Nashville's Best Restaurants: Silly Goose

Eat Up: The Best Restaurants in Nashville, According to Me

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]

Many of you are probably coming to Nashville soon for the NFL draft, or maybe CMA Fest or a bachelorette weekend or another excuse for a long-weekend getaway. No matter how you’re experiencing Music City, you must make time to eat your way through it—the food scene is absolutely on fire, and some of the best restaurants in Nashville are also the best in the country.

Burger Up: Best Restaurants in Nashville

The restaurant scene is so dynamic, in fact, that many have closed already before I even had a chance to write them up (R.I.P. Kuchnia & Keller, I hardly knew thee, though I loved what little I saw—and tasted). It’s harder than ever to be a restaurant in Nashville and make it long-term, so kudos to those chefs who are killing it.

Nashville's Best Restaurants
Nashville's Best Restaurants

Looking for where to eat? Nashville has so many good restaurants, it can be hard to decide which one is your best bet. So I broke it down by occasion in hopes of solving all your Music City dining woes.

For a one-of-a-kind experience: Tailor Nashville

For years, Vivek Surti was Nashville’s most famous chef without a restaurant. He worked for the wine auction, he ran VEA Supper Club on the side, and he cooked for just about everyone around town who would ask him. He’s a phenomenal chef who fuses his Indian heritage with other South Asian cuisine for a mashup of tasty dishes unlike any other. All of Nashville rejoiced when he finally bit the bullet and opened up Tailor Nashville, a dining club-type experience in Germantown, with partner Heather Southerland at the end of last year. The eight- to 10-course menu rotates seasonally and features a snack, vegetable, fish or meat, rice dish and a dessert for $60, which does not include sales tax and gratuity. Drink pairings are an additional charge, which I highly recommend. There are only 35 seats available at 6pm and 8:30pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so if you’re coming from out of town, make sure you make a reservation well in advance.

Vivek Surti at Tailor Nashville
Vivek Surti at Tailor Nashville

Vivek Surti at Tailor Nashville

For your traditional meat-and-three: Arnold’s

No matter your dining tastes, you can’t come to Nashville and not try the traditional meat-and-three meal (that’s a meat and three sides for those of you Northerners). And there’s no better place to try your first than at Arnold’s Country Kitchen, a Nashville icon that whips up every Southern delight you could ask for—country-fried steak, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, pecan pie—and everything in between, with a whole lot of love. Arnold’s is only open on weekdays, so be sure you get there early as the lunch crush is real.

For any occasion: The Farm House

I’ve professed my love for Chef Trey Cioccia’s winning combination of atmosphere and contemporary Southern fare on the blog before, but every time I go back, his ever-changing menu impresses me even more. Pork belly pop-tarts? Pimento cheese beignets? Gnudi of the day? Forget about it! Just give me one of everything, please. On top of dinner six nights a week, TFH serves lunch from Tuesday through Friday and brunch on Sunday.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: The Farm House

For your new neighborhood hang: Hathorne

I was a huge fan of John Stephenson’s all the years he was at the helm at Fido, then I followed his food to the Family Wash (R.I.P.), so I was really excited when he debuted Hathorne on Charlotte Avenue last winter. There’s so much to love about Hathorne, from the design that incorporates pews recovered from the church next door to the plates of shaved Brussels, pork pierogis, roasted heirloom carrots and grilled acorn squash that are meant to be shared. Hathorne has a daily happy hour from 5 to 6:30pm, then a “joyful hour” from 10 to 11:30pm, staying true to its mission to bring in the neighborhood locals.

Hathorne: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Hathorne: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Hathorne: Best Restaurants in Nashville

Hathorne: Best Restaurants in Nashville

To impress an out-of-towner: Pinewood Social

If you haven’t heard of this restaurant-meets-bar-meets-swimming pool-meets karaoke joint-meets bowling alley-meets cafe, you’ve been living under a rock (or else not reading C&C … or Vogue … or Esquire … or any of the hundreds of publications that have featured it in the handful of years since Pinewood’s inception). The drinks are stellar, the food is great, and the atmosphere is on point—what more could you ask for out of a dining experience?

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Pinewood Social

When you’re feeling indulgent: Biscuit Love Brunch

There’s no nicer couple in town than Karl and Sarah Worley, and it doesn’t hurt that they also have the game-changing recipe for the best biscuits in Nashville. After two years of dominating the food truck market, this dynamic duo launched their own brick-and-mortar in 2015, open seven days a week from 7am to 3pm. There’s never not a line, so you’re better off going on a weekday if you can. Just know: It’s worth every second you wait. Also know: You should order the Lily while your friend has the East Nasty, which was named as one of Bon Appetit’s favorite sandwiches in the country a couple years back. Or have your savory but order a plate of bonuts for the table. If you’re not feeling biscuits, there are plenty of other options on the menu, like the Lindstrom, a seriously decadent shaved Brussels sprouts salad. Want to feel cool? Order the “Nasty Princess” (a mash-up of the Princess and East Nasty) off-menu. Pro tip: Biscuit Love has another location in Hillsboro Village that is often less packed during peak meal times. There’s also a third outpost down in Franklin.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Biscuit Love Brunch

For Sunday Supper: City House

City House is a must-eat any night of the week but it’s especially good each Sunday night when the menu rotates to include even more creative pizza and pasta dishes (I still remember an apple, onion and chili pie I had years ago). You’ll need a reservation to get into Sunday Supper, though you can always nab a seat at the bar if you forgot to call a couple weeks in advance. Note: City House is great for small groups, but can be really loud and not ideal for a first (or second or third…) date. The belly ham pie with a cracked egg on top never goes out of style.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: City House

When you’re downtown for lunch: Liberty Common

The first thing that will catch your eye is just how downright dreamy the interior of Liberty Common is. On my inaugural visit here, I was dining alone and working from the bar, but I couldn’t stop creeping around taking photos of the design. It’s just so damn pleasant. And it boasts murals from one of our favorite artists Tara Aversa, the visionary behind the Manchester Magnolia, too. The food itself is very Parisian bistro style, and the drinks follow form. Traditionally, Nashville didn’t have a lot of great downtown restaurants, particularly ones that cater to the business crowd, so I’m pleased as punch that Liberty Common has joined the fray.

Liberty Common: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Liberty Common: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Liberty Common: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Liberty Common: Best Restaurants in Nashville

For a stylish diner vibe: The Mockingbird

The tagline says it all: “modern dinner, global fare.” The menu at the Mockingbird is all over the place, which is precisely why I like going there. It’s the kind of restaurant you can dine at with friends who all have very different culinary preferences, whether you want a corned seitan veggie reuben and your bestie is dying for a chicken pot pie. It’s comfort food at its finest, in a very stylish space (and I love that all the food is served on mismatched plates procured from antiques stores). If you have a chance to chat with owners Brian Riggenbach and Mikey Corona, take it—they’re both a riot. And don’t leave without ordering a platter of cookies served in a birdcage.

When you’re in the mood for Italian: Nicky’s Coal Fired

I first met Tony and Caroline Galzin when they were at Fifty-First Kitchen and were instant fans. Not only are the Chicago transplants great people, but they bring a different kind of culinary pizzazz to the Nashville restaurant scene. When they opened up Nicky’s Coal Fired in the Nations a couple years back, they were one of the only restaurants in the area; now, the neighborhood is positively booming, and their seats are packed with those flocking to taste the artisan pizzas fired up in their four-ton, coal-fired oven named “Enrico.” Nicky’s also has a selection of antipasti and seafood dishes, though I usually order one of the seasonal pasta dishes to start and share a thin-crust pie or two with friends as my main. The cocktail menu is on point, and there are always a selection of spritzes from which to choose.

For a classy business affair: Etch

This downtown spot is the brainchild of culinary master Deb Paquette, who whips up inventive fare, such as an octopus and shrimp bruschetta or a cauliflower steak. Deb has led the charge on Nashville’s food evolution and now has Char and Etc. in Green Hills, as well. It’s also one of my very favorites in town—and I’m not just saying it because my college roommate is the ace pastry chef (proud friend alert)! Just ask Zagat or a number of any other ratings guides: Etch is la creme de la creme, whether for lunch or dinner. The cauliflower appetizer is a must-do anytime of day, and my regular lunch order is the creamy, oh-so-tasty Thai Chicken & Quinoa. And tasting your way through the dessert menu, created by my former roommate Megan Williams, is a must-do, so be sure and save room in your stomach!

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Etch

For the best Indian street food: Chaatable

Maneet Chauhan is a ball of sassy energy, and that energy could not be more apparent than in her latest concept Chaatable, which channels an Indian street market in all its colorful glory and dreamy Indian bites with punny names like the O.M.Ghee, This Spuds For You, Puff Puff Pass and the Go Shorty. She also collected thousands of Indian bangles to build a bangle wall, which serves as the perfect greeting (and so very Maneet, too) when diners walk in. Pro tip: Don’t leave without ordering one (or three) Pani ‘Rita, the tamarind margarita that is currently one of my favorite drinks in Nashville.

Chaatable: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Chaatable: Best Restaurants in Nashville

Chaatable: Best Restaurants in Nashville

To satiate your sweet tooth: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Have I gotten the point across yet? I LOVE JENI’S ICE CREAM. And now that there are multiple locations in Nashville, my waistline is in immediate danger. I finally met Jeni Britton Bauer at the opening of her Hillsboro Village store—dangerously close to where I live—and had a major fangirl moment. I’ve tried about every flavor she makes, and while you can’t go wrong, the combo of salty caramel and brown butter almond brittle is always my favorite.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Jeni's Ice Cream

For breakfast/lunch/dinner any day of the week: Fido

The sweet potato waffle can’t be beat, but neither can the burger, or the coffee for that matter. Basically, all you need to know is that Fido is as good as they come, and if you find yourself hungry in Hillsboro Village no matter the time of day, you can pop in and fulfill your craving, no matter what that may be. Then head across the street to Jeni’s for dessert or next door to Hot & Cold for a Las Paletas pop, and all will be right with the world!

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Fido Cafe

For the best $200 you’ve ever spent: Catbird Seat

Before I ate there, I wondered just how any meal could be worth $200 (note: that price does include pairings). Well, let’s just say, I would have paid double that for the feast we had at our inaugural Catbird experience last spring! The restaurant itself is very no-frills, which means the focus is entirely on the food and whatever the chef and his team are whipping up that night. Reservations open up exactly 30 days in advance, and as there are only two seatings of 20 people Wednesday through Sunday, you better get on that if you want to indulge in this sinful experience.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Catbird Seat

For your green juice fix: Juice Bar

Like every other city in America, Nashville has experienced a boom in juice spots. I do several juice cleanses a year and have yet to find one I like as much as the Juice Bar, which now has multiple locations in Nashville and Williamson County. My go-to location is the Germantown one, as street parking is easy during the day. I also frequent the Juice Bar in Berry Hill, but often there’s nowhere to park (#NashvilleProblems).

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Juice Bar

For a menu you’ll have to Google: Rolf & Daughters

You won’t understand half the ingredients on the menu, but that’s half the fun. People bemoan the service (or lack thereof) at Rolf—it’s a hipster hangout first and foremost—so know before you go. But that’s never deterred me from heading to RAD when the urge strikes. And if it’s a nice evening, arrive early and claim a spot on the patio, which is first-come, first-served.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Rolf and Daughters

For a community experience: Josephine

This 12South hotspot debuted at the tail end of 2013 to much excitement, but its 10-course X|X: Josephine experience is a reason to go back every month or so. Each Friday and Saturday night at 8pm, 10 lucky diners take the table as they are served a steady stream of 10 dishes on a long 2-by-10 wooden board, each  presented by theme (e.g., snacks, asparagus, spring, pretzel, morel mushroom, scallop, pork belly). Better yet, the meal is just $90 with an optional $55 for six beverage pairings, an absolute steal for as much food and drink as that gets you. Just be sure and make reservations, as with just 10 spots at the table, they go quickly! I’m also a huge fan of Josephine’s brunch, and it’s one of my top three most visited weekend spots in Nashville.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Josephine

For bad-ass BBQ and bushwhackers: Edley’s

BBQ purists may call it too trendy, but I don’t care. I LOVE this BBQ joint that now boasts three locations locally, one in Chattanooga and one in Kentucky. The Tuck forever gets my order, and even though I nearly died from bushwhacker consumption a few years ago (don’t ask), I can’t stay away. Love nachos? Can’t go wrong with BBQ nachos, topped with a heaping pile of pulled pork.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Edley's BBQ

When you’re looking to eat on Broadway: Acme Feed & Seed

The walk-up counter on Acme’s ground floor is always a safe option if you’re out on Broadway midday or into the evening and looking to grab a quick bite among a sea of trashy country music star-backed options (though I do like the food at Whiskey Row if we’re being honest).

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Acme Feed and Seed

For a drink on the go: Bajo Sexto

A cocktail I can carry around downtown with me? Don’t mind if I do! Jonathan Waxman’s first Nashville endeavor has authentic Mexican food and delicious drinks, like the bourbon horchata, and it’s conveniently located between the Omni, the Music City Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame, so perfect for those of you staying downtown.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Bajo Sexto

For all. the. meat: Martin’s BBQ

Pat Martin has become legendary in Nashville with his huge of the whole hog and his ever-expanding empire. He’s now got three locations in the Nashville area, as well as has expanded to neighboring states, too. My favorite of his many spots is the downtown outpost with its 13,000 square feet of space for dining, lounging, drinking beer and playing games with your buds.

For beer with a side of tacos: Butchertown Hall

Butchertown Hall is dangerously close to my Nashville yoga studio, and it’s open all afternoon long, something I struggle with in Nashville with weird hours and so many places closed from 2 to 5pm. So it’s become my go-to spot post-yoga when I’m getting a late lunch or drinks with friends. The street tacos are bomb, and the beer selection is mighty. The clean design and so much natural light only makes you want to camp out here for hoursi. On warmer nights, Butchertown’s lovely side patio is perfect for sipping saison after saison.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Butchertown Hall

For the celebrity chef experience: Chauhan House

Every time I’m feeling indulgent and wanting all the curry, I head straight for Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Maneet Chauhan’s first of four concepts to open in Nashville. I particularly love it for lunch, a time of day when I feel like Nashville dining options aren’t abundant. The lunch items may be heavy, but man is that meat-and-three worth it (though I often oscillate between the thali and the chicken tikka masala—both are oh so good). Weekend brunch is also the prime occasion to make a ressie for Chauhan. I crave that Stop Monkeying Around always, and the What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? is divine.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Chahaun House

For a meal in a coffee shop: Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey is the coffee shop empire in Nashville, and yet people often overlook them as an option for meals, which is insane as their food is oh-so-good and runs the gamut of sandwiches, salads, soups and heartier entrees. The Nations location has become one of my lunchtime go-tos when I’m meeting a friend for coffee with a side of food. Looking to start your evening somewhere? Consider going to Frothy for Wine Down Wednesday with three pours of wine (or six beer tasters) and snacks for the bargain deal of $15.

For brunch without a wait: Saint Anejo

There’s hot chocolate French toast, there’s chicken and waffles with jalapeno syrup, and there’s a horchata French toast. I say order them all. Also a winning factor? Two-for-one cocktails every single weekend day. Done.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Saint Anejo

For old Hollywood glam: Sinema

Sinema debuted in the summer of 2014 to become one of the pricier joints in town. It’s definitely a special occasion type of place, but even if you aren’t in the mood to spend $35 in a plate, it’s worth grabbing drinks in the upstairs lounge and popping into the bathroom for a #SinemaSelfie.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Sinema

For the best chocolate in town: Goo Goo Cluster

I’ve often sung the praises of Nashville’s own century-old candy company but the new chef series, in which they roll out a different Premium Goo Goo every week or two, has me stopping by the downtown shop more often than not to see what these culinary masterminds have whipped up on any given week.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Goo Goo Clusters

For a true taste of Nashville: The Farmers’ Market

The Nashville Farmers’ Market is open every day of the week and boasts dozens of purveyors of local food and products, from Music City Crepes to Batch. It’s always bustling, and it’s always good. If you need a lunch spot that’s guaranteed to fill you up and leave you satisfy, this one’s for you, and you’ll be surrounded by actual Nashvillians who break from the office to eat here daily.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Nashville Farmers Market

For a bit of everything rolled into one: Walk Eat Nashville

In Nashville for a short time and don’t have the chance to try it all? Book a spot with Karen-Lee Ryan’s Walk Eat Nashville, and I guarantee you will get the highlights reel in your informative and tasty, three-hour walking tour of East Nashville, SoBro or Midtown.

Walk Eat Nashville
Walk Eat Nashville
Walk Eat Nashville

For pizza, pizza: Five Points Pizza

Nashville used to have hardly any pizza options, and now it’s got several. Five Points Pizza, with a location in East Nashville and one off of Charlotte is by far my favorite. You can order whole pies or from a select menu of pizza by the slice. I often get carryout from the right side of the restaurant, though if it’s not packed and you feel like a brew, settle in at a booth on the left side and enjoy the craft beer selection.

For dinner with a side of champagne: Geist

Germantown is the neighborhood in which I spend the most time, and I was happy when Geist joined the fray back in 2018. One of my favorite mixologists Freddie Schwenk heads up the bar which is set in an old 1900 blacksmith shop, and I often just order “whatever Freddie is feeling today.” I don’t drink a lot of bubbles, but even I can’t deny the attraction of the Champagne Garden, with its champs served outside in a full outdoor garden and courtyard; there’s even the option to saber a bottle if you’re feeling frisky. On the food front, Geist has a small selection of sharable veggie plates, starters (may I recommend the bacon jam and baked brie?), and entrees like salmon, scallops and cavatelli. If the key lime pie is on the menu, you must order it—it poses as a real lime, but is actually pie inside when you crack it open. A true work of art!

Key lime pie at Geist

Where to Eat in Nashville: Geist
Where to Eat in Nashville: Geist

For dinner with a dose of history: Woolworth on 5th

The most interesting thing to be about Woolworth is not the food—though, don’t get me wrong, it’s great, too—but the fact that this historic building was the site of many sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement, and that the owners decided to keep all of those scuff marks intact as a reminder of the turmoil this city (and the South as a whole) went through not that long ago. The Art Deco-y Woolworth on 5th is a great spot for a work lunch as it’s right downtown in Nashville’s version of a financial district, but it’s also a good spot for a pre-show dinner with TPAC right around the corner. Expect Southern fare like fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits.

Woolworth on 5th in Nashville

For the best damn rabbit rolls in town: Black Rabbit

Rabbit rolls may seem like a weird thing to be obsessed with, but that’s likely because you haven’t been to Black Rabbit, a chic, 1920s-inspired lounge on the cusp of Printers Alley that will offer small plates, creative craft cocktails and live piano music on any night of the week. With Kathy Anderson behind the design, Black Rabbit’s ambiance is built around the old wood floors and exposed brick walls leftover from the late 1800s and utilizes velvet sofa, leather lounge chairs and plush booths for seating. The wooded chef’s island provides prime seating for those keen on studying the talents of this passionate team of chefs, who will be cooking up various canapes like butterfolds, squab rillettes, rabbit spam sliders, twice-baked patatas bravas, roasted oysters and pickled shrimp. This swanky cocktail lounge off of 2nd Avenue is a much elevated breath of fresh air for downtown with an expansive whiskey collection and a cocktail menu that reads like a tome. Don’t overlook it as a dinner spot, though; you’d be remiss to pass on Chefs Trey and Chad’s elevated fare.

For sushi and other Asian fusion: Sunda

Chef-owner Billy Dec brought his popular new Asian concept from Chicago and opened a Nashville location, as well, last summer. There aren’t a lot of places that will get me to the Gulch anymore—it’s way too hip and far too crowded for this simpleton—but Sunda will do just that. Not only is the interior large, roomy and chic, but the menu boasts dim sum, sushi, nigiri, noodle dishes, curry, ramen and so much more. It’s basically a one-stop lunch, brunch or dinner spot for all kinds of Asian fusion (and a really great sake selection to boot).

Sunda: Where to Eat in Nashville

Sunda: Where to Eat in Nashville
Sunda: Where to Eat in Nashville

For an excuse to dine in a chic hotel: Henley

From a style standpoint, Kimpton’s lobby-level restaurant Henley is one of the most polished places in town, weaving in bold art and tile patterns with an equally creative menu to follow suit. Whether you’re staying at the hotel or just looking for somewhere to eat in Midtown any meal of the day, Henley is one of your top contenders.

For the hardest weekend brunch table to land: Tavern

Call it a college bar if you will, but M Street’s Tavern has been a mainstay of mine in the seven years since we’ve been back. It’s consistently delicious, and one of the only places in Midtown open in the middle of the day, so my gal Beth and I have had many a mid-afternoon cocktail with snacks (the buffalo cauliflower has never let me down). It’s also a slam dunk for weekend brunch—if you can get a table. Avoid at all costs on a Vandy home weekend, but any other time, get there minutes before they open and grab a table (or put your name down). If you’re there promptly at 10 (or maybe just before), you should get in just fine. And the hash and the red velvet waffles with cream cheese drizzle are totally worth the wait, too.

For a bakery to die for: Dozen

Dozen is Nashville’s best-kept secret in that every local I know names it among their top lunch spots, but we rarely tell anyone else about it because it’s already packed enough as it is. But you deserve to know about Dozen because not only are the fresh bread and other baked goods mouthwateringly good, but the lunch combos—I always do the half-and-half option with a tartine and whatever grain salad they’re making that week—are some of the freshest dishes you’ll have in all of Nashville.

When you’re feeling Japanese: The Green Pheasant

If you haven’t been to Two Ten Jack, start there—but I’d venture to say I like the food at the Green Pheasant even more than I do the original izakaya and ramen joint in East Nashville. Even better that it’s based downtown and the perfect dinner spot before a night at the Symphony or a show at the amphitheater. The menu is small, but plates are very sharable. On my first visit, I went with five girlfriends, and we ordered pretty much every dish on the menu and shared them. I immediately went back the following week with SVV, because no one appreciates Japanese food more than he does. A few standouts: the spicy crab noodles, chicken wing gyoza and the broccolini. Park in the adjoining parking garage, and you can get your parking validated to make it just $5 for 2.5 hours.

Green Pheasant: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Green Pheasant: Best Restaurants in Nashville

Green Pheasant: Best Restaurants in Nashville

For seafood in a land-locked state: Henrietta Red

Ben and Max Goldberg teamed up with their childhood friend, Chef Julia Sullivan, and her business partner, Allie Poindexter, at the helm a couple years back to open this bright spot in Germantown, an Instagrammer’s dream with its striking tile and abundance of natural light. Sullivan brings her culinary panache, honed at such notable restaurants as Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Per Se, to the kitchen, and the raw bar is laid out to be communal with an additional 70 seats in banquette- and table-style seating in the adjoining dining room. In addition to a dozen or so types of oysters, other seafood dishes like smoked mussel toast, wild striped bass and wood-roasted mackerel round out the menu. My favorite excuse to go to Henrietta Red, though, is the weekend brunch, which I’ll put up against any other in town.

For the best tacos you’ll eat, ever: Mas Tacos Por Favor

Ask an East Nashvillian old or new what their favorite restaurant is, and nine out of 10 of them will tell you: MAS TACOS. You order at a window, then your name is called out, and they move very quickly, so don’t be deterred by the line. Since these are street tacos, I recommend three to make up a full meal—and you can’t pass up on the fried avocado one—as well as a side of street corn and agua fresca. Mas Tacos totally upped its game when it added a bar, and margaritas became part of the mix, though you’ll order those at the back bar. On warm evenings, the patio is the perfect place to dine.

For brats and baseball: Von Elrod’s

One of my qualms with Nashville dining has always been that the patios aren’t big enough. Enter: Von Elrod’s with its massive outdoor space. This beer hall with a focus on German cuisine debuted a couple years ago right across from First Tennessee Park where the Nashville Sounds play, and it’s a great spot to get a brat and a pint or two before you head into the stadium for the evening. Von Elrod’s boasts 36 beers on tap with even more available by the bottle. They’ve also got weekend brunch and offer specialty classes like pretzel-making.

Von Elrod: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Von Elrod: Best Restaurants in Nashville
Von Elrod: Best Restaurants in Nashville

For vegetarians: Butcher & Bee

Let’s state this upfront: Butcher & Bee is not strictly vegetarian, and yet, I feel like it has one of the best menus for veggie-loving diners in town. It’s the kind of place you go for healthy shared plates and a mean cocktail, and you must take my word for it that ordering the whipped feta is a non-negotiable; ditto to the fire-roasted carrots. Another, more under-the-radar veg spot is Sunflower Cafe in Berry Hill.

For all things Greek: Greko Street Food

Nashville restaurant vets and first cousins Bill Darsinos (Southside Grille) and Tony Darsinos (Gondola House Pizzeria in Hermitage) joined forces to bring Greek food to East Nashville. Designed to offer an authentic Athens street food vibe, Greko will serve an array of dishes like fresh-baked pitas; lamb, chicken and pork cooked on a rotisserie over a live fire; souvlaki; and Greek fries with oregano and Myzithra cheese. All of the meats will be cooked over a live vire, and the bulk of the ingredients, such as olive oil and wines from their home region of Nemea, will be imported directly from Greece.

For a happy hour kind of dinner: Lockeland Table

Anytime I’m in East Nashville between 4 and 6pm, you can bet I’m likely kicking it at Lockeland Table with my friend Matt for the daily Community Hour, which features a selection of $5 cocktails and some snacks to share like Korean beef tacos and deviled eggs with chow chow at discounted prices.

For when you need a brunch ressie: Le Sel

French brasseries are not a dime a dozen in Nashville, so Le Sel filled a void in the market when it came to town with a European-influenced menu heavy on the oysters and plenty of wine selections to match. Le Sel offers dinner, though I’m not overly wild about French cuisine, so I prefer it for weekend brunch (if you love ratatouille, though, this is your place). Savory crepes, croque Madams and Bayonne ham Benedicts? I’ll take one of each!

Where to Brunch in Nashville: Le Sel
Where to Brunch in Nashville: Le Sel

For breakfast any day of the week: Marché Artisan Foods

Margot McCormack is one of Nashville’s food pioneers, and her pair of restaurants—Marché and Margot—in Five Points are always packed, no matter how buzzy their newer neighboring restaurants are. I love this European-style cafe for weekday breakfast, as it’s not too crowded (weekends are another story), and it’s really hard to find places in town that serve a full brunch menu Monday through Friday.

For that international flavor: Thai Esane

I could eat Thai food every day for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. Unfortunately, while Nashville dining is many things, diverse it is not. Which is why Thai Esane’s 2014 opening was greeted with a collective cheer from those of us who crave Asian food at every meal.

Nashville's Best Restaurants: Thai Esane

For a swanky night out in the Gulch: Tànsuǒ

Tànsuǒ, another Maneet concept, is sandwiched between Chauhan House and Mockingbird. The darkly-lit, bi-level space is meant to reflect a Chinese night market (albeit, a very cosmopolitan one), and the menu is an exploration of contemporary Cantonese cuisine like Toishan Pork Sui Mai, Peking Duck and a spin on classic Chinese fare such as General Tso’s Chicken.

*****

The above is an exhaustive, though not completely comprehensive list of some of favorite places to eat over the years, but just know, that these are definitely not the only options. And many oldies but goodies like Cafe Coco or Miel that often fly under the radar didn’t make the list simply because I haven’t been there in eons to even know what the food is like anymore (and others like Firefly Grille and Tin Angel have recently closed, R.I.P. to them, too).

Here are a few more Nashville restaurants to check out, depending on what you’re in the mood for:

Party Fowl: Best Restaurants in Nashville

This post was last updated April 2019.

 

PIN IT HERE

The Best Restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee
The Best Restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee
The Best Restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee
COMMENTS
  • September 9, 2015

    Kristin,
    Thanks so much for mentioning Walk Eat Nashville food tours with all of these amazing Nashville hot spots. It’s a great list, and I’m honored to be included.

    • September 9, 2015

      Definitely worthy! So happy that Walk Eat Nashville is killing it!

  • September 9, 2015

    Um this post is amazing and I will be sending this as my response every time someone emails me asking where they should go in Nashville!

  • September 9, 2015

    Just wow! I’m going to a wedding in New Orleans in May and would love to extend the trip to TN!

    • September 9, 2015

      You better! You know you always have a place to stay here =)

  • September 9, 2015
    Cammy K.

    if you wrote this and chose these delicious photos while doing Whole 30, I have to say I’m completely impressed. Just reading it made me want to eat ALL THE THINGS (I’m trying paleo for three weeks and considering I’ve never done any diet or food restrictions of any kind, every day is a battle!).

    • September 9, 2015

      Oh you no I did! I’m two-thirds of the way through and it seems it’s gotten HARDER rather than easier (maybe because I insist on torturing myself by writing posts like this one?!?). Regardless, T – 9 days till a glass of wine touches my lips…!

  • September 10, 2015

    I’m DEFINITELY bookmarking this page, so I will have a local’s recommendation when I eventually visit your city. Thank you for putting this together, Kristin – it’s SO comprehensive, I love it!

  • September 16, 2015

    Nashville is beautiful. And the food looks really good. Now I’m starving.. 🙂

  • April 12, 2019

    YUM. I can’t believe you met Jeni! I’d have fainted.

    • April 13, 2019

      RIGHT??? Total fangirl moment.

  • April 13, 2019
    Alisa

    Hi! Thank you so much for mentioning City House in your piece. Sunday Supper is one of my most favorite nights to work, but we don’t serve pasta on Sunday. That way, the stove is freed up for a better variety of small plates.

  • April 16, 2019

    OMG I need to go back to Nashville to try these!

  • April 16, 2019
    kellie b

    Great list! If you’re in the mood for some really great, locally sourced BBQ , head over to The Gambling Stick in East Nashville! These guys are doing big things in a small outfit and recently were named Best BBQ in the scene and mentioned in several Best Of articles on Eater! You won’t regret it!!
    xx
    Cheers!

  • April 17, 2019

    Another 20 plus reasons for why I need to get to Nashville like now!!! It all looks SO good!

  • April 17, 2019

    Thank you for mentioning Josephine, Kristin! Great list!

Leave a Comment

GET MY POSTS DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX
+ Sign up and receive your free copy of my eBook