The definition of a great meal has evolved, our culinary horizons have expanded, and America is better for it. But let’s face it… most of us still enjoy a great steak, and it doesn’t necessarily require a white tablecloth underneath it. Here in Franklin, a range of exceptional options span the gamut, from the quintessential to the quaint, each highlighting the magic that happens when an excellent cut of beef hits a hot grill.
If you’re looking for a classic steakhouse experience in the heart of downtown Franklin, then Cork & Cow should be your first stop. Housed in a historic Main Street building and supported by one of the area’s best wine and cocktail programs, the menu centers on hickory and oak-fired, bone-in steaks — think oversized filets, tomahawks, and cowboy ribeyes meant for sharing, and all the sides, sauces, and accouterments you would expect.
Just across the street, sister establishment Red Pony Restaurant (both owned by acclaimed chef Jason McConnell) presents some great steaks as full dishes, pairing the proteins with sides and sauces. The local favorite is the grilled lamb chops with mint churri, pecorino, and fried tobacco onions.
On the east side of downtown Franklin, 1799 Kitchen & Cocktails is the signature restaurant of the new Harpeth Hotel — part of the Hilton Curio collection — and the dinner experience delivers on that high level of service. Just beyond the bourbon-first bar, private booths within the space are appointed with local art and tailor-made for a slow, intimate meal. The menu starts at beef carpaccio and rolls right through an incredible pork chop with apple, maple dijon, red beans, and a double-cut, bone-in elk tenderloin with red cabbage and cranberry jus on to a 10 oz—Mishima Wagyu strip.
Sperry’s in Cool Springs, a perfectly replicated outpost of the 50-year Nashville staple, is an equally impressive fine-dining option that focuses on steak and seafood, complemented by a fabulous wine list. Classic preparations such as the filet oskar with king crab and béarnaise or the Prince William blue cheese stuffed and bacon-wrapped filet are solid options, as are the lump crab cakes and BBQ shrimp and grits.
Also, in the Cool Springs area, The Honeysuckle offers an elevated Southern menu and oyster bar, diverse and unique in both preparation and presentation. Whether you’re after a simple bistro filet frites with duck fat fries or a 28-day aged Wagyu ribeye-cooked tableside on a 700-degree Himalayan salt block, the chefs here will make it happen. The ahi tuna is impeccable, as well as are the oysters Vanderbilt.
Mere Bulles is a Brentwood stalwart located in the historic Maryland Manor, known for power lunches and dinners featuring mouthwatering prime rib and 12-ounce filet mignons. A nod to the founder’s grandmother, who operated a Charleston restaurant in the late 1800s, Mere Bulles may be best known for the she-crab soup. Still, the coffee-rubbed filet and daily fish offerings are likewise distinctive.
Finally, out toward Leiper’s Fork, it’s a tale of two worlds. On the one hand, 1892 delivers big-city fine dining in the relaxed environs of an old farmer’s shotgun house, right in the heart of the village. There’s no set menu, but you can typically expect a fabulous cut of local beef on feature. At Greer’s Tennessee Country Hams, you’ll find yourself back in the smokehouse of the proprietors’ home, tucked into the hills. Here, no-frills beef steaks meet with down-home sides and salads. It’s a BYOB, cash-only local treasure, and the tables are few, but if you can get in, you’ll get a glimpse of times past in rural Williamson County and a taste of genuine Southern hospitality.
Date night, a family celebration, a girls’ trip, or a gathering of dear friends — whatever the occasion, dress up or down and choose your adventure. Any of these restaurants will do their part with steaks that will exceed your expectations.