Originally a 19th-century preparatory school for girls, Science Hill Inn now schools patrons on fine southern cooking served inside a warm-hued dining room laden with chandeliers and white-linen-draped tables. Inside the bustling kitchen, chef Ellen McCarty—who once showcased her skills by cooking for Julia Child—pushes the culinary envelope, stamps it, and mails it to Tastytown with dishes such as grilled salmon topped with a cucumber-dill sauce, marinated chicken breast splashed with a pineapple salsa, and Carolina shrimp and grits. Desserts, such as brown-sugar pie and biscuit pudding slathered in bourbon sauce, can be enjoyed with glasses of wine to cap off meals.
Every day at all of El Nopal’s locations, cooks whip up fresh batches of salsa, chips, and beans. The sauces and sides accent chicken or beef chimichangas, handmade tamales, and nachos smothered in cheese. All El Nopal locations offer complimentary chips and salsa with every meal, and some locations have outdoor seating areas. Performances by live bands at select locations serve as a pleasant distraction from meals, unlike a judge with highfalutin ideas about not eating in court.
An assortment of savories straight from FireFresh's grill tempts patrons of all occupations to become flame-fighting foodies. Classic pulled-pork, marinated-pork, pulled-chicken, and brisket sandwiches come in three portion sizes, the "rookie" just right for wee ones or wee appetites ($3.49), the "regular" ration appropriate for medium folk ($4.69), and the Big Bruce serving for people with voracious appetites ($6.79). All four options can also be ordered as plates for an additional $2, which gets you one side. To try a variety of FireFresh favorites, opt for a 3 Alarm Sampler ($8.99), serving up one 'Bama rib, pulled pork, and pulled chicken doused in homemade barbeque sauce, or break out your heat-safe grabbers on a 5 Alarm Sampler ($11.99). Before you leave, feed the already-burning calories in your belly a side of seasoned fries, mac and cheese, country slaw, or cinnamon apples ($1.49 each).
Thanks to a menu that's packed with slow cooked, flavor-laden fare, Big R's is a meaty mecca for fans of barbecued fare. The restaurant's pork butts and briskets are hickory smoked for at least 12 hours, delivering a savory succulence without liquid smoke or MSG.
When a bell tolls across Shelbyville, stomachs rumble. Hungry diners who follow the chime find themselves at Bell House Restaurant, a stately, recently renovated pink house where the centuries-old bell?originally part of the city's firehouse?faithfully heralds lunch and dinner each day. Once guests are inside, owner Sue Andriot or one of her experienced hosts cheerfully leads them to seats in one of the cavernous manor's four dining rooms. Sue and her husband, Bob, designed the restaurant's interior themselves, drawing from years of decorating experience to transform the rooms into rustic, Tuscan-style dining halls, where vibrant paintings speckle the walls and vases of fresh flowers sit on every table.
Once seated, dinner guests nibble freshly baked bread and sip glasses of fine wine while the aromas of rosemary, lemon, and garlic waft around them. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Tracy Gibson folds fresh ingredients into savory pasta and fine French- and Italian-inspired specialties. She extends her culinary expertise to American favorites such as the Cajun blackened chicken and Henry Bain pork. Seasonal flavors characterize the dessert menu, with warm apple cake making an appearance in the fall and cheesecake making an appearance when the moon explodes each summer.
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.