Nashville Food Guide 2021
An In Depth Guide to Nashville Restaurants
Just for fun, here is my Nashville Food Guide 2021! I had made this originally in 2017 but so much has changed!
My husband Theron is a Nashville (well, Pegram) native who went to Belmont University. Before we started dating, he went out to eat for almost literally every meal of the day. He was well versed in the old Nashville food scene. These were the days before Nashville was as “cool” as it is now.
I moved to Nashville in the middle of 2013, just at the start of the growth of it’s “cool” factor. There was a mixture between Theron wanting to show me all of his usual old Nashville staples, and us wanting to try out all the new places. We dined out (and still do) far more than we should have, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
These are simply our favorite places we’ve tried or frequent. They’re not necessarily all new or hip – though many of them are – but they’re all great! Trying to bring you the Nashville experience as we knew it! From fancy upscale cocktails and tapas to hole in the wall pizza delivery, I’ve tried to cover it all.
This is obviously missing a LOT of restaurants still. If it’s not on there, we either haven’t tried, didn’t like it, went once and never again (forgettable), or it’s new and I haven’t added it!
Favorite Local Chains:
- Hattie B’s (West Nashville, Midtown, 8th Ave) $$ hot chicken
- Edley’s (East Nashville, 12th South, Sylvan Park) $$ barbeque
- Five Daughter’s Donuts (12th South, East Nashville, Sylvan Park, Franklin) $$ donuts – layered deliciously excessive donuts. Paleo options also!
- McDougal’s Chicken (Gulch, Hillsboro) $$ chicken fingers – gluten free options!
- Portland Brew (12th South, East Nashville) $$ coffee – my favorite in town
- ML Rose (8th Ave, West Nashville, near Downtown) $$ bar food & burgers/fries – the best ranch dressing in the history of the world.
- Vui’s Kitchen (Germantown, Berry Hill, East Nashville) $$ healthy vietnamese
- 5 Points Pizza (Charlotte Ave, East Nashville) $ new york style pizza: Theron’s favorite pizza on the planet. It is delicious and amazing, but they don’t have a gluten free option.
- Jack Brown’s (Edgehill, Germantown) $$ burgers
- Bearded Iris (Germantown, Sylvan Park) $ brewery
- Tailgate (East Nashville, Midtown, West Nashville) $ brewery
- Red Bicycle Coffee (Germantown, Nations, South Nashville) $ coffee shop with food options
- Samurai Sushi (Midtown, East Nashville, Germantown) $$ sushi
- Dose Coffee (Inglewood, Sylvan Park) $ coffee and breakfast
- Hugh Baby’s (Sylvan Park, Berry Hill, East Nashville) $ fast food type burgers but SO good
- Cinco de Mayo (West Nash, Gulch) $ mexican
- DeSano’s Pizza (Midtown, Bellevue) $$ italian style pizza
- Pizza Perfect (Vandy Area, Bellevue) $$ pizza
This neighborhood is south of Vanderbilt University and surrounds the Belmont University area. It is very walkable and the houses are dreamy. Theron lived in this neighborhood for 9 years – it is very near and dear to our hearts. It includes Hillsboro Village as well – a great spot to shop local boutiques, see a film at The Belcourt, and grab a bite to eat.
- The Villager $ dive bar: Smokey dive bar with darts. If it’s your birthday, you get beer in a dog bowl. It’s pretty great.
- Double Dogs $$ sports bar
- Old Glory $$ cocktails: This place doesn’t have a sign – just look for the gold triangle. The cocktails are great and the atmosphere is awesome. This is more of an early-in-the-night place in my opinion, as it gets a little club-y later in the evening.
- International Market $$ thai: This is a re-opened and updated version of an old Nashville staple by the previous owners children. It’s amazing and near and dear to our hearts.
- Bongo Java $$ coffee, american
- Fido $$ coffee, american. Bongo’s more sophisticated older brother.
- Chago’s Cantina $$ mexican: They have great vegetarian options.
- The Grilled Cheeserie $$ sandwiches: They have great Gluten Free bread!
- ‘Za Pizza $$ pizza: woodfire and great
- Barcelona Wine Bar $$$ tapas and wine
- Proper Bagel $$$$$$ breakfast sandwiches: I hesitated to put this place on the list because there is always a line and it is excessively expensive for bagels (we’re talking like, $15 bagel with lox and capers…). That being said, the food is pretty great if you’re willing to wait and pay big bucks!
Newly hip and trendy, there are a lot of really great upscale restaurants in Germantown. North Nashville is beginning to see more of an artists scene with Buchanan Street now up and coming.
- Upscale Restaurants:
- Rolf & Daughters $$$ house made pasta: For a long time this was our favorite spot in the whole city. If there is anything that is worth eating things that upset my stomach, its R&D. Their menu rotates seasonally except for a few staples and the cocktails are always on point. I regularly dream of the sourdough bread with seaweed butter and chunky sea salt. The Garganelli Verde also cannot be missed!
- 5th & Taylor $$$ southern/american
- City House $$$ southern/american
- Henrietta Red $$$ southern/seafood
- Tailor $$$ set menu fixed price: voted top 10 best new restaurants by Bon Appetit in 2019!
- The Optimist $$$ seafood
- Oku Sushi $$$ sushi
- Casual Restaurants and Bars:
- Monell’s $$ meat-n-three: A Nashville staple! Don’t miss the family style Sunday brunch. You will leave fuller than you can ever imagine.
- Butchertown Hall $$ meats and cocktails
- Slim & Huskies $$ pizza
- Monday Night Brewing $$ brewery
- Mother’s Ruin $$ bar
- Southern V $ vegan food
I hesitated to put the Gulch on the list because I honestly avoid it most of the time, but these couldn’t be left out!
- Station Inn $ bluegrass music venue
- Rudy’s Jazz Room $$ jazz bar
- Patterson House $$ cocktails: This speak-easy feeling bar is my favorite cocktail bar ever! The dark ambiance and beautiful walls and rows of books makes you feel like you’ve been transported to olden times.
- Tavern $$ cocktails, bar food: This is technically a restaurant, but I’m grouping it under bar because I find their cocktails and drinks to be much better than the actual food selections.
- Thai Esane $$ thai:
- Sunda $$$ asian and sushi
- Superica $$ mexican
- Chauhan Ale House $$$ indian cuisine
- Tansuo $$$ chinese cuisine: Run by the same group as Chauhan – delicious upscale Chinese food
- Mockingbird $$ american/southern: Same group as Chauhan and Tansuo
- The Chef and I $$$ fancy american: sit at the kitchen bar and you can watch the chefs work their magic. Really great food, ever changing menu
- Kayne Prime $$$$ steakhouse. Best meal of 2019. Also the most expensive.
East Nashville/5 Points:
This area is closer to downtown, and includes the Eastland Street area as well. I lived in this area for a year and a half and loved it a lot.
- The 5 Spot $: Don’t miss Motown Mondays!
- Dino’s $: Dive bar turned hip & cool (though still has the divey feel), their burgers are amazing
- Duke’s $: See above, but go for a sandwich
- Smith & Lentz $: Great brewery, amazing pizza!
- Rosemary and Beauty Queen $$
- Chopper $$ tiki bar
- Pearl Diver $$ tiki bar
- Mas Tacos $ tacos
- Nashville Biscuit House $ cheap breakfast
- Sweet 16th Bakery $ bakery and breakfast sammies: best cheddar and egg biscuit you’ll ever have in your life.
- Hunter’s Station $-$$ food court lots of local favorites
- Sky Blue Cafe $$ brunch
- Folk $$$ pizza and american/italian
- Margot $$ brunch and nice dinner
- Butcher & Bee $$$ small plates
- Two Ten Jack $$$ ramen/japanese
- Shep’s Deli $$ NYC style deli
Northern East Nashville – closer to Madison. I also lived here, after my 5 Points area stint, and the peace and quiet was amazing. You are pretty much 25 minutes from everything, though.
- Mickey’s $
- Village Pub $$
- Inglewood Lounge $$ small but great cocktails
- Dee’s $ live music and cheap beer
- El Fuego $$ mexican: one of our favorites in town
- El Jaliciense $ mexican/tacos
- Sip Cafe $ coffee and ice cream
- Mitchell’s Deli $$ sandwiches: Best. Sandwiches. Ever. They also have great gluten free bread options.
- Lou $$$ brunch/american: disclaimer, haven’t actually been here, but always hear great things
- Cafe Roze $$$ healthy-ish, american
The Nations/Sylvan Park:
We live here! We love it. It’s rapidly changing and things are opening all the time, so it’s fun to try the new spots. Lots of our favorite local chains (listed at the top) are around here as well
- The Centennial $ our go-to
- Neighbors $
- Fat Bottom Brewery $$: great outdoor area
- Southern Grist $$ brewery
- Otto’s $$ cocktails and wine
- 51st Deli $ deli sandwiches, tacos, salad bar, etc.
- Bare Bones Butcher $$ sandwiches and burgers, limited menu, also a butcher shop. my fave.
- Radish Kitchen $$ salads
- Smokin’ Thighs $$ bbq
- Bobbie’s Dairy Dip $ ice cream and burgers
- Daddy’s Dogs $ hot dogs and corndogs
- Coco’s Italian Market $$ italian
- Headquarters $$ coffee
- 51st North Taproom $$ american
- The Cafe at Thistle Farms $$ cafe, healthy options: I love Thistle Farms! They recently renovated and changed things up a bit, but they still serve the best drinks and healthier breakfast options in this area of town. Thistle Farms is also a really great place to support. You can read more about them here.
- Chaatable $$($?) indian street food
- Cafe Nonna $$$ italian: best Italian in the whole city. One of the best meals of 2019, and this place is OLD Nashville. Quaint and delicious.
- Answer $$$ american
- Hathorne $$$ american
- Wendell Smiths $ meat and three and/or breakfast
- Brightside Bakeshop $$ bakery specializing in croissant type dough
Though definitely the ‘burbs, this (large) area of town still has a lot to offer. West Nashville has some really amazing authentic Asian food, while Bellevue has some great breakfast spots. I grew up visiting these areas during camp, so places like the Loveless have a special place in my heart.
- West Nashville Spots:
- Miss Saigon $ vietnamese
- Korea House $$ korean: One of my all time favorite restaurants
- Lucky Bamboo $$ chinese, dim sum, hot pot
- Ninki’s $$ sushi
- Picnic Cafe $$ cafe
- Tequila’s $ mexican
- Sonobana $$ sushi
- Bellevue Spots:
- Loveless Cafe $$ breakfast, southern
- City Limits $$ cafe
- Roze Pony $$ brunch, breakfast
- Brewhouse 100 $$ bar food
- Sportsman’s Grille $$ bar food
- Voodoo Gumbo $$ new orleans food – that even this snob approves of
When I first moved to Nashville I lived in this neighborhood and I loved it. There is lots going on, but as I became more familiar with the city, I grew less and less infatuated with this very busy and hip street. Many of the favorite local chains are along 12th South, like Portland Brew, Edley’s, and 5 Daughters, but otherwise, I don’t come here as often as I used to.
- Non-chain restaurants:
- 12th South Taproom $$ bar, american food
- Mafioza’s $$ pizza
- Bar Taco $$$ expensive tacos
- Burger Up $$$ burgers
- Locust $$$ asian small plates
- Emery Wood Fired $$$ pizza/italian
8th Ave/Berry Hill
Another area with a lot going on now, 8th Ave is sort of booming and I couldn’t keep up. There are many newer places that we either tried and didn’t like or haven’t made to yet, but these are our favorite old time spots from the area.
- Melrose Billiards (aka “smellrose”) $ pool hall
- Tennessee Brew Works $$ brewery
- Dolce Vita $ pizza: Okay, people will laugh at me that this is on the list. It is a pizza place in a Kroger strip mall. But they deliver until like 4am and it is honestly just so good it can’t be passed up on my list. Get it with half red sauce half pesto and you won’t be disappointed.
- Baja Burrito $ burritos
- Arnold’s Country Kitchen $$ meat-n-three
- Sunflower Cafe $$ vegan, healthy
- Sam & Zoe’s $$ coffee, breakfast, sandwiches
- Nashville Jam Co $$ breakfast
- Smiling Elephant $$ thai
- 8th & Roast $$ coffee
- Baked on 8th $$ sweet shop: where I’ve worked the last 3.5 years! Not to brag but we’ve won best bakery in 2019, 2020, and 2021 🙂
This is a newer (sort of) up and coming neighborhood that we honestly didn’t explore too much. I can’t say enough about Dozen Bakery, though.
- Bastion $$ cocktails
- Flamingo Cocktail Club $$ cocktails
- Never Never $$ cocktails
- Gabby’s Burgers $ burgers
- Humphrey’s Street Coffee Shop $ coffee shop
- Dozen Bakery $$ sandwiches, bakery, coffee
- Earnest Bar and Hideaway $$$ cocktails, American
- Pink Door Cookies $ cookies
- Diskin Cider $ cidery
- New Heights Brewing $ brewery
- Jackalope Brewing $ brewery
I worked in South Nashville for 4 years – where the only food options anywhere near my office were authentic ethnic food or fast food. Naturally, I tried to try them all!
- Woodbine Area:
- La Hacienda $ mexican
- Gojo Ethiopian $ ethiopian
- Twin Kegs $ bar, bar food
- Red Bicycle Coffee $$ coffee, crepes
- Nolensville Road & South Nashville:
- Las Cazuelas $ mexican
- Las Americas $ latin american: Delicious pupusas!
- Tacos y Mariscos El Amigo $ tacos: Authentic and delicious – it is in an old gas station converted to a restaurant!
- El Tapitio #2 $ tacos
- Thai Papaya $ thai: More delicious Thai, but much cheaper than Siam
- Taj Indian $$ indian buffet
- Plaza Mariachi $-$$$ hispanic food court: This recently opened and it has been a huge hit! Lots of different restaurants and small shops to get some great authentic hispanic foods of all sorts.
- Siam Cafe $$ thai: Authentic, legit, delicious, amazing Thai
- Subculture $$ sandwiches & salads
The End! This was long! Check out some more travel posts from our trips to Japan and Costa Rica