What Is Meat and Three?
A term used through much of the South but especially in Nashville, “meat and three” quite simply refers to a menu template that lists two to five entrees and one or two dozen side dishes.
How to Order
From these lists, a diner picks one entree and three sides. Among the sides will be vegetables, but also congealed salads, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and rice. Cornbread, hoe cakes, biscuits and/or dinner rolls are always provided on the side.
Variations include meat and two or meat and three without the meat, meaning an all‑vegetable plate of three or four selections. While it is possible for a meat and three meal to be simplicity itself — meat loaf with mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and butter beans — the list of side dishes likely includes a number of souped-up vegetable casseroles in which squash, broccoli or spinach is transformed into a luxurious indulgence by use of butter or margarine and bread crumbs; also, greens and cabbage tend to be enriched by massive infusions of pig in the form of fatback, country ham or neck bones.
Origin of Meat and Three
Although originally from the south, more specifically Nashville, Tennessee, meat and three can now be found at locations all around the United States. Below is a list of the 12 best meat and three locations that we have found. Although predominantly in the southern states, we have included locations in California and Washington DC that do the dish justice.
Arnold's is one of the best restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee, for a meat and 3 meal, from fried chicken and veggies to chocolate pie and banana pudding.
A colorful, welcoming roadside restaurant and produce stand, Graniteville's Red Shed serves great hearty cafe meals and blue ribbon pies & cakes.
BBQ plus a bountiful meat-and-three cafeteria make Taylor's a worthy three-meal-a-day destination (open at 4:30am!) in the Bird Dog Capital of the World.
Martin's serves southern-style meat-and-three at its best: fried chicken, baked chicken, vegetables galore, plus pies that are the pride of Montgomery, Alabama.
Locals love this downtown Augusta, Georgia, lunch-only meat-and-3 for classic southern vegetables, fried chicken, pork chops, Wednesday ribs and Friday catfish.
A soul-food diner in Washington, DC, the Florida Avenue Grill serves square meals to government glitterati as well as taxi drivers and ordinary folks.
Mary Mac’s is an old-fashioned urban lunch room in Atlanta where specialties include such Dixie standards as pot likker, sweet potato souffle & fried chicken.
The Cupboard of Memphis is all about fresh vegetables, well over a dozen of which are on the menu daily. For dessert: some of the best cream pies anywhere.