The Best Seafood Restaurants in Nashville
Anybody with access to an atlas or Google Maps can see that Nashville is smack dab in the middle of an extremely landlocked state. The eight-hour drive to the closest beach is one of the worst things about living in Music City, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy some good fish every now and again. Nashville has some pretty great options when you get a hankering for seafood; here are the best.
Committed to serving only the freshest seafood harvested using sustainable methods, Fin & Pearl puts their menu where their mouth is. Working with small privately owned fishing boats and sustainable farms to source its ingredients, the restaurant serves elevated seafood dishes in an elegant environment. The crispy whole bronzini, herb-crusted salmon, seared scallops, and black fettucini with shrimp are always on the menu, and the rotating fresh catches of fish, crabs, ceviches, and lobsters will keep you coming back.
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.
The menu at this drink, food, and fun emporium on Lower Broad focuses on an eclectic variety of Latin-tinged Southern dishes, with plenty of Gulf and ocean dishes to try. The fried catfish basket and grilled ahi sandwich are standouts, and the elegant second-floor sushi bar, which serves 17 types of rolls, puts Acme near the top of the local seafood mountain.
This restaurant calls itself “a social steakhouse” with lots of small plates for sharing, but don’t sleep on their chilled seafood selections. Order a Midtown Tower with lobster tail, jumbo lump crab, assorted oysters, shrimp cocktail, and smoked mussels, along with several house-made sauces and mignonettes for a real treat. This is the top destination for Vandy students during Family Weekend when the parents are footing the bill.
Just about everything in and outside of this modest seafood eatery is tiny, from the parking lot to the strip mall that houses it. However, the portions at Seafood Sensation are huge: king crab legs big enough to scratch your back with, fried fish fillets spilling over the edges of the plate, and mixed platters so huge they require both hands to carry. If you’re taking it to-go, put a newspaper on your car seat first, because everything here is doused in butter.
Nashville-native Chef Julia Sullivan, who previously worked New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Per Se, teamed with GM and sommelier Allie Poindexter to open the remarkable Henrietta Red in early 2017. 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. Even if you opt for the more limited barroom menu, which still features the crab dip, trout, and oyster fritters, you can’t go wrong.
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 $5.25.
When word got out that famed New Orleans chef John Besh was opening the main restaurant in the new Thompson Hotel, expectations were sky high. Thankfully, the award winner and his Marsh House team rose to the challenge with a menu that’s predominantly sea-based with plenty of Big Easy touches. The spicy and gingery shrimp toast is a popular appetizer that lands on almost every table, and any of Besh’s whole fish preparations like the catfish creole or red snapper courtbouillon are worthy of your consideration.
In town since 2012, this food truck serves 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.
When it took over the space of the popular Mitchell Delicatessen, the team behind Rudie’s Seafood and Sausage had a plan: to bring fresh seafood, whole animal butchery, and craft beers to the East Side. The result is a comfy eatery that offers a selection of oysters from coast to coast, brightly acidic ceviches, and a decadent crawfish, shells, and cheese dish that is totally worth the calories.
Seafood always seems 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.
Despite the restaurant’s name, not everything in this popular East Nashville chippy comes out of the fryer. Of course, there are four different variations on the classic fish and chips on the menu -- cod loin, Guinness-battered grouper, Alaskan pollock, and haddock -- plus a host of other fried seafood platters and baskets, but there’s also an extensive offering of sushi rolls, sashimi, and grilled fish, like the salmon steak and ahi tuna seared rare.
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 crabcakes, gumbo, fish and grits, barbecue shrimp, and a very popular raw bar, The Southern shines a spotlight on seafood all day long.
With the announcement that Bro’s Cajun Cuisine was closing, fans began to seek out another place to get their spicy steamed seafood fix. Enter The Loft, a hole in the wall focused on mixed platters of tilapia, crab, and salmon in the style of a traditional Cajun boil. Heavy on the spice but light on the wallet, The Loft has its priorities straight.
Long before Midtown became the popular dining destination it is today, South Street was known as the place to head for cold beer and Southern fried seafood delights. Recreating an authentic crab shack and dive bar experience, the restaurant’s emphasis is on casual cuisine with oysters served four ways, fried calamari, po-boys, and a popular steamed bucket that features a combination of mussels, shrimp, oysters, smoked sausage, corn, and potatoes boiled in Cajun spices and served with drawn butter.
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