Nashville restaurants

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With new restaurants seemingly opening on a daily basis, plus a healthy mix of established dining establishments, Nashville has plenty of restaurant choices available.
  • 1. The Top Restaurants in Nashville With new restaurants seemingly opening on a daily basis, plus a healthy mix of established dining establishments, Nashville has plenty of restaurant choices available. Here’s our favorites:
  • 2. 1. Loveless Cafe The Loveless Cafe was originally part of the Loveless Motel, which was opened by Lon and Annie Loveless in 1951. Over time, the motel kind of faded away, but the cafe became famous for its flaky biscuits, country ham, and fried chicken. In fact, non other than Martha Stewart declared her breakfast at the Loveless as “the best breakfast I’ve ever had.” Sadly, the famous “Biscuit Lady,” who made the biscuits, died a few years ago, but the biscuit recipe survives. The restaurant is good for either breakfast, lunch, or a Sunday-dinner-type dinner. It has become very popular, but there is plenty to do while waiting – the grounds have been updated to include a music hall, and the old motel rooms have been turned into small shops – read more here (Photo by Morgan Levy)
  • 3. 2. Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles is where Nashville goes to cool off on hot summer days. The small shop opened in the burgeoning 12 South neighborhood about 10 years ago and became an immediate success. They don’t sell the popsicle you had as a child – these are hand-made Mexican popsicles made using local and seasonal ingredients. If you’ve ever had a hankering for a prune or Creamed Corn popsicle, this is your place. For the less adventurous, there’s also flavors like Avocado, Cantaloupe, Chocolate Raspberry, or Creamy Lime Popsicle. The flavors at Las Paletas change with the seasons. For an added bonus, the popsicles can be dipped in locally-made Olive & Sinclair chocolate. Cash only – read more here (Photo by Daniel Zemans)
  • 4. 3. Marché Artisan Foods Marché Artisan Foods is a casual, European-style bakery, cafe, and market in the Five Points area of trendy East Nashville. The woman behind the place is Margot McCormack, who attended the Culinary Institute of America and gained restaurant experience under the tutelage of many of New York’s and Nashville’s best chefs and restaurants owners. After many years of working for others, she finally opened her own restaurant, Margot Cafe and Bar, in 2001. Margot is still open and is just around the corner from Marché. Most people go to Marché to eat in the cafe, but the pastries from the bakery and the meats and cheese from the specialty market are very good. The big event here is the Sunday brunch – can get crowded, so expect a wait. Their dinner is also very good and not as crowded – read more here (Photo by Monica D.)
  • 5. 4. Monell’s Dining & Catering Monell’s Dining & Catering serves home-cooked Southern food in a historic home in the Germantown neighborhood just north of downtown. Michael King opened his restaurant with a dream, faith, and credit card debt on Thanksgiving Day, 1995, and the place has been popular ever since. The food is served family-style , which means that diners sit at communal tables and serve themselves from plates that are passed around the table. There’s a large variety of food that changes according to what’s available. Come hungry, because there’s plenty of food – read more here (Photo by Jamie)
  • 6. 5. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken Hattie B’s Hot Chicken was opened in the Midtown area of Nashville in 2012 by long-time hot chicken fans Nick Bishop, Jr., and his father, Nick Bishop, Sr. The place was an immediate hit – not only because the hot chicken is good and spicy – Hattie’s was also the first hot chicken place to offer beer. Most of the beer is quality craft beer from local breweries, but cold beer is still no match for the heat of the spicy chicken. The hot chicken comes in 3 spice levels – medium, hot, or “damn hot.” There is also a no-heat version for the skittish. The chicken can be ordered by the piece or as tenders. The majority of the side items are made in-house and are very good – choices include French Fries, Southern Greens, Homemade Cole Slaw, Pimento Mac & Cheese, Baked Beans, Red Skin Potato Salad, and Black Eyed Pea Salad – read more here (Photo by Daniel Zemans)
  • 7. 6. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is world-famous for their hot chicken. If Nashville is the capital of hot chicken, and Prince’s is generally regarded as the originator of hot chicken. The exact recipe is a secret, but the key to hot chicken is the buttermilk marinade followed by the application of a paste made of lard and cayenne pepper. Every serious chef and food critic who comes to Nashville makes a trek to the small strip-center restaurant. Additionally, Prince’s has been featured on many food shows, including Amazing Eats, Food Paradise, and Man v. Food Nation. The restaurant has been declared an American Classic restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Expect a line and a wait, and expect pain, but also expect moist, perfectly cooked spicy chicken. Choose from 4 spice levels ranging from mild to extra hot – read more here (Photo by Sean Russell)
  • 8. 7. Mas Tacos, Por Favor Mas Tacos, Por Favor began life in a 1974 Winnebago before finding a more permanent location in a small brick building in up-and-coming East Nashville. What looks like a hole-in-the-wall on the outside is warm and inviting on the inside. The menu is fresh, made-from-scratch Mexican street food, and the rotating menu of gourmet tacos is listed on a chalkboard. Place your order at the window and scope out a table while the food is prepared. Travel and Leisure named Mas Tacos one of the “Best Tacos in America.” The small place is only open for lunch hours, and it’s cash only – read more here (Photo by David Fant)
  • 9. 8. Pancake Pantry Pancake Pantry – if you love great pancakes and don’t mind standing in line for them, this is your place. Lines can wait for up to an hour on Saturday mornings, but people wait happily because the pancakes are that good. Besides the 23 kinds of pancakes, the omelets and other breakfast dishes are also great. It’s been open since 1961. The lines are much shorter early in the morning and during the week. Free coffee is available to those who wait – read more here (Photo by Daniel Zemans)
  • 10. 9. City House City House restaurant is housed in a beautiful, 100 year old, brick building in the historic Germantown neighborhood just north of downtown. City House butchers and dresses whole hogs in-house and uses local produce to produce rustic Italian cuisine. Chef Tandy Wilson was named “The People’s Choice for Best New Chef: Southeast” by Food & Wine for 2011. In 2012 he was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award. City House is known for great cocktails, seasonal offerings, and artisan pizza. Make a reservation or take your chances and grab a seat at the bar or communal table – read more here (Photo by Arnold Gatilao)
  • 11. 10. The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden takes pride in using quality ingredients and making stuff from scratch – the beef for the burgers is from Tennessee Angus cattle, the sausages are made in-house, and the old- fashioned sodas are made to-order. The buns are made locally by Provence Breads. Even the condiments are house-made instead of store-bought. The wooden bar is the focal point of the indoor dining area. In agreeable weather, outdoors is the place to be – the grassy, fenced-in hillside is full of picnic tables made for enjoying the weather while cooling off with a stein of beer or a fountain drink. Lights strung through the trees above provide a festive atmosphere after the sun goes down. The beers selection ranges from obscure German imports to local and national craft beers. There’s also root beers, ciders, milkshakes, floats, and Mexican Coke – read more here (Photo by Dwell Music City)
  • 12. 11. The Catbird Seat The Catbird Seat was a prized addition to Nashville’s culinary offerings when it opened in 2011, and it has since gained a national reputation. Very positive articles about have appeared in both the New York Times and was named one of the “Best New Restaurants 2012” by Esquire. Dual chef/owners Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger designed the restaurant with a U-shaped chef’s table with seating for about 32 people at around the table. Erik Anderson left the restaurant in 2013 and moved to Minnesota; Trevor Moran is the new Executive Chef. The chef’s prepare the food at the open kitchen area in the center. The dinner is a multicourse, prix fixe dinner that changes weekly with drinks chosen by sommelier to accompany the food. Eating at the Catbird Seat is pricey, but a definite food experience. Reservations are hard to come by and can be made through the web site one month in advance – read more here (Photo by Neil Conway)
  • 13. 12. Arnold’s Country Kitchen Arnold’s Country Kitchen – if there is a culinary style indicative of Nashville, it’s the meat-and-three, and Arnold’s does it at least as well as anyone, if not better. Everything is made from scratch – from the yeast rolls to the barbeque sauce to the banana pudding. In 2009, the James Beard Foundation honored Arnold’s with their American Classics Award. Save room for dessert – read more here (Photo by Daniel Zemans)
  • 14. 13. Rolf and Daughters Rolf and Daughters serves rustic Italian cuisine with a New American perspective in a retrofitted factory space in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. The restaurant opened in 2013 and helped put Nashville on the map as a foodie destination to be taken seriously. Chef Philip Krajeck grew up in Belgium and attended culinary school in Switzerland before making his way to America and working his way through the restaurant ranks. He made his way to Nashville in 2012 after becoming enamored with the creative energy of the city. A large communal table and a lively bar center the brick- walled, airy dining room, with smaller, private tables placed along the periphery. House-made pastas form the base for many of the dishes. Bon Appetit named Rolf and Daughters #3 on their list of “Best New Restaurants in America” for 2013 – read more here (Photo by Edsel Little)
  • 15. 14. Husk Husk is the Nashville branch of chef Sean Brock’s acclaimed Charleston restaurant of the same name. It opened in 2013 in a beautiful late-nineteenth- century home in the Rutledge Hill neighborhood just south of downtown. The rooms are warm and intimate, and the service is friendly and knowledgeable. Husk specializes in upscale Southern cuisine made using local and seasonal ingredients. Local purveyors include produce from Delvin Farms, bacon from Benton’s in east Tennessee, buttermilk from Knoxville’s Cruze Dairy Farm, and trout from Sunburst Trout Farms in western North Carolina. There’s also a garden on-site. The bar emphasizes classic cocktails and features spirits from many local distilleries – read more here (Photo by Daniel Zemans)
  • 16. 15. Silly Goose Silly Goose serves healthy, quality food in a small cafe in East Nashville. Roderick Bailey opened the restaurant in 2009 in a simple space with a few tools, a dream, and some very creative recipes. The place became an immediate hotspot in hip East Nashville. Specialties include four versions of couscous, inventive salads using local grown vegetables, and sandwiches and wraps. The meats are organic and grass-fed – read more here (Photo by jeffreyw)
  • 17. 16. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint originally opened in the small town of Nolensville south of Nashville before opening this location in Nashville, which pleased his legion of fans who regularly made the road trip to get their barbecue fix. Patrick Martin is the man behind the operation, and the word is that he spends 22 hours with each batch of barbecue slowly cooking it over a pit fire. The attention definitely pays off in the results – smoky and succulent pulled pork, ribs, brisket, sausage, and chicken. The standout menu item is the redneck taco, and the sides at Martin’s are not an afterthought and are better than at most barbecue places. There’s also a good selection of craft beers – read more here (Photo by Edsel Little)
  • 18. 17. Margot Cafe and Bar Margot Cafe and Bar became a trailblazer in the redevelopment of East Nashville. Margot McCormack opened her namesake restaurant in an old service station at the Five Points intersection. That was back in 2001. Today, Margot’s still shines as one of Nashville’s best restaurants. The menu makes liberal use of local and fresh ingredients and changes with the seasons. The vibe is casual, comfortable, and rustic. The cozy, triangular bar is a fun place have a drink – read more here (Photo by Sibel)
  • 19. 18. Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant became when Andy Marshall bought an old country store in the small town of Leipers Fork south of Nashville in the mid-1990’s. In addition to being a small grocery store, Puckett’s was known for its home-cooked meals, and it had long served as a meeting place for the small community. Marshall bolstered the menu with barbecue and a few more upscale dishes. In 2002 he decided to make use of all of the local songwriters and add music with a songwriters’ night on Friday nights. Word quickly spread about the good food, high quality songwriters’ night, and down home feel, and Marshall expanded by opening another location in downtown Franklin, and in 2010 he opened the Nashville location – read more here (Photo by Dana Lane)
  • 20. 19. Peg Leg Porker Peg Leg Porker owner Carey Bringle grew up in west Tennessee and was raised with appreciate for good barbecue and the culture of slowly-smoked meats. He brought his west Tennessee barbecue to the Gulch neighborhood with the opening of his cinder block, concrete-floored barbecue joint in 2013. The name comes from the fact that Carey Bringle lost his right leg to bone cancer at the age of 17 (in a humorous nod, there’s a case displaying one of his prostheses in the restaurant). Memphis and west Tennessee have long been the champions of barbecue in Tennessee, but, lately, Nashville has gained ground with the opening of Peg Leg Porker, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, and Edley’s. Peg Leg Porker’s meats are dry-rubbed in the Memphis tradition, and the specialties include the Rendezvous-style smoked ribs that that fall off the bone and the smoked and fried chicken wings. Standout sides include the Smoked Green Beans and the extra-creamy Mac and Cheese – read more here (Photo by Dana Lane)
  • 21. 20. The Southern Steak & Oyster The Southern Steak & Oyster is run by Tom Morales, who also runs the iconic Loveless Cafe and TomKats, which has catered more than 500 film productions worldwide. It is located in SoBro on the ground floor of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place. With a horseshoe-shaped oyster bar, old- fashioned belt-and-pulley fans, and black-and-white tiled floor, it definitely sets the stage for a classic southern dining experience. The Southern was named one of the “Best New Restaurants 2012” by Esquire magazine. As the name suggests, The Southern offers a worthy array of coastal seafood classics along with excellent steaks from grass-fed beef locally sourced from Bear Creek Farm in Leipers Fork, TN. Seafood choices include raw and fried oysters, shrimp prepared many ways, and crab cakes – read more here (Photo by Rachel Chapdelaine)
  • 22. 21. Bobbie’s Dairy Dip Bobbie’s Dairy Dip is an old-style burger drive-in in west Nashville. It’s been there forever- both through good times and bad times – and different owners. Sam Huh bought the restaurant in 2008, and he transformed the kitchen by deciding that Bobbie’s was going make their own burgers and chili and use the best ingredients possible. Today, Bobbie’s is better than ever. The drive-in closes during the winter months, but, at the first hint of Spring in Nashville, customers are lined up at the window waiting to order one of their high-butterfat Soft-serve ice cream cones. The specialty shakes are named after iconic figures of the 1950’s and 1960’s – read more here (Photo by Stephen Yeargin)
  • 23. Featured photo by Jamie. All photos CC-BY-2.0. See our list of the 49 best things to do in Nashville here.
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