The 18 Best Burger Joints in Nashville Right Now
From double-stacked beef to traditional sliders, this city has got you covered.
Nashville loves to brag about how our barbecue scene is creeping up on acknowledged meccas like Memphis and North Carolina, but there are some seriously fantastic burgers available in Music City as well. From prototypical diner burgers to high-brow chef creations, there’s a burger in Nashville’s food scene for every taste and budget. Pick from a few of our favorites on this list and create your own burger crawl. Just hope your physician doesn’t follow you on Instagram.
The 404 Kitchen
You expect a hotel restaurant to have a great burger, because guests often want something quick and delicious before turning in for the night. While technically The 404 Kitchen is associated with The 404 Hotel across the street, it’s more of a destination dining spot for locals and visitors. Fortunately, they still offer the magnificent 404 Burger, made with two patties of aged ground beef, Red Rock artisan Cheddar cheese, Giffor’s bacon, confit onions, romaine lettuce, and a dollop of the kitchen’s secret sauce. This fantastic cheeseburger is also available at Gertie’s, the best whiskey bar in town on the ground floor of The 404 Kitchen.
With his latest edition, chef Sean Brock is officially responsible for the creation of three of the burgers on this list. While The Continental focuses on a prix fixe menu of classic Continental cuisine like pâté en croûte and prime rib served from a rolling cart, Brock has snuck another burger masterpiece onto a secret menu. Limited to only a handful per evening and served only at the bar, the burger at The Continental features a beef grind of that same prime rib basted in butter and garlic and served with upscale accouterments like foie gras mayonnaise and cornichons and potato gaufrettes.
The rumor is that the reason Brown’s burgers and fries are so damned good is that they haven’t changed the grease in the fryer or the griddle in years, but that’s not true. They change it religiously—on Easter and Christmas. For an authentic experience, get the cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle, and don’t forget to remove that toothpick holding it all together before you bite down. The iconic trolley car diner is under new ownership, but they promise not to mess with anything sacred and have added a new enclosed deck in front of the trolley to offer more dining space.
If you want to feel a bit high class while enjoying one of the best burgers in Nashville, then Husk is your spot. This classic burger is stacked high with double patties of Tennessee-raised beef, onions, and lots of American cheese. Arguably one of Sean Brock’s simplest and best culinary masterpieces, this burger is a tribute to the drive-in diners of his childhood, and the chefs that have followed him in the Husk kitchen have maintained Brock’s initial vision.
What—you haven’t heard of this place yet? Maybe you should get south of Old Hickory Boulevard every now and again, because this little gem is definitely worth the trip to greater Brentioch right before you reach Nolensville. The Greek family behind Southside combines their heritage with traditional American food to create a unique cuisine, including the outrageous Kobe beef truffle burger, served with manchego cheese, truffle oil, and apple-smoked bacon.
Gray & Dudley
Truthfully, many of the burgers on this list are some sort of knock-off of the iconic Californian In-N-Out Burger, but Gray & Dudley’s stands out as an original. Made using high-end ground beef, American cheese, charred onion, iceberg lettuce, secret G&D sauce, and served on a bun made by local baker Bobby John Henry, the GD Burger is one of the best hotel burgers in a town filled with plenty of great options.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
In case you simply can’t decide between a burger and a BBQ sandwich, Martin’s brisket burger marries both American traditions, resulting in one meal that packs a ridiculous amount of flavor. The brisket burger starts out like a traditional burger: beef patty topped with grilled onion and American cheese that’s then topped with slow-smoked beef brisket and a delicious BBQ sauce.
Fat Mo’s often gets overlooked on these lists, and that’s unfortunate because owner Mo Karimy was grilling up great burgers in Nashville in the early ‘90s, long before the current spate of gourmet beeferies sprouted up with menus of organic grass-fed patties topped with cheese from a goat named Petunia on a bun baked using wheat that was milled using an ancient grindstone powered by a team of unicorns. Mo makes huge burgers, and the 27-ounce Super Deluxe comes topped with American cheese, mustard, mayo, ketchup, pickles, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and mushrooms, bacon, BBQ sauce, and jalapeños. It’s literally not for the faint of heart.
M.L.Rose Craft Beer & Burgers
If you’re looking for a burger menu with lots of variety, M.L. Rose is perfect. With three Nashville locations and one in Mt. Juliet, you’re never too far away from their long list of burgers that ranges from plain cheeseburgers to turkey burgers to our favorite: the Southern Belle burger. Served on a sweet potato bun and topped with pimento cheese, crispy tobacco onions, Duke’s mayo and Belle Meade Bourbon barbecue sauce, it’s a unique take on the American classic.
Gabby's Burgers & Fries
Quite often a contender for the best burger in town, Gabby’s Seamus burger is a classic All-American. It’s the meaty little brother of the double-patty Gabby burger, which is a great option if you’re extra hungry. But stick with Seamus since you’ll need to save room for a side of fries; they’re some of the best in the whole city and are just as delicious as the burger.
The burgermeisters from Burger Republic have placed high in many competitions like the World Food Championship. Their Tennessee Burger could certainly be a winner, thanks to a Jack Daniel’s honey glaze, American cheese, smoked ketchup, maple-basted Benton’s bacon, and Memphis dusted crispy onions. We’ll let you be the final judge.
With three locations, Emmy Squared continues its quest toward Detroit-style pizza domination in Music City, but don’t sleep on their burgers. (Because that would be messy.) Named for one of the chain’s founders, Le Big Matt is a worthy homage. First off, the pretzel bun is novel, and the perfect burger delivery device. Whatever is in their “Sammy sauce” is probably a controlled substance in some states, and the addition of toothy greens instead of boring iceberg lettuce as a garnish is sheer genius.
Bare Bones Butcher
You can’t get fresher beef for a burger than one that is actually prepared in a butcher shop, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Bare Bones Butcher. The beef goes from knife to grinder to griddle to plate to your belly as quickly as you can imagine, and it shows. There’s nothing fancy about this prototypical two-patty smashed burger with house-made pickles, yellow mustard, Duke’s mayo, and American cheese, but it’s the best in the neighborhood by a country mile.
After Chef Sean Brock left Husk for new horizons, he continued his quest for the perfect homage to the fast food burger that he started in his previous kitchens. At Joyland, he demonstrates his love of great gas station food with upscale versions of chicken-on-a-stick, fried chicken biscuits, crispy fries, creamy milkshakes, and this amazing burger. Brock sources his own private-label beef that he griddles and serves with a secret Joy Sauce, pickles, onions, and sheets on a potato roll. It certainly brings joy to his customers. Brock’s latest creation is the crustburger, a smashburger set between two buns that have also been squished paper-thin and griddled until crispy.
Everyone knows that Nashville is a hot chicken town, and this neighborhood pub does offer up a pretty decent version of the fiery fowl. But they also feature an innovative Nashville Hot Burger, seasoned with their proprietary spice rub and topped with housemade pickles, pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, and fried jalapeños, just in case you needed a little extra heat to take the entire ride.
As the oldest dive bar in East Nashville, Dino’s occupies a special spot in many neighborhood denizens’ hearts, specifically the part where the aorta is slightly clogged with decades of delightful fat from the consumption of multiple cheeseburgers. You have to know what you’re getting when you order a cheeseburger in a dive bar, and this delicious grease bomb doesn’t disappoint. Perfect for absorbing just enough of the alcohol you’ve enjoyed that night to be able to figure out how to summon a rideshare home, it’s history on a griddle.
Chef Bryan Lee Weaver’s obsession with authentic Southwestern cuisine is obvious in the selections of inventive tacos and burritos at his small East Nashville joint, but it may be the Green Chile Cheeseburger that best shows off his love of the region. Bear Creek beef is griddled with chopped Hatch chiles and Gifford’s bacon before being wrapped in foil to allow the American cheese to messily melt over everything, including the Martin’s potato roll and your shirt sleeves.
Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint
This medium-sized regional burger chain has two locations in Nashville, and both of them have become popular neighborhood hangs for those in search of burgers that don’t take themselves too seriously and maybe a cold pint on the side. While the Greg Brady gets the most attention with over-the-toppings that include mac n’ cheese and BBQ potato chips, the Cobra Kai burger is what consistently knocks us out. The Wagyu patty is topped with cream cheese, pickled jalapeños, and jalapeño jelly to create a burger that assaults your tongue in the best way.
Chris Chamberlain is a Nashville born and raised food, drink and travel writer who is a pretty accomplished cook in his own right. But even he has trouble cooking a decent medium-well burger over an open fire, so you can often find him at one of these places leaving it to the professionals. Follow the burger-meister on Twitter @CeeElCee.