The 25 Best Restaurants in Nashville Right Now
Quick: in three words, describe what comes to mind when you hear the name “Nashville”. Country music, certainly. Bachelorette parties, of course. But if your only guess relates to spicy chicken, then, well, we have some work to do. Yes, with its honky-tonk bars and Dolly Parton on repeat, Nashville is the mecca of country music.
However, Music City is more than that. As one would expect from a place of its creative caliber, Nashville has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. Whether your passion is art, history, music, or architecture, you can fill every minute of your time in Nashville with something to do, from museums to venues where you can enjoy awesome music.
Over and above that, Nashville has some of the best food in the country. Look no further if you’re craving home-cooked Southern cuisine. If you’re yearning for something sweet, there is an out-of-this-world bakery for that. In need of a simple cup of sweet tea and some delicious biscuits? No worries; they’re easy to come by.
And who hasn’t heard of the famous hot chicken, a local specialty found on most menus with a history as fiery as its flavor? The wife of a womanizing husband fed him overly spicy chicken to teach him a lesson, but he like it so much that he started his own hot chicken business.
Nevertheless, the city has quickly expanded its restaurant repertoire with a plethora of outstanding places that are far from basic, with roots anchored in decades of Southern cooking mingled with the influence of immigrants. Therefore, Nashville is home to a diverse array of venues, from authentic ramen joints to Michelin-starred fine dining.
That being said, we strongly believe you should start your Southern gastronomic adventure with these 25 best restaurants in Nashville. A simple list of ideas might be very helpful at times. Good luck with counting your calories, though!
- 25. Mas Tacos Por Favor
- 24. PHAT Bites
- 23. 400 Degrees
- 22. Swett’s
- 21. Hathorne
- 20. Peg Leg Porker
- 20. Big Al’s Deli
- 18. Redheaded Stranger
- 17. Locust
- 16. Yolan
- 15. Butcher & Bee
- 14. Lou Nashville
- 13. Henrietta Red
- 12. City House
- 11. Rolf and Daughters
- 10. Once Upon a Time in France
- 9. Peninsula
- 8. Audrey
- 7. Lyra
- 6. Pastaria
- 5. Bastion
- 4. Skull’s Rainbow Room
- 3. Husk
- 2. Pelican & Pig
- 1. The Catbird Seat
25. Mas Tacos Por Favor
Address: 732 Mcferrin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Nashville’s innovative food truck scene was pioneered by Teresa Mason, owner of Mas Tacos Por Favor, in a vintage Winnebago from the 1970s. Currently, she operates out of a storefront in Greenwood, but the truck can still be seen around town on occasion.
Look for pulled pork tacos, spicy carne molida, or quinoa and sweet potato tacos. Don’t forget, though, to get some of the delicious chicken tortilla soup that’s been seasoned with fresh ingredients like avocado, cherry tomatoes, and lime juice. Oh, boy!
24. PHAT Bites
Address: 2730 Lebanon Pike B, Nashville, TN 37214
Sandwiches and other gourmet dishes from Phat Bites continue to be a staple in Nashville. The flavorful subs, wraps, soups, hummus, and salads, as well as the relaxed, artistic vibe, make it hard to leave the place. In fact, you’ll need some time to peruse the menu since there are so many reasonably priced and interesting choices.
We suggest you go for the Hot Affair, a sandwich prepared with sirloin beef, bacon, smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, Italian vinaigrette, lettuce, tomato, and dijon, all on fresh focaccia bread. Aside from the finger-licking food, there are also karaoke and open-mic nights, giving the place a bohemian vibe.
23. 400 Degrees
Address: 3704 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN 37218
When your gang is starving, pull up to this always-stationed food truck for sweet tea and hot chicken, although only the fearless should try the 400-level heat. Everything in the 400 Degrees kitchen pays tribute to the legendary Nashville Hot Chicken and is inspired by Aqui Hines’ fondness for Prince’s Hot Chicken.
Rated as one of the best hot chicken joints in Nashville, 400 Degrees offers meals with a variety of heat levels, from mild to excruciating. The maximum spice level of 400 is only for the most daring palates, but even the 200 packs a punch. All in all, the food is simple yet delicious, with each dish being crisp, well-cooked, and served quickly.
They’ve also opened a new location at the airport just a few months ago.
Address: 2725 Clifton Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
When it first opened its doors in 1954, Swett’s was a little meat-and-three cafe offering traditional soul food. After being destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt to house a spacious and cutting-edge eatery where you can find portraits of the original Swett’s on the walls, while the kitchen still serves up affordable, hearty southern cuisine.
Like most cafeteria lines, this one shines at dessert with a variety of pies, from humble chess to airy meringues, as well as a few hot fruit cobblers. Still, there are also tasty meats like fried chicken, baked chicken covered in spices, beef tips, and sausages, all of which come with cornbread.
Address: 4708 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
When walking down Charlotte Avenue on a pleasant evening, Hathorne may catch your eye. Across the street from Richland Park, the restaurant’s lovely tree-lined patio is sure to be packed with diners enjoying a meal and conversation in the glow of string lights. There is a good vibe here even before entering the place.
As much as I’d like to maintain my temper, I fear the situation has escalated beyond my control. Just one bite of the smoked scallop tortelloni will completely alter my perspective on life. This beer-bone broth with brown butter and seaweed-stuffed pasta has so much flavor that you’ll find yourself scraping the plate. Pinky swear!
20. Peg Leg Porker
Address: 903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
Carey Bringle, the pitmaster, has been honing his BBQ skills for more than 30 years. Since it opened in 2013, his restaurant, Peg Leg Porker (a play on Bringle’s ironic nickname after losing his leg to cancer as a child), has been serving some of the best ribs in Nashville, if not in all of the United States.
He has competed in the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship and cooked at the prestigious James Beard House. Thus, Peg Leg Porker has taken the classic recipe and the dry rub technique to a new level. Before they leave the kitchen, their ribs are wiped down with tempting, acidic basting and then sprinkled with a tomato-red dry rub.
20. Big Al’s Deli
Address: 1828 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
Soulful Southern comfort food is Big Al’s forte, and with its deliciously simple dishes, it might win over every customer who passes through the door. That, and a friendly hello from Big Al himself. Talking about the menu, imagine homemade sausage biscuits, peppered hash brown potatoes, fried pork chops, burgers, and meatloaf.
The daily specials vary, but the Jalapeno-Orange Marmalade Chicken is a popular choice if you wish to sample the bliss of heaven. Stop by Big Al’s Deli any day and let your taste buds experience that gentle, delicious heat. And please pass along our greetings to Big Al.
18. Redheaded Stranger
Address: 305 Arrington St, Nashville, TN 37207
The menu at Redheaded Stranger, a Tex-Mex joint from chef Bryan Lee Weaver and Butcher & Bee restaurateur Michael Shemtov, features traditional Southwestern cuisine, including a variety of tacos made with flour tortillas, such as a bacon tater tot taco, a barbacoa taco, or a chopped brisket taco with eggs.
Besides tacos, Redheaded Stranger serves a delicious hatch green chile burger, traditional breakfast burritos, totchos (tater-tot nachos with queso), and more. To quench your thirst, pick up a margarita or Topo Chico from the bar. Follow their social media accounts for hours and daily specials.
Address: 2305 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204
First off, you should know that you will have to put in some effort in order to benefit from this opportunity. Since being voted Food & Wine’s “Best Restaurant in America” bookings at Locust are snapped up weeks in advance. Even so, trying chef Trevor Moran’s (who was schooled at Noma) exquisite cuisine is a worthwhile endeavor.
Although there are rarely more than ten or so options to choose from, each one deserves your time. Simply put, Locust offers a remarkable dining experience, with dishes such as beef tartare, an incredible twist on shrimp toast, and the Platonic ideal of pork dumplings. You don’t want to miss the toothsome kakigori (Japanese shaved ice).
Address: 403 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
From a high-stakes client to your uncle who won’t stop bragging about meeting Reese Witherspoon in the airport, everyone needs an ace up their sleeves that can dazzle a crowd. Yes, that’s Yolan. This sleek eatery serves some of the greatest Italian food in the town, with truffles, bucatini amatriciana, and cacio e pepe pasta as proof.
Nonetheless, if narrowing down your options to just one seems hard, consider the tasting menu, which includes a selection of five or eight courses. Finish with a glass of small-batch Italian wine and contemplate whether you want gelato, carrot cake, or both.
15. Butcher & Bee
Address: 902 Main St, Nashville, TN 37206
It might have all started as a little sandwich store in Charleston, but now Butcher & Bee is a two-city small plates juggernaut where umami-rich shared platters can be a game changer for dinner. Nashville isn’t the restaurant’s first foray, but its menu seems as if it’s been here forever.
The venue features the same principle employed by chefs Bryan Weaver and Chris DeJesus of using only locally sourced ingredients to create a seasonal, imaginative Eastern Mediterranean menu. We recommend the pastrami-spiced short rib with rye berry risotto and sauerkraut bearnaise. It is death row inmate’s last meal-worthy!
14. Lou Nashville
Address: 1304 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37216
Both the cuisine and ambiance at Lou are an audacious blend of trendy, healthful California cuisine with classic European elegance. The restaurant’s menu is actually an homage to the west coast’s healthy-ish food, with its concentration on seasonality and sustainability, reflected in the heavy use of vegetables and narrow protein offerings.
For dinner, you can choose from dishes like backsnort farm trout with salsa verde, Calabrian chili harissa, and charred lemon, roasted cornish hen with buttermilk marinade, soaked bread, and pickled cranberry coulis, or black hawk ribeye with burnt onion tare, sweet garlic, and sesame oil. Save room for the whipped chocolate ganache.
13. Henrietta Red
Address: 1200 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
With two exquisite bars and a dining area that will have you wondering, “Could I go to Ikea and reproduce this in my apartment?”, Henrietta Red is one of the best-looking restaurants in Nashville. But there is more; the place also boasts an excellent raw bar and a wide selection of Mediterranean fare prepared in a traditional wood-burning oven.
This restaurant is the brainchild of chef Julia Sullivan, who encourages using only the freshest, simplest ingredients. Named after her grandparents, Henrietta Red reflects their low-country hospitality with distinctive organic wines, handmade cocktails, vegetable-forward cuisine, and an extensive selection of oysters.
12. City House
Address: 1222 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
The dishes at City House in Germantown blend two of our favorite cuisines: southern staples and Italian food. Make sure to reserve a table in advance for the popular weekly Sunday Supper, which features a rotating menu. Specifically, we recommend the roasted winter squash pizza and the fennel sausage next time you dine here.
This venue is also top-notch for wine connoisseurs. Its small, private bar is a fabulous spot to socialize and have a quick drink after work. Actually, even lone diners can relax at the pizza bar with a glass of Chianti while watching the skilled chefs work at the wood-fired oven.
11. Rolf and Daughters
Address: 700 Taylor St, Nashville, TN 37208
Rolf and Daughters is a must-visit whether you’re in Nashville for a layover or a last-minute romantic break. Set in the historic Werthan industrial structure in Germantown, which dates back 100 years, the restaurant is warm and inviting thanks to its low lighting, exposed brick walls, and Holler Design furnishings.
All the dishes are excellently prepared, making the moniker “modern peasant food” that chef Philip Krajeck has given to his cuisine seem a little demeaning. Nonetheless, the menu features both newfangled and traditional dishes, such as chicken with preserved lemon and garlic confit, but also great pasta like rigatoni with pork ragu.
10. Once Upon a Time in France
Address: 1102 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Have you ever longed to experience the cuisine of a different country but thought it was too expensive to travel there? If you want to pretend you’re in the Land of Baguettes for a while, consider Once Upon a Time in France. With its charming 1920s Parisian bistro decor, this restaurant is everything Francophiles and foodies could want.
Entering the place is a bit like seeing Cinderella’s journey from maid to princess. From the outside, Once Upon a Time in France has a low-key, unpretentious appearance. When you step inside, you may have trouble remembering that you’re not dining in an exquisitely restored landmark in a trendy, upscale Parisian neighborhood.
Being owned by a local French family, you should expect to see touches of France everywhere. From escargot and pate to French onion soup and steak frites, the menu has it all. In addition, there are more than 75 French wines to complement your meal. Bon appetit!
Address: 1035 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
There’s a reason why Spanish and Portuguese restaurants are some of the best in the world: sharing platters. That’s also the concept behind Peninsula, a tapas restaurant where you can fill your table with dishes described by naming a few simple, fresh ingredients, Old World wines, and vibrant cocktails.
The rustic yet contemporary decor invites diners to relax and enjoy cuisine inspired by the Iberian Peninsula’s fare without abandoning the comfort of familiar American ingredients. In fact, part of the fun here is finding new ways to combine flavors that make ordinary dishes taste like manna from heaven.
Address: 809 Meridian St, Nashville, TN 37207
Chef Sean Brock would like to personally welcome you to Audrey, his signature restaurant. Lying in the McFerrin Park neighborhood of East Nashville, this place is an outstanding gem with Brock’s meticulous care for detail at every corner and his own museum-quality art collection.
Audrey is more of a dining experience than a restaurant, satisfying every taste bud while highlighting the distinctive flavors of the South. Each dish has its own backstory explaining how it came to be on the menu and why certain ingredients were chosen. It’s not often that you love every single item on a tasting menu, but Audrey is an exception.
Address: 935 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Chef Hrant Arakelian relies on his Lebanese heritage to offer a seasonal menu of bold flavors. Offering a sophisticated take on Middle Eastern fare by fusing traditional ingredients with an upscale presentation and an easygoing contemporary vibe, Lyra aspires to introduce people to a cuisine that extends far beyond traditional kabobs.
It’s best to start with the chef’s specialty (lamb) and work your way backward to the appetizers. Nevertheless, you can have a variety of dishes, including octopus, manti (Turkish dumplings), and hummus. You should also order all four bread varieties from their wood-fired oven to use for dipping. Leave room for the cardamom chocolate cake.
Address: 8 City Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
The James Beard Award-winning chef, Gerard Craft, is the brains behind this innovative Italian restaurant. In fact, the venue’s motto, “La Verita” (which means the truth), reflects its owner’s commitment to praising the purity and excellence of traditional Italian fare.
The first Pastaria opened in St. Louis as an all-day Italian eatery, serving wood-fired pizzas, homemade organic pasta, and one-of-a-kind gelato. Classic Roman dishes like cacio e pepe and lasagna bolognese are on the menu, but we recommend the Bucatini Rigate with lamb and pecorino.
Of course, there is more than pasta. Must-orders include the citrus salad and marinated olives, but don’t overlook the crispy risotto balls served with herb aioli.
Address: 434 Houston St STE 110, Nashville, TN 37203
Bastion is the ombre of Nashville restaurants; it’s all sobriety in the front and a nacho-packed fiesta in the back; well, actually it’s the sidebar, but you understand.
With only 24 seats, the main dining room in this former Wedgewood-Houston warehouse is the ideal spot to enjoy the venue’s ever-rotating, globally-inspired menu, which offers a unique take on classics like raw scallops, beef tri-tip, and lamb.
If you’re looking for a more low-key spot to hang out with a few close friends, the sidebar reigns supreme. Here, you can get a pitcher of the day’s special boozy punch and a mountain of nachos that rival any in the city.
4. Skull’s Rainbow Room
Address: 222 Printers Alley, Nashville, TN 37201
When it first opened in 1948, Skull’s Rainbow Room quickly became a landmark in Nashville’s historic Printer’s Alley district, and it continues to this day as one of the city’s most beloved and talked-about restaurants. Burlesque, bordellos, honky-tonks, strip clubs, alcohol, and murder. What more could you expect from a bar in the Bible Belt?
This venue has hosted legendary artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Etta James, Patsy Cline, Paul McCartney, and Bob Dylan. Even though there was a time when superstars hung out at this bar, now ghosts come to party here. David Schulman was killed in the Rainbow Room, and it is said that he still hasn’t left the building.
Don’t be afraid, though. These are just rumors. Skull’s Rainbow Room is now operating in David Schulman’s honor as a casual fine dining establishment with burlesque shows and specialty cocktails. The New Zealand rack of lamb marinated in pomegranate juice, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary is an absolute must. Save room for dessert, though!
Address: 37 Rutledge St, Nashville, TN 37210
The one restaurant in Nashville that you should absolutely book a table at as soon as you finish this article is Husk. This temple of Southern cuisine has flourished despite frequent leadership changes. Said otherwise, the restaurant’s ongoing success can be attributed to its chauvinistic dedication to using only seasonal, regional ingredients.
Housed in a restored Victorian house, the establishment’s menu changes twice a day, at lunch and dinner, to make the most of the ingredients grown in the on-site garden. We recommend Joyce Farms Heritage Chicken with dirty rice and satsuma. You can also visit the downstairs bar, which serves the whole menu plus a rare collection of whiskeys.
2. Pelican & Pig
Address: 1010 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Nick and Audra Guidry run the show at their restaurant, Pelican & Pig, with a focus on fun, originality, and service. Taking cues not only from the areas where the owners have resided but also from their journeys around the world, the venue’s menu is a homage to the influences of the past and present.
Set in a former auto repair shop, the restaurant relies on its wood-burning oven to prepare every meal, from mahi to pork chops, ribeyes, potatoes, and one-off Tuscan bread. Chill out the wood-fired dishes with a bottle of red, or amp up the flavor with a rye cocktail. Whatever you decide, don’t leave without getting the caramel panna cotta.
1. The Catbird Seat
Address: 1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203
The Catbird Seat is, without a doubt, one of Nashville’s most vibrant restaurants. You can’t predict what you’ll get from night to night because the menu and the experience are always changing, making the time leading up to eating as rewarding as the meal itself.
Just make a reservation, which is absolutely necessary since seatings book out months in advance, show up, and sit at the horseshoe-shaped table as the chef Brian Baxter cranks out dishes from a menu designed to leave you speechless. It’s possible that you’ll start with some soused Japanese sardines and end up with a pig’s blood-fried pie.
We have a lot of gourmets writing for Luxatic, so when we visit a new city, we always look for the finest restaurant in the area. And, as we’ve seen, Nashville is brimming with excellent dining options.
So, how do you decide which ones to keep? Well, you could schedule your trip so that you eat at several of them. You have at least 25 possibilities!
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