Owned by Bolton Mathews, this restaurant can trace its roots way back. The late Bolton Polk—Mathews’ uncle and hot chicken mentor—started cooking hot chicken at Prince’s, then left to open his own place, Columbo’s, which closed in the early ‘90s. Before his death, he passed his recipe on to his nephew. “Our chicken is spicy, but it won’t cause you to lose your composure,” is how Bolton’s manager, Dolly Graham, describes it. Give your order for a chicken sandwich or hot fish sandwich through the iron security bars covering the window. Sandwiches are $3.50 each.
Eastside boasts the Crunkest Fish in Town, and Donald Boatright's got a good argument, particularly when it comes to the Giant King, nearly two pounds of beautifully fried fish filet bulging out of two slices of white bread; for less than $7, it can easily feed a couple of commoners.
The jewel in Gaylord Opryland Resort’s culinary crown, Old Hickory Steakhouse is not only worth the trek through the massive property, but also warrants the drive to Donelson. Valet park at the Magnolia entrance (the original, for those who remember when Opryland was simply a hotel with a nearby theme park and not a resort with a neighboring mall), hang a right off the lobby and head for the Delta, the newest addition to the compound. Old Hickory is located within an antebellum mansion replica, with two interior dining rooms and additional seating on the glass-ceiling pavilion. Old Hickory promises world-class service to deliver a menu that covers traditional steakhouse turf: lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes and certified Angus beef cuts, as well as surf and fowl. Sides offer creative twists on classics: baked lobster mac-and-cheese for one, cheddar grits with beef debris for another. Old Hickory is justifiably proud of its table-side cheese service provided by a Maître fromage.
o Inside this homey yellow house with sleek blond wood and crisp tablecloths, Debere Getahun and Dawit Lema serve a roster of authentic Ethiopian cuisine including awaze tibs, injera and vegetable dishes for lunch and dinner. Perfect for sharing and exploring lots of flavors, or for a lingering meal capped off with a traditional coffee-roasting ritual.
A friendly meat-and-three with roots that trace back to the Sylvan Park family of restaurants, Donelson Park Café offers the sturdy staples of Southern cuisine: corn muffins, iced tea, chocolate pie, fried okra and more. — Carrington Fox
The royalty of Nashville’s hot chicken world, Prince’s was crowned by Gourmet magazine’s annual “Best American Restaurants” issue as one of four don’t-miss dining experiences in Nashville. Everyone from blue-collar working stiffs to working girls to white-shirted bluebloods lines up at the little ordering window inside for a chicken sandwich. It comes in four varieties: mild, medium, hot or, for the truly reckless, extra hot. All sandwiches come on two slices of white bread with pickles. Douse the flames with a beverage from the soda machine, or a side of the cooling coleslaw. Whatever the case, do not drive or get your fingers anywhere near your eyes while eating hot chicken. Oh, and delay travel plans for at least 24 hours. The baked beans also come highly recommended.
Kingfish partners Vincent Phinisee and Neil Rice claim that their restaurant is The King of Fish, Shrimp and Chicken. The Kingfish menu features a selection of all, but the jewel in the crown is the hot fish sandwich, a version that is more lightly breaded than others in town but dressed in traditional fashion with onion, pickles, yellow mustard and hot sauce. Also taking turns in the fryer are shrimp, catfish, fish nuggets, clams and wings; grilling is an option. Sides include spaghetti, slaw, fries, beaked beans, mac-and-cheese, dirty rice and corn on the cob.