A Foodie's Guide to Martin, TNby Regan Green - Travel Writer
The charming university town of Martin, Tennessee is known for its upscale shopping, Skyhawks sporting events, and welcoming residents. Martin is also known for serving up food so good that families pack up their cars and drive from hours away to savor it. Whether or not you consider yourself a “foodie” or just want to try something new, here’s your guide to dining in Martin’s delectable eateries.
The Coffee Cafés
For the coffee-lover in your life, Martin has excellent options to fuel up on caffeine and freshly baked goodies. Located in the heart of downtown, Martin’s Coffee and Bakery is a shop that prides itself on serving exceptional coffee that also serves the greater good- a portion of everything sold goes to funding educational products locally and globally. It’s a wonderful spot to curl up on their cozy couch, enjoy a fine dark roast and an orange blossom muffin or apple cinnamon scone.
For delicious treats and hand-crafted drink creations, Higher Ground Coffee is also a great place to be. Come for the freshly brewed coffee like a Vanilla Iced Nirvana, stay for seasonal specialties like a maple-pecan danish, or the cinnamon roll bigger than any other cinnamon roll you’ve ever seen. You won’t leave disappointed (or hungry). Check them out for breakfast or lunch.
The Incredible Creations
Words can only do The Grind Mac & Cheese Burger Bar so much justice because their menu is filled with items that simply have to be seen to be believed. We can assure you that the Luther Burger, filled with freshly ground beef, cheddar cheese fondue and bacon sandwiched between two glazed donuts for buns is not only very real, but extremely delicious. The same can be said for The Gambler, a burger highlighted with a bold barbeque sauce, fresh-made onion rings and a cilantro aioli.
Not in the mood for a burger? Why not try the decadent Lobster Mac & Cheese? Or perhaps the Buffalo Chicken Mac, a somewhat spicy take on the pasta favorite that’s topped with hot-cheetos dust. Trust us- it’s a must try.
While these menu items may seem over-the-top to some, the real showstoppers are the milkshakes. To quote their menu, “Everyone has had a milkshake. But not like this,” and they’re absolutely right. These shakes are a sight to behold. The Mint Chocolate Sip is rimmed with Cocoa Pebbles and topped with a mint chocolate Klondike Bar. The S’More the Merrier features a huge marshmallow toasted right at your table, s’mores ice cream and a multitude of graham crackers. Ask about their seasonal milkshakes not listed on the menu, those are always a surprise. We know one may be tempted to order everything but please try your best to save room for one of these must-try, Instagram-worthy shakes.
The Local Go-to
Located next door to The Grind is Sammies, a favorite among locals for lunch and dinner. This family-owned eatery prides itself on serving delicious food in a fast and friendly manner. Featuring an extensive menu of freshly made “sammies,” wraps, subs, and dags, you’ll quickly want to try everything on the menu. Sammies also finds seasonal inspiration with their signature “Sammies of the Month,” which in the past have featured the Poppyseed Chicken, Oktoberfeast, the Elvis, and more. This eatery has claimed they’re “Soon to be World Famous” since they opened, and we believe them.
The Smoky Sensations
Memphis may be best known for establishing Tennessee’s barbeque culture, but Martin is paving their own delicious path thanks to Blake’s BBQ. Blake’s features Aaron Franklin-inspired Texas-style BBQ, offering authentic Oak-smoked meats and an array of savory specials and desserts to enjoy. One of Blake’s most popular creations, the Bubba Cole, features a sandwich filled with brisket, sliced turkey, and house-made pimento cheese inside a buttered brioche bun, no sauce. What may sound simple at first is what makes Blake’s BBQ stand out, as the food does all the necessary talking. You can even take your BBQ to the Brian Brown Memorial Greenway for a family picnic, if you like. This spot is extremely popular and sells out of food almost daily, so please consider calling ahead to place your order.
The Car-Hop Shop
If you’re in a hurry or maybe even just passing through Martin, look no further than the family owned and operated KN Root Beer Drive In for a delicious bite to eat. Featuring no-frills, all flavor items like KN Burgers and chili pies, KN is certainly a local favorite that you don’t even have to leave your vehicle to enjoy. Wash everything down with a root beer served in a frozen mug for the perfectly simple yet incredibly satisfying stop. Please note that this old school drive-in is cash only.
The International Eatery
Looking for great mixed drinks and a huge array of authentic Mexican food? Look no further than La Cabana. Be sure to save room for a banana burrito (a banana wrapped in a fried tortilla and topped with cinnamon, honey, and whipped cream) or a chango (creamy cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla and fried until flakey, dusted with cinnamon and sugar). They speak for themselves. La Cabana also features one of Martin’s best bar areas to enjoy a cocktail, watch the game and take in the sites of downtown’s Lindell Street.
The Steak & Seafood
Martin is no stranger to fine dining. The Blue Oak Oyster Bar & Grill, located in Martin’s historic downtown, is a must-visit for those craving a perfectly-cooked ribeye, or their ever-popular Bourbon-Glazed Bone-In Porkchop. The Blue Oak also features an extensive menu of fresh items from the sea, like raw oysters on the half-shell, blackened tuna or snapper and even bang bang shrimp. This family friendly dinner spot opens at 4 p.m.
The Opera House restaurant, also located in downtown Martin, offers a beautiful fine-dining atmosphere and a wonderful place for intimate dinners. Grab an upscale lunch and a mimosa or two during a girls-day-out or enjoy dinner by candlelight with someone special.
There’s surely something for everyone to enjoy in Martin, but we also want to make sure you spend your time in our city Martin safely. Please click here for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 safety precautions and be sure to practice social distancing while you’re exploring. For additional trip planning ideas and cozy accommodations, click here.