Nashville Guide 2.0

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Travel

Y’ALL — I’ve been in Nashville for over a year and a half now and have done my fair share of playing hostess to plenty of out-of-town guests, so I figured it was high time I revisit the ol’ eating and drinking guide I wrote up way back in December of 2018 and update it to include my newest favs. While all of the recommendations that made the last list still hold up, tons more popped up in the last 10 or so months and they’re definitely worth sharing. Plus, I wanted to feature some of my all-time favorite activities to partake in around town, as well as some quick little neighborhood guides for those that I find myself bopping around in from time to time.

In case you ever find yourself in Music City, consider this your go-to cool-girl (or cool-guy) guide to get you through your trip. *No hokey tourist traps included*

Note: I kept all of the recs from the previous eating and drinking guide so that everything is now in one handy place! It’s organized by eating, drinking, then doing, and followed by my quick neighborhood guide. And FYI there’s no ranking to where each place falls on the list.

EAT

Breakfast & Brunch:

  • Frothy Monkey (multiple locations) — There are a few locations throughout Nashville to choose from, and I’m lucky enough to now live down the street from their 12 South location. It can get pretty crowded on weekends due to tourists in the neighborhood, but that shouldn’t stop you from popping in. The Julie Bagel Sandwich and a matcha latte is my go-to order from this coffee-house favorite.
  • Cafe Roze (East Nashville) — 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 get their signature Roze Latte to sip on!
  • Proper Bagel (Belmont) — New York vibes in the heart of Nashville . . . what more could you ask for? They’ve got a medley of smears and delicious bagel flavors (is that the right word lol) to choose from for an experience catered just to you!
  • Biscuit Love (multiple locations) — 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, after going back with a friend and ordering their Backlock Hash and a coffee drink, I was quickly converted to a Biscuit Love fan. Don’t miss out on their Bonuts, too! PSA: Avoid the Gulch location at all costs unless you love hours-long waits.
  • Hermitage Café (SoBro) — 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.
  • Five Daughters Bakery (12 South) — If you’re into somewhat over-priced donuts that taste more like dessert, this is your place. I don’t typically eat sweet breakfasts, but treated myself on my birthday this year with a Birthday Cake donut and it was simply delish. Their donuts aren’t as dense as most others (more ‘cronut’ style) and a lot of them are filled with tasty creams and custards!
  • Pinewood Social (SoBro) — 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 (but I recently heard they took this off the menu?!) and an espresso martini.
  • Tavern (Midtown) — Just a classic hip, trendy, happening place for brunch. They don’t take reservations for smaller groups, and for larger groups they have specific time slots. Not the most convenient, but if you find that you have a long wait you can always pop over to one of the bars nearby to have a couple drinks!
  • Saint Anejo (The Gulch) — 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.
  • Josephine’s (12 South) — I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this place for a ~fun~ brunch, but if you’re feeling a little more on the classier side, I would recommend popping in for a yummy meal and a fancy breakfast cocktail!

On my list: Loveless Café, Pancake Pantry, Pfunky Griddle, Sinema, M.L.Rose

Lunch & Casual Din:

  • Mas Tacos Por Favor (East Nashville) — 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. 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 (East Nashville) — Simply put, great burgers and an even better beer selection.
  • Saint Anejo (The Gulch) — I told you they’re good for any meal!
  • Butchertown Hall (Germantown) — Similar to Biscuit Love, my first Butchertown Hall experience wasn’t my fav. I put on a brave face and went back though, and really liked what I got! It’s an elevated tex-mex restaurant with a cool modern-industrial aesthetic that can’t really be beat.
  • Barcelona Wine Bar (Edgehill) — I can always count on Barcelona for a genuinely good time. I’d def recommend for larger groups too! They’re a Spanish tapas-style restaurant with great cocktails and a comprehensive wine list. Plus, it’s conveniently located next to one of the coolest speakeasy-style bars I’ve been to called Old Glory (more on that below).
  • Avo (Sylvan Park)If you’re craving a really good healthy meal and an avocado margarita (wait you don’t get random cravings for those, too?!), Avo is worth checking out. They’re right next to a fun little venue called The Sand Bar, too, which (you guessed it) is an outdoor bar with sand volleyball.
  • Otaku Ramen (The Gulch) — Just really really good ramen. I order takeout from them on the reg, but their restaurant is equal-parts cozy and kitschy with their anime design elements.
  • Bartaco (12 South) — Another good taco place! This one is nearly impossible to get seated quickly at when it’s peak hours (aka Friday/Saturday night after 5 pm), so expect to wait. They have the best spicy margs to help pass the time though!
  • Burger Up (multiple locations) — A trendy little upscale burger place that’s worth the effort when you’re craving a different scene than the McDonalds drive thru.
  • Emmy Squared (Green Hills) — OMG guys this was some of the best pizza I’ve had in a while. I’ve also heard that their burger is one of the best in town.
  • Taqueria del Sol (12 South) — Yet another taco place, but I prefer their enchiladas tbh. I’d say this little joint falls nicely between the uber casual Mas Tacos and the super trendy Bartaco.
  • Bella Napoli (Edgehill) — Bella Napoli is an intimate little hole in the wall Italian place that is just the coziest (in both atmosphere and food selection). The only time I’ve gone I was doing Whole30 so I couldn’t even eat the delicious pasta dishes, but the smell alone was enough to make me add it to the list haha.
  • Dino’s (East Nashville) — Y’ALL. If you’re ever in East Nashville and leaving the bars you absolutely must stop into Dino’s and order their burger and a side of “animal-style” cheese fries. It’s the best late-night meal you can get don’t @ me.
  • Superica (The Gulch) — I went on a date here shortly after it opened this past summer and it’s worth it for the vibes alone. They’re a trendy, upscale Mexican restaurant with decent enough food and drinks! Plus the area it’s in is an easy launching off point for a night around town.

On my list: Folk, Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Redheaded Stranger, Whiskey Kitchen, Adele’s

Fine & Fine-ish Dining:

  • Two Ten Jack (East Nashville) — If you’re looking for reeeally 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 (The Gulch) — 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 (The Gulch) — 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.
  • Husk (SoBro) — 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). Make sure to make reservations before you’re in town as time slots can fill up quickly.
  • Lockeland Table (East Nashville) — 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.
  • The Green Pheasant (Downtown) — This restaurant still relatively new and located in kinda a weird place downtown, but I actually loved the meal. I went with my roommate when she first moved to town as a celebratory thing, and probably wouldn’t go back unless I had a good enough reason to (like a date, promotion, birthday, etc.). It’s upscale Asian cuisine!
  • Liberty Common (Downtown) — Located right next to The Green Pheasant, this is a French-style restaurant with a darling bistro-inspired interior. I’ve only gone for brunch which was good (not great), but I think it’s worthy of the list if you’re looking for something different and upscale.
  • Henrietta Red (Germantown) — I recently went to happy hour here and it was good enough to include it on the list! I haven’t actually eaten beyond just oysters and their homemade sour cream and onion potato chips (which were both delish), but from the looks of the place and the little I did have, I would definitely recommend popping in.
  • RH Café (Green Hills) — I admit that I was initially a bit confused as to why people kept raving about the food at Restoration Hardware — it’s a high-end luxury furniture retailer?! But alas, I was proved wrong when I stepped foot in RH Café. I’ve gone a few times now and have genuinely loved it every single time! Their lobster roll is amazing as is their burger. When weather permits, you can also order a bottle of wine and enjoy it on their upper patio where they showcase their outdoor furniture.
  • O-Ku (Germantown) — O-Ku has certainly given Virago a run for their money. This sushi place is all the rage right now and with good reason! They also have a gin drink called the Shogun that is honestly one of the best I’ve had.

On my list: Saint Stephen, Geist, 5th and Taylor, Stateside Kitchen, Tailor, STK, Bastion, Kayne Prime

DRINK

Coffee:

  • Crema (SoBro) — This Nashville favorite is right down the street from my first apartment, so you used to be able to find me here on most weekend mornings with my book, an iced vanilla latte with almond-coconut milk, and their avocado toast.
  • 8th and Roast (12 South area) — This is one of my favorite places to post up if I’m ever doing some freelancing or blogging and want to get out of the house. It has a super cozy environment and some great coffee. Plus, their food is amazing — try their chorizo breakfast burrito you won’t be disappointed.
  • Portland Brew (multiple locations) — This coffee shop is the perfect stand-in for something more mainstream like Starbucks or Peet’s. It isn’t necessarily life-changing good, but it’s far superior to any of those corporate options.

On my list: Barista Parlor, Stay Golden Co., Kettner Coffee Supply

Beer:

  • The Filling Station (12 South) — If you’re looking for good beer and good beer alone, this is your place. It’s a tiny little brick & mortar that features a rotating selection of specialty beers from all over the place. You can even create your own 6-pack to go!
  • 12 South Taproom (12 South) — Stop in for some beer and stay for this taproom’s low-key atmosphere.

On my list: Yee-Haw Brewing Company, Mill Creek Taproom

Cocktails:

  • Old Glory (Edgehill) — An incredible speakeasy in the Edgehill neighborhood (it’s located right behind Barcelona, so you can easily tack it on after dinner for a memorable night).
  • L.A. Jackson (The Gulch) — A trend-y rooftop with views of the Nashville skyline in the heart of the Gulch. Can definitely get kind of touristy and crowded on weekend nights, and there’s a lot of construction going on around it so it’s not as good as it used to be tbh.
  • Urban Cowboy (East Nashville) — 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 (East Nashville) — A hip, happening bar in East Nashville.
  • Patterson House (Midtown) — A high-end specialty cocktail lounge. Make sure you make reservations here . . . it’s got major speakeasy vibes and you definitely can’t just drop in.
  • Rooftop at the Bobby Hotel (Downtown) — Aside from killer downtown views, there’s a vintage bus on this rooftop with hip lounge seating . . . ‘nuf said.
  • Speakeasy at Noelle Hotel (Downtown) — This is a worthy option just for the challenge alone of finding the speakeasy.
  • Flamingo Cocktail Lounge (Wedgewood-Houston) — This place is so funky and I had the best time when I went! It’s got Miami vibes and a seriously cool patio with bamboo + palm cabanas.
  • Bastion (Wedgewood-Houston) — This small haunt is the perfect after-work happy hour venue. It has a highly regarded 24-seat restaurant too which is on my list of places I want to try!
  • B1281 (Wedgewood-Houston) — It’s Hawaii in the heart of Nashville. Such great vibes, great drinks, and great food. Definitely recommend if you’re missing the beach.
  • Chopper Tiki Bar (East Nashville) — This place is a trip but it’s a fun trip. A tiki-themed robot bar in East Nashville with some insta-worthy novelty drinks.
  • Pearl Diver (East Nashville) — Another tropics-themed bar/restaurant with some over-the-top drinks. Not my favorite that I’ve had but the vibe is ~fun~.

On my list: Rare Bird, Louie’s Wine Dive, Henley, pH Nashville, Rambler

THINGS TO DO BESIDES EAT AND DRINK

  • Dinner, drinks, and live music at the Listening Room in SoBro
  • Walk the trails around Radnor Lake (fairly easy/shady so you can do this any time of day)
  • Morning hike/stroll at Percy Warner Park (recommend doing in the morning during the summer as it gets reaaaal warm — plenty of trails at different difficulty levels)
  • Walk around, shop, and eat at the Nashville Farmer’s Market in Germantown
  • Arrington Winery — it’s a bit of a trek so you probably need a rental car if you’re going to commit to it, but it’s a fun outdoor BYO food winery with live music in the summer/beginning of fall
  • Franklin, TN is out of downtown but has the most charming main street with loads of shopping. Leiper’s Fork is another town with a bit of a trek but sooo worth it if you’re looking for a main street that seems frozen in time.
  • Nashville doesn’t have the best museum/cultural scene, but the recently renovated Tennessee State Museum is an interesting and educational way to spend an open morning or afternoon. Plus it’s free!

DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOODS

12 South

  • Eat: Bartaco, Edley’s BBQ, Taqueria Del Sol, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Josephines, Epice, Urban Grub, Mafioza’s, Frothy Monkey
  • Drink: 12 South Taproom, The Filling Station, Embers Ski Lodge
  • Shop: White’s Mercantile, Madewell’s Denim Edit, Marine Layer, Draper James, Finnley’s, MODA Boutique, Emerson Grace, Outdoor Voices

The Gulch

  • Eat: Otaku Ramen, Bar Otaku, STK, Milk & Honey, Sunda, Saint Anejo, Whiskey Kitchen, Kayne Prime, Virago, MOTO
  • Drink: LA Jackson, The Pub, Bar Louie
  • Shop: Kittinish, Blush, Uncommon James, Two Old Hippies, Urban Outfitters, e.Allen Boutique, Frye

Edgehill

  • Eat & Drink: Barcelona, Taco Mamacita, NoBaked Cookie Dough, Bella Napoli, Old Glory
  • Shop: Warby Parker, J. Crew, American Thread

Hillsboro

  • Eat & Drink: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Fido, Biscuit Love, Double Dogs, Hopdoddy Burger, Pancake Pantry, Taco Mama, ‘za, The Grilled Cheeserie
  • Shop: Dress Up, Posh Boutique, Altar’d State, Revv

Sylvan Park

  • Do: Walk the trail around McCabe Golf Course, shop at Elle Gray
  • Eat & Drink: Edley’s BBQ, Neighbors, Pancho & Lefty’s

Germantown

  • Eat: Geist, Henrietta Red, City House, O-Ku Sushi, Butchertown Hall, Saint Stephen, Tailor, 5th and Taylor
  • Drink: Von Elrods, Neighbors
  • Do: Nashville Farmer’s Market, Tennessee State Museum, watch the Sounds play at First Tennessee Park

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