When I think of Nashville, I automatically think of food. Tender barbecue, sweat-inducing chicken and comfort food galore. Yes, the city is also known for its music scene: Jack White, Taylor Swift, the Broadway District, not to mention the Grand Ole Opry. When we first visited Music City back in 2017, we made sure to balance out our eating with more cultural activities. But returned to Nashville to house and dog sit this past summer, we were mainly focused on the food. So we thought we’d round up a list of the Nashville restaurants we’ve come to know and love, from the usual suspects to the hidden gems.
Nashville Restaurants You Must Try
Breakfast & Brunch
Nashville Jam Company
Good Southern food is easy to find in Nashville. Biscuit Love and Loveless Cafe probably get top billing as THE places to have breakfast in town, but lesser-known and just-as-delicious options abound. Nashville Jam Company in Berry Hill is at the top of that list. Head here for a hearty breakfast featuring breakfast tacos, shrimp and grits, and stuffed French toast.
On our visit, Tom had the pimento cheese and bacon omelet (which may not look like much but packed a major punch) and I opted for a veggie egg scramble on toast. Of course, we also tried the biscuits. They’re on the petite side but are soft and buttery. The peach jalapeño jam won out as the biscuit topper of choice. We also got a side of fried green tomatoes, because Nashville.
Butcher & Bee
Butcher & Bee is an excellent choice for an alfresco brunch. When we were road tripping through Nashville we loved the fact that they had a dog-friendly outdoor space where we could grab a bite and sip our lattes.
Beyond the nice outdoor space and hip Southern decor, this spot also has great food. We especially loved the green eggs and lamb with braised lamb, buttermilk biscuit and avocado hollandaise.
Holler & Dash
What do you get when you convert southern comfort food into a fast-casual concept? Holler & Dash, an easy, breezy anytime restaurant. Serving up southern-style biscuits, sandwiches, and bowls it was the perfect choice for a quick breakfast. Don’t miss the grit bowl with cheddar grits, bacon, fried eggs, and hot sauce.
Chauhaun Ale & Masala House
One of the biggest surprises from our first visit to Nashville was our meal at Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Co-owner and Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan has created a menu of Indian cuisine that draws influences from not only Mumbai and New Dehli but also Nashville. Her unique approach of combining her Indian roots with her love of Southern cuisine has created something that truly stands out.
During our visit to Chauhan, Tom went all in on the meat and three platter. This massive tray of food features a rotating meat selection, three sides, naan, raita, papadum, and a dessert. Some of the highlights were the spicy lamb vindaloo with okra, daal and pickled mango on the side.
I decided to make my own Desi bowl, which let me choose a base (quinoa, green or rice) a protein and a curry sauce. My bowl had quinoa, paneer and peppers, and tikka masala. It came topped with a corn and veggie relish that really took the flavors and textures to another level.
We didn’t end up having any barbecue during our first visit to Nashville (we took care of that in North Carolina) so it was a priority for our next trip. We wanted a barbecue lunch, and we also wanted to check out the 12 South neighborhood so Edley’s Bar-B-Que was an obvious choice. Tom approached the counter and asked, “If I was only going to get one thing, what should it be?” Without hesitation, they replied, “The ribs. Definitely, the ribs.” You don’t have to tell us twice.
We ordered a half rack of ribs and an order of the smoked chicken wings with coleslaw, green beans, baked beans and cornbread on the side. I can’t resist banana pudding when I see it on a menu, so we got that too.
Tom said the ribs were some of the best he’d had in a really long time. They were full of smoky and sweet barbecue flavors and fell right off the bone. The chicken wings big and meaty and very good along. The baked beans were rich and had a nice twang. The banana pudding was one step above solid. But what you’re really going to Edley’s for are those ribs.
El Amigo Tacos y Mariscos
Our latest stay in Nashville was south of Nashville proper, opening us up to an entirely new array of dining options. The owners of the housesit we were doing recommended El Amigo Tacos for a quick lunch, and of course, we obliged.
Located in a converted gas station, El Amigo is the real deal when it comes to unpretentious, authentic Mexican food. We particularly enjoyed the barbacoa street tacos and the housemade hot sauces. This place also served as a reminder that it is almost always in your best interest to head to less touristy neighborhoods and try a place the locals love.
Rolf & Daughters
It’s wonderfully easy to eat well in Nashville without spending a lot of money. But we did want to try one splurge-worthy restaurant in order to celebrate Tom getting a new job. Rolf & Daughters in Germantown seemed like the perfect place to do just that. The menu offers a variety of seasonal small plates including several show-stopping pasta dishes. We sat at the bar and really enjoyed the friendly bartenders, who were quick to give enthusiastic food and wine recommendations.
We started with a salad of greens, radishes and some shaved ricotta vecchio. The salad was beautiful and delightfully fresh. The shaved ricotta was an excellent touch. We also straciatella toast with heirloom pepper and basil. The sourdough bread was hearty and flavorful and the stracciatella was creamy and delicious.
The main event, though, was the house-made pastas. We had an order of their signature cecamariti and a whole wheat radiatore. The cecamariti – a dense, long and narrow pasta – is served simply with cultured butter and cracked pepper. It tasted like an amazing cacio e pepe but even better somehow.
The radiatore (which our very helpful bartender convinced us to get) was a dish that truly blew us away. This pasta had pork sausage, lemon, fennel and maybe some magic dust or something because it was easily one of the best pasta dishes either of us has ever tasted. The texture of the whole wheat pasta was also unreal, as was its slightly nutty flavor.
Prince’s & Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
You were probably wondering when we were going to get to the hot chicken, right? Well, of course, it ended up on this list and of course, it is mighty delicious. The real question that any visitor to Nashville will face is whether to get your fix at Prince’s or Hattie B’s? Luckily for you, Tom has now eaten at both places and lived to share the findings with you all.
Make no mistake, Prince’s Hot Chicken is the OG of hot chicken. They literally invented it. Many competitors have popped up since then, but most locals still swear by it for the authenticity alone. Hattie B’s is like the trendier, more modern cousin to Prince’s. But who has the better chicken?! Tom provides his feedback:
I tried Hattie B’s first with the spice level set to Hot. The spice ranged from Southern (no heat) to Shut the Cluck Up (very hot). Hot ended up being my preferred level of spice, which means it packed enough heat to make me sweat but didn’t burn my taste buds. The chicken was extremely crispy on the outside and very juicy and flavorful throughout. This is some damn good chicken. With this experience imprinted firmly in my mind, Prince’s had their work cut out for them.
In our most recent trip to Nashville, I just had to eat at Prince’s and settle the great hot chicken debate. I ordered a large amount of chicken (the research needed to be thorough) and again went with the Hot spice designation. Their spice levels ranged from Plain to XXX Hot, which seems like an unholy amount of heat. Upon first bite I could tell that this was the real deal: perfectly fried, crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and very spicy. As I ate, there was plenty of sweat, and maybe a tear or two, but plenty of deliciousness.
My final verdict was clear: both chicken places are great and you can’t go wrong with either, but I would say that I give Prince’s the slight edge over Hattie B’s. I’d recommend trying both and seeing for yourself if you have the time and the stomach for it!
Are You Hungry Yet?
Thanks for reading out our favorite Nashville restaurants!