Unique Restaurants in Franklin TN: 11 Distinctive Dining Spots in Franklin TN

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Franklin TN
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Looking for extraordinary restaurants? Franklin does not disappoint. Our guide to unique restaurants in Franklin TN showcases spots where exceptional flavors meet unforgettable atmospheres. From innovative cuisine to cozy, family-run gems, get ready to discover the dining heart of Franklin!

Franklin, a Tennessee gem, is a treasure trove of culinary wonders. This quaint town, rich in history, is also a hotspot for extraordinary dining experiences. Imagine historic streets where each corner and alleyway leads to a restaurant that offers fascinating stories and memories to be made.

In Franklin, dining is an adventure. The restaurants we’re about to explore are far from ordinary, and they’re quirky, unique, and offer something truly special. It’s not just about the food, which is, of course, exceptional, but also about the experience – each eatery has its own character, its own soul. These are the places that locals cherish and visitors seek out for their one-of-a-kind appeal. From innovative concepts to unexpected twists on familiar dishes, Franklin’s dining scene is a playground for the culinary curious.

So, prepare to be amazed. We’re about to embark on a journey through Franklin’s most unique and unforgettable dining spots – places that redefine what it means to dine out!

The top restaurants to visit in Franklin, TN right now

Unique Restaurants in Franklin TN: 11 Incredible Franklin TN Eateries

From quaint cafes to innovative eateries, Franklin TN’s unique restaurants offer a taste of local charm and culinary creativity. Join us as we explore these delightful spots, each with its own story and flavors.

1. Mi Kitchen

Mi Kitchen, a Korean-inspired gem nestled in Cool Springs, has quickly become a favorite among locals. The essence of Mi Kitchen lies in its name, which symbolizes “taste, beauty, and rice” in various Asian languages, perfectly capturing the essence of their offerings.

The owners, originally from South Korea, bring a slice of their heritage to Franklin. Their journey from New York City to Tennessee is a tale of passion and perseverance. They introduce a modern twist to Korean cuisine, blending it with international flavors. The menu is a delightful array of tapas-style dishes, ideal for sharing and family-style dining.

Favorites like crispy rice topped with spicy tuna, NY strip with feta grits, and the unique cherry tomato kimchi showcase their culinary creativity. Not to be missed are the Szechuan-spicy “Lucky Udon Noodles” and the crowd-pleasing “k pop chicken.” For dessert, their take on bread pudding is a must-try.

With a curated bar menu featuring beer, wine, and soju cocktails, and their popular “Capri Moon” pouch drinks, it’s a place where taste and ambiance blend seamlessly. Open for lunch and dinner, Mi Kitchen is a standout among the best restaurants in Franklin TN, offering a unique dining experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Mi Kitchen is one of the unique restaurants in Franklin TN.
Mi Kitchen is Cool Springs’ beloved Korean-inspired gem, celebrating ‘taste, beauty, and rice’ in every dish.

2. The Dinner Detective

Franklin is home to The Dinner Detective, a unique dining adventure that combines a murder mystery with a delightful dinner. This experience stands out among themed restaurants in Franklin TN, offering an interactive evening that’s both entertaining and engaging.

At The Dinner Detective, the mystery unfolds around you. Actors, hidden among the diners and not in costume, blend in seamlessly. This means anyone, including you, could become part of the story. The evening is a thrilling blend of crime-solving and dining, where guests play detective, uncovering clues and trying to solve the mystery.

The show includes a multi-course meal, ensuring a satisfying dining experience as the plot thickens. With general admission starting at $79.95, it’s an accessible option for a fun night out. The Dinner Detective performs several times a month, making it a regular feature in scenes of fun restaurants in Franklin TN.

Franklin's The Dinner Detective uniquely blends a murder mystery into a delightful dinner.
Franklin’s The Dinner Detective uniquely blends a murder mystery into a delightful dinner.

3. Chrysalis Modern Italian

For reimagined Italian dining, head to Chrysalis Modern Italian. This restaurant, led by Andrew Ackerman, a former sommelier at Opryland Hotel, and Chef Jeff Brown, offers a 21st-century approach to 19th-century cuisine. Their philosophy is simple: creativity over authenticity. This approach has made Chrysalis a standout among Franklin TN’s best restaurants.

The menu at Chrysalis is a testament to their innovative spirit. It features fresh takes on classics like chicken breast pesto, pork loin marsala, and salmon puttanesca. The small plate options and a diverse antipasti menu add to the allure. Their wine and Italian cocktail selections complement the dining experience perfectly.

Located on Carothers Parkway, Chrysalis benefits from its prime location. It’s a refreshing alternative to the corporate chains in the area, offering a unique dining experience. The restaurant’s success is also attributed to its engaging community presence and its commitment to providing something different.

Chrysalis Modern Italian in Franklin redefines Italian cuisine with a 21st-century approach.
Chrysalis Modern Italian in Franklin redefines Italian cuisine with a 21st-century approach.

4. Italy from Scratch

Italy from Scratch offers a unique culinary experience in Franklin, TN. Beyond being a restaurant, it’s an immersive cooking adventure. Led by Derek Chirico, guests learn to create authentic Italian dishes from various regions of Italy. This hands-on approach makes it one of the most fun places to eat in Franklin TN.

The experience begins with preparing small appetizers, followed by hand-made pasta, a meat dish, and concludes with a delightful dessert. Participants enjoy wine while cooking, adding to the enjoyment. The menu changes seasonally, ensuring fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Derek’s passion for Italian cuisine was ignited during his first trip to Italy. After several visits and extensive training, he mastered Italian cooking methods. His classes in Franklin bring the essence of Italy to Tennessee. Italy from Scratch is more than a cooking class; it’s a journey into the heart of Italian cuisine. For those seeking unique places to eat in Franklin TN, Italy from Scratch offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a chance to not only taste but also create the best of Italian cooking.

Italy from Scratch in Franklin, TN, isn't just a restaurant; it's an immersive cooking adventure led by Derek Chirico.
Italy from Scratch in Franklin, TN, isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an immersive cooking adventure led by Derek Chirico.| Source: https://www.italyfromscratch.com/

5. Coal Town Public House

Situated on the lake in the Westhaven community, Coal Town Public House is a place where the atmosphere and menu come together to create something truly special. This makes it one of the best places to eat in Franklin TN for those seeking a memorable meal.

Executive Chef Chris Cunningham, self-taught and passionate, brings a unique flair to American cuisine. His favorite, the shrimp and grits, is a must-try, perfectly encapsulating his style. The menu also features innovative dishes like the duck duo and a grilled double-cut bone-in pork chop with sorghum molasses demi-glaze.

The ambiance of Coal Town Public House, with its high ceilings and big garage door windows, offers stunning views of the Westhaven lake. This setting, combined with live music on weekends, creates an inviting environment. It’s a standout among unique restaurants in Franklin TN for dinner, where the food, drinks, and atmosphere blend to provide an exceptional experience.

Coal Town Public House in Franklin TN, nestled by the lake in Westhaven, combines a special atmosphere and menu.
Coal Town Public House in Franklin TN, nestled by the lake in Westhaven, combines a special atmosphere and menu. | Source: https://www.coaltownpublichouse.com/

6. Culaccino

Nestled just off Main Street in historic downtown Franklin, Culaccino is a beacon of authentic Italian cuisine. This neighborhood gem, led by Chef Frank Pullara, is a must-visit among unique Franklin TN restaurants. With a waiting list for dinner reservations stretching close to a month, it’s clear that Culaccino has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

The menu at Culaccino is a celebration of Italian flavors, offering both lunch and dinner options. From classic Italian starters to indulgent house specialties, including hearty steaks, chops, pizzas, and pastas, the choices are both diverse and delightful. The bistro’s atmosphere, with close-set, white-covered tables and expansive glass front, maximizes street views, creating a cozy yet vibrant dining space. The spacious patio, complete with a welcoming fire pit, adds to the allure, making it a unique restaurant in Franklin TN for dinner.

Culaccino’s cocktail offerings, including the summer classic AFD with Plantation Pineapple Rum and the spicy Vanity’s Fair, complement the menu perfectly. With a wine list featuring varietals from Italy’s premier regions, every meal here is an authentic Italian experience.

Chef Frank Pullara's Culaccino in downtown Franklin is a coveted gem for authentic Italian cuisine.
Chef Frank Pullara’s Culaccino in downtown Franklin is a coveted gem for authentic Italian cuisine.

7. Party Fowl

Party Fowl in Cool Springs is a culinary hotspot known for its Nashville Hot Chicken. Executive Chef Bart Pickens has crafted a diverse menu that showcases hot chicken in various heat levels, from the gentle Southern Fried to the fiery “Poultrygeist.” The menu also offers creative twists on classic dishes, providing a unique dining experience.

This restaurant is a favorite for both food and drink enthusiasts. Party Fowl features a selection of local beers on draft, ideal for pairing with their spicy offerings. They are also the creators of the original Boozy Slushies, adding a playful and refreshing element to the dining experience.

The ambiance at Party Fowl is lively and engaging, with large-screen TVs throughout the space, making it a great spot for sports fans and groups. Their brunch menu is particularly notable, offering distinctive choices that set it apart from the usual fare.

Party Fowl in Cool Springs is a Nashville Hot Chicken hotspot led by Executive Chef Bart Pickens.
Party Fowl in Cool Springs is a Nashville Hot Chicken hotspot led by Executive Chef Bart Pickens.

8. Gray’s on Main

In the heart of the city, Gray’s on Main emerges as one of the best restaurants in Franklin, TN. Housed in a historic 1876 building, once home to Gray’s Drugs, this three-story establishment offers a unique dining experience. The first floor is dedicated to dining, the second houses a bar and stage, and the top floor features a private supper club.

Beyond its historic charm, Gray’s on Main is a culinary delight. The menu, boasting dishes like Shrimp & Grits served as individual grit cakes topped with shrimp, and Fried Pimento Cheese Balls with moonshine pepper jelly, reflects a creative culinary spirit. These offerings are a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to reinventing Southern classics.

The drink menu, curated by mixologist Jon Yeager, includes French press cocktails, a novel concept perfect for cozy evenings. The Cider Press, a blend of apple brandy, rum, and spices, is a standout. Gray’s on Main also offers cocktail classes, adding an educational twist to the dining experience.

Gray's on Main is one of the unique restaurants in Franklin TN.
Gray’s on Main: with dining on the first floor, a bar and stage on the second, and a private supper club on the top floor.

9. Cork and Cow

Located on West Main Street, Cork and Cow redefines the traditional steakhouse experience. Founded by Jason McConnell, who grew up on a cattle farm, this restaurant reflects his deep appreciation for quality steaks. McConnell, a pioneer in the independently owned restaurant movement in Williamson County, has brought a unique, non-chain steakhouse to the heart of Franklin.

The menu at Cork and Cow showcases McConnell’s commitment to local sourcing, with an aim to increasingly use meats from Tennessee farms. The restaurant offers a variety of steak options, including the standout dry-aged New York Strip. Side dishes like the salt-crusted baked potato, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and Italian-style spinach, mostly sourced from local farms, complement the main courses perfectly.

Cork and Cow is also known for its craft cocktails and a vast, weekly changing wine list, featuring Italian wines. The ambiance, complete with white tablecloths, balances sophistication with a relaxed atmosphere. This restaurant stands out as one of the best hidden gem restaurants in Franklin, TN, offering a steakhouse experience that goes beyond the ordinary.

Cork and Cow redefines the steakhouse experience while pioneering independent dining in Williamson County.
Cork and Cow redefines the steakhouse experience while pioneering independent dining in Williamson County.

10. Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey, nestled on Fifth Ave. S., is a culinary haven from breakfast to dinner. This accessible, hip spot is perfect for families, casual business lunches, or as a cozy workspace. Their chef-driven menu, punctuated by fresh local ingredients, caters to a variety of dietary needs, making it a standout for the best food in Franklin, TN.

The menu features delights like the Quinoa + Black Bean Burger, a hearty yet healthy option topped with tomato, lettuce, and sun-dried tomato pesto. The California, with farm-fresh eggs, sourdough toast, sprouts, avocado, and salsa, is a crowd-pleaser throughout the day. For sandwich lovers, the Royale, a combination of smoked turkey, Swiss, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and basil mayo, is a must-try.

Frothy Monkey is also known for its exceptional coffee, roasted in partnership with Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company. Their seasonal coffee menu, including unique creations like the Masala Pumpkin Latte and The Hummingbird, caters to all coffee enthusiasts. Additionally, the restaurant hosts Wine Down Wednesday, a casual event featuring wine and light bites, showcasing their commitment to creating a community-centered dining experience.

Frothy Monkey offers a diverse dining experience, perfect for families, casual lunches, and cozy workspaces.
Frothy Monkey offers a diverse dining experience, perfect for families, casual lunches, and cozy workspaces.

11. Wild Ginger

If great ambiance is what you’re looking for, head to Wild Ginger in Cool Springs. This family-owned restaurant is a beacon of fine dining in Franklin TN, and offers a unique Pacific Rim style cuisine, blending Pan-Asian, South American, and Western flavors. Known for its miso seabass, braised short rib, and an array of signature maki and tapas, Wild Ginger provides a culinary journey like no other.

Owners Andrew Siao and John Chen have crafted an ambiance that offers guests a glimpse into authentic Pacific Rim culture while embracing a modern vibe. The restaurant’s outdoor patio, overlooking an infinity pool, is a sought-after spot in Nashville. The patio is also a venue for live bands during spring, summer, and fall, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. Inside, an open kitchen and sushi bar allow guests to witness the artistry behind each dish, enhancing the dining experience. This unique setting is part of what makes Wild Ginger stand out among scenic places in Franklin TN to eat.

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a serene view of the pool, creating a tranquil dining environment. Private dining areas are available, making Wild Ginger ideal for intimate gatherings or special occasions.

Wild Ginger offers Pacific Rim cuisine blending Pan-Asian, South American, and Western flavors.
Wild Ginger offers Pacific Rim cuisine blending Pan-Asian, South American, and Western flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Franklin TN

Our Franklin TN restaurant guide’s FAQ section is your key to unlocking the city’s culinary secrets, from local favorites to hidden gems.

What food is Nashville Tennessee known for?

Nashville, Tennessee, is famous for its hot chicken, a local specialty known for its fiery spice blend and crispy texture. This dish is typically served with pickles and white bread, balancing the heat with a touch of sweetness and acidity. Nashville is also known for its barbecue, particularly pork barbecue, which is slow-cooked and often served with a tangy sauce. Southern comfort foods like biscuits and gravy, meat and three (a meat dish with three side dishes), and country ham are also popular in Nashville.

Tennessee is renowned for its whiskey, particularly Jack Daniel’s, which is produced in Lynchburg. This smooth, sipping whiskey has become synonymous with the state. Another popular drink is the Lynchburg Lemonade, made with whiskey, lemonade, and triple sec, offering a refreshing twist. Sweet tea, a Southern staple, is also widely consumed in Tennessee, often enjoyed on warm days or with a hearty meal.

Are there vegetarian options at unique restaurants in Franklin TN?

Franklin, TN, boasts a variety of unique restaurants that cater to vegetarian diets. Many establishments offer creative vegetarian dishes that go beyond the standard fare. From farm-to-table eateries serving fresh, locally sourced produce to international cuisine with ample vegetarian options, there’s something for every palate. Restaurants in Franklin are increasingly focusing on inclusive menus, ensuring that vegetarians have a range of delicious choices.

What are some must-try desserts in Franklin, TN?

Franklin, TN, offers a delightful array of desserts that are a must-try. Local bakeries and cafes serve up classic Southern sweets like pecan pie, banana pudding, and homemade ice cream. Many restaurants also feature unique dessert creations, incorporating local ingredients like Tennessee whiskey and fresh berries. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in these sweet treats that reflect the region’s culinary heritage.

Freshly Baked Pecan Pie
Freshly Baked Pecan Pie

Can you find international cuisine in Franklin, TN?

Yes, Franklin, TN, is home to a diverse range of international cuisines. From authentic Italian and modern Asian fusion to traditional Mexican and Middle Eastern fare, the city’s culinary scene is as diverse as it is delicious. These restaurants offer an opportunity to explore flavors from around the world, right in the heart of Tennessee.

What are some cheap eats in Franklin TN?

Franklin, TN, offers a variety of options for those seeking delicious food on a budget. From cozy cafes serving hearty sandwiches and soups to food trucks offering everything from tacos to gourmet hot dogs, there are plenty of affordable choices. Many local diners and barbecue joints also provide generous portions at reasonable prices, ensuring a satisfying meal without breaking the bank.

Is Franklin, TN, a good place for foodies?

Absolutely! Franklin, TN, is a haven for foodies, offering a diverse culinary landscape. From upscale dining experiences and unique eateries to classic Southern comfort food and trendy cafes, there’s something to satisfy every taste. The city’s growing food scene is marked by a commitment to quality, creativity, and local sourcing, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts.

What are some family-friendly restaurants in Franklin, TN?

Franklin, TN, is filled with family-friendly restaurants that cater to all ages. Many eateries offer special kids’ menus, comfortable seating, and a welcoming atmosphere. From classic American diners and pizza parlors to casual cafes and outdoor eateries with play areas, families can enjoy a variety of dining experiences that are both enjoyable and accommodating.

Final Thoughts On Unique Franklin TN Restaurants

Franklin, a beautiful spot in Tennessee, is a treasure trove of culinary delights, each offering its own unique charm and flavors. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, exploring the unique restaurants in Franklin TN is an adventure in itself.

From the fiery heat of Nashville hot chicken to the refined ambiance of upscale dining, Franklin’s food scene caters to a diverse range of tastes and experiences. These establishments are not just places to eat; they are destinations that offer a glimpse into the rich culinary culture of Tennessee. As you wander through the historic streets of Franklin, let your taste buds lead the way to unforgettable dining experiences that await in this vibrant city.

The top restaurants in Franklin, TN for all types of travelers
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