One thing I love most about living in a blossoming metropolitan city is the food scene that’s budding right along with it. And though Nashville — lovingly referred to by many as Music City — has had its own draw for years (and years and years) being a hub for live music, it’s recently become a destination for foodies looking to dig into (lol eating puns) its culinary landscape.
In 2018 alone, there has been something like 51 restaurants that have opened or are at least on their way to opening (thanks, Tennessean, for the facts). Add those to the 5,582 restaurants that already existed prior to the start of the year and you’ve definitely got a food scene worth writing home about.
So here we are!
This is me, “writing home” about some of the spots I deem worthy enough for friends, family, and strangers alike to try out. Something to keep in mind though . . . having only been here for juuust over six months, I’ve barely even scratched the surface on all the great restaurants and cocktail bars that are up and running.
Good Ol’ Breakfast: These are the places I tend to go when I’m in the mood for a cocktail-free meal to start my day.
Crema — Lucky me, this Nashville favorite is right down the street from my apartment. You can find me here on most weekend mornings with my book, an iced vanilla latte with almond-coconut milk, and their avocado toast.
Frothy Monkey — There are a few locations throughout Nashville to choose from, but the one in the Nations is my personal fav. The Julie Bagel Sandwich and a rosemary honey latte is my go-to order from this coffee-house favorite.
Cafe Roze — They’ve got a Pinterest-worthy interior with a delicious menu to match. You can’t really go wrong with anything you order . . . just make sure you do get their signature Roze Latte to sip on!
Proper Bagel — New York vibes in the heart of Nashville . . . what more could you ask for?
Biscuit Love — I’ll be honest . . . my first Biscuit Love experience was not my favorite. I didn’t even kind of like what I ordered and felt like they were really skimpy with their cocktails (tall, slim glasses with huge square ice cubes and barely any liquid). However, I recently went back with a friend and ordered their Backlock Hash and a coffee drink and was quickly converted to a Biscuit Love fan. Don’t miss out on their Bonuts, too!
Hermitage Cafe — I stand by my own personal claim that Hermitage Cafe has the best diner food in Nashville. Maybe even the best biscuits and gravy, too. They open at 10 PM and close at 1:30 PM the next day . . . that’s right, they’re open overnight. The best late-night meal you can get, or (if you’re a normal human) the best breakfast.
On my list to try out: Loveless Cafe, Pancake Pantry, Pfunky Griddle
Brunch With Booze: So you’re craving a Bloody Mary, a Mimosa, or perhaps a Tequila Sunrise with your eggs and toast? I’m here for it. And so are these joints.
Pinewood Social — This place is v trendy and kind of pricey, but if you’re looking for fun brunch vibes you will definitely get that here. In the summer, they’ve got a killer patio to hang on and even a pool area! They also have a sweet retro bowling alley if you’re into that. My go-to is their shaved brussel salad with chicken!
Tavern — Just a classic hip, trendy, happening place for brunch.
Saint Anejo — Honestly, Saint Anejo is my favorite restaurant in Nashville. Its energy is amazing and it’s a dependable place to get a great meal at any hour of the day (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). For brunch, I love their chorizo scramble (with a pitcher of *spicy* marg). And you cannot go wrong with an order of their queso for the table.
Hopsmith Tavern — Definitely the most casual place on the list, but they warrant a shoutout for having 2-for-1 bottles of champagne on the weekends.
On my list to try out: Sinema, M.L.Rose, 5th & Taylor, Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
Casual Din: I rarely eat out for dinner, but when I’m craving a decent burger or some tacos, these are the places that are first on my list.
Mas Tacos — I’ll admit it, I’m a taco snob. Coming from San Diego (a mere 30 minutes from the border), it’s really hard for me to find tacos that compare anywhere else in the country. Mas Tacos, quite honestly, rivals the best tacos I’ve had back in Southern California. Their fried avocado taco and carne asada taco are my favs.
The Pharmacy — Great burgers and an even better beer selection.
Saint Anejo — I told you they’re good for any meal!
On my list to try out: Neighbors,Von Elrod’s
Fine and Fine-ish Dining: Lookin’ for a trendy spot to eat with friends? A place to impress your date? Or maybe just a yummy place you can treat yo-self? Here are my go-to’s.
Butchertown Hall — I’ve only been here once for dinner with a girlfriend and, similar to my first experience with Biscuit Love, didn’t looove it (mostly bc I felt pressured to order what the waiter suggested . . . I wish I would have just ordered what I wanted). However, I included it here because it was still such a cute place and I know that there is something else on the menu I will love.
Two Ten Jack — If you’re looking for good ramen, this is your place. They also have amazing shishito peppers. Order both alongside a Sapporo and you’ve got yourself a meal so good you’ll start to dream about it.
MOTO — High-end Italian that is worth every penny. Their brussels are hands-down the best I’ve ever had, and their cacio e pepe?! *kisses mouth with closed fingers like an Italian chef*
Virago — Sushi in Nashville is a thing and it is a good thing at Virago. Similar to being a taco snob, growing up on the coast (with a Japanese grandmother, no less) has made me somewhat of a sushi snob, too. Virago does a good job of curbing my sushi cravings whenever they do come around. Also, their ramen is unlike any I’ve ever had . . . it’s just noodles, no broth?! Yet somehow it totally works.
Husk — This is one of those culinary experiences you can’t miss out on. There are Husk locations around the country, but each is different and unique to that particular region — meaning they only cook with ingredients from the area. You might also recognize their founding chef Sean Brock from Ugly Delicious (go stream it on Netflix if you haven’t watched it yet . . . seriously this show is an amazing dive into the culinary landscape in the US and beyond).
Little Octopus — A pleasant little surprise in the heart of the Gulch. It’s a trendy seafood-inspired restaurant with light dishes and delish seasonal plates. Honestly, just do yourself a favor and order one of everything to share with the table!
Lockeland Table — I went on a date here and it was honestly one of the best dinner dates I’ve been on. The vibe is cozy industrial (perfect for a chilly winter night) and the food is so. good. We shared a bottle of red wine, a cheese plate, the bone marrow, the mussels, and the half-chicken plate. I left stuffed and quite happy.
On my list to try out: Josephine, Sunda
BBQ & Hot Chicken: You simply cannot come to the South and not indulge in some tasty barbecue. But if BBQ isn’t your thing, you’ve got to at least give hot chicken a try. It’s a Nashville staple. Here are my favs for each so far.
Martin’s BBQ — My favorite BBQ joint in Nashville with such a fun vibe! Its multi-level location in downtown is walking distance from my place, so it’s typically the first stop I make with friends visiting for the first time! You can’t really go wrong with anything, but I highly recommend the nacho platter and their hush puppies.
Hattie B’s — Hot chicken is simply a must in Nashville, and Hattie B’s is probably the most easily accessible and contemporary dining option.
On my list to try out: Prince’s Hot Chicken, Party Fowl
For a Cocktail or Two: Food isn’t the only thing worth swooning over in Nashville. Amazing cocktail lounges and bars are popping up all around the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. Skip the craziness of Broadway for a classy evening out at one of these finer establishments.
Old Glory — An incredible speakeasy in the Edgehill neighborhood.
L.A. Jackson — A trend-y rooftop with views of the Nashville skyline in the heart of the Gulch.
Urban Cowboy — An East Nashville staple right across from Lockeland Table. Highly recommend a meal at Lockeland followed by drinks at Urban Cowboy. *Fun fact: This is a usual spot for Sophia Bush and her pals when they’re in Nashville!
Rosemary & Beauty Queen — A hip, happening bar in East Nashville.
Patterson House — A high-end specialty cocktail lounge.
Rooftop at the Bobby Hotel — Aside from killer downtown views, there’s a vintage bus on this rooftop with hip lounge seating . . . ‘nuf said.
Speakeasy at Noelle Hotel — This is a worthy option just for the challenge alone of finding the speakeasy.
If you’re planning a trip to Nashville in the near future, I’m hoping this little guide gave you a good place to start as far as navigating the culinary scene here. I also can’t recommend Nashville Guru enough. Aside from food and drinks, this incredible online resource provides insight into local events, neighborhoods, news, and more.
K I’ve made myself hungry enough . . . signing off to go grab some coffee and avo toast from Crema.