Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse
217 Louise Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Mon – Thu: 5P – 10P
Fri – Sat: 5P – 11P
Growing up in Nashville, I’ve had many opportunities to dine at Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse. Long before Nashville became an “It City”, there was Jimmy Kelly’s. When there were not seemingly daily ribbon cuttings on posh new restaurants in Music City, there was Jimmy Kelly’s. Before liquor-by-the-drink, celebrity chefs, and television networks devoted to food and dining out, there was Jimmy Kelly’s. They’ve always been there. At least if you’re under the age of 83, they’ve always been there.
Jimmy Kelly’s was founded by John Kelly in Nashville in 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression, and only one year after the repeal of prohibition. John Kelly’s mission was a simple one: serve a great steak with a generous portion of whiskey…all with attentive service.
Nothing has changed in the last 80+ years. If you go there now, you’ll find Mike Kelly, dressed in coat and tie, shaking hands and making sure his customers have everything they need. I’ve never, and I mean never, been there when Mike didn’t greet me before I was seated AND check on me during my meal. If you visit a second time, he will remember you from before and ask you how you’ve been…or where you’ve been. He may not remember your name – I doubt he remembers mine – but then again, he might. That’s how good he is, and that’s one of the things that makes Jimmy Kelly’s special.
Jimmy Kelly’s is located in an old southern mansion, just minutes from Vanderbilt University and Music Row. Many of the wait staff have worked there for years. Some have spent their entire adult lives working there. That speaks volumes about the Kelly family and the business they run.
Recently, I had dinner at Kelly’s with my wife and our son, as well as two good friends, one of which happens to be a priest. We were seated – and greeted – by Mike in the bar area, which is my favorite spot in the restaurant. Some bars are cozy and some bars are cold. The bar at Kelly’s is definitely cozy. It’s the kind of bar where memories are made (and sometimes lost) and stories are told. It’s not a big bar, which adds to the attraction.
On previous visits, I’ve tried the blackened catfish, grilled salmon, and various steaks. It had been a while since my last visit to Kelly’s, so I had to have my favorite, Filet Mignon. I’m not what you’d call a big eater, so I ordered the Half Filet with Side Salad. My wife and son ordered the same. The steak was – as always – perfectly cooked and promptly served. My baked potato was perfect, and the salad was what you would expect from a side salad.
If filet is not your favorite, Kelly’s also serves New York Strip and Bone-in Ribeye Cowboy Steak. If you prefer something other than steak, you can choose from a Mustard Grilled Rack of Lamb, Springer Mountain Whole Chicken, the aforementioned blackened catfish or grilled salmon, or even a burger. Whatever your tastes, you should find something on the menu to please you.
We washed down our meal with a couple of bottles of red zinfandel – hey, there were four of us drinking – and shared a couple of desserts (Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Decadence). Both the wine and the desserts were perfectly suited for our meal and our evening. It was a wonderful evening spent with family and great friends – in one of my favorite Nashville restaurants. We will definitely be going back to Jimmy Kelly’s. You should, too.