By Tina Wright
Last summer, Local Table featured a handful of outstanding eateries that are off the beaten path, but whose offerings are so delicious that they are more than worth traveling the extra miles. The truth is, Middle Tennessee is rife with road trip-worthy restaurants, diners and cafés, so weâ€TMve happily compiled another collection of such restaurants, all of which feature dishes chockful of local ingredients and lovingly prepared. Pinewood Kitchen and Mercantile
Located on Pinewood Farms in Nunnelly, Pinewood Kitchen and Mercantile can trace its origins to the 1920s. In its current iteration, which opened in 2015, it is a general store (selling gourmet foods, fun fashions and more) and a farm-to-table restaurant with an ever-changing menu of updated Southern classics. The majority of ingredients are raised and grown on the farm, and the menu includes many items that are vegetarian, vegan, organic and even gluten-free. “We believe in hospitality and this means serving an inclusive menu,” says owner and head chef Mee McCormick. Among Pinewoodâ€TMs most popular dishes are the Hickman classic organic Pinewood Farms grass-fed/grass-finished burger with hand-cut fries and homemade umeboshi ketchup; and the “Buddha Bowl,” featuring organic quinoa, hijiki and carrots topped with organic chickpeas, mushrooms, crispy kale, roasted sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower drizzled with house-made Buddha sauce. And donâ€TMt skip dessert: “We are all about beautiful cakes and our handmade organic blueberry or strawberry fried pies,” says Mee. “They are gluten-free and vegan.” Comment by Tina Wright: I have also found this spelled Umeboshi and ume boshi, but could find no definitive source for which is correct. Open Thursday through Sunday; check website for hours. Instagram: @pinewoodstoreandkitchen
Family BBQ
Just outside of Dickson, Tennessee, nestled in a picturesque field, youâ€TMll find Family BBQ, the establishment of Randy and Vicky Lynch. The duoâ€TMs straightforward menu includes ribs, brisket, pork, chicken and beef. You choose your sauce—hot or mild—and sides that include baked beans, slaw, potato salad, cornbread cakes and white beans. Among visitorsâ€TM favorites are the BBQ bologna, served with jalapenos; and the melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. All orders are packed to-go, though patrons are welcome to sit outside at one of the picnic tables and stay awhile. Family BBQ is old-school in the best possible way and, accordingly, accepts cash and checks only—no plastic, please. Catering is also available. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Nona Lisa Pizzeria
Watertownâ€TMs Nona Lisa Pizzeria is more than just a spot for great pies and Italian cuisine—itâ€TMs an oasis of food, fellowship and fun. “We really care about the quality of our food and service,” says Katie Cisco, who owns the pizzeria with her husband, John. “But beyond that…Nona Lisa is small, friendly and all about connection; games and cards are available…itâ€TMs a warm atmosphere…itâ€TMs wonderful to see families or friends playing and talking while they hang out.” Of course, the food is still the star of the show. The most popular menu item is “The Bomb,” a large pizza with six toppings of your choice; iconic pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken Alfredo are also big hits. Local ingredients play key roles in the kitchen, including mixed greens and spinach from Pomona Hill Farm and goat cheese from Harmony Lane. The Ciscos grow their own herbs, tomatoes and peppers in season, and source local eggs and fruit for their house-made gelatos and sorbettos. “We even had a friend bring us locally grown, just-picked sweet corn one year, and turned that into gelato—delicious!” Open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Friday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Bull & Thistle
Located in the heart of historic Gainesboro, the Bull & Thistle is a pub offering Celtic fare from the British Isles and Ireland. With more than 20 brews on tap, a great wine selection and live music on the weekends, the Bull & Thistle is a great place to hang for an hour or an evening. Its menu features pub staples like bangers and mash (bangers are sausages, for those of us who donâ€TMt speak British cuisine) and the obligatory—and always irresistible—fish and chips, as well as corned beef and cabbage, roast Cornish hen, bacon-wrapped Scottish salmon and many more options. Staples like salad, pasta, steak and burgers are also available. There are separate lunch and dinner menus, and special menu options for the kids. Food is sourced locally, when possible, and the pubâ€TMs cozy ambience invites lingering. Open Wednesday through Sunday; please see website for hours. or