Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Nashville Right Now

Published On 10/04/2017 Published On 10/04/2017
COURTESY OF BUTCHER & BEE
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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1. The 404 Kitchen 404 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Housed in a downtown shipping container, this intimate spot barely fits 40 diners, but it's worth a visit if only for its 150-strong whiskey collection that features obscure selections and mainstream brands alike. The dishes emerging from the tiny kitchen -- like the peach and tomato salad, or the rabbit with dandelion greens -- use gamey meats and peasant ingredients like squash, cornbread, and red potatoes to create an assembly of homey flavors.

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2. Chauhan Ale & Masala House 123 12th Avenue North, Nashville, 37203

This sexy Indian eatery from celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan is a beloved staple in Nashville's food scene, featuring a wide selection of wines, spirits, and cocktails from all over the world and a menu combining Indian cuisine with traditional Southern dishes. Locals love their lunch and dinner menus, but we are huge fans of their brunch menu (which includes a super helpful cocktail menu labeled Sunday Brunch Hangover Cures).

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3. Etch 303 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37201

Etch is 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. If you're not in the mood for a full meal, their happy hour menu is worth checking out, complete with some small plates, draft beers, and featured wines.

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4. Husk 37 Rutledge St, Nashville, TN 37210

The Nashville outpost of Chef Sean Brock's Charleston-born restaurant, Husk changes its menu twice daily depending on the freshest finds in produce and protein. Self-described as “a celebration of Southern ingredients,” local ingredients (including herbs from a backyard garden) are at the forefront, and diners are encouraged to pair modernized Southern classics like shrimp and grits or a hot fish sandwich with a cocktail from the lauded whiskey list, over 60 bourbons on offer. But one thing that doesn't change: the Husk Burger. It's (one of) Brock's culinary masterpieces: two Tennessee-raised beef patties are ground with bacon, griddled with onions are tucked onto the patty then smothered by American cheese, topped with pickles and mustard on a squishy sesame bun.

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5. Josephine 2316 12th Ave S., Nashville, TN 37204

Josephine has gained quite a following thanks to its French bistro cuisine and regional American dishes. Chef Andy Little has been exciting Nashville 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. Josephine's prides itself on being a fuss-free elegant eatery, and we appreciate their minimal industrial decor and casual yet high class vibe.

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6. Le Sel 1922 Adelicia St, Nashville, TN 37212

This venture is a product of the successful team behind The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Pinewood Social, and other favorite Nashville eating and watering holes. It's a modern French restaurant on the ground floor of the Adelicia building. From the sexy graffiti-inspired decor to the French hip-hop pumping through the speakers, a meal at Le Sel is stimulating to your eyes and ears. Their main floor has a more casual vibe, while their downstairs bar is more stately, and we are partial to their raw bar.

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7. Lockeland Table 1520 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206

A true community restaurant and bar, Lockeland Table is essentially the neighborhood clubhouse for East Nashville residents seeking a convivial atmosphere and soulful food. The menu at Lockeland is highlighted by Italian and American dishes, all with a Southern twist and an eye toward seasonal, sustainable, and local ingredients whenever possible. The reconstructed exterior is a homage to the original 1930s H.G Hills dry goods store.

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8. Prima 700 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Located on the bottom level of the Terrazzo building in The Gulch, this high-end steakhouse boasts a 3k-bottle wine cellar and a menu featuring wood-fired bone-in meats spiced with South American and Latin flavors. The massive chandeliers are truly works of art, but more importantly, they cast their light on plates of Chef Salvador Avila’s contemporary American cuisine that he tweaks with European and Latin American influences. The comfy bar also hosts one of Nashville’s most under appreciated happy hours with fun and funky snacks to accompany signature cocktails.

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9. Arnold's Country Kitchen 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

This classic meat-and-three has been keeping the masses fed for more than three decades, with cafeteria-style meals like catfish, chicken, dumplings, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, etc., which will only run you about eight bucks a meal. While the line can get long and sometimes even stretch out the door, it moves quickly and is absolutely worth the wait. Don't miss the banana pudding, though the scratch-made chess or chocolate pies aren't shabby, either. Important note: the small, red restaurant is only open for lunch on weekdays so plan accordingly.

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10. Butcher & Bee 902 Main Street, Nashville, TN 37207

This duplicate of the popular Charleston eatery located across the river in East Nashville serves up an inventive menu with a decidedly Mediterranean flair: think mezze, like bacon-wrapped dates and honey 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, you know, instead of work.)

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11. The Treehouse Restaurant 1011 Clearview Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

This quirky American eatery boasts a treehouse bar out back, where customers can relive their childhood while sipping on house margaritas. The menu features an 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. There are late-night options as well, including some of the best ramen in the city.

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12. The Farm House 210 Almond St, Nashville, TN 37201

This farm-to-table favorite in SoBro serves up a mix of contemporary Southern fare featuring many ingredients from their own local garden. There’s a giant chalkboard hanging inside of the restaurant that tells you exactly where all of the food on your plate came from. Chef Cioccia is a Nashville native and has worked at quite a few local restaurants before opening up his own. Contemporary barn decor accents the space, from grand wooden doors to skillets used as plates.

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13. City House 1222 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

The James Beard-nominated City House has become a Nashville staple for its creative spin on Italian dishes. The weekly Sunday Supper with its ever-changing lineup is always a hot event, but be sure to make reservations in advance. This Germantown spot is also a great place for wine lovers. Its small, secluded bar is a great place to meet with friends for a quick glass after work, and even solo diners can have a great experience sitting at the pizza bar with a glass of Sangiovese and watching the talented kitchen work the wood-fired oven.

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14. Margot Café & Bar 1017 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206

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.

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15. The Catbird Seat 1711 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203

A table at the The Catbird Seat is one of the most sought after in all of Nashville. Reservations can be difficult as there are only 20 tables in the place, but once inside the dining experience is exceptional. They serve a "tasting menu" and have a set price per person. On any given night, guests will try 12-14 mini courses which they watch the chef expertly prepare.

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16. Bastion 434 Houston St, Nashville, TN 37203

Bastion began as a cocktail bar, where creatively named-and-mixed drinks like the Jack of No Trades, Black Sails, and Punch of the Day were as much of a draw as its addicting nachos. A few months after it opened in 2016, it added a 24-seat dining room. Tucked behind a sliding door around the main bar, Bastion's restaurant serves intricate dishes from an oft-changing menu. Half the seats face the open kitchen, so you'll be able to watch the cooks plate items like chicken & dumplings over cauliflower cream and sunchoke ice cream with foie gras caramel.