It’s no secret the music scene is huge in Nashville and has been thriving for years, but what you probably don’t know is the Nashville food scene is earning some well-deserved attention of its own.
Over the past few years, renowned chefs have opened restaurants ranging from fine dining to trendy cafes in new neighborhoods like The Gulch and 12 South. That’s not to take away from the delicious mainstays that have been part of the Nashville food scene for decades and favorites among locals. Here’s a complete guide from breakfast to dinner next time you stay in Nashville.
Top breakfast spots
Biscuit Love Gulch
Neighborhood: The Gulch, 316 11th Ave South
Details: The name is a dead giveaway. Founded as a food truck in 2012, this brick-and-mortar location serves up biscuit sandwiches and plates with a twist (including plates without biscuits).
What to eat: Chronic bacon; oatmeal (!); and Bonuts, fried biscuit dough with lemon and blueberry sauces.
Neighborhood: Hillsboro Village, 1796 21st Ave South
Details: A standard in Nashville since 1962, the historic Pancake Pantry is revered by locals and visitors alike for a quality start to your day. Get there early, there is almost always a line.
What to eat: Old fashioned buttermilk pancakes, a secret recipe that uses flour milled in the Great Smoky Mountains; Santa Fe Pancakes made with cornmeal and green chiles.
Details: An eclectic eatery and bakery with fresh-brewed coffee, lattes and espressos. The Frothy Monkey also has seasonal drinks like Lemon On A Prayer and Sparkling Raspberry Matcha.
What to eat: Breakfast is served until 5 p.m. every day; the Breakfast Bun made with almonds and raisins; the Julie, a bagel sandwich with feta, basil, eggs and tomato.
Puckett’s 5th and Church
Neighborhood: Downtown, 500 Church Street
Details: Named after its roots as a 1950s grocery store, Puckett’s 5th and Church offers all the home cooking you could want for breakfast. There are a few locations in the Nashville suburbs too (and Chattanooga).
What to eat: Texas Two-Step, a cornbread waffle with brisket hash, peppers, onions and fried eggs; Southern Stack, sweet potato pancakes with pulled pork, fried apples and egg.
The Pfunky Griddle
Neighborhood: Woodlawn, 2800 Bransford Avenue
Details: If you’re looking for a family-fun experience, The Pfunky Griddle takes eating out to a new level where customers are the cooks. No need to go shopping, it’s all provided for you including the table-top griddle, batter, eggs, toppings and more.
What to eat: Whatever you want. Mix-and-match to your heart’s content.
Sky Blue Café
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 700 Fatherland Street
Details: A quaint diner that serves the breakfast basics (something for everyone) with a neighborhood feel.
What to eat: Brie French Toast, bread stuffed with brie and drizzled with local honey; Sky Blue Bloody Mary, a house made bloody mary mix w/ saké.
Best places to eat lunch
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
Neighborhood: North Nashville, 123 Ewing Drive
Details: The latest trend in the South is fried chicken with a kick. Well, it all started at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. The chicken spot has six levels of heat ranging from plain (i.e. boring) to XXX Hot. Do you dare?
What to eat: The slice of bread. Come on! It’s all about the heat…
Three locations: 100 Oaks, East Nashville, West End
Details: Fast-casual eatery with Caribbean influences that offers delicious rotisserie chicken, sandwiches and salads. With several gluten-free and vegan options, Calypso Cafe has a strong focus on nutritious food at reasonable prices.
What to eat: Black bean salad, the best black beans you’ll ever eat; Boija Muffins, sweet cornbread topped with coconut.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
Neighborhood: The Gulch, 605 8th Avenue South
Details: A Nashville institution for more than 30 years, Arnold’s Country Kitchen serves up some of the best “meat and three” options in town. That’s where you pick a meat and three vegetables for your meal (or an entire veggie plate). Arnold’s is open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
What to eat: Fried chicken; Roast beef; Fried green tomatoes; Banana pudding. The menu rotates every day, so check it out before you go.
I Dream of Weenie
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 113 S 11th Street
Details: If you’re in East Nashville and looking for a quick bite (and love puns), then check out I Dream of Weenie, a walk-up eatery located in an old VW bus. These artisan-type hot dogs aren’t your typical ballpark wieners.
What to eat: Guaco Taco Dog, with guacamole, cheese, meat and chips; Hash Brown Casserole Dog with hash browns, eggs, cheese and onions; Chinese Foo Dog with ginger-hoisin sauce and Asian slaw.
Two Ten Jack
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 1900 Eastland Avenue #105
Details: Two Ten Jack is a stylish Japanese neighborhood izakaya that serves ramen, yakitori and sushi and incorporates Southern elements into much of its menu.
What to eat: Octopus hush puppies with miso butter; Crispy Brussels and garlic noodles; Tori paitan shoyu.
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 731 Mcferrin Avenue
Details: With a fun name like this, you would expect a lot, and you get it at The Pharmacy. There’s even a vintage soda fountain to help wash down the creative burger selections, including turkey and black bean options. Grab a beer and take in the amazing views from the outdoor seating area.
What to eat: Farm Burger with country ham, applewood-smoked bacon, egg and maple mustard; Stroganoff burger with mushrooms, bechamel sauce, sour cream, caramelized onions and swiss cheese.
Best restaurants for dinner
Neighborhood: SoBro, 37 Rutledge Street
Details: Much like the original restaurant in Charleston, the Nashville version of Husk serves an upscale Southern twist on farm-to-table food. Led by James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock, the restaurant sits in a beautiful mansion with a front porch where you wait for your name to be called. Reservations are recommended.
What to eat: The lunch and dinner menus are updated daily, but look for Southern specialities like grits, fried chicken and pimento cheese. Don’t skip out on dessert.
Neighborhood: 12 South, 2316 12th Ave South
Details: Josephine is a contemporary eatery that features American farmhouse cuisine. Inside, the decor gives off a bistro vibe with its community tables, huge bar in the middle and alfresco dining. Reservations are recommended.
What to eat: Evolving menu, but one constant is the Josephine whole chicken for two.
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 1520 Woodland Street
Details: While some restaurants lean on the fine dining aspect, Lockeland Table perfectly blends exquisite food with a community feel inside its cozy eatery. Italian and American dishes highlight the menu but each with a Southern twist. Reservations are recommended.
What to eat: Nashville hot crispy pig ears; seasonal vegetable plate; Mountain trout with Louisiana crawfish.
Margot’s Cafe and Bar
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 1017 Woodland Street
Details: East Nashville has exploded in last few years with places to dine, and Margot’s Cafe and Bar has led the pack since its debut in 2001. Housed in a 1930 building that was originally a service station, Margot’s french-inspired menus change daily based on locally sourced food. Reservations are recommended.
What to eat: Looks for theme weeks like September in Spain, where other international flavors are featured.
Rolf & Daughters
Neighborhood: Germantown, 700 Taylor Street
Details: Led by a multiple James Beard Award nominee, Rolf & Daughters creates Mediterranean-influenced food in a rustic decor full of exposed brick and metal accents. The Nashville restaurant was named Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit and Esquire in 2013. Reservations are recommended.
What to eat: Squid Ink Pasta, basically any pasta dish; The Frank Lloyd Wrong cocktail; There’s a dessert AND ice cream part of the menu.
The Catbird Seat
Neighborhood: Music Row, 1711 Division Street
Details: One of the most intimate and interactive Nashville restaurants. You and roughly 20 other people sit in a U-shaped table at The Catbird Seat. The kitchen? It’s in the middle of the table, and you watch your meals come to life. And yes, you can chat with the chefs along the way. Reservations are released 30 days in advance and groups no larger than four are allowed.
What to eat: Who knows? The menu changes each night based on the chefs’ whims and creativity. Here are specific things to know about The Catbird Seat.
Best places for brunch
Two neighborhood locations: Melrose, Sylvan Park
Details: Laid-back pub with a fantastic and expansive brunch menu, m.l. rose is for the travelers who lean toward lunch than breakfast. If you enjoy a little ale with your brunch, the craft beer menu will blow your mind.
What to eat: Man-mosas (and mimosas too); Bloody Maria; The ‘Recovery” Waffle Fry, think nachos but with waffle fries and breakfast toppings; Mexican Sunrise BLT.
Neighborhood: Sylvan Park, 132 46th Ave North
Details: Another lower-cased restaurant name (e.e. cummings, anyone?)… answer. is a bistro-type restaurant with locally-sourced food that elevates its uniqueness for Sunday brunch. This is where you might take a first date if you’re trying to impress.
What to eat: Bellinis; The Sylvan standard with chirozo, egg, tomato on sourdough; The Bowl (yep, that’s the name), with grits, cheese, bacon, eggs and more.
Fin and Pearl
Neighborhood: The Gulch, 211 12th Avenue South
Details: The name is a little bit of a giveaway. Fin and Pearl serves sustainable and traceable seafood with tons of pride, and it shows in their delightful brunch menu. If you care where your food comes from, this restaurant will let you know.
What to eat: Hot Shrimp Avocado Benedict; Breaux Bros Gumbo; Lobster and Crab Omelet.
Butcher & Bee
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 902 Main Street
Details: Starting as a very popular restaurant in Charleston, the Nashville outpost of Butcher & Bee expands the restaurant’s vision of fun lunches (lots of sandwiches) and elegant dinners. Somewhere in the middle you have its unique brunch options.
What to eat: Fried avocado sandwich; Green eggs and lamb; Chicken biscuit; expansive wine list.
Acme Feed & Seed
Neighborhood: Downtown, 101 Broadway
Details: Located across the street from the beautiful Cumberland River, Acme Feed & Seed is multi-level, updated take on the classic “honky-tonk.” While it has several floors to peruse, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays take place on the first floor with live music. Hit the rooftop afterwards for some amazing Music City views.
What to eat: Beautina Hash, eggs over slow-cooked brisket; Biscuits N’ Gravy.
Neighborhood: East Nashville, 1888 Eastland Avenue
Details: If you’re looking for vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free brunch options, Graze is all that — literally nothing but that. The plant-based bistro and bar may look like a simple restaurant from its decor, but the brunch menu (along with its juices and smoothies) is anything but simple.
What to eat: Tofu rancheros; Hot tempeh biscuit; Vegasaurus smoothie.
And the hits just keep comin’
Here’s a few other spots in and around Nashville that may not fall into the categories above, but are definitely worth checking out.
Neighborhood: 8400 TN-100
Details: Historic Southern food spot located about 30 minutes from downtown Nashville. Loveless Cafe is known for one things: out-of-this-world biscuits. Worth the drive if you’re visiting Music City. Breakfast is served all day.
Neighborhood: Downtown, 105 3rd Avenue South
Details: Oh, it’s a super late night of exploring Nashville, and you’re starving. How about a music-themed diner open 24/7? Welcome to Sun Diner, designed and named after the Sun Records company.
Goo Goo Shop and Dessert Bar
Neighborhood: Downtown, 116 3rd Avenue South
Details: What is A Goo Goo Cluster? It’s a Nashville tradition where chocolate, marshmallow and yumminess are mixed into one beautiful piece of sweetness. The in-house Dessert Bar offers a complete menu for anyone’s sweet tooth.
Neighborhood: 12 South, 2911 12th Avenue South
Details: Las Paletas creates delicious Mexican frozen treat with fruits, vegetables or sometimes nuts. Some paletas are cream-based, others are fruit-based with a large selections of flavors like Butter Pecan, Strawberry Kiwi, Pineapple with Chili Flakes, Nutella, Chocolate Mint and more. Sugar-free and non-dairy options available too.