Grilled Half Cornish Hen
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What: You’ll find country breakfasts—ham, eggs, grits, biscuits—all over the South, and Nashville is no exception. It is always worth seeking out in this part of the country—and a hearty way to kick off the day.
Where: Mention “biscuits” in Nashville and you will be sent to one place, albeit one that’s a scenic half-hour drive from downtown: the Loveless Motel & Café (8400 Hwy 100, map), long famed for its light and buttery pillows of dough (as well as the excellent homemade fruit preserves served alongside them). It’s also a great place to get some country ham, eggs, gravy, and grits.
When: Daily, 7am-9pm (and breakfast is served all day, every day)
Order: A good bet here is salt-cured country ham with two eggs, gravy, and grits ($13.99 for full order/7 oz ham; $11.99 for half order/3.5 oz ham), which comes with plenty of hot fluffy biscuits and preserves (you have to request honey and sorghum molasses, if you want it). While Loveless is known for its “red-eye gravy,” made with ham drippings and coffee, we found it thin and greasy, preferring instead the creamy sausage gravy pictured above (you can ask for both on the side if you wish)—nothing beats mopping that gravy up with those biscuits. Likewise fun to munch on are the country ham biscuits ($2.75)—ham slices sandwiched into a fresh biscuit, also pictured. Loveless is famed for its fried chicken as well (from $11.55).
Good to know: This place gets packed on weekends—waiting two hours for a table at breakfast/brunch time isn’t uncommon, and there’s only so much browsing you’ll want to do in the cafe’s “country store” next door (though you can buy everything from whole hams to Loveless preserves to biscuit mix there). Reservations are only accepted for groups of 12 or more, but if you call the restaurant an hour before you expect to arrive, you’ll be put on the “call-ahead wait list,” which will decrease your wait time a bit. Or if it’s a nice day, you can order your food to go—which will take about 15 minutes on a busy Sunday—and then dine at the picnic tables in front of the café, which is what we opted to do during our visit.
Bonus: Loveless has a strong commitment to local purveyors, using area farms and suppliers for certain vegetables, dairy, flour, grits, and more when possible.
Alternatively: The most popular breakfast spot in downtown Nashville is more celebrated for its eponymous flapjacks than anything else, but Pancake Pantry (1796 21st Ave. South, map) does country ham and grits et al as well (still, you’d be a fool to not sample the innumerable varieties of pancake while you’re there). Again, expect a long line out the door on weekends. And while it’s not quite the institution that Loveless or Pancake Pantry is, the nostalgic Elliston Place Soda Shop (615-327-1090; 2111 Elliston Pl., map) is another good choice for a country breakfast, with all the usual components plus great milkshakes, a charming 1950s-diner setting—and no ridiculous wait times.
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