We’ve already pointed you to the best of the best in the new generation of modern Music City steakhouses, but sometimes you’re in the mood for an old school dining experience that harkens back to the days of tuxedo-ed maître d’s and good old fashioned chop house menus. If you’re seeking out the OGs of Nashville steakhouses, here’s a list to get you started.
With locations in West Nashville and Cool Springs, Sperry’s has been a landmark since 1974. The Belle Meade restaurant boasts Nashville’s first salad bar, and you can still take a trip down the bar to pick ice-cold lettuce and toppings to slather with a layer of garlicky Green Goddess dressing. The decor is reminiscent of an old English pub, but the menu is quintessentially American with Southern favorites like BBQ Shrimp and Grits mixed with New England regional specialties such as Halibut in lemon butter or Twin Broiled Lobster Tails. Of course, the highlights are the steaks ranging from Blue-Cheese Stuffed Filet Mignon to a Bone-In Ribeye weighing in at just over a pound. The list of side dishes is impressive, but we doubt you’ll make it past the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese.
Founded just a year after the repeal of Prohibition, Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse off Elliston Place has been serving up spirits and steaks for 85 years. Still operated by the Kelly family, Jimmy Kelly’s offers the opportunity to dine in the convivial bar area or in one of many private rooms interspersed around the mansion, including some with roaring fireplaces to add to the ambiance. Servers are known for their attention to hospitality and warm personalities as they deliver plates of hand-butchered steaks and premium seafood to delighted patrons. For a true feast, order the Chateaubriand for two, an extra-thick cut of prime filet tenderloin covered with a rich mushroom and Burgundy wine sauce.
Hidden away on the second floor of a retail complex facing Centennial Park, Fleming’s is sometimes forgotten on lists of Nashville’s best steakhouses, but skip it at your peril. Whether you’re simply enjoying a craft cocktail or glass of wine at the bar along with some upscale bar bites or in for the full dinner experience in the mod main dining room, Fleming’s is sure to impress. From classic appetizers like Shrimp Cocktail or a Chilled Seafood Tower to a selection of USDA Prime steaks or massive Tomahawk Pork Chops, Fleming’s is one of the best dining options in Midtown.
Conveniently located downtown near venues like Bridgestone Arena, Ryman Auditorium and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Morton’s is a favorite venue for some fantastic food and drink before or after a show. With three private rooms to host small groups and one of the best wine collections in town, Morton’s is appropriate for a casual night out or a special occasion dinner. Order one of their signature Mixed Grills for a memorable surf n’ turf feast.
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Ruth’s Chris may be difficult to say, but it’s easy to love! The name honors the original founders, Ruth Fertel and Chris Matulich, and their special preparation of searing steaks in an infernal broiler before finishing them in butter and serving them up on a scalding hot plate that makes Ruth’s Chris a unique place to enjoy a fine slice of beef. Servers bring the steaks out still sizzling, so you might want to cover your shirt with a napkin to avoid butter spots, but it’s worth the hassle. The 22-ounce bone-in Cowboy Ribeye is a specialty of the house thanks to ample marbling that contributes plenty of flavor. (Even along with all that butter!)
Unless you’re a guest at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, you might not think about a dinner at their Old Hickory Steakhouse, but everyone is welcome at the upscale steakhouse that has been serving premium beef dishes since 1977. You don’t even have to worry about the cost of parking at the resort since they’ll generously validate your ticket with a meal at Old Hickory. Start your meal with a cheese plate selected by a certified Maître d’ Fromager and continue on to luxurious appetizers such as Escargot or Beef Tartar before plunging on to their menu of steaks and chops. The undisputed highlight of the menu is a massive 30-ounce Prime, Dry-Aged Tomahawk Ribeye topped with Bone Marrow Butter that they call The Old Hickory after Tennessee native Andrew Jackson. Walk off the calories with an after dinner stroll through the lovely indoor landscaping in the cavernous pavilions of the resort.
If the old real estate adage of “location, location, location” matters in your choice of a steakhouse dining destination, you can’t beat The Palm, located in the shadow of Bridgestone Arena smack in the middle of Nashville’s downtown entertainment district. With long-term servers who treat every diner like an old friend, The Palm represents the epitome of service and hospitality. The walls are adorned with caricatures of famous local figures and regular customers, adding to the historic feel of the dining room. With a menu developed over almost a century of serving prime steaks in locations ranging from New York City to Mexico City, The Palm offers classic dishes like their Gigi Salad to the cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes side dish to accompany a meal of aged USDA Prime steaks or massive Broiled Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobsters. There’s really not a bad choice on the entire menu.
If you venture a little bit out of town, you can still find some great steaks. Cork & Cow on the town square in Franklin is known for many things: the casual luxury of the ambiance, their fantastic craft cocktails and whiskey list, ½ price bottles of wine on Sundays and most of all for their hickory- and oak-grilled steaks. Top your steak with one of Cork & Cow’s inventive add-ons like gorgonzola horseradish, house-made pepper jelly or a coffee rub with honey-chile butter to create your own unique dish.
For a truly novel dining experience, arrive at Cherokee Steakhouse by boat. Located in a marina on the Cumberland River in Lebanon, Cherokee also offers plenty of parking for cars, but the opportunity to drop anchor makes it even more special. An unfussy old school chop house, Cherokee specializes in Prime RIb, T-bones and Filets. Try the Prime Rib blackened for a spicy treat or their signature Sirloin Platter. Nightly specials offer extremely affordable plates of beef, pork chops or seafood to save you a little money to gas up your boat for the trip home.