Where to Eat in Nashville Right Now
Uzbek cuisine, brutally hot chicken, and much more.
We’re lifting the curtain on some lesser-known gems in this edition of Eat Seeker. So much has changed in the Nashville dining scene over the past year, and we’d hate for you to miss out on these. Joining the list are some returnees that are back serving at close to full throttle, and we wanted to put them front of mind for you again as you start to get out more and more for a fine meal. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s illuminating some pretty spectacular food.
OSH Restaurant & Grill
The buzz: Under-the radar Uzbekian cuisine at its finest.
The food: We hesitate to even tell you about this emporium of culinary delights from Uzbekistan so that we can keep it as our secret for a little longer, but the word is getting out about the amazing Central Asian and Middle Eastern delicacies coming out of this kitchen. If you’re a fan of exiotic spices, bold flavors and fresh ingredients, you need to check this place out, and soon. Don’t be afraid if you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine. The servers are happy to help guide you through a proper feast order.
The cost: House specialties run from $12 - $15 with larger plates of grilled meats topping out at $25.
How to order: Walk in and sit down or order carryout online.
The buzz: Spicy Thai and Lao that will tantalize your tongue.
The food: Now that Thai Esane has opened two new locations in Brentwood and the new Assembly Food Hall downtown, world domination can’t be far behind. While the downtown menu only features a selection of greatest hits, you can’t go wrong ordering any of the curries, noodle bowls, or rice dishes. Larger entrees are artfully plated, so try the whole fish if you don’t mind your meal staring back at you. Heat levels can range from mild to the insane “Nina hot” named after the personable owner. Order at your own risk.
The cost: Curries, rice, and noodle dishes hover around $15 while house specialties can be double that.
How to order: Open for dining in or order via Toast at the Nashville and Brentwood locations.
St. Vito Focacciaria
The buzz: Sfincione pizza and Sicilian street food takes up residence at a boutique hotel.
The food: Don’t worry about your tongue tripping over the name of this restaurant or their signature pizza, because your tongue will be busy going to town on impossibly light and fluffy focaccia and pizzas topped with amazing ingredient combinations inspired by Sicily. Working out of the tiny kitchen at Van Dyke Bed and Beverage, Chef Michael Hanna has brought truly new food to a town that thought it has already seen everything.
The cost: Personal pizzas range from $8 - $11 with larger sizes for sharing topping out at $35 for an insane amount of pepperoni.
How to Order: Walk in for dinner or Sunday brunch or order online for carryout.
The buzz: Small plates of inventive and experimentative food for small groups or large format dinners for larger parties.
The food: For most of the pandemic, Bastion switched its service model to a more traditional dinner service and took over the bar area as a larger main dining room. But they’re slowly getting back to their old (and amazing) tricks. Prepaid reservations are required for groups of two to four, and larger parties aren’t quite in the works yet. So grab a friend or two to experience the fantastic seasonal food coming out of that uber-talented kitchen.
The cost: $90 per person
How to Order: Make reservations via Tock.
East Side Banh Mi
The buzz: Creative takes on traditional Vietnamese sandwiches.
The food: The husband and wife team behind East Side Banh Mi make sandwiches the way they think they should taste, not by any book. Their version of the classic pork pate banh mi comes to the table with ham hock terrine and smoked bologna. Their “cheffy” takes on sandwiches have inspired several other top chefs in town to come up with their own creations that live on the ESBM menu as specials.
The cost: Sandwiches from $8 - $10 with nothing on the menu more expensive than that.
How to Order: Dine in or order online for carryout or delivery.
Chauhan Ale and Masala House
The buzz: Beautiful Indian food from a celebrity chef who really knows her chops.
The food: Unlike some celeb chiefs you see on television that you imagine never set foot in their kitchens anymore, Maneet Chauhan is still one of the hardest-working cooks in town. She runs four restaurants, but Chauhan Ale & Masala House is her flagship. From the inventive cocktail program to cheeky takes on a hybrid of Indian and Southern food, Chauhan exudes creativity and precision in the preparation of the cuisine. Add in a sultry but not overly serious ambiance, and it’s the perfect date night destination.
The cost: Appetizers range from $9 - $16 with classic Indian preparations in the $20 range. Steaks or lamb chops will run you $36 - $95.
How to Order: Make reservations or order online at the restaurant’s website.
The buzz: Family recipes from the Nile Valley pack the patio.
The food: Another Nashville secret, King Tut’s food truck was where local chefs craved their fix of Egyptian food artfully prepared from family recipes, and they used to chase the truck all over town to eat their fill. Now that the truck is parked and a covered patio has been added on, it’s a lot easier to find and more comfortable to enjoy. The crispy scratch-made falafel is unbelievable, as are the spice profiles of the shawarma and lamb plates. Chefs definitely know their stuff!
The cost: $10 for sandwiches and $12 for plates, ridiculously cheap for the quality
How to Order: The dining area is still small, so King Tut is probably the only truck in town that takes reservations.
The gist: Regional Italian fare from the genius team behind Chicago’s legendary Spiaggia.
The food: The new Joseph Nashville Hotel lured a James Beard Award-winning chef to Nashville to open Yolan, the opulent property’s flagship Italian ristorante. Together with his wife Cathy who runs the beverage program, Tony Mantuano has quickly set the standard for Italian cuisine in Nashville with his inventive takes on classic pasta and meat dishes. Order a la carte from a menu of veggie and seafood antipasti plus more substantial primi and secondi such as breaded veal chops Milanese or a massive 36-ounce Kansas City Strip steak. Or you can go full tilt and order from the five- or eight-course tasting menu.
The cost: À la carte menu ranges from $17 starters to that $130 bistecca. Tasting menus range from $110-140.
How to order: Make dining reservations via Tock.
The food: You can almost smell the salt air while perusing the seafood-centric menu. (Okay, it’s really just the Cumberland River.) But Fry’s take on elevated “fish camp” fare features fresh shellfish and fish sourced from seas across the world plus some fun Southern accents. Start out with an order of whiskey-smoked salmon and one of the restaurant's signature “Plateaux” piled high with shrimp, oysters, smoked fish dip, and lobster before plunging into the bounding mains like whole roasted flounder under a pecan meuniere sauce or red snapper cooked “en papillote” -- that’s “in paper” if your high school French fails you.
The cost: Apps are $15-20, the seafood platters start at $65, mains are $30-50, and cocktails are no more than $13.
How to order: Make reservations through OpenTable
The gist: Bold global flavors served with a wry sense of fun.
The food: After decades running kitchens in some of Nashville’s most beloved restaurants, chef Deb Paquette shows little sign of slowing down. She continues to tantalize the taste buds of local diners with multiple layers of exotic international flavors as part of a tight menu at lunch and dinner. A spot at the long chef’s bar watching the team at work is more entertaining than a front-row seat at a Titans game. Although entrees rotate frequently, the cultish following of her roasted cauliflower appetizer will not ever let Paquette take that off the menu.
The cost: Appetizers under $20 with mains in the $25-40 range.
How to order: Order pickup or delivery via ChowNow or make reservations via OpenTable.
The gist: Internationally-lauded chef Sean Brock goes delightfully lowbrow at his new homage to one of his favorite types of cuisine -- gas station food -- at this converted coffee shop.
The food: You can’t go wrong with any section of the tight menu which revolves around biscuit sandwiches, burgers and the Oxford, Mississippi Chevron station specialty of chicken-on-a-stick. Brock has exhaustively investigated these dishes to come up with his versions, including a bacon egg and cheese biscuit topped with local favorite Gifford’s bacon, a fantastic griddled Joyburger made using the same Bear Creek Farm that Brock used to serve at Husk, and delightful fried chicken on skewers jazzed up with a tingly Momofuku spice blend.
The cost: A breakfast biscuits are $8-10, burgers and fried chicken sticks and sandwiches are $4-12.
How to order: Order takeout online or delivery through Postmates
The gist: Experimental and experiential tasting menu that is reinventing Southern cuisine.
The food: Nashville’s first and most acclaimed chef-driven tasting table has been around for a while. But it’s been reinvented under the auspices of a brand new chef, Brian Baxter, who earned much love working in the kitchens at Husk and Bastion until most recently heading to Atlanta as the opening chef at Kevin Gillespie’s latest project, Cold Beer. Baxter created a menu of whimsical Southern treats like a delicious globe of tuna and raw beef flavored with watermelon dashi or a tiny little tomato sandwich made in the style of a Japanese sando, finished with yuzu and hard boiled egg cream and served with some caviar to add eggs to eggs.
The cost: The 13-course tasting menu will set you back $145 with optional beverage pairings available and strongly encouraged for the full experience.
How to order: Make reservations through Tock
Butcher & Bee
The food: It’s the law that all meals at Butcher & Bee must begin with an order of the cultishly-popular whipped feta dip with fermented honey and black pepper. Then move on to B&B’s avocado crispy rice, an umami bomb with delightful textural contrasts between the fried Carolina Gold rice, collards, and peanuts set off with a zing of serrano chiles. Don’t sleep on the burger topped with calabrian salsa and -- you guessed it -- more whipped feta.
The cost: Mezzes and dips are $6-10, mains are $12-22, cocktails and wines by the glass are $12-16.
How to order: Make a reservation through Resy, order takeout through Upserve, or get delivery through Uber Eats
The gist: Just dumplings, noodles, and shaved ice—but the best of them all.
The food: Chef Trevor Moran burst onto the Nashville culinary scene during his stint running the kitchen at The Catbird Seat where he created inventive and beautiful dishes. His latest obsession has been perfecting the humble dumpling, and after years of research, his version of the Asian treat is extraordinary. The tight menu features a few dumpling options, some face-numbing noodles, roasted oysters and an exotic Japanese shaved ice called kakigori. But when you do what you do so well, there’s no need to clutter the menu with filler.
The cost: Dumplings for just $9, oysters for $14, noodle cups at $16, and $9 for the dessert ice.
How to order: Order takeout through Toast.
The gist: James Beard nominee Julia Sullivan serves fun unpretentious seafood dishes in a vibrant atmosphere that welcomes tourists and neighbors alike.
The food: While the atmosphere in the dining room and bar is delightfully busy, the open kitchen hums with quiet efficiency pumping out platters of shellfish from both coasts, dishes like Poppy’s caviar made from paddlefish roe with sour cream and a spring onion vinaigrette, delicious rich seafood curries, and some surprising Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as clams and nduja and panzanella with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms.
The cost: Small plates are $11-16, larger share plates top out at $26, and an impressive French wine list offers bargain glasses from $11-16.
How to order: Order curbside takeout or delivery through ToastTab
Riddim N Spice
The gist: Soulful Carribean cuisine with plenty of heat and some vegan options are great reasons to visit this vibrant eatery.
The food: The cultural heritage of Riddim N Spice is clear if you know that the co-owners grew up working alongside their mother in the kitchen of Nashville’s favorite Caribbean restaurant, Jamaicaway. The brothers have moved from a food truck to their own bright space near Meharry Medical College where they are serving their own takes on island food. Build a bowl from a list of proteins including lamb, honey jerk chicken, curried shrimp, or vegan jackfruit and then pile on up to four toppings from a dizzying variety of veggies ranging from Cuban black beans to tangy peppers or queso fresco. The last decision is your desired heat level, but choose wisely because the fire ratchets up quickly as you move up the capsaicin continuum.
The cost: Bowls are $10 - $14 plate dinners are $10 - $18, quarts of the rum punch or cucumber lime cocktails are $15.
How to order: Open for walkins or order takeout through ToastTab
Two Ten Jack
The gist: Nashville’s most authentic Japanese izakaya experience leads diners on a food and drink journey from course to course.
The food: The idea behind opening a Japanese neighborhood pub in East Nashville was not only to introduce local diners to the cuisine of the traditional Tokyo izakaya, but also the entire gestalt of the experience. Ask your server to take you through it, matching beer, cocktails, and sake with small snack plates like edamame, seasonal pickled vegetables and dumplings, skewered meats and veggies cooked over a yakitori grill, and bowls of deeply flavorful ramen.
The cost: Small plates are $6-14, larger dishes and ramen bowls are $8-15, and cocktails are $10-11.
How to order: Make reservations through Resy or order takeout online
The gist: Southern and Italian food served out of a bustling open kitchen.
The food: There’s always plenty of action in the main dining room at City House where the high ceilings reverberate with the sounds of forks clinking noisily into plates of pasta, meats, and vegetables coming out of the open kitchen. The festive environment is courtesy of City House’s no-fuss attitude toward creating soulful rustic Italian food featuring ingredients from the South. Sunday suppers are the best nights to visit when the kitchen goes off script to play around with new recipes. They've recently taken advantage of their copious outdoor space to add some precious dining cabanas which have quickly become prime seating.
The cost: Shareable starters range from $13 - $15, pizzas and mains $20 - $31.
How to order: Book a table via Resy or order online.
The gist: Nashville hot chicken at its absolute finest plus some other proteins fired up with spice.
The food: Prince’s and Bolton’s have more history behind them and the Nashville hot chicken juggernaut chain of Hattie B’s gets more press, but nobody beats 400 Degrees when it comes to the combination of heat and flavor. Owner Aqui Hines maintains a consistency of heat levels and quality in her small kitchen, and legions of fans swear by her. In addition to the fiery fowl available in heat ranges from zero degrees (plain) to 400 degrees (insane), Hines also adds her delectable spices to fried shrimp and fish plus a fried porkchop that is the hidden gem of the menu. They’ve recently added a new outpost at the airport, but you’re on your own if you eat it before an outbound flight!
The cost: Breast quarter sandwiches are $8, and nothing on the menu will run you more than twelve bucks.
How to order: Drop by or place carryout orders through the restaurant website.
Nicky's Coal Fired
The gist: Pizzas, pastas, and vegetables cooked in a massive coal oven with a view of the industrious cooking crew working in the open kitchen make for dinner and a show.
The food: Antipasti plates feature house-made charcuterie, pickled veggies, and exotic cheeses to perk up your appetite. Pastas are also handmade fresh and dressed with classic sauces and the option of adding an order of “Mama G’s Meatballs.” The roster of pizzas always includes both red and white sauce options plus a “pie of the day” that benefits from seasonal ingredients. The bar offers the best selection of Italian beers, wines, and spirits available in the area, and was serving Negronis and Aperol Spritzes before all the cool kids discovered them. Check out its weekend bagel pop-ups featuring treats cooked in that coal oven.
The cost: Starters range from $10 - $20 with pasta dishes priced from $18 - $22. Pizzas are sized and priced to encourage ordering more than one to share a few varieties for $15 - $19.
How to order: Open for dining without reservations or order takeout through Tock or delivery through DoorDash.
Rolf & Daughters
The gist: Top of the list for inventive rustic Mediterranean food.
The food: When chefs visit Nashville from out of town, this Germantown eatery is almost always on their eat-inerary. Starting off with one of the most eclectic wine lists in Nashville designed to get your juices flowing for an extraordinary meal, Rolf & Daughters is a delight with salvo after salvo of small plates from the kitchen served in a welcoming space with a neighborhood vibe. Dishes exhibit unexpected bursts of flavor from ingredients preserved, fermented or pickled as part of chef Philip Krajeck’s frequently changing culinary obsessions. But that garganelli verde with pork ragout never seems to roll off the menu. Thankfully.
The cost: Snacks and apps for $5 - $10, small pasta dishes less than $20 and larger plates from $18 - $24.
How to order: Make reservations on Tock or order for pick-up or delivery via Toast.
The gist: Inventive wood-fired pizzas are topped with Southern-inspired ingredients.
The food: The owners of the popular Biscuit Love restaurants have branched out to make a whole different kind of dough with their unique long-proof sourdough pizza crust recipe. The delightfully tangy crust is set off with toppings like pepperoni cups appropriately filled with their own spicy juices, peppery arugula and prosciutto from the East Tennessee bacon king Benton’s Smoky Mountain Hams, and an intriguing combination of lamb sausage, mozz, and mint on a pie named “The Rescuer.” Those that normally eschew pineapple on a pizza should at least give the “Pine Yapple” a try to experience the sweet/heat combo of pineapple agrodulce, pork sausage, and Fresno chile.
The cost: Pies run from $12-15, so you should have spare change left over to order a $7 app of pizza dough with whipped ricotta and a drizzle of local honey.
How to order: Open for dine-in service or order takeout and delivery online
The gist: Always exceptional Southern classics.
The food: Now that the beloved cinderblock Southern eatery has doubled the size of its dining area, even more people can brave the line to get in and order extraordinary meat-and-three offerings served from a steam table onto red plastic trays. Basically the only difference is that now the line can wait inside on cold days. Just remember the roster of daily specials: fried chicken on Monday, meatloaf on Tuesdays, Wednesday is for fried catfish, and Thursday is country-fried steak day. Chicken and dumplings are the play on Friday, or heck, just get the roast beef any day of the week. They’ve finally added an “Arnold’s After Dark” evening service plus weekend hours, so there are even more chances to try their soulful Southern delicacies.
The cost: $11.73 for a meat and three vegetables, but don’t forget mac 'n cheese counts as a “vegetable” at a meat and three.
How to order: Dine in, get plates to go or delivery through DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats.
The gist: Nashville finally gets the legit breakfast taco joint it never knew it needed.
The food: From the same team that brought you Butcher & Bee comes this cozy homage to Southwestern breakfast tacos that features nine creative iterations of traditional morning meals tucked in a tortilla. Plus, you can enjoy an outrageous breakfast burrito overstuffed with scrambled eggs, chorizo, pork Hatch green chile sauce, tater tots, and a cheese blend. Those green chiles also top Redheaded Stranger’s cheeseburger, which ranks among the best in town.
The cost: Tacos are $3.95 apiece, burritos are $8, andburgers are $6-10.
How to order: Open for patio and dine-in service or order takeout by calling 615-544-8226