Wintertime in Franklin could mean 70 and sparkling or snow-covered and shimmering, both equally unique and wonderful. Whatever the weather, though, winter in middle Tennessee screams out for comfort food — biscuits and gravy, steaming bowls of soup, plate lunches piled high, juicy burgers, and so many other local delights.
With all the incredible restaurants to discover across Williamson County, it can be tough to determine where best to start — so, we did the taste-testing for you. One word of caution: the following list will stick to your ribs!
Downtown Franklin is the natural place to start, and we recommend breakfast at the Franklin Bakehouse, just adjacent to The Harpeth Hotel. Long before the sun comes up, they’re baking fresh artisan treats every day. Think ham and Swiss stuffed croissants, egg and sausage puffs, quiches, and savory scones. If you have a sweet tooth, the case is full of a rotating selection of danish, muffins, coffee cakes, and more.
Meridee’s Breadbasket offers an equally impressive daily pastry selection on Fourth Avenue South. Still, lunch is our favorite – a hot Monte Cristo sandwich or a Reuben hits the spot on a chilly day. And on the other side of Main Street, just across from the Visitor Center on Fourth Avenue North, the Franklin Mercantile Deli is known far and wide for its tomato basil soup. The Grilled Cheeserie on Main offers a Tennessee Turkey B&B sandwich (buttermilk cheddar and bacon, along with house-roasted turkey and cranberry jam) that will conjure warm memories of a Thanksgiving that seems so long ago.
Dinner options abound in Downtown Franklin, but we’re focused on comfort food here — and it would be impossible to choose between the chicken and sausage gumbo at 55 South and the Cottage Pie at McCreary’s Irish Pub, akin to a shepherd’s pie but more divine.
When you’re ready to stretch your wings, the choice is yours: town or country. If you choose to head toward Leiper’s Fork, magical discoveries await… including the short drive there through some spectacular countryside. Before getting out of town, consider stopping at the Halfway Market and Diner on West Main Street. For years, Halfway had served up legendary cheeseburgers, Friday night fish fries, sausage biscuits, and slices of homemade chess pie in the Southall community. They’ve recently re-emerged closer into Franklin, in a larger space that features more seating and the same friendly faces. We can confirm that the burgers are just as we remembered them, and they’ve added a plate lunch option as well. If you’re looking for country folks making country food the way it should be made, this is the place. In the same vein, Leiper’s Fork landmark the Big Bad Breakfast at The Country Boy delivers in the same respects, whether for breakfast or lunch.
Should you choose the “town” route (we suggest both), then you will be well covered. Head down Hillsboro Road toward the Mack Hatcher Bypass and look for Cool Cafe, another local spot known for daily meat-and-three options with a side of sweet tea and the best tasting, most perfectly meringued banana pudding you’ve ever had. Guaranteed!
Some may have adopted Nashville Hot Chicken, but one of the pioneers is right here in Franklin. If you’re looking for the real deal, Bishop’s Meat and Three is the spot. Nick Bishop and his son Nick Bishop, Jr., launched the now-famous Hattie B’s with his recipe, and you don’t even have to stand in line to taste it! Shoot down Mack Hatcher to Cool Springs, and Bishop’s is located on Mallory Lane.
Wintertime always welcomes a little more heat, and part of the fun in Middle Tennessee is the diversity of our culinary offerings. Franklin is full of authentic ethnic options — from Asian to Arabic and everything in between. When we think of wintertime warmups, the Vietnamese steamed dumplings, rice noodle pho, and Banh Mi at Vui’s Kitchen (on Liberty Pike) come straight to mind, as do the addictively sweet-yet-spicy Thai curries at Jasmine on Moore’s Lane.
The list could go on, but these beloved eateries are tried and true. Dig into more epicurean ideas on our blog, then spend a week eating and drinking your way through Williamson County. We’re all looking for a bit of comfort these days, and you’re sure to find it here.