Silver Sands Cafe – Nashville, Tennessee - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Silver Sands Cafe

Visit a family-run restaurant that has been serving the epitome of soul food for more than seven decades. 

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For more than 70 years, regulars have been lining up here five days a week from morning until the tail-end of lunchtime for the classic meat-and-three. Sophia Vaughn, the third woman in her family to run the place, makes everything from scratch daily. Offerings vary depending on the day of the week, but always consist of soul food classics, made with immense care. 

By her own account, Vaughn wakes up at 2 a.m. and starts cooking an hour later in order to have everything ready for the first breakfast customers. Silver Sands Cafe has weathered more than its share over the years, including a tornado in March 2020 that threatened to put it out of business right as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up. An outpouring of support from the local community helped keep the restaurant afloat.

While part of that loyalty is due to Vaughn, who calls customers her “babies” and knows many by name, much of it is simply because the food is phenomenal. Chitterlings, neck bones, pig’s feet, and other slow-braised cuts are front and center here, along with pork chops, fried catfish, and other rib-sticking fare. The oxtails are tender enough to yield to the gentlest tap of a plastic fork and come swimming in a deeply savory, collagen-rich gravy. 

Don’t sleep on any of the sides, from the collards speckled with generous shards of ham hock to the slightly sticky, impeccably cooked okra to the mac ‘n’ cheese, which has just the right kick of sharp cheddar. After you’ve crafted a plate with a main meat with two sides, they’ll ask if you want “hot water” or “flat,” which refers to two different types of cornbread—the former is a torpedo-shaped, skillet-fried cornmeal dumpling; the latter is an oven-baked buttermilk cornbread.

Pay at the front to receive your parcel of treasure, then grab a booth and obliterate it.

Know Before You Go

Check the website for daily specials. Portions are abundant, but even if you can’t imagine taking another bite, grab a slice of sunflower-yellow caramel cake for the road.

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June 7, 2023

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