BEST OF NASHVILLE: Top 5 Vintage Restaurant Picks

Nashville, Tennessee has always been a huge hit for the staff at Vintage HQ. We heart vintage-friendly Music City and loved compiling our lists of our “Top 5” current faves in the categories of shopping, restaurants and accommodations (click HERE for our “Top 5” list for shopping) and now we’re ready to reveal our current picks for restaurants! As we said before, Nashville truly has something for all vintage fans so if you’re looking for a fun road trip this fall look no further! We hope this list inspires you to start researching this great town and get a trip on the calendar!

The Loveless Cafe: This has been a Nashville tradition since 1951 and we LOVE it! We have to preface this recommendation by saying so does everyone else…in the world…like, all of them…and if you don’t like to wait hours to get in then you may have to carefully plan when you’ll visit this establishment. The wait (especially on weekends) can be long but we have to emphasize that it’s well worth it! Also, there’s so much to do on the property in addition to the cafe part so there’s plenty of distraction while you wait (we especially love shopping at the country market onsite). This cafe is perfect for the vintage fan as the story is that, in 1951, a couple (Annie and Lon Loveless) decided to open the doors of their home to hungry people traveling down Highway 100. They served weary travelers fried chicken and biscuits. Over time they became so popular that they converted their home into a restaurant and also chose to build a very small motel on the property for their guests. The cafe has grown like crazy in popularity through the years and has been written up as a “must visit” in many publications (and we agree)! You can still eat in Mr. and Mrs. Loveless’ old home and the motel part is being used as part of the Loveless shopping experience so you can walk through it as well! We love the vintage vibe, the original 1950s location and THE FOOD! So, trust us, you’re going to want to put your “patient pants” on and get in line for some divine biscuits, gravy so good you’ll want to drink it through a straw and a hashbrown casserole you’ll want to eat every day for the rest of your natural life. (8400 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221

Pancake Pantry: We’ve found another long line for our vintage fans! Trust us, we’re not trying to torture you…we just know what’s up! We’d never put you through a long line (you can actually check out their live cam on their website to check the line) if it wasn’t truly worth it! And this is WORTH IT. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to locate the best, old-fashioned pancakes in the U.S. and, for some reason, this has actually been quite difficult! Every other restaurant in America it seems serves pancakes but few do it justice. Enter Pancake Pantry. Founded in 1961, the Pancake Pantry has been another Nashville tradition for generations of families. We love the vintage-y family vibe here and if you want to know what a pancake is SUPPOSED to taste like do yourself a favor and order the “Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes.” No frills. Pancake. Butter. Syrup. You’re welcome. Hands down THE BEST PANCAKES WE’VE EVER TASTED. A Vintage HQ Staff Favorite. (1796 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212

Elliston Place Soda Shop: Something would be amiss if we didn’t include “Nashville’s oldest continuously operating restaurant in its original location” in our list of vintage favorites. Originally this was grocery store (in the early 1900s). Then, in the 1920s, it became a pharmacy. In 1939 a soda shop was opened in part of the pharmacy and has been there ever since. Today if you walk into Elliston Place Soda Shop you’ll be greeted by booths, tables, barstools, vintage signs, a jukebox and a fun, old-fashioned menu full of breakfast, lunch and soda fountain items. This restaurant is a historic jewel. It’s getting harder and harder to find places like this. Elliston Place Soda Shop is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and its nostalgic atmosphere has made it quite popular for filming be sure to include it in your trip! It’s important that we show our support for places like this and keep them in business forever! (2111 Elliston Pl, Nashville, TN 37203

Swett’s: We can’t do the Nashville food scene justice if we don’t include at least one “meat and three” restaurant! If you don’t know what a “meat and three” is these types of restaurants will have a selection of choices of meats and side dishes (varies depending on what day of the week it is). Many times these restaurants are served “cafeteria style” where you’ll go down a line and choose one meat and three (or two or four…varies by restaurant) side dishes from the choices you see laid out before you for your meal. Nashvillians are pretty passionate about these “meat and threes” and will have no trouble debating as to which one around town. As fans of all things vintage we wanted to choose one with some great vintage appeal and there’s so much to love about Swett’s! Susie and Walter Swett became business owners in 1938. They had ten children to look after but somehow managed to open a gas station. In 1952, while operating Swett’s Grocery, they decided to also purchase Joyland Tavern. Then, in 1954, they opened Swett’s Dinette (which was the starting point for the Swett’s we know and love today). In 1988 two of Susie and Walter’s children constructed the current Swett’s Restaurant at the same exact location where Swett’s Dinette once stood. Swett’s has a great old school feel and is one of those restaurants where the walls tell the history. There are murals and paintings all around that really give an insight into this place and this family. And the food…oh, the food…who doesn’t love dressing, pulled pork, fried chicken, mac and cheese, turnip greens, rolls and pecan pie? That’s only a tiny sample of foods known to have been served here so you can see why it’s on our list! (2725 Clifton Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

Monell’s at the Manor: What vintage lover wouldn’t want to eat in a mansion built in 1898? We here at Vintage HQ absolutely love this restaurant and highly recommend it! Not only do you get to, literally, eat in this old mansion you can also go exploring in it! It is gorgeous! And the food is absolutely delicious! It’s southern comfort food at its best AND it’s served “FAMILY STYLE!” If you’ve never eaten at a restaurant like this it means you sit down at big tables with complete strangers (and anyone you bring, of course) and have an all-you-can-eat feast, passing the dishes around the table. It’s a unique dining experience every vintage lover should try. (1400 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217

Do you agree with our list? Where are your favorite vintage-friendly restaurants to eat around Nashville? Also, don’t forget to check out our list of our “Top 5 Vintage Accommodation Picks!”