Loveless Cafe

Review by: Michael Stern

Loveless Cafe | What to expect

The Loveless Cafe, attached to the Loveless Motel on the highway west of Nashville, is true country: wood-paneled walls, red-checked tablecloths, waitresses with sweet mountain accents, and out-of-this-world downhome vittles.

For many years it was a favorite haunt of Grand Ol’ Opry performers, whose pictures line the walls, and whose tour buses frequently could be seen parked towards the back of the lot. Since we first wrote about it several decades ago, the Loveless has gotten reams of media attention; but we are happy to say that national renown has not spoiled it.

What to eat at Loveless Cafe

Yes, there are Loveless souvenirs to buy, including a fancy print of the cafe and motel (suitable for framing); but here you still will find some of the best fried chicken and country ham for miles around, plus dreamy peach, blackberry, and strawberry preserves.

Those preserves (which are available by mail) are reason enough to celebrate the Loveless. Peach is the color of a summer sunset, sweet and deeply fruity, just perfect in conjunction with a faintly sour biscuit. The blackberry is more tart: wonderful on biscuits or toast or waffles, or on ice cream, or (we confess) spooned straight from the jar.

Do not miss this dish!

Ham is the pride of the Loveless kitchen: It is country ham, slow cured and salty, fried on a griddle until its rim of fat turns translucent amber and the coral pink meat gets speckled sandy brown. It comes sandwiched into biscuits or on a plate with red-eye gravy for dipping, cream gravy, sorghum molasses, honey, and bowls full of each of the preserves. What delirious fun it is to permutate all these good things: dip the biscuits, spread the sorghum, make little sandwiches with ham. Best of all are the secret-recipe buttermilk biscuits — fresh, warm, flavorful, and the perfect companion for any country meal.

What To Eat


Fried Chicken

Banana Pudding


Ham Biscuits

Chicken ‘N’ Dumplings

Hashbrown Casserole

Biscuits and Gravy

Chess Pie


Loveless Cafe Recipes

Tomato Basil Soup

Low Country BBQ Sauce: Recipe from the Loveless Cafe

Split Pea Soup with Country Ham

Chicken and Dumplings

Oyster Stew

Potato Leek Soup

Chicken Stock

Black-Eyed Pea and Country Ham Chowder


What do you think of Loveless Cafe?

8 Responses to “Loveless Cafe”

Cathy Silva

October 1st, 2011

Love the Loveless! Super-tasty, Southern, homestyle cooking with speedy service and charming servers. Cut your wait in half on busy days by phoning ahead up to an hour before you arrive so you can be added to the wait list. (No reservations unless a party of 12 or more and then 24 hours in advance.)

My meal started with fresh hot biscuits with butter and three kinds of homemade preserves. Their reputation for perfection is well-deserved. My meal followed the arrival of the biscuits promptly. Delicious and piping hot fried chicken was accompanied by delicious homemade creamed corn and authentic mixed greens. I had to order my homemade banana pudding to go, as my appetite was no match for the generous servings. My server was friendly and attentive; I never reached the bottom of my tea before she buzzed by with a refill.

Definitely worth the wait and an absolute MUST for great Southern food, friendly service, and reasonable prices in Nashville.


Rob Yelvington

May 28th, 2011

The food is terrific, the service is great, and the ambiance is wonderful. For those of us who live in the north, Loveless is amazing. I’m sure there are places that might do chicken better but this is plenty good. Comes with all the fixins too!

My girlfriend and her kids wanted to do Nashville for spring break this year and one of the big reasons was a return trip to the Loveless. I’m a little more worldly in my dining habits than they are, but I love to be able to pass on the sheer joy of a place like this to others. I’ve probably been here three or four times over 10 years. It’s a bit more commercial today but not too much so.

We do the family-style meal and are overwhelmed by the amount of food placed on our table. We put up a valiant tussle but it’s too much for four people.


Nancy Castro

March 12th, 2011

We loved this place. The service was friendly and the decor is homey. The fried chicken was the best I have ever had. The biscuits with the homemade preserves were delicious. We also had homemade creamed corn, hash brown casserole, fried green tomatoes, and mac and cheese.

It truly gave you the impression that you were eating at someone’s house in the South. Finished it off with coconut cream pie. Terrific! This restaurant is a must.


Bill Peterson

February 8th, 2011

Michael: Just a heads up. Don’t ever refer to ANYTHING Nashville as “country-western.” That term went out in the ’60s. Someone said that at a Kenny Chesney concert recently and Kenny said, “What do you mean by western?”

Nashville is COUNTRY. No “western.”


Whitney Harper

October 17th, 2009

Loveless Café was the first stop on a feasting-focused tour of Tennessee. We heard rumors about Loveless from locals and visitors and decided it was a good introduction to Tennessee’s food. We arrived around three in the afternoon and must’ve hit a sweet spot as we expected to wait for a minimum of an hour for a table, but were seated immediately.

We ordered a wide selection from the menu: fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, hashbrown casserole, turnip greens, chicken ‘n’ dumplings, chess pie, and blackberry cobbler. The fried chicken is moist on the outside with a crispy skin that easily slips away from the meat to add just a hint of fatty goodness to each bite. The hashbrown casserole was another surprise star as we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. These weren’t like any hashbrowns I’ve had before, yet all the elements were there with perhaps a little extra: grated potatoes and cheese, served warm, slightly soft in the middle with crispy bits.

This was also our first introduction to chess pie, which apparently is quite a staple on Tennessee’s kitchen tables. The rumor is that the pie got its name from being the underdog at the end of Southern feasts, when guests would claim to have no room for dessert. The pie was introduced as “just pie” which eventually morphed into “chess pie.” We should’ve guessed that this might not be their best dish as the waitress had never eaten it. We ordered one, and invited her to take a taste, but decided that overall it deserved its underdog status as it is like a red-headed stepchild to a custard pie: more sugar and less depth of flavor.

The perfect bite consists of a bit of chicken ‘n’ dumplings, with a dab of hashbrown casserole with a creamy finish of biscuits and gravy.


Ken Riddle

February 14th, 2006

The Loveless has been destroyed. This was one fine place, home of some of the best ham, biscuits, chicken, and preserves you would find anywhere, and I know what I am talking about.

The “NEW CORPORATE OWNERS” have taken this fine place and turned it into a low-grade Cracker Barrel. The biscuits are sorry and they don’t give you enough sorghum syrup to get one damp, and the preserves would be rejected by Wal-Mart. The chicken (my favorite restaurant chicken since Buster Holmes quit making garlic chicken) was not given the old buttermilk-and-seasoning treatment it always had before and to top it off, it was so overcooked it was too dry to chew.

The ham was less disappointing, but when I asked for more redeye and another biscuit the waitress had to go see how much more she should charge me. I don’t care what it costs, bring me my gravy and bread! I was so very disappointed as this had been one of the absolute food jewels of the south. I work the entire South for a large company, and have been doing so for many years, so I know where the good groceries are. R.I.P Loveless Cafe.

You know, I am old enough to have seen a lot of great things go away but this one really hurt. I won’t be back.


Mark Rodebush

November 5th, 2005

I ate breakfast here last month after not eating a meal here for four years. Overall, I think the changes are fine. It’s hard to take an institution like the Loveless and “save it”, but the new owners have done that pretty well.

I came here on a Sunday morning, about 20 minutes before the rush, and got to sit at my favorite table (the one right at the picture window in front). I ordered the ham breakfast with the hashbrown casserole. The ham was excellent, as was the casserole. Both could not have been better. The eggs were nicely cooked (over medium), and the coffee was fine.

I was very disappointed in the biscuits. They ARE different, and they aren’t as good in my opinion. I am in disagreement with a distinguished member of the community, Poverty Pete. He likes the new fluffy biscuits, and I like the old version. They had more substance and taste. The only other thing I disliked were the blackberry preserves. They apparently had gone bad, and had that “fermented” taste that made them inedible. The Loveless preserves had always been among my favorites, so that was a big letdown.

A word about the ham. The previous reviewer, cahaden, complained that the ham had a gamey taste and was tough. I can only think that she is used to “city ham”, which is sweeter, more moist, and more tender. The “country ham” I was served was almost perfect. Salty, flavorful, and very chewy.



November 1st, 2005

We’d heard about this cafe, so we drove across town for a visit before leaving Nashville to drive home Sunday morning. We waited an hour and a half to be seated, and the older lady that worked at the front desk was just plain rude!

After being seated, service was pretty quick but the food was not very good. The biscuits had no taste and were kinda hard around the edges. The eggs, the bacon, and the grits were good, but the ham was awful. It had a real gamey aftertaste and was VERY tough. Hubby said the fried chicken was pretty good. Overall we were disappointed, as were some of those sitting at tables nearby. We will not recommend this place, nor return to it.


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