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13 Best Nashville Restaurants to Experience in 2024

Published on Mar 29th 2024
Nashville restaurants

If you’re planning a trip to Music City, you’ll want to research Nashville restaurants in advance. Music City’s food scene is more than hot chicken and barbeque.

If you’re planning a trip to Music City, you’ll want to research Nashville restaurants in advance. Nashville’s food scene is diverse with plenty of options from hole-in-the-wall to splurge-worthy. And it’s not just about hot chicken and barbeque. Some of the best Nashville restaurants feature fine dining or ethnic cuisines that transport you far away from the honky-tonk vibe of Broadway.

What are the most iconic foods to try in Nashville? Does Nashville have foodie neighborhoods? Nashville restaurants are famous for serving hot chicken but there’s more than meat in this city.

Whether you’re eating out in East Nashville restaurants or trying out the best Nashville restaurants downtown, seafood lovers will find their fins, vegetarians won’t have to rely on appetizers and vegans won’t be stuck eating baked beans. Nashville restaurants are ready to serve no matter what your taste buds are craving.

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Learn to Cook With Nashville Chefs

One of the best ways to experience the food scene in a new city is to sign up for a food tour or take a cooking class.

Cooking classes in Nashville are led by experienced chefs who will introduce you to the signature flavors of the city and share their recommendations for best places to dine while you’re in town. It’s an authentic culinary experience not to be missed. 

cooking classes in Nashville restaurants
via Classpop!

Top 13 Nashville Restaurants

The list of Nashville restaurants to try gets longer every day, and as with any city, there are always hot spots that come and go.

This list covers all the bases with a selection of the best Nashville restaurants to experience this year, from the best restaurants in Nashville’s downtown to East Nashville restaurants to the most famous places to eat in Nashville on a budget.

1. Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish 

No trip to Music City would be complete without hot chicken. Locals have strong opinions on where to get the best, but one of the most famous places to eat in Nashville for fried chicken is Bolton’s.

The menu is approachable enough for even the least sophisticated diner, and it’s probably the best casual restaurant in Nashville for a quick bite on a budget. Pick your protein and heat level, a couple of sides and you’re done.

2. City House Nashville

It took many years, but after a decade in business Chef Tandy Wilson became the first Nashville chef to earn a James Beard Award. This Nashville restaurant serves contemporary Italian fare where you can indulge in a house-made pizza and a small selection of entrees.

They also offer a rotating Sunday supper menu. Despite the culinary accolades, the vibe at this Nashville restaurant is laid back and unpretentious, but you’ll need to plan in advance to get a reservation. 

3. The Iberian Pig

Nashville is a great city for a friend's trip, so you’ll want to know where to go for shareables. The Iberian Pig is one of the best restaurants in downtown Nashville for groups. The vibe is festive without being overly fancy, so come as you are. 

Diners at this Nashville restaurant rave about the bikini, a deceptively simple-looking grilled cheese featuring jamón ibérico and black truffle as well as the broccolini and albondigas. If you have six or more guests and 72 hours' notice, the suckling pig is the way to go. 

The Iberian Pig Nashville restaurant
via The Iberian Pig

4. S.S. Gai

When you get bored with the traditional Nashville restaurants serving hot chicken, venture to East Nashville restaurant S.S. Gai for a break from the ordinary.

There are only 2 items on the menu at this Thai spot that won “best fried chicken” at the 2023 Nashville Eater awards — Thai fried chicken or smoky.

Each version is served with sticky rice, garlic, fried shallots, tamarind fish sauce, and mounds of seasonal veggies and herbs so you can customize to your heart’s content. Add a side of grilled peanuts for the full effect.

5. Lou Nashville

It can be a challenge to eat out at Nashville restaurants if you’re vegetarian or vegan, and you may find yourself being stuck with a mediocre salad.

If you prefer a more plant-based diet, head down to Lou Nashville where you’ll enjoy options like vinegar braised cabbage with cara cara (seasonal orange-like fruit), golden raisins and pistachio vinaigrette or charred escarole and daikon with comté cheese and walnut yogurt. 

This Nashville restaurant is also known for its Sunday brunch where you’ll find healthier options like sweet buckwheat and yogurt with apple, spiced rose honey, mixed seeds and vanilla olive oil or a steamed frittata with local mushrooms, leeks and garlic.

6. Etc.

If you need Nashville restaurants downtown that are appropriate for a business lunch, check out Etch and sister restaurant, Etc. Local chef Deb Paquette’s glitzy Etch is a solid option to impress a client, but the truth is that the big deals get done over a meal at Etc.

Start with roasted cauliflower with truffled pea purée, feta crema and red bell essence followed by either the horseradish caesar or the roasted beet salad with coconut and goat cheese. 

7. Martin’s BBQ

Another one of the most famous places to eat in Nashville is Martin’s. They’ve been doing the whole hog concept longer than most barbeque joints, and they have multiple locations to choose from.

Looking for unpretentious Nashville bachelorette party ideas? Head to their multi-level downtown location which features live music and lawn games. It’s one of the best casual restaurants in Nashville for gatherings.

Martin's BBQ Nashville restaurant
via Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

8. Folk 

After a few days in Nashville, you’ll likely be ready for something other than fried chicken. Get reservations at Folk when you are seeking a more refined dinner experience.

This restaurant is known for its fancy pizza (try the chanterelle and maitake pizza with taleggio and parsley or the pepperoni, pickled jalapeño and hot honey).

It also has a selection of curated entrees and snacks. Folk is a perfect choice for date ideas in Nashville when you want both atmosphere and great food. 

9. Hathorne

When the spring hits, you’ll want to find the best Nashville restaurants with outdoor dining, and Hathorne is a great choice. This casual fine dining spot is ideal for date nights and special occasions as well as weeknight quick bites.

Choose from either small plates like a tortelloni cacio e pepe, roasted golden beet tahini or large plates (or both). 

Hathorne also serves brunch with tempting options like brioche donuts, and they have a Tuesday burger night featuring their Smashburger and a special creation of the week. There’s something for everyone at this West Nashville restaurant.

10. Mas Tacos

No matter what city you’re visiting, there’s sure to be a couple of taco hot spots to choose from. One of the best casual restaurants in Nashville is Mas Tacos which started as a food truck, graduated to taco shack and is now a cantina. Meat lovers and veggie eaters will both have options here.

Mas Tacos is also open for breakfast on Saturdays, but if you’re going to pick a day of the week to hit this famous place to eat in Nashville, make it Wednesdays when they serve hand-rolled tamales.

11. East Side Banh Mi

This Vietnamese fast-casual Nashville restaurant serves up delicious lunch fare and the beverages to match. All of their banh mi sandwiches come on a house-baked baguette with fried shallot mayo (option to substitute with vegan mayo), pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño and maggi sauce.

Savor the savory with The No. 1 featuring ham hock terrine, smoked bologna and pȃté or go vegan with the chili crisp tofu and roasted eggplant. Either way, try the toasted peanut rice milk to wash it down or a Vietnamese iced coffee.

 East Side Banh Mi
via East Side Banh Mi

12. Big Al’s Deli

Every city has its share of hidden gems, and when it comes to Nashville restaurants serving up comfort food, Big Al’s Deli is one of them. This Salemtown breakfast and lunch spot features good old home cooking with a little unexpected flair.

For lunch, try the chipotle raspberry chicken or the jerk chicken with a side of okra rica and smashed potatoes. If you’re in for breakfast, the Bowser biscuit sandwich with a side of hashbrowns is the way to go at this Nashville restaurant. 

13. The Twelve Thirty Club

Looking for rooftop restaurants in Nashville? The Twelve Thirty Club should be at the top of your list. Where many rooftop restaurants in Nashville offer great views, the food and service are often lacking. Not the case here. Restaurateur Sam Fox’s concept was backed by Justin Timberlake, so it’s got that. But there’s so much more.

A recent study by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and National Research Group (NRG) confirms that music positively impacts the way consumers interact with local eating and drinking establishments.

According to the findings, bars and restaurants that feature live music have customers who eat, drink and spend more when listening to music they enjoy.  

This venue includes a honky-tonk with a full gastropub menu on one level (and they serve brunch), plus a jazz supper club on another.

And all of that is before you get to the rooftop bar where you’ll find live DJ’s to keep your energy level high while you sip on craft cocktails or bubbly and nibble on bar bites.

This is one of the best restaurants in downtown Nashville for the full Music City experience. 

Nashville is a fun place to visit any time of year, and there’s something for everyone when it comes to food. The best Nashville restaurants are spread out in many different neighborhoods, with some of the top spots being East Nashville restaurants.

Nashville restaurants downtown will be on the pricier side, but they offer the convenience of being close to all the nightlife on Broadway. No matter where you choose to dine, Nashville restaurants will leave you hungry for more. 

For even more fun things to do in Nashville, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!