspects about planning a weekend getaway is researching the very best cuisine the area has to offer. I’m thrilled to find the town’s perfect ice cream cone or that hole in the wall bar with the killer burgers. Dining locally while vacationing is an integral part of the experience for my family and me, it allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of the area. Not only is the food usually delicious and unique to the region at local establishments, but there is also something really sweet about supporting the community you are visiting, as well as learning about the rich history of locally loved restaurants.
Since Franklin has become such a culinary destination spot over the years, I’m thrilled to give a few sample itineraries on where you simply must visit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout your stay. Hopefully, this will take some guesswork out of planning an immersive culinary getaway to our bustling town!
For the Love of Leiper’s Fork
Friday Dinner – Puckett’s Leiper’s Fork
In my travel experience, the key to the first night of dining can be tricky especially on a Friday night. Usually, after a day of travel, everyone is hungry and ready to kick back and relax. Do yourself a favor and grab a reservation at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant in Leiper’s Fork in advance, this is the perfect place to kick off your vacation in country style! Puckett’s serves some of the best home cookin’ around, as well as providing incredible entertainment with legendary live music Wednesday – Sunday nights. Get your fill of comfort food heaven like Puckett’s Cherry Smoked Ribs, fried okra, and hash brown casserole and top it off with the cobbler of the day! The casual, eclectic atmosphere fills up with local farmers, tourists, and maybe even a country music star. You never know who might show up on the stage, unannounced, at this legendary hot spot!
Saturday – Breakfast – Country Boy Restaurant
Start your day off right with a generous portion of buttermilk pancakes and crispy bacon and you can’t go wrong with biscuits and scrumptious sausage gravy at the Country Boy! This beloved country diner has been around for decades, serving up all the best southern breakfast staples. This is the type of place that makes you feel like all is right in the world, while waitresses refill your coffee affectionately referring to you “sweetie” as if you are old friends.
Saturday Lunch – The Davis General Market
The Davis General Market is a diamond in the rough that Leiper’s Fork locals frequent for the nostalgia and arguably, the best chicken salad sandwich around! This old country store and filling station has been around for more than 90 years, now serving gourmet sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, and RC cola. The charming atmosphere and friendly service take you right back to the simple pleasures of the good ‘ol days.
Saturday Dinner – 1892
No matter what your food agenda is during your stay, 1982 is a must-visit fine dining restaurant in the heart of Leiper’s Fork. Grab reservations to ensure your table because this is place is a popular hot spot and almost always full on the weekends. Chef Dylan Morrison turns locally sourced ingredients into approachable, elevated southern dishes. he historic home built in 1892 is decorated with beautiful antique pieces and the staff treats everyone like family. This is not your typical stuffy, fine dining! Read more about the story of 1892 here.
Sunday – The Redbyrd and Fire Flour Bakery
By Sunday morning you might be on your way out of town looking for a quick breakfast and coffee stop. Look no further than The Redbyrd Coffee Shop, a “Tiny House coffee shop,” where patrons can grab coffee and pastries while sitting at a picnic table basking in the scenic countryside of Leiper’s Fork. Their signature lattes include something for every member of the family, for instance, a blackberry latte known as the PapaByrd, a vanilla lavender latte known as the Mamabyrd, and last but not least, the Babybyrd made of steamed milk with honey and drizzled with chocolate sauce. How adorable is that? The Redbyrd also offers a multitude of other seasonal coffee drinks, as well as cold brew for those warm Tennessee mornings. Locally made pastries from Fire Flour Bakery are also offered, such as Brown Sugar Cinnamon Scones and Cheddar Chive Croissants.
For the Foodie at Heart
Friday – Gray’s on Main
If you ask Franklin natives where to eat in downtown Franklin, odds are many will suggest Gray’s on Main. This was a landmark pharmacy for nearly a century before it was carefully restored in 2013 into a fantastic three-story restaurant, honoring Tennessee’s cultural heritage through fresh spirits, flavors, and sounds. My suggestion is to sit upstairs and listen in on the live music while watching the bartenders work their magic! You simply must try the Anthem Spirit, one of the most popular cocktails in town, alongside my personal favorite appetizer, the bacon-wrapped figs. For the main event, I suggest the Shrimp and Grits polished off with Gray’s original banana pudding. Kick-off this vacation the Franklin way!
Saturday Morning – Biscuit Love
Biscuit Love has become a Music City staple, started by a local husband and wife duo in 2012. The restaurant has grown from a food truck and a dream around Franklin, to three brick and mortar restaurants around the Nashville area, one of those is situated in the historic Corn House in downtown Franklin. Be prepared to wait in a bit of a line on a Saturday morning for a table, but rest assured, it will be worth it! My brunch suggestions are the “East Nasty” biscuit sandwich, voted the best sandwich in America by Bon Appetit magazine alongside an order of Bonuts to share. This decadent dish is made up of fried biscuit dough, topped with lemon mascarpone, and served over a blueberry compote. It’s important to remember, calories don’t count on vacation!
Saturday Lunch – McCreary’s Irish Pub
McCreary’s Irish Pub is an unsuspecting Irish pub tucked into Main Street, and it’s a beloved hang out around these parts. Just thinking about the Bangers and Mash has my mouth watering, this is definitely that hole in the wall spot that will pleasantly surprise you! A perfect stop in between shopping and sightseeing for a quick lunch or stop by during happy hour on Saturdays from 3-6 p.m. for a 2-for-1 draft pint of Harp Lager and their finger-lickin’ good Wings of Donegal.
Saturday Night – Cork and Cow
If you are looking for an elegant ambiance and 5-star dining in the heart of downtown Franklin, look no further than Cork and Cow. This fabulous steak house is exactly what you hope for when going out to a fine dinner; award-winning cocktails, mouthwatering steaks, and a romantic, cozy atmosphere. A date night at Cork and Cow usually begins with the Mr. Hyde Belle Meade Bourbon cocktail for the bourbon lover or the Stop and Frisk, which has the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and fizzy. A few menu standouts for me are The Little Gem Salad made with local lettuce, crispy shallots, bacon jam, whipped gorgonzola, and blue cheese vinaigrette and of course, any of their hickory and oak-grilled steaks, perhaps topped with black truffle butter or house-made pepper jelly. Sides are served ala carte, so be sure to order a side of the mac and cheese with applewood bacon and chilies, and the crispy brussel sprouts with a sorghum glaze, celery root purée, and pancetta. Currently, I’m calling my husband to see if Friday night works for a last-minute date night, Cork and Cow here we come!
Sunday Brunch – 55 South
You simply can’t leave town without a proper Sunday Brunch and what better spot than 55 South on Main Street. Once featured on “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” this restaurant highlights upscale southern comfort food inspired by Mississippi Delta cuisine. Get this party started with a bloody mary and hot, house donuts tossed in powdered sugar, and then perhaps the homemade chicken and waffles. My brunch philosophy is to go big or go home, and that’s what you can expect from brunch at 55 South.
For the Food Lover with Kids
Friday Night – Mojo’s
If I had to pick a restaurant that always hits the spot in town, it would have to be Mojo’s Tacos located in The Factory at Franklin. I just can’t get enough of their tacos, authentic street corn, and fresh margaritas. Mojo’s has a cheerful, casual atmosphere that will still feel like an experience for adults with quick food service, which always a plus when dining out with little ones. You really can’t go wrong here, but I suggest the Korean Cauliflower taco and the Fried Avocado taco, add some chips and queso to the mix and you are bound to have one happy family.
Saturday Morning – Merridee’s
Freshly baked muffins, sticky buns, and biscuits, oh my! My kids absolutely love Saturday mornings at this hometown bakery and for good reason. Display cases are filled with homemade pastries and there are plenty of made-to-order southern breakfast staples to choose from, such as hot from the oven ham and cheese biscuits or French toast made with Meridee’s Breadbasket homemade raisin bread. Nestled in the heart of downtown Franklin, this is an ideal place to start your day of shopping and exploring downtown.
Saturday Lunch – Mercantile Deli
Mercantile is another hidden gem in downtown, that locals flock to during lunch hour. Mismatched chairs and tables and a chalkboard menu give Franklin Mercantile Deli a cozy vibe that pairs perfectly with their homemade fruit tea. Parents can lighten up with their simple and fresh salad bar with a half cub of the soup du jour or half of the “4th Ave Club.” The kids will be happy campers, feeling right at home with “Jen’s PB and J” along with a side of fruit or chips. You just can’t go wrong with “The Merc.”
Saturday Dinner – Burger Up
Slightly outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Burger Up is a gourmet burger joint the whole family will adore. Adults will appreciate the thoughtful menu with beef sourced from Bear Creek Farm and of course, the unbeatable house-cut truffle fries. While kids will be begging for a homemade milkshake with their made from scratch burger and fries. If you’re ready for some lighter fare give the Quinoa Bowl a shot, made with marinated quinoa tossed with poppy seed vinaigrette, chopped walnuts, dried cherries, bosc pears, roasted butternut squash, and black sesame seeds.
Sunday – Five Daughters and Honest Roasters
A trip to Franklin would not be complete without stopping by Five Daughters Bakery, famous for their 100 layer donut. From menu staples like the Chocolate Sea Salt to seasonal delights such as the Blueberry Lavender and Brownie Batter, you obviously cannot go wrong here. My suggestion is to get a variety and cut them in halves or quarters for everyone to share, it’s simply too difficult to pick just one! Located in The Factory at Franklin, the kids will be able to stretch their legs before the trip home, and parents can zip over to Honest Roasters Coffee for a world-class Cappuccino to go along with that fabulous cronut. This dynamic duo is sure to send you off with a smile!