They say music is the food of love, but you know what else is? Food. And this town’s got more going on than just amazing tunes. Here, the tea is sweet, the chicken is hot, no meal is complete without at least one biscuit -- and very occasionally, our corn has the misfortune of becoming corn, and not being mashed for whiskey. These are Nashville’s most iconic edible offerings, and the best places to get them...
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack (address and info)
For decades, hot chicken has been as synonymous with Music City as, well, music. More recently, this stuff has gotten hot on a metaphorical level too -- the popularity of chicken (or fish) sauced in a cayenne paste and fried has spread beyond the South like wild fire, and there is an entire festival dedicated to the crispy phenomenon. But amongst the great places to find it, Prince's remains the original & best.
Meat & Three
Arnold’s Country Kitchen (address and info)
8th Avenue South
Nashville staples like Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Sylvan Park, Puckett’s, or Monell’s have been piling plates w/ the classic combo of meatloaf, brisket, country fried steak, or ham and up to three veggies like mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, black-eyed peas, or collard greens since time immemorial, and for good reason. Oh, and always make sure to top it off with biscuits or cornbread, wash it down with sweet tea, and finish with a homemade dessert.
Goo Goo Clusters
Goo Goo Shop (address and info)
Sure, we didn’t invent candy, but Goo Goo Clusters were the world’s first example of combining all the best candy ingredients into one unstoppably delicious treat. It's an orgy of caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts, and milk chocolate, and was a total game changer to the candy scene in the early 1900s. Today, we find any way to incorporate the mound of goodness into our meals from ice cream to pies to even donuts.
Loveless Cafe (address and info)
Growing up in Nashville, you come to expect them on the table regardless of the time of day and in mass, mass quantities. Smother them in gravy, jellies & jams, or naked, and two at a time; there is no wrong way to eat a biscuit. And at the Loveless, they've pretty much been making them to perfection for decades.
Belle Meade Bourbon
Husk (address and info)
Charcoal-mellowed whiskey is signature to Tennessee, but there are several whiskeys made in Tennessee that don’t go through the Lincoln County Process. In pre-Prohibition days, it was Charles Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery Nashvillians looked to for local flavor. His Grandsons, Charlie & Andy Nelson, have resurrected the name in Nashville and made Belle Meade Bourbon something this city can be proud to call theirs. Grab a glass neat at Husk, one of this town's finest whiskey bars.
Bread & Company (address and info)
The South has sweet tea, but Nashville is known for its fruit tea. From notable spots such as Bread & Company (as well as Calypso and The Picnic Café), tea is made sweet with a little orange, pineapple, and lemonade. Make it a punch by throwing in a little ginger ale like the folks at Puffy Muffin will do, or some cinnamon at the Loveless.
Edley’s (address and info)
Despite the first bushwacker on record being served on Pensacola Beach, we tend to make enough from Brewhouse to Edley’s to essentially claim this booze-laced frosty as a Nashville thing. Traditionally, it’s made with rum, but drink it the Nashville way with whiskey and/or Whisper Creek.
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1. Prince's Hot Chicken Shack123 Ewing Dr, #3, Nashville
2. Arnold's Country Kitchen605 8th Ave S, Nashville
3. Goo Goo Shop116 3rd Ave S, Nashville
4. Loveless Cafe8400 Highway 100, Nashville
5. Husk37 Rutledge St, Nashville
6. Bread & Company4105 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville
7. Edley's Bar-B-Que2706 12th Ave S, Nashville
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.
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.
This Downtown candy store features a Nashville icon: Goo Goo Clusters, which combine caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts, and milk chocolate for out-of-this-world goodness that is so much better than the sum of its parts.
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.
The Nashville outpost of Chef Sean Brock's Charleston-born restaurant, Husk changes its menu twice daily depending on the freshest finds in produce and protein. Self-described as “a celebration of Southern ingredients,” local ingredients (including herbs from a backyard garden) are at the forefront, and diners are encouraged to pair modernized Southern classics like shrimp and grits or a hot fish sandwich with a cocktail from the lauded whiskey list, over 60 bourbons on offer. But one thing that doesn't change: the Husk Burger. It's (one of) Brock's culinary masterpieces: two Tennessee-raised beef patties are ground with bacon, griddled with onions are tucked onto the patty then smothered by American cheese, topped with pickles and mustard on a squishy sesame bun.
This bakery and cafe is a terrific spot to grab a fresh-made sandwich or a bite for breakfast, but their signature item is their fruit tea, which is made sweet with a hint of orange, pineapple, and lemonade.
Edley’s is the perfect combination of BBQ and the Southern tradition of meat and three. This spot makes just enough meat for the day and the brisket is first to go, thanks to their best-selling brisket sandwich with spicy pimento cheese, over-easy egg, and is drizzled in red and white sauce. Sides are also made daily, ranging from eight to 10 choices of secret, family recipes.