Leave the traffic. The parking, or lack thereof. Busy sidewalks. Exhaust fumes. And total hubbub. Head out to Nashville’s Big Backyard (see story in this issue), to Leiper’s Fork and communities out that way.
Whether you live in Nashville, Franklin, Brentwood, Nolensville, Spring Hill or any of Williamson’s delightful communities, the Covid Cabin Fever has set in for most folks. So, take a day trip out to the Fork.
And you need not pack a lunch. The area has a plethora of places to eat, all of which practice CDC guidelines. And some not to miss attractions.
The historic village is an eclectic place. Home to farmers, corporate executives and a slew of country music stars, there’s not a single traffic light. Shops and eateries line both sides of Old Hillsboro Road. It’s true community, whether you’re a resident or first time visitor.
Start your getaway with Leiper’s Fork in Williamson. It’s an eclectic village of artisans, farmers, tradesmen, corporate executives and country music folk eager to not only get away, but stay away. You need not pack a lunch; multiple spots offer an array of eateries. The Fork has not one single traffic light.Is that great or what? Shops and art galleries line both sides of Old Hillsboro Road like the old friends they are.
Puckett’s Grocery and Country Boy and Greer’s Tennessee Country Hams
Two mainstays for dishing up food are Puckett’s Grocery and Country Boy. They’re precisely across the road from each other. Puckett’s is housed in a 1953 grocery store, true Americana. Meat and three versus a cheeseburger is a hard call. I always opt for the burger. Beer is stocked in coolers facing old wooden tables. Puckett’s is also well known for live music. It even has a stage. It’s a great place for supper and a show. Pork is roasted outside by a pit master. Outdoor tables, in good weather, are perfect.
And you can even feed your car from pumps out front. Puckett’s offers not only a meal, but a true Americana experience.
Country Boy claims to be the oldest running diner in Williamson County. But don’t expect a musty old place. It has undergone a few renovations. It’s spotlessly clean. Like Puckett’s, the food is all from scratch. It’s country cooking that makes you feel like you’re back at your grandmother’s Sunday dinner table.
Among its specialties are a BLT with fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, catfish and the fixins’, and for breakfast try their take on Eggs Benedict. This one has country ham, fried green tomatoes, poached eggs and covered in hollandaise sauce. The restaurant is operating at 50 percent occupancy. Inside there are about 10 tables, and outside under a sprawling heated tent, six more.
Greer’s Tennessee Country Hams off Southall Rd. is a family business and has one of the best breakfasts around. They serve dinner Thursday-Saturday 5-8PM and Breakfast Sunday 8-11AM. Call before you go!
But do not think your only option is good old country fare, a cute frame house turned eatery, 1892, is alone worth the trip. Fine dining in a casual country setting. The fare, country French. Chef Dylan Morrison serves up-plates that are so pretty, it’s hard to dig in and disturb his artistic creations. The vibe is homey with some faded wallpaper and wooden chairs and tables. Try his truffle gnocchi mac and cheese; lamb; beef and an array of other classic French dishes prepared with his accomplished spin. Vegetarians are well served by the menu as well. Do save room for dessert, try a honey herb pie, pie tart or house made ice cream with salted butterscotch caramel.
The charming little café offers outdoor seating. Inside the capacity is 32, but Covid protocols diminishes that. Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday; dinner reservations are suggested.
Leiper’s Fork Market & The Davis General
If country French is not your thing, head on out Leiper’s Creek Rd. to Leiper’s Fork Market. A good ole country market and convenience store. Pick up a bologna and cheese sandwich or cheeseburger, coke and chips and head outside to one of the picnic tables that line Leiper’s Creek. There are swings for the kids and open air for all to enjoy.
After that you can head to Boston. No, not the one up East, but an unincorporated little community of less than 2,000 residents. It’s wide-open spaces out here.Large farms are populated by scenic barns. You will recognize a sweet spot, The Davis General, immediately by its green metal roof, picnic tables outside and a gas pump.
Parked out front you may see Ferraris, corvettes, Porsches and or some local pick up trucks. These back roads are fun for car and motorcycle clubs. The General offers gas, groceries, made to order deli sandwiches and for breakfast, a full menu including yummy sticky cinnamon rolls.
The hospitality is true Southern; the owner, Lisa Lenox, hails from Atlanta. She and her husband Greg really got out of town; they left the density of traffic, buildings and people behind to come buy the store and a new home.
“We love it here,” she said. “We don’t miss Atlanta one bit. The land, the quiet country, the people, it’s all wonderful.” Don’t forget to pick up a hat, shirt or other logoed item.
Papa Boudreaux’s Cajun Cafe
A bit farther out, across the Maury County line, get your New Orleans on with Papa Boudreaux’s Cajun Café. The Crescent City it’s not, but the food is as close as you can get. The small diner is in Santa Fe, (pronounced fee not fay). Papa has seven tables; and there’s a one and one-half hour seating. Reservations are a must. (615) 682-0040. The chalk menu board lists favorites like gumbo with andouille sausage, smoked sausage, chicken and shrimp. Or try a favorite, red beans and rice. Gospel Creole will bring you to your knees with sausage, shrimp, crawfish tails and spice aplenty. Do save room for chocolate bread pudding, and of course, beignets are a must.
The Café is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Take out is available. They are old school out here; cash is the only accepted payment. .
As far as attractions, the land, the old growth forests, barns, livestock and entry to the incredibly scenic Natchez Trace is more than enough to warrant a visit.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery
But there’s another not-to-miss spot in Leiper’s Fork proper, Leiper’s Fork Distillery, 3381 Southall Road. This is whiskey-making back to its roots, with small batch production using local ingredients.
They aptly say, “From grain to glass” to describe the meticulous manner in which the small batch whiskey is produced. Tour the distillery, see the process, the barrels full of whisky aging, learn the history and at the end, a tasting.
April Cantrell, manager of operations, says the tour is terrific as is the tasting. The distillery currently makes three different whiskeys, bourbon, single barrel and a premium rye.
“We only allow 15 people on a tour for our Covid protocols. Tours are Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are preferred. We have a great gift shop offering home goods, glassware, bar supplies, sweets and treats, apparel, cigars and of course bottles of whiskey,” she said.
Tours are $18 per person; $13 for ages 13 to 21, and the young kids along for the ride are admitted free of charge. Tour tickets are half price for military upon presentation of identification.
If a single day out in the country is not enough, book one of the darling Airbandb cottages in the Fork like The Sweeney Cottage at White’s Mercantile Room and Board or Pot N’ Kettle Cottages. Or take in some “me time” at The Spa at Leiper’s Fork. Leiper’s has some amazing art galleries like David Armes Gallery and The Copper Fox Gallery. For shopping check out Creekside Trading Company, Serenite Maison antique store, eclectic goods from Props or a hot cup of coffee from Red Byrd Coffee Shop in the tiny house near Leiper’s Fork Market. Tennessee Turquoise has closed temporarily but has plans to re-open this spring.