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 out where all the top restaurants in Nashville are for the next time you want to go out for a bite to eat.
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.
1520 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
Located in quiet Lockeland Springs, Lockeland Table looks and feels like a neighborhood restaurant 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.
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. If you’re in Nashville, you’ll want to check out this restaurant!
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 great restaurant in the Germantown area.
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.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South
5814 Nolensville Pk #110, Nashville, TN 37211
Located near the intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Nolensville Parkway, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South is a favorite among Crieve Hall and Antioch neighborhood residents. The area is residential, but Antioch is one of the fastest-growing suburbs and becoming more influential.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South is a local institution and one of the first to serve spicy fried chicken. With eight levels of spiciness to choose from, everyone can enjoy this traditional recipe.
I highly recommend the Andre Chicken Sandwich, a crispy confection fried to perfection with a choice of ranch or spicy sauce.
2305 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204
On Saturday night, we decided to head to Locust for a fine-dining experience after a show at the Zanies Comedy Night Club.
Locust felt upscale and intimate with its reservation-only policy. The atmosphere was classy and subdued, thanks to the small tables and emphasis on service.
The restaurant’s menu changes regularly based on the ingredients available. Most of the dishes are original seafood creations inspired by Asian cuisine.
We were lucky enough to try the shrimp rockets and the dumplings. We also had some shaved ice for dessert.
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.
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.
Once Upon a Time in France
1102 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Once Upon a Time in France surprised me with its cozy and family-friendly atmosphere. The restaurant is a family affair with a father-and-son team that handles every aspect of running the business.
The outside of the bistro looks like a classic American diner, but the interior feels very European, and we forgot we were in Nashville for an hour or two.
The menu includes traditional French bistro fare, with dishes like steak frites or escargots. It’s also a popular spot for wine classes.
Big Al’s Deli
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 hungry. There’s a reason why it’s on our best of Nashville list!
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, so be sure to check out this restaurant.
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 is a Nashville restaurant that 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.
Assembly Food Hall
5055 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Assembly Food Hall was at the top of my Nashville bucket list. We went there for a concert but arrived several hours early to check out the more than 30 bars and eateries.
The place is huge, and you could easily spend an entire day there. I loved the rooftop setting, and we had a blast bar hopping and trying food from around the world.
We started with a local classic with Smokin Chikin before heading to Chilangos Tacos. We got dessert from Hattie Jane’s Creamery and grabbed a snack from the Donut Distillery later.
201 8th Ave S 34th floor, Nashville, TN 37203
Bourbon Steak Nashville is one of several steakhouse restaurants 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.
305 Arrington St, Nashville, TN 37207
Tex-Mex is one of my favorite cuisines. This small taco shop on Arrington Street quickly became one of my favorite lunch spots. We went there several times during our stay in Nashville.
The tacos feature fresh ingredients and handmade tortillas. I enjoyed the creativity behind the bacon and tater tot breakfast taco. Still, the brisket taco was by far my favorite.
We got to meet Bryan Lee Weaver, the chef behind the Redheaded Stranger. Weaver has worked in Oregon and California restaurants before moving to Nashville. His love of Tex-Mex cuisine is obvious.
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.
2316 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204
Josephine immediately created a cozy and modern atmosphere with its industrial décor. The restaurant feels inviting, and I enjoy the pub-inspired seating arrangement around the bar.
The place might feel like a classic pub or sports bar, but the fare is upscale. We went there for brunch since it’s where Josephine truly shines. We had some apple cider glazed donuts and shared a biscuit plate.
The brunch menu also includes sandwiches and small plates.
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.
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.
1000 Broadway Suite 101, Nashville, TN 37203
After seeing him on culinary shows, I tried Chef Sean Brock’s cuisine at Husk in Charleston, SC. When I heard he had opened a restaurant in Nashville, I knew I had to try it.
Sean Brock’s unmistakable cuisine puts a modern twist on classic Southern fare. With the Continental, he created a unique hotel restaurant celebrating the glamour of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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.
809 Meridian St, Nashville, TN 37207
Audrey is another restaurant created by Chef Sean Brock. It’s less upscale than the Continental, and I got the impression that the atmosphere was inspired by rural Southern culture.
I wanted to try Audrey after hearing that the restaurant sources most of its products locally.
We had some grilled oysters that felt incredibly fresh, and the fried heirloom Southern apples were unlike any fruits I had ever had.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
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 10 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.
3716 Nolensville Pk, Nashville, TN 37211
King Tut’s intrigued me. I had heard about this food truck on social media and wanted to try this unique mix of traditional Egyptian fare and modern American setting.
We arrived shortly before 11 A.M. and sat on the patio while waiting for the food truck to open. The atmosphere was laidback and family-friendly.
I tried the lamb gyro and can’t recommend it enough. The prices were affordable, and the quality of the meat was amazing. The flavors were unique, and the smells coming from the food truck felt enticing and exotic.
The Loveless Cafe
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.
East Side Banh Mi
1000 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich with crispy bread and savory toppings. East Side Banh Mi is a family restaurant that offers banh mi sandwiches, salads, and noodle bowls.
It’s a budget-friendly pick with a fun and laid-back atmosphere. It’s one of the last spots we tried during our stay in Nashville. We felt so welcome that we spent a few hours reminiscing about the trip and enjoying the delicious Vietnamese fare.
I recommend the Chix, a savory sandwich with lemongrass chicken, but the shrimp and pork spring rolls are a close second.
Kayne Prime Steakhouse
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.
Edessa Restaurant Kurdish Turkish Cuisine
3802 Nolensville Pk, Nashville, TN 37211
Edessa is in the Glencliff neighborhood located southeast of Nashville. We ate there before heading to the nearby Plaza Mariachi music venue for a show.
I picked this place because of the excellent reviews and affordable prices. We went there as a group and ordered the Kabob Festival, a traditional Turkish feast that transported us to the Middle East with its delicious grilled meats and spicy flavors.
The feast included hummus, baba ghanoush, ezme, kabobs, lamb chops, and many other dishes. The fruit baklava was some of the best I have ever had.
The Patterson House
1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203
After a fun but hot afternoon exploring this iconic area, we headed a few blocks north to the corner of 18th Avenue South and Division Street to grab a bite to eat at The Patterson House.
This bar serves classic pub fare, including burgers and fries or shareable snacks. I loved the retro atmosphere and the generous portions.
VN Pho & Deli
5906 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209
VN Pho & Deli is an affordable and recomforting restaurant that serves traditional Vietnamese fare. You’ll find pho, bahn mi, stir fry noodles, bo kho, and more.
I loved how versatile the menu felt, and most entries allow you to create a customized dish by choosing meat and some toppings. We tried the Special Beef Pho with a fried egg on the side and Bahn mi. The pho had a complex flavor, while the banh mi bread was incredibly crispy and airy.