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Music City's Meat and Three's

What is a Meat and Three?


Copyright Jan Duke

Elliston Soda Shop

© Jan Duke
Although the origin of the meat and three is unknown, it is truly a southern culinary tradition not to be missed when venturing into the South.

This culinary treat is a mainstay in most Nashvillians diets. There are numerous (about a hundred or more at last count) meat and three diners scattered throughout the city.

Every Nashvillian, when asked, will quickly give you the name of their favorite and you may never hear the same name twice. Just remember that Nashvillians love their food, especially the traditional southern cuisine and would never recommend a place that they wouldn't frequent themselves.

Locally, the Meat and Three is commonly referred to as "Meat N Three", emphasis on the "N". What exactly is a "Meat and Three"? A true meat and three will consist of your choice of meat and three vegetables, served along with a choice of cornbread and/or rolls. Add in the sweet tea, which is an art unto itself, and followed up by a homemade dessert and you will think you're in Mom's kitchen.

In fact, most of the cooks in these establishments are middle-aged women that have learned traditional southern cooking, passed down for generations within their own families. On rare occasion these women will pop out of the kitchen for a break just long enough to cool down. If you are lucky enough to converse with them you will find that most have numerous entertaining tales to tell.

Many of these diners can look older than dirt from the outside and usually are, most of the buildings were built about fifty or so years ago. Don't let this deter you, they have some of the cleanest kitchens around…. Many of them still, proudly I might add, maintain their 1950's era charm.

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