Decent, Local American Food at Toot’s of Murfreesboro

With today’s economy, everyone is looking for a cheap & quick meal… especially during lunch. Many local & chain restaurants try to coax people to dine at their establishments by advertising $X price meals or special deals. Typically with these deals you get barely edible food or portions so small, they would make a finicky dieter starve of hunger. But with all the choices out there, there are a few hidden restaurants that actually have substance and personality. In Murfreesboro, such a place is Toot’s Good Food & Fun Restaurant.

Toot’s in Murfreesboro on Northwest Broad Street is one of the five locations that are located from the states of Tennessee to Ohio. Particularly, the Murfreesboro Toot’s was the original and opened in 1985 and is currently “the oldest full-service restaurant in Rutherford County.” Based on my experiences of the locations in Murfreesboro and Smyrna, Toot’s highly resembles the restaurant chain known as Hooter’s with some differences.

For example, the items on Toot’s menu (American-style appetizers, burgers, salads, chicken wings, sandwiches, and even oysters & crab legs) is similar to that of Hooter’s except Toot’s has a bit more variety. Both restaurants even serve beer, mixed drinks, and liquor. The seating style is very similar as well (high top wooden tables/bar seating and normal height 4-tops and wooden chairs/stools). As for the staff, instead of the trademark white tank top, orange runner’s shorts, pantyhose, and sometimes attractive women of Hooter’s, you’re replaced with a coed staff wearing Toot’s branded t-shirts with short shorts for the girls (with an emphasis on showing off their legs) or regular length shorts/pants for the guys. As for the decor, Toot’s stands apart from Hooter’s with a personality of its own. The ceiling and walls are loaded with various objects from decades past such as signs, license plates, random sports memorabilia, posters, neon signs, etc. There are also various arcade games and machines for those interested… which overall makes Toot’s a much more “family-friendly” oriented environment than that of its chain competitor.

Toot’s is generally packed during peak lunch hours due to their daily specials. Wait times can range anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes. Luckily for us (Jayson, Mike, and myself), we anticipated this rush and went to lunch earlier than normal. With the lack of a crowd, we were seated immediately. Our waitress Janna was pretty good. Despite the fact that she didn’t carry on small talk like other waiters/waitresses I’ve had, she did her job by keeping the drinks filled and checking on us periodically. So no complaints there.

I originally wanted half-a-dozen raw oysters along with my Thursday’s special (grilled chicken sandwich), but it eluded me that we had a man-made disaster happen just recently in the Gulf. I was informed by Janna that they wouldn’t have any until October… so I ended up getting two of the chicken sandwiches with bacon and cheese. Despite knowing that I would pay extra for the bacon and cheese, I was a bit alarmed to see that my meal was $12 (including the drink). So take this as a forewarning that when you go to Toot’s, be prepared to be nickled and dimed unless you have an awesome server who gives you stuff for free. If you ask for anything extra, whether a side of ranch or an extra topping, they’ll charge you for it.

The sandwiches were served open-faced with reasonably fresh vegetables (crisp, non-brown, shredded lettuce and firm sliced tomatoes) on buttered and toasted buns. The cheese was melted nicely where it was starting to get gooey, but still had a sticky grip on the chicken breast. The bacon was crisp with some of the grease bubbles floating atop it (an indication that it wasn’t sitting there all day waiting to be picked up).

Overall the sandwich was as good as you would expect if you were to make it at home.  While the presentation was nice (better than mine would be if I were to cook the same thing), the chicken was barely seasoned (if at all) and got most of its flavor from the bacon and cheese. I slathered a light coating of mayonnaise on the chicken to give it a creamy consistency. I would have preferred a leaf of lettuce rather than shredded lettuce simply because when I flipped the bun over onto the other half, all the lettuce spilled off of it and onto the table and my pants. Regardless, it was a good sandwich but don’t expect it to taste as if Chef Tom Colicchio had prepared it.

For those of you who actually like the food at Hooter’s, Toot’s is a great alternative. It’s local, has a bigger menu, has a great atmosphere, and is a place you can take your kids or grandparents to without blushing. The cost can be relatively cheap if you don’t ask for extras. To keep the price low, I would suggest going there during rotating daily specials.

Toot’s Good Food & Fun Restaurant
860 Northwest Broad Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
(615) 898-1301

Bill Total: $12

Toot's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Food:3.0/5.0 ★★★☆☆ 
Service:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Atmosphere:4.0/5.0 ★★★★☆ 
Price:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 
Overall:3.5/5.0 ★★★½☆ 

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