Over the last couple of decades, the Music city has also become known as a serious food city. It’s the center of a trend called New Southern Cooking, which has put Southern dishes and ingredients on the culinary world stage. If you are trying to find out where to eat in Nashville to experience it, any of the restaurants on this list are pushing the envelope and inventing new ways to put the culture of the South on a plate.
However, that’s not all that Nashville offers. From restaurants that offer authentic regional cuisines, including Italian, Indian, and Ethiopian, to BBQ joints and greasy diners, Nashville has it all.
Read on to find a great new restaurant for your next night out in Nashville (or your first visit!).
1520 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
Located in quiet Lockeland Springs, Lockeland Table looks and feels like a neighborhood joint where the local community gathers. I only rarely get over to Lockeland Springs, but I’m sure that everyone in the neighborhood is much more regular than me.
In fact, the restaurant even has a regular “Community Hour” with shareable plates, like a Black-Eyed Pea Hummus plate, a Queso Fondito, and, of course, pizza and chicken wings. They also have great cocktails available for $7. The Lockeland Table between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm is the perfect place to catch up with friends.
605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Arnold’s Country Kitchen is a classic soul food diner. The restaurant is run like a mom-and-pop establishment by the same family who started it in 1982. They’re located in Downtown Nashville, less than a mile south of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Bridgestone Arena.
It’s a small menu that changes daily. Some dishes, like roast beef, are available every day, while others, like fried catfish and liver and onions, are only available on certain days. You can check out their website for the daily menu, or just go in and see what they have.
My favorite thing to get is a piece of pie after my meal. They have great ones at Arnold’s Country Kitchen every day.
1222 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
Just north of Downtown in Germantown, City House is a sophisticated restaurant that has a great Italian-fusion menu. You won’t quite be able to believe you’re in the south of Italy because of all the southern flavors and ingredients, but that’s a good thing.
City House has become known for its pizzas since they opened back in 2007. Made in a huge brick oven, the thin-crust pizzas with inventive toppings like Belly Ham, Kabocha Squash, and Kale, are simply amazing.
The mains are no less interesting in blending Southern ingredients with Italian techniques. I’d recommend the Catfish with roasted cabbage.
902 Main St, Nashville, TN 37206
On Main St, just a few hundred meters down from Five Points, Butcher & Bee has been a venue for lively conversations over shareable plates since it opened in 2011. What’s even more interesting is the food: mostly Middle Eastern in origin, but the kitchen isn’t afraid to take inspiration from other African cuisines and from as far away as Korea.
You can have a couple of glasses of wine while enjoying their top-notch mezze (i.e. the Middle Eastern form of tapas). Trust me, you should take the opportunity to try Bacon Wrapped Dates when you get a chance.
You won’t go wrong with their mains either, such as the wonderful braised lamb you can have a couple of different ways.
4708 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
Appropriately located just steps away from the Richmond Park Farmers Market in West Nashville, the Hathorne bills itself as a ‘New American Restaurant.’ To them, that means using fresh, local ingredients to create an innovative and confident cuisine.
You can see that approach across their menu, from starters like Spicy Fried Brussels and Lentil & Ricotta Croquettes to mains like their Gnocchi with mushroom ragu. Whatever dish you choose, it will live up to the elegant surroundings and service. This is what fine dining looks like in Nashville.
1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203
Named after a famous story from 1942 by James Thurber, The Catbird Seat is perennially one of the hottest restaurants in Nashville. It opened in 2011 eleven with a unique premise. The chefs serve up a tasting menu to diners seated around a counter on the edge of their open kitchen.
Since it opened, many different chefs have stepped into that open space. That means that both the cast in the kitchen and the courses on the tasting menu are in a constant state of flux. But isn’t that most of the fun of going to a restaurant like this?
700 Taylor St, Nashville, TN 37208
Rolf & Daughters is right off of Rosa Parks Boulevard, just fitting into the Eastern edge of Germantown. And the restaurant, with its industrial decoration and communal seating policy, very much fits within the area.
Their menu has a little bit of everything, though the most prevalent influences are French, Spanish, and Italian. I’d recommend a black (squid ink) pasta or risotto, depending on what’s on the menu. Their duck confit isn’t ever going to be a bad bet, though.
The owners are particularly proud of their whisky list, which is as big as any in the city. It’s a great place to try out some new bottles while having some great food.
1200 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
Right on the corner of 4th Avenue North and Madison Street, the Henrietta Red is another fixture of Germantown.
There are a couple of standout features of what’s going on at the Henrietta Red. First of all, they have an oyster and raw bar that’s separate from the rest of the establishment. There, you can find fresh oysters and other seafood dishes to go with great cocktails.
And, on weekends, the Henrietta Red plays host to one of the best brunches in the city.
935 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
On the border between the neighborhoods of Maxwell and Greenwood, Lyra is best described as a comfortable restaurant with great food. You can feel relaxed and comfortable while enjoying their authentic Middle Eastern fare.
Their dinner menu has large sections for both ‘veggies’ and ‘meat and seafood,’ meaning that vegetarians and vegans won’t have any problems finding something great to eat here. The Baba Ganoush (served in its skin!) is an expected menu entry, but remarkable, as is the Seared Halloumi and Squash.
I’d also urge you to check out their happy hour specials, which see their great cocktails going for only $6.
823 Meridian St, Nashville, TN 37207
Folk is an Italian restaurant located just north of McFerrin Park. They serve the classics, as well as innovative dishes, in their air and light-filled dining room.
Folk is the second restaurant that Philip Krajeck has opened in Nashville (after Rolf and Daughters, which we’ve already covered on this list). With a pizza oven in the kitchen, Folk’s most popular option is their several pizzas. Whether it’s a Radicchio with smoked mozzarella pizza or one with clams and bonito, you’ll enjoy it.
The rest of their menu is no slouch, with cod, chicken, and pork collar dishes on the cards if you’re really hungry.
897 Elm Hill Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
The southern outpost of a Yankee pizza chain, Joey’s House of Pizza has found a place in the routines of Nashvillians who have a craving for New York Pizza. Located on Elm Hill Pike, it’s a favorite of students from the nearby Trevecca Nazarene University, as well as car enthusiasts visiting the Lane Motor Museum.
As with any no-nonsense pizza shop, Joey’s House of Pizza has to be judged based on their slice—and they pass with flying colors. With a crispy crust and lots of cheese oozing everywhere, it’s a satisfying slice whatever else you put on top of it.
Their other dishes, like an amazing Ziti, are also worth a try. And, of course, don’t leave without cannoli.
732 Mcferrin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Mas Tacos Por Favor began in an old Winnebago in 2008, and its popularity has driven expansion after expansion. After moving into a restaurant a few years ago, there was yet another expansion adding additional seating to alliterative lines that stretched all the way around the building.
The Tacos are that good.
Mas Tacos Por Favor offers about a dozen tacos with a variety of different toppings and accouterments. Regardless of anything, all the tacos go for the eminently reasonable price of $3.
They’ve also got a cantina on one side of the dining room where you can pick up margaritas and sangrias.
434 Houston St STE 110, Nashville, TN 37203
Just by Dudley Park in Chestnut Hill, Bastion is a fun and innovative restaurant that features one of Nashville’s best-tasting menus.
There are two sides to Bastion. There’s a rather raucous bar that serves beers, cocktails, and bar foods like nachos and chicken wings.
Once you walk through the bar and into the (reservations only) backroom restaurant, the atmosphere changes. There’s a counter that holds the only seats at the restaurant, up to which the chefs themselves serve the customers.
The menu is constantly changing, so I can’t give you any tips on what to order. Just know that the restaurant is helmed by Josh Habiger, a well-regarded local chef who got started at The Catbird Seat.
1828 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
Located out in Salemtown, Big Al’s Deli is a standout southern food joint that you won’t leave still hungry.
Their menu is full of all your favorites, with mains like Roasted Chicken, Fried Pork Chops, and, of course, Meatloaf. The list of side dishes is equally full. It’s got Okra Rice, Smashed Potatoes, and great BBQ Skillet Beans.
Once you’ve made the difficult decision about what to order, you’ll have to walk up to the counter and order from Big Al himself. You know, diner-style.
1035 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
If you’re up for trying a new cuisine one of these nights, I’d recommend the Iberian eats on offer at the Peninsula. Just off the corner of Eastland and Gallatin, the Peninsula has a great atmosphere among its 38 seats and open kitchen.
If you’re curious about what fits the bill of Iberian cuisine, you’ll find dishes like Octopus and Chorizo, Scallops, and Duck on the menu at the Peninsula. Everything you order is presented beautifully and, if you close your eyes, really tastes like Spain.
Their drinks menu is similarly regionally focused. There are lots of great Spanish wines that are hard to find elsewhere.
903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
Sometimes you want a great BBQ and nothing else will do. Peg Leg Porker was opened in 2013 by the Bringle family, who’ve won multiple awards for their great BBQ.
Pitmaster Carey Bringle takes care to ensure that all the main dishes on their menu are outstanding. The pulled pork BBQ sandwich is about as good as any and their ribs fall off the bone. I’d recommend getting a combo platter to ensure that you get to try everything that is good.
Like all BBQ joints, Peg Leg Porker doesn’t neglect their sides. The smoked green beans are particularly exceptional.
201 8th Ave S 34th floor, Nashville, TN 37203
Bourbon Steak Nashville is one of several steakhouses owned and operated by celebrity chef Micheal Mina. It’s in the swanky JW Marriott Hotel on the 34th floor.
The Bourbon Steak is a serious fine dining restaurant, where you’ll find great food so long as you fit the business/smart casual dress code. You’ll also, in all honesty, also find a great big check at the end of the meal, but it’s the sort of place where you’ll expect it.
The menu has all the classic dishes of the American steakhouse, including Wagyu Steak Tartar, Surf & Turf, and Filet Mignon.
1010 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Pelican & Pig is one of the best spots in Greenwood for great food in a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. Opened in 2019 by the husband and wife team of Nick and Audra Guidry, it’s perhaps the most unique restaurant on this list.
Almost everything that’s served in the restaurant is cooked over an open flame. You’ll smell their hearth the moment you walk into the restaurant.
And what do they cook over this open flame? Scallops and Red Snapper and an 18 oz. Ribeye, just to name a few standout dishes. But don’t forget to order some veggies; you’ll be amazed what they taste like after they’re roasted over an open fire.
You can take your choice of three locations of the remarkably successful Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint chain. One is downtown, the other by Centennial Park, and the final one is in the 12 South district.
Since the first Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint was opened in 2006, they’ve sprung up all over the South on the strength of their whole hog barbecue.
Their menu, of course, revolves around pork products, but they also have some great chicken thighs and catfish on the menu. Their BBQ trays come with two sides, so you can also sample their hush puppies, potato salad, and other tempting sides.
37 Rutledge St, Nashville, TN 37210
Up in Rutledge Hill, Husk straddles the line between the Southern restaurants we’ve seen so far and those devoted to fine dining.
The Husk brand has restaurants in Charleston and Savannah in addition to Nashville, all of which exclusively use ingredients sourced from their respective local areas. The tagline of their Nashville restaurant is “if it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.”
This philosophy manifests itself on the menu as dishes like Trout with sweet potato, a Pork Chop with turnips, and Roasted Chicken with local savoy cabbage.
1304 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37216
In East Nashville just off Riverside Drive, Lou Nashville is a combination of a high-end brunch spot and a wine bar.
Their brunch menu is centered around their baked goods, which they’ve developed quite a reputation for. I’d recommend giving anything that comes out of their oven a try—from sponge cakes to quiches.
When it comes to evenings, the uniqueness of Lou’s lies in their all-natural wine list. If you’re not familiar with natural wine, it’s a way of making wine that eschews non-organic ingredients and modern wine-making techniques. They pair small, shareable plates with these uncommon wines.
Biscuit Love serves breakfast and lunch in three locations across Nashville. There’s one in the Gulch, one in Hillsboro Village, and one that’s way further south in Franklin.
Whichever of their locations you try out, you’ll find a menu centered around their famous biscuits.
If you’re just looking to stop in for a quick bite on your way to work, they’ve got great omelets, oatmeal, and pancakes. As well as biscuit sandwiches, of course.
You can also take a bit more time and enjoy a leisurely brunch with dishes like their ‘southern’ Eggs Benedict and Hot Chicken on biscuits. They’ve got a small cocktail menu that covers the brunch basics well.
123 12th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203
Since it was opened in 2014, Chauhan Ale & Masala House has garnered rave reviews and a multitude of regional awards. Located near the junction of Broadway and Interstate 65, they’ve drawn diners from both inside and outside the state.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House divides their menu between ‘Classic’ Indian dishes and ‘Signature’ dishes, which are a bit more inventive and feature more of a fusion with Southern flavors. This way, they keep customers who are looking for a familiar Indian dish, like Tandoori Chicken or Masala braised lamb, and those who want to try something new happy.
403 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
Yolan is all about giving classic Italian food the fine-dining treatment that takes it to another level. Run by a Michelin-starred chef, they have the staff and infrastructure to pull it off. Yolan is in the Joseph Nashville Hotel and just down the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame, so they also have the right location.
Yolan has a Tasting menu, but you can also order a la carte. Choose from classic dishes like truffle Gnocchi, risotto, and heavier dishes like Cotoletta Alla Milanese. And don’t be afraid to go with the tasting menu, which has five courses and a suggested wine pairing.
901 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
If you love your burgers and fried chicken but are a little bit picky about their quality (nothing wrong with that), then Joyland might just be your new favorite restaurant in Nashville. And you wouldn’t be alone in that opinion—it’s a fixture of the East Nashville dining scene.
Joyland is serious about the quality of all the food they put out, which you can tell from the quality of their ingredients. For instance, they only use organic, free-range chickens for frying. The taste and juiciness prove that they’re doing some right. And, the same goes for their burgers, which use beef they buy privately instead of through a vendor.
Simply put, it’s the food you love done well.
Monell’s has three well-spaced locations in Nashville. One location is in the heart of Downtown, while the other two are down in Berry Hill and out by the airport.
Monell’s is a Southern restaurant that uses a unique method of serving. Rather than ordering for a menu, you’re seated at large tables with other diners and, at that point, food just starts coming. Trays of chops and fried chicken, bowls of mashed potatoes and peas, and lots of other southern goodness get passed around the table. Everyone takes however much they like and hands the bowl to their neighbor.
It’s a very communal experience, and nicer for it.
620 Taylor St, Nashville, TN 37208
Tailor Nashville is an Indian restaurant that offers an eight-course tasting menu to its visitors. Located in Germantown, just north of the Tennessee State Museum, the restaurant has achieved national attention immediately after its 2019 opening in recognition of its artistic take on southeast Asian cooking.
The restaurant operates with a ‘ticketing system,’ which means you have to pay for your meal beforehand and show up with proof of purchase. There are lots of options on the online form, allowing you to inform the kitchen of any dietary restrictions and choose whether or not to go with their wine pairing.
Their menu is constantly changing so I can’t recommend any specific dishes, but you can be sure you’ll find the freshest ingredients.
303 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37201
Etch bills itself as a ‘globally-inspired restaurant,’ filling its menu with dishes that have roots all over the world. Whatever type of food chef Deb Paquette feels like cooking, it goes on the menu.
The restaurant, located in Sobro, has two private dining rooms and a full bar. It’s a great option for larger parties and celebrations.
My favorite dish on the expansive menu was a curried monkfish tart that I had as a starter, which brought together Southern, Indian, and French flavors. The mains are no less interesting, with meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes on offer.
300 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
Jeff Ruby has restaurants all over America, all of which are seen as settings for a decadently luxurious night out. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Nashville is one of the signature steakhouses that he began opening in the early 80s.
In classic steakhouse style, Jeff Ruby’s has a great wine list that places great emphasis on American wines. There are great Californian bottles from Duckhorn, Stag’s Leap, and Faust among other wineries.
The menu also centers on classic steakhouse fare, including a raw bar, multiple cuts of steak, and a seafood tower.
3790 Bedford Ave, Nashville, TN 37215
etc. is the sister restaurant of Etch, run by the same chef (Deb Paquette). In Green Hills, etc. features a menu that’s just as globally eclectic as Etch.
With a great patio and extensive cocktail list, it’s a blast just to hang out at etc. even if you’re not hungry. I had one called ‘romancing the stone,’ with rum, Midori, and lime juice, that blew my socks off.
The menu has lots of fascinating mashups of international and Southern food, such as the ‘Cornmeal Catfish and Masala Shrimp’ that comes covered in delicious tamarind and fig gravy.
As you would expect from the name, the Stillery places a lot of emphasis on their cocktails. Later on in the night, it can get a little bit rowdy as a result of their mason jar cocktails.
You can try one out for yourself at either their Midtown or District location. I had a few while I was at the latter, including their ‘Southern Peach’ that they make with moonshine, peach liquor, and sweet tea.
Their menu is perfect for keeping you full while you have a few cocktails. It has long sections for both savory pies and sandwiches.
Hattie B’s is a successful chain of restaurants that started right here in Nashville. They only opened in 2012, but have already grown to 7 locations—all of which are owned by the same family that started it.
In Nashville, you’ve got four different locations to choose from: Midtown, Broadway, West, and Melrose.
Hattie B’s became famous in Nashville for their Hot Chicken Sandwiches, which are simply unmatched. You can also go with straight-up fried chicken and your choices of a couple of sides, such as mac and cheese and collard greens.
8400 TN-100, Nashville, TN 37221
If you believe in the concept of ‘New Nashville,’ then regardless of how you feel about it, The Loveless Cafe isn’t it. They make the same food the same way that they did 50 years ago when the restaurant opened over 50 years ago. And you won’t miss their classic neon sign.
For supper, you can have all the Southern classics cooked in a simple diner-style, whether that’s a pulled pork sandwich, a country-fried steak with white gravy, or some fried chicken. They’ve also got a smoker on-site, so depending on supply you can get briskets, turkey, and pork from it.
2413 Shumate Ln, Nashville, TN 37217
Even though you’ve got to drive a little bit to try the Ethiopian food at New Goha, it’s worth the time. The restaurant is in Kendall Park, just off highway 70S. At New Goha, not only can you experience a totally new cuisine with different flavors, but it’s done very well and made with care.
If you’ve never had Ethiopian food before, I’d recommend going with a few friends, ordering a whole bunch of dishes, and sharing everything. Tibs is the most famous Ethiopian dish and a must-have. I’d also recommend the Kifto, which is a kind of steak tartare.
1103 McGavock St, Nashville, TN 37203
Kayne Prime Steakhouse is an upscale restaurant that offers fine dining from its central location on 11th Ave, just north of the Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural. It’s popular among the young, moneyed set that resides in Nashville and has a menu and wine list that keeps its clientele happy.
Indeed, the wine list has an uncommon emphasis on by-the-glass offerings (over 30!), unlike most high-end restaurants that mostly offer bottles. This allows you to have a quick meal or sample a number of different wines.
Kayne Prime Steakhouse is mostly known for its dry-aged steaks, but its menu is pretty playful beyond that. They have dishes like duck tacos, a macaroni gratin, and lobster with popcorn.
As you can tell from this list, there’s a whole universe of food within the city limits of Nashville. You could eat out every night for more than a month just from the Nashville restaurants on this list! But I’m sure that there are even more that could be included.
Let me know if I left your favorite restaurant off this list by leaving a comment. I’ll be sure to check it out!
- Lockeland Table
- Arnold’s Country Kitchen
- City House
- Butcher & Bee
- The Catbird Seat
- Rolf & Daughters
- Henrietta Red
- Joey’s House of Pizza
- Mas Tacos Por Favor
- Big Al’s Deli
- Peg Leg Porker
- Bourbon Steak
- Pelican & Pig
- Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
- Lou Nashville
- Biscuit Love
- Chauhan Ale & Masala House
- Joyland Restaurant
- Tailor Nashville
- Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
- etc. restaurant
- The Stillery
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
- The Loveless Cafe
- New Goha Ethiopian Restaurant
- Kayne Prime Steakhouse
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