I’ve got to admit — I wasn't wooed by Bud & Marilyn’s at first. I’ve never been much of a fried food fan and that seemed to be a major theme of their Southern-inspired menu.

Nestled on the cozy corner of 13th and Locust, the restaurant is always packed and its orange doors and retro neon sign make it impossible to ignore. When I heard they were celebrating their one-year anniversary, I decided it was finally time to give Bud & Marilyn’s a try. 

Being a writer, I can’t help but be influenced by a dish’s name, and the Nashville Hot Buns immediately caught my attention on the menu. Sure, they were filled with fried chicken, but I was willing to get adventurous for the sake of foodies everywhere. If I didn’t like it, I could always order one of the many salads available. (Seriously, there’s a whole section.)

I soon discovered that Bud & Marilyn’s puts a more refined spin on comfort cuisine. When the waitress brought out the Nashville Hot Buns, I was pleasantly surprised to see them offered in smaller portions. One order gets you two hot buttered rolls — perfect for sharing — and comes with hot fried chicken, little pickles, ranch and pickled brine slaw. Surprisingly, the chicken was very lean and not greasy at all. The pile of pickled veggies provided a dose of cool, crisp freshness with each bite, and the ranch added a buttery element that helped lessen the tartness of all those pickles.

If you’re looking to split a few small plates with friends here, the Nashville Hot Buns should be in your lineup. Get yourself a glass of their much-raved about Frosé (frozen rosé), add a side of crispy cheese curds, and you’ll be in fried food heaven.

Bud & Marilyn's is located at 1234 Locust St.