Located just 21 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is a growing city with deep roots and a dose of quintessential Southern charm, stepping out of Music City’s shadow with a booming food and drink scene to call its own. Whether you’re a resident or looking for an excuse to make the half-hour drive from Nashville, these restaurants are the perfect alibi for a culinary adventure.Read More
Franklin’s Essential Restaurants
Come to Nashville’s neighbor for the history and charming downtown, stay for the steaks and duck-fat fries
Part health food market, part cafe, part restaurant, no matter what you’re heading to Herban Market for you can almost always count on a line out the door. That’s because husband-and-wife founders, Matt and Ashlea Hogancamp, make all of their dressings, spreads, sauces, and baked goods from scratch without the use of preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Whether it’s the golden milk latte with a gluten-free brownie or the shop’s infamous breakfast tacos and burgers, you’ll find yourself fully satiated and feeling good about it.
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The Honeysuckle’s been known to welcome a celebrity or two — and if you’re able to score the curtained booth off to the left, you too can have an avoiding-the-paparazzi experience. Elevated Southern fare feels right at home in a space built using reclaimed materials and filled with tufted leather banquettes. Try the deviled eggs four ways, duck-fat fries with Alabama white sauce, and beef and pork meatloaf.
Those with a hankering for something a bit beyond the basic California roll need look no further than Wild Ginger. Uncommon sushi ingredients like mango, pineapple, Cajun spice, and filet mignon keep things feeling fresh here. If you prefer your dishes land-based and cooked, the wok menu features standouts like Mongolian beef and umami chicken.
The adult beverages in Capri Sun-like pouches might seem like irreverent fun, but the Asian tapas at Mi Kitchen have serious culinary chops. Situated in a strip mall in Franklin, the warm, modern interior is lined with booths of boisterous customers sharing plates of crispy fried chicken in a Korean-inspired sweet and spicy sauce, tsi-ran dry rub lamb chops, edamame truffle dumplings, and bowls of japchae (stir-fried sweet potato glass noodles) with mushroom and shredded chili skin.
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Chrysalis Modern Italian
Quietly opening on the Cool Springs/Carothers stretch in 2021, Chrysalis Modern Italian has quickly become a local favorite. The restaurant strikes a nice balance of cozy and chic, offering an extensive menu of classic and house cocktails, pouring interesting wines, and dishing out customizable antipasti boards alongside house-made rosemary focaccia, pasta, seafood, and meat specials with modern flair.
Burger Up Franklin
For a quality patty, the move is Burger Up. You can get classic burger combos but also venture into less-common territory with bison or turkey patties, toppings like fried jalapenos and onion jam, and sides such as truffle fries and fried mac and cheese bites. The covered outdoor patio with lawn games also makes Burger Up an easy option for those toting antsy children.
Bishop's Meat & Three
This modern meat and three serves up staples like tender chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, catfish, fried chicken, and more in a casual counter-service environment. Hot tip: The family behind Hattie B’s owns Bishop’s, so you can scratch your itch for some of Nashville’s most coveted hot chicken here — sans endless lines.
Perry's Steakhouse & Grille
Tennessee’s first location of the Texas-based Perry’s chain is in Franklin’s burgeoning McEwen Northside complex. Clocking in at a roomy 11,000 square feet, the elegant grill house has grown a loyal local following thanks to its butcher-fresh USDA Prime aged beef, signature tableside carvings, and flamed desserts. Don’t miss the restaurant’s famous pork chop either — it’s cured and slow-smoked for up to six hours with pecan wood then glazed, caramelized, and topped with signature herb-garlic butter.
1799 Kitchen & Cocktails
Named for the year Franklin was founded, 1799 is a date-night destination stocked with bourbon and buttery cuts of beef. From its perch within the Harpeth Hotel, the restaurant doles out a robust Southern-influenced menu that includes dishes like broiled oysters, grilled quail, grass-fed beef tenderloin, and brandied wild mushrooms.
Culaccino Italian Restaurant + Bar
Another good pick for date night, Culaccino brings refined Italian food and a charming outdoor patio to downtown Franklin. Robust plates from chef Frank Pullara include veal shoulder-stuffed ravioli marinated in bone marrow, robiola cheese, and butter sauce; Berkshire pork ribeye; and slow-fermented wood-fired pizzas.
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Gray’s on Main
This 19th-century Main Street building once housed a pharmacy; now it’s a three-story restaurant staple. The rustic-chic decor complements hearty, beautifully plated Southern dishes like heritage fried chicken, fried pimento cheese balls, and shrimp and grits — the perfect accompaniment to the soulful live music featured Thursday through Saturday evenings. Gray’s on Main also has a worthy sibling nearly next door: Cocktail bar O’ Be Joyful offers pimento burgers and one of the largest collections of whiskey in town.
Cozy and quaint, this rustic homespun spot is a go-to destination for breakfast and lunch among locals — one order of the creamy Parmesan grits and it’s easy to understand why. The couple who own Franklin Mercantile, Graeme and Corrie Asch, let their Southern roots shine through in everything from sweet potato pancakes to the mashup of guacamole and pimento cheese that adorns the Guacamento sandwich.
Chef Jason McConnell first made his mark on the Middle Tennessee restaurant scene when he opened this upscale gem in 2006, serving seasonal dishes reflecting his Southern roots and travel experience. Grilled Spanish octopus, eggplant meatballs, and hickory-grilled bone-in rib-eye go down easy in Red Pony’s atmospheric digs. These days, you could do a whole Main Street crawl of McConnell restaurants: The chef also runs brunch favorite 55 South and special-occasion steakhouse Cork & Cow across the street.
A downtown Franklin favorite since 1984, Merridee’s Breadbasket is an easy choice for breakfast thanks to its house-made pastries. But don’t overlook the lunch menu, which features a selection of hot and cold sandwiches on freshly baked bread. The expanded outdoor courtyard is also the perfect spot to take the air with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll.
Biscuit Love Franklin
The downtown Franklin location of this popular Nashville-born chain doles out Biscuit Love’s classic bonuts — the fried lovechild of a biscuit and a doughnut — with lemon mascarpone, East Nasty biscuit sandwiches with chicken, and sweetly spiced Chronic Bacon. You’ll find it all right off of downtown Franklin’s Main Street, in the historic Corn House, mercifully without the lines usually waiting at the Gulch cafe. Recently, the local chain opened a second location in Franklin down in Berry Farms.
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