COURTESY OF BUTCHER & BEE
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Nashville Right Now

Published On 10/04/2017
Ron Manville

The 404 Kitchen

Downtown

The 404 Kitchen is in for some big changes as the restaurant moves across the street to a new expansive space, but expect dishes that are still full of big flavors and artistic prowess. Emphasizing local ingredients to create a modern take on classic European cuisine, legions of fans are hoping that bigger is indeed better at The 404 Kitchen.

Courtesy of Chauhan Ale & Masala House

Chauhan Ale & Masala House

Downtown

When celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan announced she was opening a restaurant in Nashville, nobody expected that she would become such an active fixture in the community so quickly. While she is also responsible, in part, for Mantra Artisan Ales brewery, which continues to up the city’s beer game, it’s the spicy Indian food at her namesake eatery that’s really improved our standard of living. Chauhan is also part of the team behind Tànsuǒ, the sleek contemporary Chinese restaurant next door to her original spot, as well as The Mockingbird Nashville, an elevated diner concept with international flair.

Etch

Etch

SoBro

In just a few years, Etch has become the go-to destination to 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 at least as exciting as watching the Titans play in nearby Nissan Stadium!

Courtesy of Husk

Husk

SoBro

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 fact that Chef Sean Brock is spending even more time in Nashville than at his other restaurants in Charleston and Atlanta. With Brock overseeing the talented staff, the minute details of the meticulous and delicious dishes are even better than when it first opened.

Josephine

Josephine

12South

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, particularly during his weekends-only 10x10 special prix-fixe dinners where some courses arrive at the table plated on a long plank, with each course portion set right in front of lucky diners’ gaping maws. Dig in!

Josh Habiger

Le Sel

Midtown

The latest offering from the successful team behind The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Pinewood Social, and other Nashville eating and watering holes is Le Sel, a modern French restaurant on the ground floor of the Adelicia building. From the graffiti-inspired decor to the French hip-hop pumping through the speakers, a meal at Le Sel is stimulating to your eyes and ears. Chef Brian Lea has kept the kitchen humming as a steadying hand after a few quick initial chef changes after opening.

Courtesy of Lockeland Table

Lockeland Table

East Nashville

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. But most of all, the focus is on delicious food.

Prima

Prima

The Gulch

There isn’t a more stunning scene in Nashville than the Vegas-like dining room at Prima in the Gulch. Chef Andy Little has taken over the culinary program at Prima as well as his original restaurant, Josephine, and his revamped menu emphasizes refined techniques and ingredients inspired by local creativity and seasonal availability. The comfy bar also hosts one of Nashville’s most underappreciated happy hours with fun and funky snacks to accompany its signature cocktails.

Courtesy of Arnold's Country Kitchen

Arnold's

8th Ave

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 is totally worth the wait.

Andrew Cebulka

Butcher & Bee

East Nashville

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.)

Treehouse

The Treehouse Restaurant

East Nashville

Some fans of The Treehouse were concerned when the opening chef recently left the hip Five Points restaurant to move out of town. They needn’t have worried because new chef Jason Zygmont has revamped the already creative menu with a new array of small plates plus some large format dishes for sharing -- unless you want to try to tackle that 32oz dry-aged rib eye on your own. Good luck with that!

The Farm House

The Farm House

Downtown

Although it’s been hidden in the shadows of several towering construction projects rising around it, this Downtown restaurant shines like a beacon in the dark thanks to Chef/owner Trey Cioccia’s inventive cuisine. Farm-to-table is de rigueur at The Farm House, where the chef is also the farmer raising many of the vegetables that appear in Southern-inspired plates for lunch and dinner that demonstrate soulful emotion and skillful execution.

Andrea Behrends

City House

Germantown

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

Margot Café & Bar

East Nashville

Margot McCormick’s eponymous East Nashville bistro was a groundbreaker when she opened fifteen 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

Some Nashville diners wondered how The Catbird Seat would survive the most recent change in management with Ryan Poli taking over the top toque from Trevor Moran. With such a chef-driven tasting menu, the personality of the executive chef is critical to this renowned restaurant, considered the toughest reservation in town. Chef Poli has continued to perform at the highest level of competence, and diners still stay up late refreshing their internet browsers to try and snag a coveted spot for his multi-course extravaganzas.

Danielle Atkins

Bastion

Wedgewood Houston

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!

Gray & Dudley

Gray & Dudley

Downtown

It’s no shocker that a restaurant located on the main level of the edgy 21C Museum Hotel would have a dramatic decor including effigies of sheep and wolves hanging from the corners of the ceilings in the bar area. Nor is it unexpected that the food would be expertly prepared and plated. The real pleasant surprise is how grounded and down-home the cuisine is, ranging from a fantastic homage to the classic California fast-food burger to a plate of thin-cut diner-style pork chops seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Urban Cowboy B&B

Urban Cowboy Public House

East Nashville

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 firepits 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

Germantown

Since opening his first Nashville restaurant in Germantown in 2012, Chef/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 and 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

Germantown

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.

Nicky's Coal Fired

Nicky's Coal Fired

The Nations

It’s a truism that if you open a restaurant that makes a great burger or a perfect pizza, that’s going to be the main order coming out of your kitchen. At Nicky’s Coal Fired, they indeed make a fine pie in the huge oven named “Enrico” after Chef Tony Galzin’s great-grandfather. However, limiting your order to just pizzas means you would miss out on some other outstanding dishes, including roasted vegetables, baked pastas, and a clam plate that may be one of the best bites in town.

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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

Downtown

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

SoBro

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

Germantown

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

Wedgewood/Houston

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

Henley

Midtown

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

Tànsuŏ

Downtown

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

Midtown

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

Germantown

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.

Pastaria

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

Peninsula

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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