emmy squared | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Food & Drink

The Very Best Restaurants in Nashville Right Now

Updated On 04/23/2018 at 04:14PM EST

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Woolworth on 5th

Woolworth on 5th


Classic Southern fare in a historic setting
From the team who brought you The Southern, Acme and Fin & Pearl comes a new eatery which pays homage to the civil rights lunch counter protests that took place at that very same locale in the 1960s. With a fancy bar upstairs, a more casual lunch counter and booth seating on the main floor plus a music room featuring multiple genres of entertainment in the basement, there’s something for every appetite.


Sunda New Asian

The Gulch

Upscale Southeast Asian bites in a chic space
Today show regular cooking segment guest and Chicago restaurateur Billy Dec has brought his brand of Asian fusion fare to Nashville with promises of creative and fresh sushi, modern takes on traditional Southeast Asian recipes and a premium beverage program. The sleek and modern interior (think leather seating and wood tables) raises the classiness level significantly, but that won’t keep the pedal tavern-riding bachelorettes away. Woo!




Food and drink in a former blacksmiths' shop
Blacksmiths and metal workers were still forging tools in this location until 2006, more than a century since they stoked the first fire. Now chefs cook internationally inspired cuisine over smoldering embers while mixologists whip up crafty cocktails. The stunning interior is a melange of historic bricks and modern fixtures to raise the dramatic effect.

The Donut + Dog

Belmont/Hillsboro Village

Exactly what the name says, plus coffee and beer
Sometimes a menu that’s laser-focused is better than one that is broad and shallow, and the folks behind The Donut + Dog definitely know that. Here you'll eat gourmet donuts options that range from sweet to sweeter and are made with upscale ingredients like organic peanut butter powder, bourbon honey reductions, and pink Himalayan sea salt. The dogs are mainly internationally inspired, and most of them are wrapped in bacon. Wash it down with a craft beer for a perfect lazy lunch.

The Chef and I

The Chef & I on Ninth

The Gulch

Dinner and a show, all at once
After years as a secret favorite among foodies who visited their former location on the outskirts of town, chef Chris Rains and his staff have finally brought their entertaining show kitchen to the big city. Whether you sit at the chef's bar with a direct view of the kitchen or at one of the larger tables where you can track the action on television monitors, eating at The Chef & I is an immersive, interactive experience. Diners have a choice of various tasting menus or a la carte options to shape their own adventure.

Bare Bones Butcher

The Nations

You won't get fresher meat than straight from the butcher
While the focus of this quaint butcher shop and specialty grocery is carry-out staples to take home, you do not want to sleep on the tiny restaurant and beer bar tucked away in the corner. Well, you might want to sleep on it after enjoying what might just be the best roast beef sandwich in town, made from the shop’s aged beef with horseradish cream and caramelized onions. Add a side of beef-fat fried potatoes with garlic mayo, and it will be nighty-night time.




This newest link in a Mexican chainlet pulls its weight
Whether or not Nashville was necessarily looking for another upscale taqueria, it got a fancy one in Nada. Soaring ceilings, bright colorful patterns, and a huge bar filled with bottles twinkling like stained glass make the interior a stunner, and a menu of creative apps, enchiladas, and tricked-out tacos mean Nada stands out in a crowded field of competitors.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Emmy Squared

The Gulch

Pizzas and sandwiches, straight outta Brooklyn but inspired by Detroit
Nashvillagers are discovering that Detroit-style pizza is actually a thing, thanks to the rectangular crispy thick crusts of Emmy Squared. In their first foray beyond the Five Boroughs, the Emmy team has brought their brand of decadent sandwiches and inventive red and white pizzas to Music City and received grand acclaim for their efforts. Start a meal with a salad or an order of okonomi fries and end it with a shot of amaro for an ideal evening of gustatory excess.

best of the best

Ron Manville

The 404 Kitchen


Modern takes European classics, now with legions of fans
The 404 Kitchen moved across the street from their former shipping container home into much larger digs, but the quality hasn’t fallen off by even one iota. Add in the new whiskey bar, Gertie’s on the ground floor, and you’ve got a one-stop shop for an evening of exceptional food and drink.




Layers in flavors in every super-Instagrammable dish
In just a few years, Etch has become the go-to destination to either kick off or cap off an evening of Downtown fun for those looking for a fine dining experience near the various sporting and entertainment venues in the surrounding neighborhood. Chef Deb Paquette loves to have fun with her food and shares the joy by using bold spices and dramatic flavors to create exquisitely plated meals. A seat watching her kitchen from the chef’s bar is almost as exciting as watching the Preds play around the corner at Bridgestone Arena.

Courtesy of Husk



The menus here change almost every day
Plenty of Nashville restaurants change their menus seasonally based on what ingredients are at their peak of ripeness, but Husk comes up with a new menu just about every day, both for lunch and for dinner. Self-described as “a celebration of Southern ingredients,” Husk benefits from the focus of chef Sean Brock in his adopted hometown. With Brock overseeing the talented staff, the minute details of the meticulous and delicious dishes are even better than when it first opened.




Don’t ask how they make it, just get the scrapple
What do you get when you cross a casual bistro atmosphere with local ingredients and a talented chef with Pennsylvania Dutch sensibilities? An excellent restaurant called Josephine, that’s what. Chef Andy Little has turned 12South on its ear with his brand of cooking, and since the unfortunate closing of Prima, Little now focuses 100% of his attention on Josephine. Fact: Josephine's scrapple is legendary, and was a favorite of none other than the likes of iconic food writer Josh Ozersky, and you shouldn't leave without trying it.

Courtesy of Lockeland Table

Lockeland Table

East Nashville

Like dining in your nonna’s kitchen, if she made kick-ass cocktails
A true community restaurant and bar, Lockeland Table has quickly become the neighborhood clubhouse for Lockeland residents seeking a convivial atmosphere and soulful food. The menu at Lockeland is highlighted by Italian and American dishes (we love the white bean, fennel, and chard tortelloni), all with a Southern twist and an eye toward seasonal, sustainable, and local ingredients whenever possible. Most of all, the focus is on delicious food, but don't leave without trying one of the cocktails, too.

Courtesy of Arnold's Country Kitchen


Eighth Avenue

A hearty lunch that might make you sleep through dinner
The king of the “Meat & 3” meal for more than three decades, Arnold’s Country Kitchen continues to impress thanks to a combination of fresh ingredients, inspired takes on traditional soul food, and a varied clientele that is next to none in Nashville. Even the governor stands in line for fried chicken on Mondays, which makes sense to us. It's absolutely worth the wait.

Andrew Cebulka

Butcher & Bee

East Nashville

You'll want to order the whole locally sourced menu
This iteration of the popular Charleston eatery recently opened across the river in East Nashville and is serving up an inventive menu with a decidedly Mediterranean flair: think mezze, like bacon-wrapped dates and a delicious honey-hinted whipped feta with pita, and large plates, like the brisket and pork meatballs coated in a spicy green chile sauce. Add in an extensive bar program and you’ve got a perfect spot to meet up after work (or instead of work).


The Treehouse Restaurant

East Nashville

Where bartenders drink and chefs eat
Chef Jason Zygmont continues to impress with his internationally inspired menu of small plates for sharing (or hoarding) and family-style platters for passing. The scene gets a little more pleasantly rowdy at this late-night industry favorite, so time your visit based on your tolerance for frivolity.

The Farm House

The Farm House


Farm-to-table is de rigueur here
Chef/owner Trey Cioccia believes that farm-to-table isn’t necessarily something to brag about; it’s just how things should be. Period. He creates a constantly-evolving menu of season dishes that showcases the best in produce and proteins that can be sourced locally. A well-stocked bar features strictly American products, so no scotch whiskey here, but Cioccia’s new restaurant, Black Rabbit will scratch that itch for you.

Andrea Behrends

City House


A 10-year-old, award-winning Italian-American mainstay
Chef Tandy Wilson finally won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast that locals have believed he deserved for years. His casual but expert take on Italian food made with Southern staple ingredients like grits and country ham taking the place of polenta and prosciutto. Platters and pizzas made for sharing are wholly appropriate for the convivial family vibe of the dining room, where a spot at the bar looking into the open kitchen may be the hottest seat in town.


Margot Café & Bar

East Nashville

Still a pace-setting pioneer in East Nashville
Margot McCormick’s eponymous East Nashville bistro was a groundbreaker when she opened 15 years ago in a neighborhood that barely had access to anything more refined than liquor by the pint. She introduced classic European dishes and techniques as well as a bar program featuring interesting wines and crafty cocktails and was rewarded with years of rabid and ravenous fans of her cooking. Her kitchen has also served as a training ground from some of Nashville’s best young chefs, but she is still the cuisine queen of the east side of the river.

Robert Mendoza

The Catbird Seat

Music Row

The iconic local chef’s table continues to shine
It’s a family affair at The Catbird Seat with executive chef Ryan Poli handling the food preparation while his brother Matthew pairs the courses with wine, spirits and cocktails. With such a chef-driven tasting menu, the personality of the executive chef is critical to this renowned restaurant, still considered the toughest tickets in town. It’s worth staying up until midnight to jump on the reservations as soon as they open.

Danielle Atkins


Wedgewood Houston

Fine food with zero fine dining pretentiousness
Speaking of The Catbird Seat, former opening chef Josh Habiger has recently opened his latest dining concept with Bastion, a restaurant which is sort of like a reverse speakeasy. Instead of having a bar secreted away behind a camouflaged door, Bastion hides an small dining room at the back of a happening cocktail emporium. Those in the know gain entry to Habiger’s new culinary playground where diners can either sit at a chef’s bar to enjoy a whimsical “Choose Your Own Adventure” tasting menu of small plates or family-style multi-course menus for larger groups. Either way you dine, expect a treat!

Urban Cowboy B&B

Urban Cowboy Public House

East Nashville

A cowboy kitchen where you'll watch meat char over a fire pit
Like any good cowboy kitchen, much of the cooking at Urban Cowboy Public House is done over open fires, in cauldrons, or grilled on iron grates. Patrons crowd around fire pits in the open seating area to enjoy meats, breads, pickled vegetables, and more, almost all kissed by the smoke and fire of the pit. A creative cocktail menu completes the experience at this hip outpost tucked into a quiet block of East Nashville.

Rolf & Daughters

Rolf & Daughters


Pasta (and a patio) that will change your life
Since opening his first Nashville restaurant in Germantown in 2012, chef and owner Philip Krajeck has taken the title as one of the city’s most influential culinarians. Experimenting with novel fermentations, rustic pastas, premium seafood, and seasonal ingredients, the kitchen at Rolf & Daughters never rests on the laurels of glowing reviews from local and national publications. Thankfully, that wildly popular garganelli verde with pork ragout ain’t going anywhere.

Henrietta Red

Henrietta Red


Where refined seafood meets Jell-O shots
The clean contemporary design of this attractive Germantown eatery reflects the gestalt of the menu as well. Focused on seafood-centric fare made using fresh, seasonal ingredients, Henrietta Red also features bars for drinking and eating a variety of oysters from around the country. Fun happy-hour deals include discounted buckets of beer, elevated Jell-O shots, or glasses of bubbles, but any hour at Henrietta Red is quite jovial.

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Tansuo | Emily Hall
Food & Drink

Nashville's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
C ontrary to the established laws of supply and demand, new restaurants continue to open in Nashville at a furious rate. The latest hot spots seem to be pulling crowds away from the bustle of Downtown and into places like East Nashville, which has a new joint great for food from the Iberian peninsula or Germantown, where you can now satisfy a shellfish craving year-round or get fresh, hand-cranked sausages while watching a game. Whether you're a tourist or a local, Music City's appetite for great, new food is as bottomless as a cup of Waffle House coffee. Here are some of the latest, greatest Nashville restaurants where you should grab a table right now.
Magnus Lindqvist | GLINTstudios courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Gray & Dudley


High-end comfort food you can watch being made through an open kitchen
Considering that Gray & Dudley is located inside the 21C Museum Hotel, it’s no surprise that the decor is modern and edgy with effigies of wolves and sheep hanging from the walls. However, the food on the plate is its own type of art, thanks to soulful presentations of elevated comfort food classics like the perfect diner-style thin pork chops grilled to the exacting doneness. If you get one thing, go for those pork chops, which are served with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pine honey, and delicious fermented chiles.

Oak Steakhouse Nashville


A classic American steakhouse serious about its beef
This spin-off of a Charleston steakhouse offers a dramatic interior with soaring ceilings and a clubby environment befitting a shrine to red meat. Lots of places serve wet-aged steaks nowadays, but the dry-aged signature steaks at the Oak are revelatory: rich, slightly funky, and unlike any beef you’ll find at a national chain. If you want the best, get the 20-ounce Certified Angus Beef bone-in ribeye.

Andrew Thomas Lee

Henrietta Red


High ceilings, seafood, and an unparalleled raw bar
Forget that old warning about not eating oysters unless there’s an “r” in the name of the month. Call it “Raugust” if that makes you feel better, but anytime is the right time to order bivalves from Henrietta Red’s menu of fantastic oysters and clams from around the country. If you don’t like it raw, the kitchen also demonstrates impressive expertise cooking all sorts of seafood.

Hemingway's Bar & Hideaway


A delicious homage to the legendary writer, complete with a daiquiri tap
In addition to a tremendous cocktail menu, including the Papa’s eponymous version of the classic daiquiri available on tap, Hemingway’s serves up unpretentious food to soak up all that great booze. The king trumpet mushroom dish is ingeniously designed like a deconstructed pizza that will make you forget it’s vegetarian, made with charred cauliflower & sunchokes, parsnip puree, and roasted tomato vinaigrette.

Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels



The best spot for big groups and New American cuisine
Bring some friends because Henley offers communal eating at its best. Between the snacks, like oysters and aged hams served from a rolling cart, the small plates suitable for mixing and matching, and the large-format communal platters heaped with chicken or beef, this is not a restaurant for selfish people. I guess you could always team up with the table next door if you don’t have enough dining buddies. You'll need them to enjoy the excellent short rib, which comes from Bear Creek Farm and is served with smoked and grilled broccoli.

Greko Street Food

East Nashville

Authentic, cheap Greek street fare served on large wood tables
The Darsino family came over from the old country almost 50 years ago, but this fast-casual Greek eatery is the first chance that many Nashvillians have had to sample their bold flavors and elevated street foods. Pick from a list of souvlakis or skewers of grilled octopus to taste the essence of Peloponnesian cuisine. The Korinthian lamb, which is served over hand-cut fries with oregano and mizithra cheese, is a rich, irreplaceable dish that you would probably never think to call street food.

Emily Hall



A warmly lit spot for contemporary Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine alike
While it’s not the straight-ahead, classic Chinese restaurant that some Nashvillians have been hollering for, Tànsuŏ, from celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan, is pretty impressive in its own right. The buzzing atmosphere and hip decor make it popular among the girls-night-out set, and the inventive takes on Cantonese cuisine will bring in the snobbier foodies, regardless of their proclivities to the party crowd. Try the lamb dumplings off the dim sum cart, Tànsuŏ's take on Chinese-American dishes like General Tso's, or give in to the party entirely and dig in to the Peking duck!

The Mockingbird


A pun-filled, art deco diner that puts an international twist on American classics
Maneet Chauhan, celebrity chef and judge on Food Network’s Chopped, has now opened three restaurants in the same building in the North Gulch. Mockingbird joins Chauhan Ale & Masala House and the above-mentioned Tànsuŏ to offer a trio of stylish, internationally-inspired eateries. Mockingbird features a gorgeous art deco vibe and kitschy mismatched plates to serve up fancified diner classics with clever names like Don’t Worry, Brie Happy; Poultry in Motion; and Seoul Purpose. And while the names may be goofy puns, the food is seriously good. Don't miss out on The Bird is the Word: a plate of huge fried chicken thighs with chorizo decked out with white gravy and salsa verde mashed potatoes.

Phillip Fryman

Von Elrod's Beer Garden & Sausage House


Hand-cranked sausages and 36 taps of cold beer to choose from
This convivial new beer hall and sausage emporium is conveniently located right next to the city's minor league ballpark, so baseball fans can stop by for a pre- or post-game beer and a snack. These sausages are some of the best of the wursts in town, and decadent poutine dishes served over Belgian fries smothered in gravy and cheese will delight everyone except your cardiologist. For my money, try the vanh mi Thai chicken sausage topped with quick pickles and tiki sauce.


West End

A casual Italian empire sticks the landing in Nashville
Chef Gerard Craft had already earned a vaunted reputation (and a James Beard Award) in St. Louis before bringing an outpost of his empire to Music City, but now that he’s here, he’s quickly becoming a local favorite. The bright and modern interior of his casual Italian restaurant is invigorating, and the atmosphere is family-friendly. Craft’s version of bolognese is decidedly old-school, thanks to the inclusion of earthy chicken livers just like Nonna would have added to her ragu, and the lasagna made with verde bolognese, spinach pasta, mozzarella, and bechamel tastes even better.

Courtesy of Peninsula Nashville


East Nashville

Spanish and Portuguese food from a menu that changes every day
This hip East Nashville tapas spot focuses on the food of the Iberian peninsula, which means you can expect plenty of excellent seafood dishes, exotic spices, and luscious Spanish hams. Order up a few small plates paired with a drink from their unique cocktail menu including eight (count ‘em, eight!) varieties of gin and tonics and a host of Old World wines for a dining experience that is literally foreign to the neighborhood. The menu shifts every day, but try to get there while their excellent braised rabbit with garlic broth and piment d’Espelette is still on offer.

Courtesy of Hugh Baby's

Hugh Baby's

Sylvan Park

A tight menu focused on BBQ and burgers, tailored for comfort and flavor
Pat Martin is best known as the pitmaster/owner of the wildly popular Martin’s Bar-B-Que chain, and he does serve a fine pulled pork sandwich at his new restaurant, Hugh Baby's. But the emphasis is on burgers, both the fresh-ground beef patties and the Friday-only special of Slugburgers -- a Mississippi tradition made with a deep-fried soy and a pork patty served with pickles, raw onion, and mustard. Don’t sleep on Hugh Baby's hot dogs, either! They’re exceptional. Hugh Baby's deliberately keeps its menu short and sweet, and the best thing to get is the double cheeseburger with American cheese, lettuce, pickle, onion, tomato, and comeback sauce.

Milk & Honey

The Gulch

A chic coffee shop best for enjoying the sweeter things in life
Brought to you by the team behind local favorites Taco Mamacita and Clyde’s on Church, Milk & Honey is all about the sweet stuff. Gelato, paletas, pastries, and a top-notch coffee program are natural draws during the morning meal, but the restaurant stays open late to satisfy your breakfast for dinner desires as well. Everything is made from scratch, so it’s fresh all day. If you get nothing else, try their Nutella latte.


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