The story of Sperry’s Restaurant began in Jacksonville, Florida, with famed restaurateur and hotelier Burton W. Sperry, whose reputation for fine food and sterling service made him the toast of the South in the late 1800s. Fast-forward to 1974, when Sperry’s descendants—eager to uphold their great-great-grandfather’s commitment to dining excellence—started their own restaurant to honor his memory. Since opening its doors more than three decades ago, Sperry's Restaurant has expanded to two locations and developed a loyal following thanks to its continued dedication to cooking palate-pleasing steaks and seafood entrees and bending over backwards for its guests. The aroma of crab legs and bacon-wrapped filet mignon converge to form a culinary siren song for diners sitting at tables made from the hatch covers of World War II Liberty ships.
Tokyo Japanese Steak House is a feast for the eyes, nose, and ears as well as the mouth. In addition to "laser lights in the lobby" and "sushi in martini glasses," as noted by Nashville Scene, hibachi chefs stand by your table and make theater out of food preparation, tossing around teriyaki meats and tofu dishes and making puppet shows with chopsticks.
There’s also a wide selection of sushi here. Try the signature Tennessee roll, which incorporates spicy tuna topped with fish, eel sauce, and tempura flakes. Also worth a try: the barbecue eel over sushi rice.
Eleven varieties of meat, from flank steak and pork ribs to tender leg of lamb, sail off skewers at Bombasha Brazilian Steakhouse, recently dubbed by Urbanspoon as one of America’s most popular high-end restaurants. Speedy tableside service, courtesy of Brazilian gauchos, keeps plates piled high with each succulent slice of meat, which diners can pair with side dishes such as fried bananas and yucca. Fresh greens and smoked salmon from the salad bar prologue feasts, and homemade Brazilian desserts close the evening beside signature caipirinhas conjured from sugar-cane liquor, sugar, and zesty lime.
The owners and chefs at Santa Fe Cattle rely on old family recipes that demand steaks are aged and cut in-house, rolls are baked fresh each day, and signature sauces are mixed onsite. These touches transform the menu’s casual, regional eats into dishes worthy of John Wayne’s personal dressing-room buffet. Steaks, fajitas, and sliders are plated next to housemade sides of cole slaw, Santa Fe taters, and of course, a bucket of peanuts—which guests shuck directly onto the floor. The peanut shells add character to each one of the restaurant’s 20 locations, which evoke old-west saloons with touches such as brick walls draped in horse saddles and weathered wooden floors.
After honing his culinary chops at restaurants owned by Disney, Marriott, and the Wyndham Union Station hotel, chef Angelo launched a local bistro and steakhouse that makes dining feel like a vacation. Here, he stuffs whole racks of lamb with fresh basil, garlic, and feta cheese and sautés veal picatta in white wine and capers. To accommodate diners with dietary restrictions, they also prepare vegetarian and gluten-free items, such as a baked eggplant with zucchini, squash, organic spinach, and a tomato-based broth as light as cotton candy spun from summer sunbeams.
In addition to delivering grilled beef tenderloins and cowboy rib eyes, attentive servers uncork bottles of wine from around the world during dinner and special events such as tastings and private parties. Live music wafts through the restaurant Thursday–Saturday as the house pianist tickles the ivories from 6 p.m.–9 p.m.
Criallo's menu starts things off with a smattering of bold appetizers. Baked brie drizzled with raspberry lava sauce ($11), indulgent lobster fondue ($12), oysters Rockefeller ($14), and haystack crab cakes served in a shredded potato crust ($12) all serve to whet appetites and open conversational floodgates. Dip a toe or fork in the generously proportioned entrees of sea flavors such as tilapia (with an almond crust and tropical salsa) ($28) and paella (chock-full of chorizo, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and bits of lobster tail, $36). Other options include grilled lamb chops ($38), chicken Francaise ($26), and a pastry-wrapped fillet of beef wellington ($38).