The Absolute Best Seafood in Nashville
Look no further for the best lobster, crab, salmon, octopus, and more in Nashville.
As a city in the middle of a landlocked state, you wouldn’t expect Nashville to have a plethora of excellent seafood restaurants. Fortunately, FedEx allows just about anyone to receive fresh fish and other seafood straight off the boats to the restaurant kitchen. Once it arrives, Nashville chefs definitely know their way around a fish to create fantastic oceanic cuisine. Here’s where you’ll find some undersea delights.
Anyone who has visited chef Ford Fry’s original home of The Optimist in Atlanta knew Nashville was in for something good when he decided to open an outpost in Germantown. After what seemed like a really long time for construction to be completed, it was clearly worth the wait. The more casual fish camp vibe befits the unfussy menu of hot appetizers and starters from the raw bar followed by a seafood-centric offering of beautiful main plates. Highlights include a prototypical New England lobster roll with hand-cut fries, a rich halibut presentation with blue crab and crawfish étouffée and a surf-and-turf offering of wood grilled swordfish, smoked short rib, and cowboy caviar.
If your Platonic ideal of fish and chips demands that they be inspired by an English “chippy,” you just haven’t tried the Australian version from Red Perch yet. A beer batter fries up fluffy and crispy gold around delicate cod, and the house-made tartar sauce is perfect for slathering on the fish or for dunking fantastic fries. The seafood sensations don’t stop at cod with catfish, flounder, calamari and shrimp on the menus as delightful options. AHi or salmon poke bowls are also great choices.
Formerly known as Batter’d and Fried, the owner leaned into his New England roots with the menu and the name change. In addition to Northeastern staples like lobster, clams and scallops, the already excellent Boston chowder gets a Southern update as “Growder,” creamy clams ladled over spicy cheese grits and sprinkled with bacon and more cheese. It’s a delicious regional melting pot.
While much of the menu at this cavernous restaurant focuses on charcuterie and wood-fired meats, the seafood selections at Urban Grub are plentiful and excellent, as well. Build a seafood tower from a changing list of fresh items from the raw bar or enjoy oysters raw with apple mignonette and sriracha cocktail sauce or roasted over a wood fire. Seafood main dishes include shrimp & grits, seafood pasta made with squid ink and lobster claw spaghetti, and an Asian-inspired platter of perfectly seared scallops served with miso caramel, julienned apples, ginger and bok choy. In fact, it’s just plain inspired.
This chef-driven restaurant focuses on the seafood of the seas that surround the boot of Italy. Multi-course dinners can range from 12 to 18 plates, artfully constructed presentations of creative combinations of exotic ingredients. While the menu changes frequently based on availability and the whim of the chef, almost every savory course revolves around seafood. It’s a pricey evening, but it’s a trip.
Blue Moon Waterfront Grille
Seafood always seems to taste better if you can see the water while you’re eating (even if you’re only looking at the Cumberland River). Tucked into Rock Harbor Marina, Blue Moon Waterfront Grille is a floating restaurant on a barge with both indoor and outdoor dining areas. The menu features tropical dishes like coconut shrimp and grilled mahi-mahi, as well as Southern favorites like po-boys and fried catfish. For a taste of the ocean in the middle of a river, it’s worth a visit.
Los Arcos Mexican Grill & Seafood
Although much of the menu at Los Arcos features typical Mexican fare like fajitas and enchiladas, seafood is a very important element in the kitchen. Fish or shrimp dishes cooked Veracruz-style with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes are solid choices, but it’s tough to get past the description of the Piña Cantamar: baked shrimp and octopus, stuffed into a cored pineapple, and topped with cheese and creamy sauce.
Nashville-native Chef Julia Sullivan has made the world her oyster (and vice-versa) at her remarkable Henrietta Red. The elegantly chill restaurant focuses on seafood, shellfish, and vegetable-forward dishes roasted in a wood-burning oven, with a raw bar menu that changes daily. Pappy’s Caviar, a dish made from Tennessee paddlefish roe is a real standout.
Ed's Fish And Pizza House
There’s nothing fancy about this little seafood shack with a simple menu of fried sandwiches, fries, slaw, and spaghetti. At some point you should try the catfish, but the signature crispy battered whiting dressed with tangy mustard, hot sauce, pickles, and raw white onions might just be the best bite of seafood in the city, and it only costs $7.50.
This Louisiana-inspired restaurant in the tony Thompson Hotel has definitely added some spice to the Nashville dining scene. Most of the menu comes from the sea instead of the marsh, and that’s a very good thing because seafood is the highlight of Marsh House’s fare. Build a seafood tower from the raw bar or choose from a fabulous grilled octopus appetizer with BBQ shrimp or seared tuna as mains to scratch your seafood itch.
Cousins Maine Lobster
In town since 2012, this food truck has served two versions of the iconic lobster roll, a chilled Maine roll with a kiss of mayo and a hot Connecticut roll with butter and lemon. Other crustaceous dishes include lobster quesadillas, tacos, poppers, and a gooey lobster grilled cheese sandwich.
The Southern Steak & Oyster
Steak may come first in the name of this bustling SoBro restaurant, but it’s the fruits de mer that are the highlights of the menu. Featuring gumbo, fish and grits, barbecue shrimp, and a very popular raw bar, The Southern shines a spotlight on seafood all day long.