While Nashville pushes the boundaries of its highways with meteoric growth, one of its most famous landmarks remains a good distance away from all the commotion. Several miles from the flurry and fuss of Broadway and the long lines of music fans at downtown concert venues, time seems to slow to a crawl as you venture down State 100. Just before you turn into the parking lot, you’ll see it: a house that’s been serving biscuits and fried chicken for over 70 years.
In 1951, Annie and Lon Loveless took advantage of their home’s location on the east-west highway that connects the outskirts of Nashville and Memphis to feed hungry travelers. In the post-World War II era, their house was positioned perfectly on the busy road, just steps from the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The couple turned their front porch and yard into a dining room for anyone who passed by, whether they were seeking a feast or just a snack.
Word spread of this delightful wayside stop, and the couple found themselves seating so many patrons that they needed to expand and built 14 rooms for overnight guests. (Motel operations ceased in the 1980s; today, the building holds a private event space.) They even added a smokehouse because most of the food that the restaurant serves is cooked from scratch, including the biscuits, of course.
The petite breads rise tall and proud, tender and fluffy. They’re served by the basketful with small-batch preserves made right down the road. The restaurant’s kitchen churns out up to 10,000 biscuits a day, so they aren’t stingy with your requests for more. They even offer a biscuit sandwich sampler platter, so there’s no need to fear missing the just-right combination. (You can’t go wrong with the country ham. They’ve been making it for decades too.)
You'll probably have to wait for a table if you go during the busiest times, especially on weekends, but like any Southern home, the Loveless Cafe anticipates their guests’ needs. They’ve set up rocking chairs on the porch, which have a great view of their iconic neon sign, and in the back, you can stretch your legs and play corn hole.
Also on the property, you’ll find a barn that’s large enough for concerts and weddings plus several gift shops that carry all the take-home foods you could possibly want—spice rubs, preserves, baking mixes, and much more. While the cafe is generous with recipes for many of their dishes, the method for the biscuits remains a closely held secret, passed down from Annie herself. You don’t draw in half a million visitors each year for mediocre biscuits, after all.
If you’re more interested in the eats than the atmosphere, take a tip from some of the Loveless Cafe’s most fervent fans: Slip across the pedestrian bridge to the gas station next door, and place your order at the Biscuit Kitchen, another extension of the restaurant, like their food truck. You can take your meal back and find a picnic table near the front of the house to enjoy it there, just as guests did in the early days of the cafe.
lovelesscafe.com , 615-646-9700, 8400 TN-100, Nashville, TN 37221