Settled in the Factory at Franklin, a dining, retail and entertainment complex listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Saffire serves up classic fare made from locally grown ingredients. Don’t skip the cocoa-rubbed short ribs, nor should you ignore the oyster menu. The bar menu is loaded with well-crafted cocktails.
230 Franklin Road, Franklin, Tenn. 615-599-4995, saffirerestaurant.com, @SaffireFranklin.
Knox Mason Restaurant
This high-energy establishment in Knoxville’s revived downtown bills itself as “contemporary Southern.” A fair amount of menu items are sourced from Southern artisans and farms. Just try and resist a skillet of “porker house rolls” comprised of pork fat brioche rolls speckled with benne seeds and served with sorghum butter. Check out the new front patio as well as the summer social hour.
131 Gay St., Knoxville. 865-544-2004, knoxmason.com.
Think French bistro with a Belgian bent. Its extensive wine list and classic favorites (including bacon-wrapped shrimp, seafood bisque and creme brulee spiked with Grand Marnier) make Cafe Society a serious contender for special occasions.
212 N. Evergreen St., Memphis. 901-722-2177, facebook.com/Cafe-Society-Restaurant-110747838977294.
The Bitter Alibi
“You were with us the whole time.” How can you not love a restaurant with that tag line? If that weren’t enough, this funky place dishes up crazy good brunch fare. Who wouldn’t jump out of bed for a dish of Seoul Train? It consists of red potato hash, Korean pork, soft boiled egg and spinach, finished with a dose of fiery sambal to snap your peepers open. You probably should wash it down with Wake N Bacon — whiskey, orange juice, honey, maple syrup, bacon. Bam!
825 Houston St., Chattanooga. 423-362-5070, thebitteralibi.com, @thebitteralibi.
Everyone has their favorite barbecue joint, and a lot of folks in Middle Tennessee swear by Top Hog. Not only does this place offer up hickory smoked meats, but burgers and catfish also claim bragging rights. And if you don’t want regular bread with your barbecue, you can have hoecake, instead.
642 Blythe Ave., Gallatin, Tenn. 615-478-9330, gallatinshopper.com/top-hog.htm.
The Stock and Barrel
Burgers, bourbon and duck confit fries with house ketchup. Really, do you need to know anything else? It offers a staggering list of top shelf whiskeys — Angel’s Envy or Blanton’s, anyone? And, like a lot of newer restaurants, the Stock and Barrel strives to locally source much of its ingredients, including the beef that goes into its winning burgers.
35 Market Square, Knoxville. 865-766-2075, thestockandbarrel.com, @KnoxStockBarrel.
Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar
Sometimes when you go out to dinner with friends, you want to taste a little bit of everything. Enter Flight. This pretty place with crisp white tablecloths offers diners a selection of small plates. Meat lovers might consider the elk chop or Boursin-stuffed beef filet — paired with appropriate wine flights, naturally.
39 South Main St., Memphis. 901-521-8005, flightmemphis.com, @flightmemphis.
Urban casual, with table and counter seating, Community Pie serves traditional Neapolitan and New York pizzas along with pasta. You’ve got to love a family pizza joint that also offers raw kale salad and Bellinis. And if you feel the need to get all hoity-toity with your Drunk Pig pie — vodka sauce is involved — then wash it down with the Fancy Pants, a combination of St. Germain liqueur, Chambord, Champagne and a lemon twist.
850 Market St., Chattanooga. 423-486-1743, communitypie.com, @CommunityPie.
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