The Best Mom-and-Pop Restaurants in Nashville

Inside of a restaurant | © kaboompics / Pixabay
Inside of a restaurant | © kaboompics / Pixabay
Photo of Leena Kollar
18 February 2018

Nashville is a community focused on supporting local businesses—those that have been around for generations and are built on family values. Many mom-and-pop restaurants in the city are popular for these very reasons. If you’re looking for a place where you can enjoy a meal while helping a family business grow, hit these Nashville mom-and-pop restaurants.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Arnold's Country Kitchen | © Rachel Chapdelaine / Flickr

On any given day, you’ll find at least three members of the Arnold family cooking and serving guests at Arnold’s Country Kitchen. The restaurant was opened by Jack and Rose Arnold in 1982 and has been serving “Meat & 3” meals in Nashville ever since. The menu is full of classic Southern foods such as fried chicken, meatloaf, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and fried catfish.

Brown’s Diner

Diner, Restaurant, American, Fast Food, Street Food
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Cheeseburger with fries
Cheeseburger with fries | © RobertoCardona / Pixabay

Founded in 1927, family-run Brown’s Diner began in a mule-drawn trolley car. Today, the restaurant serves its award-winning cheeseburgers, as well as fish and turkey sandwiches, chili dogs, barbecue sandwiches, and homemade chili. Sides such as French fries, chips, and coleslaw are also available, in addition to a small selection of beers and other beverages.

Rotier’s Restaurant

Restaurant, American, Fast Food, Street Food
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Rotier's Restaurant
Rotier's Restaurant | © Nathan Cardozo / Flickr

John and Evelyn Rotier opened Rotier’s Restaurant in 1945 after WWII. The eatery’s claim to fame is its French Bread Cheeseburger, which has won local and national awards. Also on the menu are items such as teriyaki chicken, spaghetti, a variety of sandwiches, and cheddar cheese poppers.

Athens Family Restaurant

Restaurant, Greek, Mediterranean, American, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
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Greek hummus with pita bread
Greek hummus with pita bread | © jcvelis / Pixabay

For a taste of Greek cuisine in Nashville, head to Athens Family Restaurant. Enjoy a Greek salad, a veggie pita wrap, a gyro platter, fried calamari or a serving of hummus with pita bread. The restaurant was voted the #1 Greek/Middle Eastern Restaurant in Nashville for The Toast Readers’ Choice Awards in 2017.

Angelo’s Picnic Pizza

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Street Food
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Pizza and Coca-Cola
Pizza and Coca-Cola | © studio754 / Pixabay

Angelo LaMattina was the owner of Angelo’s Picnic Pizza in Nashville from 1999 until his death in 2010. Now his son Nick is the owner. After Angelo’s death, Nick and his brother Joe learned how to master the secret family recipes that sustain the restaurant, which serves authentic Italian pizzas and pasta.

Loveless Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Fast Food, Street Food, $$$
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Catfish and sides
Catfish and sides | © Kurman Communications / Flickr

Nashville’s Loveless Cafe has been serving home-cooked Southern meals for more than 65 years. The restaurant is known for its biscuits and ham and serves a variety of foods, including soups, salads, sandwiches, and made-from-scratch banana pudding.

Pancake Pantry

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Pancake Pantry Restaurant | © Kmo139 / Flickr

With more than 15 flavor options for pancakes, Pancake Pantry has been a Nashville breakfast staple since 1961. If pancakes aren’t your thing, try the French toast, hash browns or eggs. The full menu is served all day and even features a “create your own omelet” option.

Wendell Smith’s Restaurant

Diner, Restaurant, American, Fast Food, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
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Spinach omelet
Spinach omelet | © mhburton / Pixabay

With three generations of family involvement and more than 50 years serving the Nashville area, Wendell Smith’s Restaurant is a Southern-bred “Meat & 3” that also serves classic American dishes. Enjoy burgers, BBQ, country ham or breakfast omelets.

Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish

Restaurant, American, Fast Food, Seafood
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Hot fish with bread and pickles
Hot fish with bread and pickles | © Southern Foodways Alliance / Flickr

Bolton Mathews is the owner of Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish. He carries on the legacy of his uncle, the late Bolton Polk, who passed along his recipe to Mathews before he died. In addition to having two Nashville area locations, Bolton’s also has a street food truck and offers catering services. Try one of the chicken, fish or pork plates with Southern-style veggies like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.

Mallard’s Family Restaurant

Restaurant, American, Steakhouse, Fast Food, Street Food
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Club Sandwich
Club Sandwich | © TheAndrasBarta / Pixabay
Mallard’s Family Restaurant is family owned and operated and offers daily “Meat & 3” selections for lunch and dinner, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Wednesdays and Fridays are “All U Can Eat” days (spaghetti on Wednesdays and catfish on Fridays), and a breakfast buffet is available on weekends.

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