Top 12 Best Restaurants in Nashville

Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nashville, Tennessee has become an increasingly popular foodie destination in recent years thanks to its exploding culinary scene. Music City offers tasty Southern staples along with creative twists on classic American cuisine and international flavors.

RestaurantCuisineHighlight
Husk NashvilleSouthernSeasonal ingredients
Arnold’s Country KitchenSouthernMeat-and-three
The Catbird SeatFine DiningTasting menu
Holland House Bar & RefugeNew AmericanCraft cocktails
Margot Cafe & BarContemporary Fine DiningSeasonal menu
Prince’s Hot Chicken ShackHot ChickenOriginal Nashville hot chicken
City House NashvilleItalianHandmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas
5th & TaylorSouthern Soul FoodComfort food
The Southern Steak & OysterSouthernSteaks, seafood
Martin’s Bar-B-Que JointBBQSmoked meats
Hattie B’s Hot ChickenHot ChickenVarious heat levels
Burger UpBurgersLocally sourced ingredients

From downhome meat-and-threes to upscale fine dining, Nashville has something to satisfy every palate. These 12 restaurants offer can’t-miss dining experiences to savor on your next trip.

Husk Nashville

Name and Location: Husk Nashville, downtown

History and Significance: Acclaimed chef Sean Brock opened the Nashville outpost of his Husk restaurant in 2013, bringing his dedication to Appalachian and Southern food traditions and ingredients to Music City’s dining scene.

What to Expect: Creative takes on classics like pimento cheese, fried chicken, catfish, grits, biscuits and more using heirloom southern crops and recipes. Impressive bourbon-centric bar menu too.

Visitor Information: Serving weekday lunch, weekend brunch and nightly dinner plus Sunday Supper. Reservations recommended. Business casual attire.

Led by award-winning Chef Sean Brock, Husk Nashville puts creative Southern cuisine at the forefront. Located in a 1920s mansion in downtown Nashville, the elegant venue sets the stage for enjoying Brock’s takes on traditional Southern dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients. Start with creative small plates like benne seed hummus or chicken skin nachos before moving on to mains like Cape Fear trout with heirloom grits or their signature skillet fried chicken served with white gravy. Their bar also mixes unique craft cocktails to perfectly pair with this innovative downhome fare.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Name and Location: Arnold’s Country Kitchen, downtown

History and Significance: Arnold’s has dished out hearty Southern meals cafeteria-style since the 1980s in a humble setting welcoming Nashville locals, country music stars, tourists and more elbow-to-elbow. Cash only.

What to Expect: Grab a tray and select soul-warming dishes like meatloaf, fried catfish, greens, mashers, cornbread and pecan pie hugged by old-school charm and celebrity autographed walls.

Visitor Information: Open weekdays 10:30am-2:30pm. Arrive early to beat lines. No reservations. Cash payment only. Casual clothing.

For hearty Southern meals served cafeteria-style, Arnold’s Country Kitchen can’t be beat. Here you’ll rub shoulders with locals refueling on comforting meat-and-three options featuring sliced roast beef, fried chicken, country-fried steak and all the classic sides. Their cinnamon rolls dripping with gooey icing are also a favorite. Expect big portions, friendly service and no-frills surrounds. Cash only.

The Catbird Seat

Name and Location: The Catbird Seat, SoBro neighborhood

History and Significance: One of Nashville’s most creative dining experiences, The Catbird Seat opened in a former diner in 2011 as an intimate chef-driven hot ticket in town from icon Chef Erik Anderson.

What to Expect: A culinary theater-in-the-round multi-course tasting menu experience putting Anderson’s spectacular plate presentations and wow factor flavor profiles center stage, like performance art. Reservations essential.

Visitor Information: Dinner only, 2 seatings Wednesday-Saturday. Tasting menu price only. Coat and ties welcomed but not required.

The Catbird Seat offers an exclusive, interactive fine dining experience thanks to its counter-style restaurant with room for just 32 guests per seating. With front row seats to the open kitchen, guests can watch the meticulous preparations come together for the multi-course tasting menu. Dishes expertly blend flavors and textures, like scallops topped with ham and beet jus or duck confit paired with mole and charred onion. Splurge on the wine pairing for the full culinary adventure.

Holland House Bar & Refuge

Name and Location: Holland House Bar & Refuge, East Nashville

History and Significance: Taking cues from legendary hotel bars, Holland House opened in 2010 in East Nashville behind an unassuming storefront pouring carefully crafted cocktails coupled with seasonal bar bites dreamed up by top local chefs.

What to Expect: Well-balanced classic and new age libations served fireside alongside creative shared snacks―think bacon popcorn, mini beef Wellingtons, stuffed dates and such―in a cozy, transportive atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Weekday from 4pm, weekends from 11am ’til late. Limited outdoor seating. Cocktail attire welcomed but casual OK.

Tucked behind an East Nashville coffee bar, Holland House Bar & Refuge makes you feel like you’re dining in a secret hideaway. The cozy converted cottage serves creative New American small plates and entrees rooted in European and Asian influences. Menu standouts include lamb meatballs, pork belly ramen, escargot fritters and rotating charcuterie boards. It also mixes specialty craft cocktails often incorporating ingredients grown right on site in their garden.

Margot Cafe & Bar

Name and Location: Margot Cafe & Bar, East Nashville

History and Significance: Husband-wife owners opened Margot in 2005, anchoring the revitalization of East Nashville with farm-driven new American plates and tempting house cocktails served with charm inside a quaint bungalow.

What to Expect: Shareable starters, vibrant salads and creative comfort food mains like pot roast, chicken marsala, shrimp & grits using seasonal produce. Don’t miss the fresh-squeezed lemonade! Dinner nightly, Weekend brunch.

Visitor Information: Indoor and outdoor patio seating. Reservations recommended, especially weekends. Casual attire acceptable.

Margot Cafe & Bar offers a contemporary fine dining experience inside the hip downtown Bobby Hotel. The seasonal New American menu from Chef Andrew Carmellini spotlights regional ingredients across starters, mains and sides ready to mix and match. Highlights include plates like Benton’s bacon steak, Nashville hot chicken oysters, and squash blossoms with ricotta. Chic surrounds plus swanky cocktails like their Old Fashioned or whiskey cherry smash complement the quality cooking.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

Name and Location: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, North Nashville

History and Significance: Tiny Prince’s pioneered Nashville’s iconic mouth-burning hot chicken starting back in 1945. Today hype still draws spice lovers from around the world to the no-frills corner joint. Cash only.

What to Expect: Fried chicken quarters, wings and tenders doused in secret seasoning from mild to extra hot served with pickles, bread and ranch. Prepare to wait but flavors make magic. Takeout available.

Visitor Information: Tuesday-Saturday open late morning to nighttime. First come first served. Cash only. Casual clothing.

For a classic Nashville hot fried chicken experience, head to no-frills Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, located near the Tennessee State University campus. Their fiery fried chicken has built a reputation since first opening in 1945 thanks to its shatteringly crispy exterior revealing super juicy meat underneath. The chicken packs varying levels of heat so opt for your spice tolerance level. Expect a line during peak times, cash only payment and limited seating, but your patience is well rewarded.

City House Nashville

Name and Location: City House Nashville, The Gulch

History and Significance: Since 2007, City House has anchored The Gulch as a go-to for handmade pastas, Neapolitan pizzas fired in a blazing oak-burning oven and other modern Italian plates dreamed up by chef-owner Tandy Wilson.

What to Expect: Share family-style antipasti starters before tucking into hearty pastas, creative pizzas, salads and such served in exposed-brick digs. Save room for dessert including mascarpone cheesecake. Glorious wine list.

Visitor Information: Dinner nightly plus Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended. Casual to business casual attire welcomed.

Rustic Italian flavors shine at nationally-acclaimed City House Nashville. Housed in a restored 1915 home, the venue serves handmade pastas and gourmet wood-fired pizzas bursting with high-quality ingredients. Start with creative antipasti plates or meat and cheese boards before tucking into hearty mains like bucatini with sausage, kale and chili or Naples-style pizza with arugula, prosciutto and parmesan. Save room for tiramisu or other housemade dolci dessert specialties.

5th & Taylor

Name and Location: 5th & Taylor, Germantown

History and Significance: Husband-wife chefs opened cozy 5th & Taylor in 2016 as Germantown’s first full-service restaurant, landing it among Nashville’s most coveted tables for New American comfort food and twinkling garden ambiance.

What to Expect: Seasonally inspired culinary creations might feature duck confit salad, gnocchi Bolognese, diver scallops and vanilla bean crème brûlée using farm ingredients by an open kitchen.

Visitor Information: Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations essential. Valet parking available. Smart casual attire.

5th & Taylor dishes out Southern soul food classics in downtown Nashville’s historic Germantown neighborhood. Satisfying comfort food plates like crispy fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and ribeye smothered in onion straws pair nicely with live music. Mix in delicious cocktails, a lively scene and outdoor patio suited for sunny days and you have the perfect spot for a fun night out. Don’t skip dessert either – their Hummingbird cake in particular stands out.

The Southern Steak & Oyster

Name and Location: The Southern Steak & Oyster, downtown

History and Significance: With Southern-inspired seafood plates served in a chic yet cozy ambiance inside the beautifully restored 1890s James Robertson Hotel, The Southern has wowed meat-and-three devotees since opening in 2013.

What to Expect: USDA Prime beef cuts, Market seafood catches like lobster and crab legs, raw and grilled Gulf oyster offerings plus classic regional sides. Spectacular rooftop lounge as well.

Visitor Information: Dinner daily plus weekend brunch. Reservations recommended. Several private dining rooms available.

With locations in Nashville and across the Southeast, The Southern Steak & Oyster celebrates regional cuisine. Their extensive menu spreads a wide net across steaks, seafood, classics like shrimp and grits, and Southern comfort dishes. While you can’t go wrong with USDA Prime beef cuts or fresh raw bar offerings, The Southern also nails starters like pimento cheese fritters, Nashville hot chicken livers and bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

Name and Location: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, West Nashville

History and Significance: Pitmaster Patrick Martin put Nashville’s barbecue game on the map when he fired up the smoker at his original West Nashville whole hog joint in 2006, still the flagship today with several locations now across town.

What to Expect: Slow smoked then hand-chopped or sliced hog meat―shoulders, wings, ribs, tenderloin―with all the tangy-sweet sides from potato salad to slaw served counter-style in a funky, loud setting.

Visitor Information: Open daily lunch and dinner. Expect lines at peak times. Counter seating plus communal tables. Casual vibe.

For melt-in-your-mouth smoked meats in a hip setting, make a beeline to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. Pitmaster Pat Martin smokes brisket, ribs, sausage and more over hickory for up to 18 hours resulting in super tender, full flavored meat. Beyond expertly smoked favorites, they also spice up bbq with plates like The Redneck Taco piled high with pulled pork, slaw, pickles and bbq sauce. Enjoy it all in a cool cinderblock dining room filled with repurposed wood decor.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Name and Location: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Midtown

History and Significance: Born as a food stall next to a bar, Hattie B’s opened their first hot chicken restaurant in 2012, expanding the Nashville-born dish’s flavors nationwide with tender fried chicken kicking up spice levels from Southern to “Shut the Cluck Up” hot.

What to Expect: Chicken tenders, wings, boneless thighs and leg quarters with varying spice rubs and house pickles, perfect for testing one’s heat tolerance. Extensive Southern sides menu too. Love that comeback sauce!

Visitor Information: Daily from 11am-10pm. Expect queues but they move fast. Also a West Nashville and Sylvan Park location. Casual vibe.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken put Nashville hot chicken on the map thanks to its ideal blend of blistered batter revealing super moist, fiery chicken underneath. The family-owned spot offers six different heat levels so newbies can start slow while spice addicts get their burn. The kitchen also makes tasty Southern-style sides like pimento mac and cheese, creamy coleslaw, baked beans and collard greens. Hattie B’s modern, bright dining rooms in Midtown and cities across the region also set the trend.

Burger Up

Name and Location: Burger Up, 12 South Neighborhood

History and Significance: Husband-wife owners debuted ultra-popular Burger Up in 2011, blending high-quality ingredients with chef-driven technique on towering contemporary takes in the charming 12 South district.

What to Expect: Handcrafted half-pound Angus beef patties decked out with gourmet cheeses, veggies, sauces and more on signature creations like the Mas Truffle with roasted mushrooms, truffle aioli and smoked gouda. Belgian frites too!

Visitor Information: Lunch and dinner daily, late night on weekends. Also a downtown location. Expect lines during peak times. Casual vibe.

For premium burgers made with local ingredients, check out Burger Up in 12South. Their signature patties grind together chuck, sirloin and brisket smoked in-house for next level flavor. That quality beef gets stacked high with toppings like fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, beer battered onion rings and more on specialties like the Tuck Special burger or Fun Guy burger. Handhelds like hot fried chicken sandwiches also impress while gelato shakes make sweet burger accompaniments.

Nashville continues to deliver dynamic Southern flavors spanning beloved specialties to contemporary new dining concepts put together by top chefs. From quick fried chicken counters to white-tablecloth experiences, Nashville’s restaurant scene offers fantastic meals spanning comfort food to culinary innovation ready to delight all appetites. Use this list to get to know Music City through its most savorable spots.

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