Food & Drink

The 13 Most Important Restaurants in Nashville

Published On 09/09/2015 Published On 09/09/2015
Flickr/Thomas Hawk
Loveless Cafe
Puckett's Gro. & Restaurant
Flickr/Sean Russell
Germantown Cafe
Flickr/Rachel Chapdelaine
Margot Cafe & Bar
Capitol Grille
Brita Britnell/Thrillist
The Tin Angel
Brita Britnell/thrillist
Flickr/Natalie Curtiss
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1. Loveless Cafe 8400 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221

This legendary Highway 100 diner sets the standard for Southern homestyle fare, with loads of tantalizing standards like country ham, chicken biscuits, catfish, and pork chops. The restaurant has seen several different owners since it first opened in the 1950s, however, the top-secret biscuit recipe has stayed the same. Breakfast is the meal Loveless is most known for, but if you go for lunch or dinner, you can justify a pie tasting as the final course (we won't judge, though, should you order pie before noon). Visiting on a Saturday or Sunday? Prepare for a long wait; the best time to go is late morning during the week to avoid the weekend warriors, though you can always kill time in the general store.

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2. Prince's Hot Chicken Shack 123 Ewing Dr, #3, Nashville, TN 37207

Although you might have to wait awhile to get into this Dickerson Pike spot, it's totally worth it to try their succulent cooked-to-order chicken that comes in varying degrees of hotness, from "hot" to "medium" to "extra hot", the last of which will probably leave you crying. It's known as the first hot chicken spot in the city, around since the 1930s and remaining mostly unchanged in the time since. Be prepared for a wait that could last hours, and don't be caught at the register without cash. All things considered, a visit to Prince's is a process for a reason...a very delicious reason.

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3. Germantown Cafe 1200 Fifth Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

Germantown Cafe is a local favorite that has helped make Nashville the culinary destination that it is. Located close to Downtown, it’s the perfect spot for dinner before any event in the area as well as a nice spot if you don’t want to actually fight the traffic Downtown. We’re especially fond of Germantown Cafe’s city-renowned happy hour menu which includes $5 drinks and appetizers. A spectacular view of the city skyline certainly doesn't hurt.

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4. 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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5. 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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6. Capitol Grille 231 6th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219

The Capitol Grille, tucked inside the Hermitage Hotel, has been featured in publications across the country for its food, its old-school Nashville charm, and for the gleaning popularity of the men’s art deco-style bathroom. Don't let its hotel locale deter you: The Capitol Grill is not just for tourists. Locals flock to the restaurant for a truly sustainable and upscale Southern meal. The Hermitage Hotel owns a 250-acre cattle farm, as well as Double H Farms, where a majority of the ingredients are grown, bred, and sourced for The Capitol Grille's own farm-straight-to-table menu. It's a great stop for breakfast, before the theater, or for a guaranteed fresh, local Nashville burger.

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7. Merchants Restaurant 401 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

This Downtown eatery opened in 1988 in the old Merchants Hotel, where legends like Hank Williams and Pasty Cline would stay while passing through. The menu is sectioned into parts, with more burgers and sandwiches downstairs and larger items like prime beef culotte and carnaroli risotto upstairs. And a great craft cocktail menu is offered on both levels.

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8. 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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9. Tin Angel 3201 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

Tin Angel is located in a historical building and offers a classic southern flare to their American cuisine. Inside, cafe tables, library chairs, and a walnut bar create an intimate, homey vibe.

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10. Midtown Cafe 102 19th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Located in Midtown (obviously), this New American eatery and cafe features a slew of tasty dishes for lunch and dinner, as well as a solid list of desserts (the homemade bread pudding is a must), not to mention a wine list that runs three pages deep.

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11. Bobbie's Dairy Dip 5301 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209

Bobbie's is one of those places you HAVE to visit if you live in Nashville. Actually, you should probably go even if you're just visiting Nashville. Their classic burgers and ice cream shakes as some of the best in town, bring back fans time and again. The joint has been around for quite some time, and although it's expanded its menu and seating availability over the years, it's still serving the same burgers as when it started out, counter-service style. If it's warm, grab one of the outdoor seats and watch the crowds come and go.