It’s true that Nashville has no shortage of hot chicken spots and a growing list of great BBQ joints… but there’s a lot more in this great city than hot chicken and BBQ. No matter how great they both are. So if you’re looking to branch out and try some of the best ethnic eats in Nashville, we’ve got you covered...
Best Mexican: La Hacienda
What you’re getting: Classic fajitas with a large margarita on the rocks
Considering it was his last stop before leaving Nashville this year, even President Obama thinks La Hacienda is worth being at the top of the list. This authentic Mexican restaurant is free of all the frills and high prices but still makes a mean margarita. This is a great restaurant to hit up when you want a very filling meal for not a lot of money.
Best Japanese: Ichiban
What you’re getting: Your favorite sushi roll
Ichiban is a traditional Japanese eatery that has a full sushi bar and serves some of the best ramen noodles in the city. And if raw fish isn’t for you, it also has lots of other classic Japanese dishes from shrimp tempura to chicken teriyaki. Oh, and there's also a great sake selection if that’s your thing.
Best French: Margot Cafe & Bar
What you’re getting: The daily special
This French cafe and bar has an ever-changing menu as it sticks to seasonal and local fresh ingredients. It’s a bit more on the upscale side so you might want to put something on other than the same T-shirt that you’ve been wearing for the past couple days. But don’t worry, the food is totally worth it. It also has a great dessert menu so make sure to save room. And don’t forget to check the menu before going to see what's being served on that day.
Best burger joint: The Pharmacy
What you’re getting: The Mission City Burger
The Pharmacy has proven year after year that it has some of the best damn burgers in all of Nashville. It also has a great patio and beer garden that makes for a nice spot to grab a drink while you’re waiting for a table (which, to be honest, can sometimes take a while). Our personal favorite burger is the Mission City Burger which is a beef patty topped with guac, pico de gallo, and black beans. The Farm Burger is another favorite or if you’re feeling brave, you can try the Stroganoff Burger. And if all else fails, you can always just create your own burger.
Best Thai: Thai Phooket
What you’re getting: Pad Thai
When it comes to Thai food, Thai Phooket has been a staple in Nashville for quite some time. And the scruffy exterior of the building is not at all indicative of the delicious dishes that they create inside. We’re a big fan of the classic pad Thai but there's also a nice variety of other traditional Thai dishes.
Best Indian: Woodlands
What you’re getting: The lunch buffet
Hands down the BEST Indian food in all of Nashville, Woodlands is also a completely vegetarian restaurant. The menu includes many authentic Indian dishes including paper masala dosa and vada pav. On the weekends it has a special buffet that is very popular and includes many options which is a great choice for those new to Indian cuisine.
Best Italian: Coco’s Italian Market
What you’re getting: Fried ravioli
Coco’s Italian Market is family owned and run by chefs with generations of Italian family cooking experience. Much like the restaurants you’ll find in New York, Coco’s features a full market where you can get authentic Italian products, produce, and homemade pastas. You can even play bocce while waiting to be seated. A must-try is the fried ravioli.
Best vegetarian: The Wild Cow
What you’re getting: Black bean and sweet potato tacos
One of Nashville’s most beloved veggie & vegan restos, Wild Cow naturally has plenty of options for all you non-meat-eaters out there. With a great group of chefs who are always creating new dishes, the place has constantly rotating specials including tons of vegan desserts. Its website is updated daily with the specials so check there before going. And don’t forget: it's randomly closed on Tuesdays.
Best Chinese: Lucky Bamboo China Bistro
What you’re getting: Dim sum
You’re going to want to gather your closest friends for your next visit to Lucky Bamboo so a nice hot pot can best be enjoyed. That is, unless you plan on enjoying this four-person dish by yourself. Lucky Bamboo is also great for weekend brunch when hot, steamy pockets of deliciousness are served (also known as dim sum). Lucky Bamboo has a rather extensive menu AND you can even order online on its website.
Best food truck: The Grilled Cheeserie
What you’re getting: Buffalo South
If there’s one thing Nashville is NOT lacking, it’s an abundance of great food trucks. And the master of all: The Grilled Cheeserie. It has a few amazing specialty melts including the pimento mac n’ cheese and the Buffalo South grilled cheese. Even more fun is the option to build your own cheesy, melty sandwich of goodness. The worst part is the inevitably long line you’re going to wait in.
Best American: Puckett’s Grocery
Downtown & Franklin
What you’re getting: Puckett’s has everything that is great about American cuisine: amazing BBQ, juicy burgers, and (of course) some good ole Nashville hot chicken. The lunch menu features a nice selection of meat and threes with daily rotating specials. Don’t be surprised however when your waitress informs you that the ‘vegetable of the day’ is actually mac n’ cheese. Nice!
Best BBQ joint: Edley’s
East Nashville & 12South
What you’re getting: The brisket platter
It’s true, Nashville has the BEST damn BBQ in all of Tennessee, but unfortunately, we couldn’t put all of the great Nashville BBQ joints at the top of our list. Edley’s is our pick due to the killer brisket platter and our intense weakness for the BBQ nachos. And GOOD NEWS: it recently started serving breakfast on Saturdays so you can now enjoy BBQ for every single meal of the day. You’re welcome.
Best steakhouse: Kayne Prime
What you’re getting: Wagyu filet mignon with risotto tater tots
It’s true, a trip to Kayne Prime might cost you a small fortune but great steak doesn’t come cheap. And this upscale steakhouse is hands down the best steakhouse in all of Nashville. As we‘ve mentioned before, the bacon-topped maple cotton candy appetizer is spectacular. (It does uphold a bit of a dress code though, so don’t go strolling in wearing your short shorts and flip-flops.)
Best Vietnamese: VN Pho & Deli
What you’re getting: Pho dac biet
Despite the long menu of seemingly unpronounceable dishes and the fact that it’s hidden in a small hard-to-find corner of Nashville, VN Pho & Deli is easily the best Vietnamese restaurant in the whole city. Not only is the pho delicious but it’s also ridiculously inexpensive considering how much food you get. Frequent visitors of VN Pho also rave about the avocado smoothies and the Vietnamese spring rolls.
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1. La Hacienda Taqueria2615 Nolensville Pike, Nashville
2. Ichiban109 2nd Ave N, Nashville
3. Margot Café & Bar1017 Woodland St, Nashville
4. The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden731 McFerrin Ave, Nashville
5. Thai Phooket207 Woodland St, Nashville
6. Woodlands3415 W End Ave, Nashville
7. Coco's Italian Market411 51st Ave N, Nashville
8. The Wild Cow1896 Eastland Ave, Nashville
9. Lucky Bamboo China Bistro5855B Charlotte Pike, Nashville
10. Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant500 Church St, Nashville
11. Edley's Bar-B-Que2706 12th Ave S, Nashville
12. Kayne Prime1103 McGavock St, Nashville
13. VN Pho & Deli5906 Charlotte Pike, Nashville
This is a great restaurant to hit up when you want a very filling meal for not a lot of money - even President Obama made a stop here on a visit to Nashville. It's authentic, free of frills and high prices, and makes a mean margarita.
A traditional Japanese spot, Ichiban, located Downtown, serves up some of the best ramen in the city - and of course, some fantastic sushi. The shrimp tempura and chicken teriyaki are also solid, and there's a great selection of sake. Most of the rolls are very inexpensive, but that doesn't mean the sushi chefs skimp on taste. The affordable crunchy shrimp roll, for example, is a perfect sushi experience that won't break the bank.
This East Nashville eatery features meals rooted in French and Italian styles with a menu that changes daily based on the season, so don't expect menu items to stick around for long. It serves up a quality brunch that's usually based around whatever leftovers remain from last night’s dinner service, which is way better and more interesting than what you might think. It's located in an old gas station from the 30s and has an outdoor dining area surrounded by a flower garden.
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden dubs itself “Nashville’s Wurst-Burger Joint,” which is a cute play on words but might lead the uninitiated to believe the burger here is not, in fact, one of the best in the city. Which it is, and it also happens to have a variety of traditional wursts on offer. It’s also Nashville’s original beer garden -- with an extensive selection of German brews -- as well as an old-school soda jerk. Get some wurst, get the burger, get a pilsner, and definitely get an egg cream to wash it down.
Don’t let the exterior of this Downtown spot fool you: it’s bare-bones and a tad sketchy, but Thai Phooket is beloved by locals for its authentic Thai food, most of which can be modified to be entirely vegetarian. Drunken noodles and Pad Thai still reign supreme, but the light bites like the meatless papaya salad refresh and satisfy, along with the coconut milk-based red curry -- providing, of course, you’re able to take the heat (the spice level of these dishes can reach new heights, so brace your taste buds).
Should you ever need more incentive to look forward to the weekend, look no further than Woodlands. This colorful, casual West End spot serves Indian food that is equally affordable as it is authentic, and offers a respite for vegetarians craving a meatless bite in an otherwise barbecue-obsessed city. The weekend buffet draws a huge crowd, but it’s a veritable meal option any night of the week, with regulars coming by to feast on gluten-free paper masala dosa and paneer pakora.
Coco's Italian Market is family run and has insanely good fried ravioli. Plus, there's a full market where you can get authentic Italian products, produce, and homemade pastas.
One of Nashville's most well-known vegetarian and vegan restaurants, The Wild Cow is constantly inventing creative dishes like lentil bowls, chipotle seitan tacos, and tofu buffalo grinders for the city's herbivores. The kitchen sources all of its (mostly organic) produce from local farms and makes all sauces, dressings, and broth from scratch, so if you ask where your food came from, your server will likely know.
Unless you plan on eating the entire four-person hot pot on your own, you should bring some friends with you to Lucky Bamboo. It's also got some killer dim sum on the weekends.
What started out as a grocery store in the '50s is now one of Downtown Nashville’s best restaurants. It is mostly well known for its breakfast, but you can also snag a quality lunch or dinner, with options ranging from steaks to chicken and waffles to burgers, salads, and more.
Edley’s is the perfect combination of BBQ and the Southern tradition of meat and three. This spot makes just enough meat for the day and the brisket is first to go, thanks to their best-selling brisket sandwich with spicy pimento cheese, over-easy egg, and is drizzled in red and white sauce. Sides are also made daily, ranging from eight to 10 choices of secret, family recipes.
Kayne Prime is a boutique-chic farm-to-table American steakhouse located in The Gulch. The interior is colored with dark wood and leather furnishings, creating a romantic and sexy ambiance. While it's mostly known for having amazing wagyu beef, be sure to try some of the other meaty items on the menu, like the house-made bacon. Instead of thin strips, the bacon looks more like a mini steak by itself, with a maple cotton candy topping.
Partially hidden around the corner of a blink-and-you’ll miss it strip center and protected by a suicide left turn across traffic upon exiting, VN almost seems like it’s trying to keep diners from finding it. But those who brave the journey discover a world of spicy wok-fried dishes and luscious bowls of pho at this Sylvan Park Viet-haven.