RE: Chicago to Nashville Roadtrip
I've posted this before on another thread, so I apologize if you already have this info. In any event, in Nashville I recommend the following:
Pancake Pantry-- I am fond of their potato dishes, particularly their hash browns, though their potato pancake is also quite good. My standard meal there is pecan pancakes w/ bacon & hash browns.
Loveless Cafe-- Many will tell you that the Loveless has good fried chicken & sides for lunch & dinner. I disagree and contend that most meat & three's in Nashville do lunch & dinner better. In my opinion, breakfast is the best thing the Loveless does by far. Get there early and have country ham, two eggs over easy and lots of lard biscuits which are good both with the red-eye gravy and with the preserves (I prefer the peach). The big table looking out the front window is an especially good spot early in the morning.
Meat & three only --
Sylvan Park -- This is my favorite meat & three, but I am biased since I used to live in the neighborhood and could walk there from my house. That being said, I love the cornbread muffins here, but hate the biscuits. Their fried chicken & country-style steak is good as are their vegetables. Be sure and get pie here, particularly if they offer a version topped with meringue. The chocolate pie reminds me of the ones my grandmother made when I was a kid. Order the pie when you order your other food as they tend to sell out. Sylvan also serves dinner, but lunch is preferable.
Arnold's -- Downtown, lunch-only cafeteria-line meat & three. I have not eaten here much lately, but some of my co-workers are regulars and report that it has not slipped.
Swett's -- Excellent, cafeteria-line meat & three/soul food restaurant. Arnold's & Swett's have many devotees who will argue that they are the best, just as I will with Sylvan Park. All three are good (Swett's also has an outpost in the Farmer's Market, but it is not as good as the main restaurant). I believe that Swett's also serves dinner.
Monell's -- Monell's takes a bit different approach, serving family-style at communal tables (on the weekends, anyway) at the main restaurant. Probably is best on the weekend...
Kleer-Vu Lunchroom -- Cafeteria-line meat & three/soul food in Murfreesboro. I go here frequently and love their "hot water cornbread". These folks really know their way around pork dishes.
You may also want to check out the Pie Wagon and the White Trash Cafe.
Meat & three/Combination:
These places serve meat & three, but also have grills:
Rotiers -- Known primarily for their "Cheeseburger on French Bread" (which should be ordered with onion rings and a chocolate milkshake, though these things are not on the menu per se) and waitresses with attitude, Rotier's has good meat & three type dishes as well (and other grill items). But the burger rocks. Equally good at lunch or dinner (maybe even a bit better at dinner).
Elliston Place Soda Shop -- Good meat & three at lunch (especially on Tuesday and Saturday which are the only times they have fried chicken). Decent grill. Full line soda fountain with excellent malteds. Still looks like 1956 inside...
Belle Meade Buffet -- Old-line cafeteria, excellent food. Sort of a meat & three on steroids.
Brown's Diner -- True dive. Good burger.
Bobbi's Dairy Dip -- Seasonal walk-up ice cream stand with good burgers & dogs (caution -- I'm not sure when Bobbie's closes for the winter).
Fat Mo's -- Drive-thru only. Huge burger available, though I generally get the 1/2 pound. The location on Franklin Road is best...
Buster's Place -- Murfreesboro's best burger, just happens to be in a bar (becomes a biker hang-out at night).
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
These two places are running neck & neck for the hot chicken crown in Nashville. Both are worthy contenders. I slightly favor Prince's, but Mr. Boo's is closer so I eat there more often. Both are good. Get the medium heat for the best flavor.
Beacon Light Tea Room -- This may be my favorite place of the lot: great pan-fried chicken, tiny little biscuits (two crusts with little in between, just like I prefer them), excellent country ham (they even offer a choice between center slices or breakfast slices), decent sides. Way out in Bon Aqua (just into Hickman County on Hwy 100), but well worth the drive. Wierd hours. Make sure and call before making the trip.
Wilma Kaye's -- Downtown, lunch only, weekday only. Louisiana Cajun place offering excellent savory fried pies, among other things.
Slick Pig Barbecue -- Murfreesboro. Only go by here if you are going to hit the Kleer-Vu or Buster's also. But if you do, get their hickory-smoked chicken wings. They market them like buffalo wings, but just ignore the blue cheese & celery. The wings are incredible. Best smoked meat I have had in this state outside of Memphis and Ridgewood Barbecue (in East TN).
Not a complete list, but maybe this will get you started!