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"Contemporary American." It's a nebulous term, fine for describing this inoffensive, midscale chain eatery headquartered in Nashville. There's nothing groundbreaking about the menu of burgers, steaks, salads, pastas, and vaguely Southwestern-inspired dishes -- but dang, this place makes some solid food, and the portions are huge. (Our food critic has raved about the veggie burger and even once awarded J. Alexander's his vote for Best Ribs.) It's familiar comfort distilled and worked to a science -- and that's why there's often a hell of a line at the hostess stand. Arrive hungry to give the fire-grilled artichokes a try, and save space for carrot cake, served warm with melted cream-cheese frosting.
It no doubt sounds like gastronomic blasphemy to declare that a chain restaurant turns out superior ribs. But the barbecued ribs at J. Alexander's really are something special: big slabs of Danish baby-back ribs covered with a dark sauce that's not too tangy and not too sweet. The ribs are pork -- beef can't compete -- and they're slow-cooked to moist, falling-off-the-bone perfection. And unlike the highly variable ribs at so many barbecue joints, they're consistently good, which to our... More »
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