Acquired Taste: Blood Rice Cakes With Timothy DeLaGhetto and Justina Valentine
Tex-Mex to the max
First of all, let’s get the pronunciation correct: it’s “super-EEK-ahh,” like super rich, which is a great way to describe the fare at Ford Fry’s new cantina. From the deeply flavorful hot sauces on the table, to the most exquisitely plated nachos you’ve ever seen, to spot-on enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas, Superica offers up a dining experience that is completely novel in this town of upscale taquerias and hole-in-the-wall Central American joints.
Music Row/Demonbreun Hill
New digs, same fantastic Thai
It took a little longer than expected (as it always does), but Thai Esane has opened up in a modern new space at the top of Demonbreun Hill in sight of those nekkid statues cavorting around the roundabout. The new space is sexy and sultry, making it the perfect spot for a date night provided both parties are fans of the sort of spicy and savory Thai and Laotian food that owner Nina Singto is famous for.
The name says it all... except it leaves out frozen negronis
Nashville is the new home to the third outpost of the popular Chicago-based casual chicken and fish emporium, and it fits in its new town like a greasy hand in a bucket of fried drumsticks. Thanks to massive patio spaces and a bright airy interior with huge windows letting in the light, even dining indoors at Parson’s feels al fresco. The tight menu focuses on fried chicken and fish along with some decadent sides plus an extensive offering of beer and cocktails to pump up the party.
Woodfired pizza from the folks who made you fall in love with biscuits again
Karl and Sarah Worley, the team behind the wildly popular Biscuit Love restaurant group, were inspired by a family trip to Italy where they ate all the pizzas. Noticing that it’s really hard to be sad when you’re munching on a great pie, they decided to extend their empire with this tiny but cozy pizza restaurant a couple of doors down from their second Biscuit Love location. Utilizing a deeply complex four-day ferment to create his crust, Karl has developed a fantastic menu of house pies. Surprisingly, five of them are vegetarian, but even carnivores will love these ‘zas.
Part wine bar, part all-day brunch spot, all intriguing
What is it about new Nashville restaurants and their lowercase names? It makes sense at this understated Riverside Village bistro that offers a menu that revolves around brunch dishes served all day long. The chef/owner has experience cooking in California and France, and both locales shine through in the menu of seasonal, veggie-forward dishes. The wine list is also novel, focusing on naturally fermented wines that offer a little fizz and funk to complement the cuisine.
If you didn’t know how much you needed real breakfast tacos in your life, now you do
Chef Bryan Lee Weaver has earned a reputation for creating delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean inspired food at Butcher & Bee, but he was hiding a secret passion for Southwestern cuisine, specifically breakfast tacos. After years of research, he finally opened this neighborhood taco shop will soon be your first thought every morning. Build your own platter from a selection of inventive tacos or order the devastatingly good RHS Burrito stuffed with eggs, chorizo, cheese, and crispy hash browns. Just don’t be sad if that turns out to be the highlight of your day.
Est. 2016 | West Nashville
Coal-fired pizza, baked pasta, and unique wines
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 Baked pastas, roasted vegetables and seafood. Their bar program also features unpretentious cocktails and unique wines.
Est. 2014 | North Gulch
India meets the South for a playful dining experience
Chef Maneet Chauhan has been on a roti roll since she first opened this restaurant in 2014. Since then, she has introduced Nashville to cuisines ranging from Cantonese to Indian street food at three new eateries plus started up a successful craft brewery with some really smart partners. Don’t sleep on her original spot, though, where she offers a menu of traditional Indian dishes somehow made familiar by her inclusion of some local ingredients and playful presentations.
Est. 2019 | West Nashville
Veggie-based cuisine to please even the most avid carnivore
The building that houses Hathorne was once the fellowship hall of the former Methodist church next door. The emphasis on welcoming hospitality is still quite evident in the lovely space that still shows off the church’s prayer rail as a room divider and repurposed pews for banquette seating. The menu revolves around seasonal vegetables accented with unexpected international touches like roasted heirloom carrots and golden beets with tahini that are liable to convert ardent beetaphobes. Even meatier dishes like the pork, beef, and lamb meatballs benefit from a delightful mint pistou, which is a pesto that substitutes mint for basil.
Est. 2019 | Germantown
Enjoy one chef’s life journey on a plate
As a first generation American of Indian descent, Chef Vivek Surti loves to share aspects of his family’s culture and his own culinary experiences through his menu. The chef creates a multi-course tasting menu for two seatings a night, sharing the stories behind his food to diners in an intimate and personal environment. Surti changes the menu periodically, but no matter what he’s serving, you can expect bold spices and innovative preparations of a hybrid of Indian and Southern cuisine. It’s dinner and a show at the same time.
Est. 2013 | The Gulch
Same fine dining in a great new space
Part of the charm of The 404 Kitchen when it was in its original space across the street from its current location was how tiny the kitchen was. Chef Matt Bolus once said, “The only way we get around in there is thanks to olive oil and bicycle pants!” Now with a much larger cooking and dining space, Bolus and his staff continue to present outstanding cuisine, highlighted by large-format meat dishes like a whole roasted chicken, massive steaks, and a dry-aged tri-tip, a cut of beef rarely seen around these parts. Gertie’s Bar on the main floor of 404 boasts the best whiskey collection in town.
Est. 2012 | SoBro
Elegantly plated flavors with international twists
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.
Est. 2013 | SoBro
A new chef breathes new life into an old Nashville favorite
Chef Katie Coss continues to demonstrate her command of the kitchen at this important shrine to Southern cuisine, introducing her own spins on some of Husk’s iconic dishes. Dining in the 19th-century Italianate mansion that was once home to Nashville’s mayor is a trip through history, both of the city and the South’s culinary heritage. Even avowed carnivores admit that sometimes the plate of four veggies is the best choice on the whole menu, and that’s saying something.
Est. 2007 | Germantown
Southern and Italian food served out of an open kitchen
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 -- which also contributes to the din. 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.
Est. 2012 | Germantown
Top of the list for inventive rustic Mediterranean 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 and an ingenious roster of creative cocktails designed to get your juices flowing for an extraordinary meal, an evening at 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 culinary obsessions which change frequently. But that garganelli verde with pork ragout never seems to roll off the menu. Thankfully.
Est. 2013 | 12South
Casual elegance and innovative cuisine
Even when the popular 12South neighborhood is often overrun with giggling gaggles of bachelorettes, Josephine remains an oasis of fine dining and refined service on the outskirts of Crazy Town. Chef Andy Little leads a talented kitchen staff as they prepare plates of innovative takes on Pennsylvania Dutch food prepared with classic techniques. From the bar staff that is attentive without being intrusive to the sweet treats they send patrons home with, Josephine’s attention to gracious treatment is laudable, and the food is next-level good.
Est. 1982 | Eighth Avenue
Always exceptional Southern classics
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.
Est. 2015 | East Nashville
Shareable plates of delicious Israeli-inspired fare
Walking in the door at this East Nashville hang, patrons immediately notice two big bars, one wrapped around the open kitchen for dining with a view of the busy cooks and another facing a wall of draft beer taps, wine and fine spirits. A table of four can easily make a meal by ordering all the small plates, known as mezze in the Middle East, the inspiration for much of the cuisine at Butcher & Bee. However, taking that shortcuts means missing out on fantastic larger plates like avocado crispy rice, meatballs and grits, or grilled octopus. That would be a damned shame.
Est. 2001 | East Nashville
Neighborhood cafe helmed by a Nashville original
There’s not much use in checking the online menu at this cozy Five Points bistro built in a 1930s building that was once a service station. That’s because chef and owner Margot McCormack changes up the selections daily based on whatever fresh produce and proteins she finds that meet her stringent specifications. Once she has picked out the best of the best, McCormack crafts dishes inspired by French cooking informed with Southern sensibilities. In addition to fun Sunday suppers, the restaurant also throws periodic theme dinners around chefs or cookbook authors who are admired by the kitchen staff.
Est. 2016 | Wedgewood Houston
A semi-hidden room where Nashville’s best chefs feed you
The bar at Bastion only serves one food option: the best darned nachos in town. Enjoy them with a cocktail or a beer and call it a night. Or you could make a reservation to gain entrance to the semi-hidden back room at Bastion where the real magic happens. The dining area has a cool laid-back vibe with chefs temporarily interrupting their work to go change the album on the record player to fit their current mood. You want to keep them happy because that tiny kitchen is putting out some of the most inventive and delicious food in town. Small groups or solo diners order individual plates from a menu set up like a grid where they check off boxes that might only list 1-2 ingredients, or dine in groups of 4-6 for a large format family style dinner party they call “The Feast.” Either way, you can’t lose.
Est. 2017 | Germantown
Fantastic seafood served in sultry surroundings
Henrietta Red is divided into three discrete areas, each with a different ambiance. The lively bar near the front door hosts impromptu happy hour gatherings of friends and neighbors, enjoying nightly cocktail specials (including Jello Shot Thursdays) along with oysters and clams from the raw bar. The outdoor patio is another popular spot, especially since they don’t take reservations so it’s first come-first served. The gorgeous dining room offers views into the dual kitchens, one for cold plates of shellfish from around the country and crudos plus a hot side where the talented staff prepare fantastic vegetable and seafood dishes, many of which benefit from a roasting trip through a woodfired oven.
Est. 2012 | East Nashville
Pizza, pasta, and drinks -- oh my!
Chef Philip Krajeck is still on top of his game at this wildly popular new pizza and pasta eatery in East Nashville. Focusing on premium seasonal ingredients and innovative fermentation techniques, the menu at Folk showcases food cooked in woodfired ovens plated with precision. Krajeck’s clam and chili pizza should be the centerpiece of any table’s order, augmented with shareable plates of roasted veggies and clever meat snacks. As expected, the wine and spirits program is top-notch.
Est. 2006 | Various
Whole Hog barbecue with a roadhouse vibe
Pitmaster Pat Martin is one of the last practitioners of the almost-forgotten art of whole hog cookery in Tennessee. Starting with a tiny restaurant in Nolensville more than a decade ago, Martin has expanded his porcine empire to multiple locations across four states, each with at least one pit dedicated to smoking whole pigs for a full day before pulling the meat to create some of the most succulent sandwiches you’ll ever encounter. The eclectic and fun (lack of) decor scheme in each location is unique, but they all reflect Martin’s loves of music, sports, and cooking with and for friends and family. Don’t sleep on his meats other than pork either; Martin’s brisket, burgers, catfish, and chicken are all fantastic, although you might need to sleep after sampling them all.
Est. 2017 | East Nashville
Check out this tiny kitchen pumping out amazing Iberian cuisine
Most diners would never believe how small the kitchen is and how few chefs it takes to put out the amazing plates of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine accented with French techniques that have earned this young restaurant such great acclaim. But size isn’t everything, and if you’re one of the diners lucky enough to grab one of the seats in this tiny eatery, you’ll be treated to a delicious culinary tour of the Iberian peninsula. The drink menu is also worth perusing with multiple varieties of exotic gin & tonics and other specialty cocktails plus Spanish wines and fine sherries.
Est. 2012 | East Nashville
The ultimate neighborhood hang
The bar and dining room at Lockeland Table is almost always full of neighborhood residents chatting to one another while enjoying fine food and drink, but even if you enter as a stranger, you’ll probably leave with some new friends from this convivial eatery. A roaring wood fire in the pizza oven further warms the ambiance, and the specialty pies that emerge from the infernal heat are ideal for splitting as an appetizer unless you’re too selfish to share. The rest of the menu features Southern fare with international accents like the mandatory app of chicken liver pâté on Tuscan bread or the rack of lamb with fava beans.
Est. 2013 | The Gulch
Authentic West Tennessee-style barbecue in a fun environment
Carey Bringle, the Peg Leg Porker, comes by his nickname honestly having lost a leg to cancer as a teenager, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. Not only is he a champion competition pitmaster, he also has his own line of whiskey and operates one of the most successful restaurants in the hopping Gulch neighborhood near Downtown. Entering his cinder block shrine to smoked meats, you’d think the building had been a barbecue joint for generations instead of a relatively new operation. Intentionally and appropriately shabby, it’s the perfect spot to order up a rack of amazing Memphis-style dry ribs, some of the best chicken wings in town and a signature dish Bringle calls “Memphis sushi,” a platter of smoked sausage and cheese sprinkled with his proprietary dry rub and served with crackers. It’s the perfect lowbrow appetizer to lead off a barbecue feast.
Est. 1987 | Midtown
Home of the best low-key power lunch in town
For more than 30 years, Midtown Cafe has been the spot for a proper business lunch, but also where everyone is welcome whether you’re wearing your casual clothes before a night out or are dressed to the nines for date night. Beloved Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn runs an experienced staff of cooks and servers who present classic American cuisine made using the finest ingredients available. The ambiance is comfortable and appropriately calm, the wine list is full of interesting and affordable choices, and they even run a shuttle from the restaurant to Downtown musical events at the Ryman, Schermerhorn, TPAC, etc. Why are you going anywhere else for dinner and a show?