Meat and three

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A meat and three restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee

In the cuisine of the Southern United States, a meat and three restaurant is a restaurant in which the customer picks one meat from a daily selection of 3–6 choices (such as fried chicken, country ham, beef, country-fried steak, meatloaf, or pork chop[1][2]) and three side dishes from a list that may include up to a dozen other options (usually vegetables, potatoes, corn, green or lima beans,[3] but also other selections such as gelatin, creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti).[2][4]

A meat-and-three meal is often served with cornbread and sweet tea.[3][4] Meat and three is popular throughout the country, but its roots can be traced to Tennessee and its capital of Nashville.[2][3][4][5] The phrase has been described as implying "glorious vittles served with utmost informality."[4] It is also associated with soul food.[3]

Similar concepts include the Hawaiian plate lunch, which features a variety of entrée choices but typically has standardized side items,[6][7] and the southern Louisiana plate lunch, which features menu options that change daily.[8] It is somewhat similar to a blue-plate special but with a more fixed menu.[9] The Boston Market chain of restaurants offer a similar style of food selection.[10]

Health concerns[edit]

Meat and three has been mentioned in connection with the increasing incidence of diabetes in the Southern population, with one expert saying:

"There's a real misconception in the South about what constitutes a healthy diet. People aren't lining up at the salad bar during lunch hour; they're opting for the 'meat and three and sweet tea' at the corner cafeteria. And that's not good; those cafeteria vegetables aren't really healthy when they're cooked with half a ham hock and butter."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Finch 2009, p. 89.
  2. ^ a b c Davies 2011, p. 21.
  3. ^ a b c d Finch 2009, p. 85.
  4. ^ a b c d Stern & Stern 2009, pp. 180-81.
  5. ^ Schatz 2006, p. 4.
  6. ^ Childress, Tricia (October 19, 2010). "Hawaiian Plate Lunch spot opens". Creative Loafing Charlotte. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ Galdiera, Lyle (November 27, 2002). "Origins of Plate Lunch". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  8. ^ Staff. "Culinary Trail Signature Dish: Plate Lunch". Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  9. ^ Ferrell 2010, p. 153.
  10. ^ West, Kay (December 7, 1995). "Marketing Concept". Nashville Scene. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ Yount 2001.