About once every few weeks, I get an e-mail from a friend asking the age-old question about the place we call home. I’ve answered the question before, but it seems like is Nashville changing constantly. There’s always new restaurants to explore and things to see—and some are better than others. Nothing is worse than traveling to a fun city, and ending up in a restaurant that all the locals secretly loathe.
So if you’re headed to Nashville anytime soon, here’s the skinny on where to eat, drink and be merry. I’ve separated all my favorites into categories, narrowed (gulp!) them down, and included the neighborhood. I also went ahead and put these gems on a Google Map, so you can take these suggestions with you on the go!
HINT: If I’m listing the restaurant or venue, that means I’ve been more than three times, and have had a good experience (ie., great meal, great service, great value) every. single. time. There are plenty of places in Nashville that are worth a visit if you’re a local and able to risk it. But not you, dear traveler. Not you.
- Marche Artisan Foods (East Nashville) — This is the best place in Nashville, in my opinion. Arrive early (doors open at 8:30) and order, order and order some more. The daily tartine is always perfect, and I’m a huge fan of the croissant french toast, too (just get a half-order so you have room for the rest)!
- Crema (Downtown) — If you live in Nashville, you’ll know why this goes at the top of my list. Perfect, smooth coffee every time (the latte is my go-to). On Fridays/Saturdays, Utterly brings by delicious macarons to sell. And don’t miss out on the avocado toast.
- Barista Parlor (East Nashville or the Gulch)—not my personal favorite (plan to pay $5 for a slow-drip coffee), but it’s a great atmosphere and good hipster-gawking, and the sausage biscuit is pretty awesome, too.
PLACES TO WALK OR RUN:
- Percy Warner (Beyond Sylvan Park/West Nashville)— Drive to Bellemeade Blvd and park by the steps. Walk to the top of the stone steps and you’ll see a little trailhead for a 2.5-mile round trip hike! It’s gorgeous, and full of friendly hikers.
- Radnor Park (South of Nashville)
- Shelby Bottoms Park (East Nashville)
- Centennial Park (Midtown)
- Shops on Fatherland/Idea Hatchery (East Nashville)—these cute shops are the best of local, all in two little shopping areas. LITTLE is the point. These small “incubator” shops have helped launch some of the best local retailers.
- Peter Nappi — if you have $300+ to blow, do it on a pair of these boots.
- Imogene + Willie — Imogene (eye-moh-jean) + Willie makes custom jeans that will make you want to throw out all your other jeans. (Check out White’s Mercantile) down the road as well.
- Gas Lamp Antiques I + II (100 Oaks) — antiques for miles. And miles. Love it every time. Arrive fed and caffeinated.
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (Sylvan Park)—Choose Mild, Medium, Hot, Damn Hot, or Shut the Cluck Up!– no matter what, your taste buds will be jumping. This is the best hot fried chicken joint in Nashville. We love our hot chicken so much that every summer, we even have a hot chicken festival! So if you ask me, skip the barbecue and go straight for Hattie B’s.
- Silly Goose (East Nashville) — cous cous and delicious sandwiches. Try the T-bird and the King Kong cous cous. Closed on Mondays.
- Germantown Cafe (Germantown)—love the miso salmon salad!
- Local Taco (East Nashville) — right across from the Idea Hatchery, love the fried avocado taco! Also, the interior was designed by my good friends, Regiven.
LOCAL BREWS + COCKTAILS
- Bar 308 (East Nashville) — arrive after 9 p.m. or you’ll be the only one in there (which I don’t hate.) The Monkey’s Paw is a great grapefruit + champagne cocktail. Everything they make is homemade and delicious.
- Tennessee Brew Works (8th/Downtown) — these guys did a tasting at my house once! Now, the brewery is up and running and everything is super delicious. Take a tour, enjoy live music… have a blast!
- The Taproom (12 South) — awesome porch and beers on draft. This is where all the locals are.
- Pinewood Social (Downtown) — great drinks and mocktails, just prepare to spend $12+ on each. Great location and beautiful porch if it’s a nice day!
- Rolf and Daughters (Germantown)—if you don’t have a reservation, plan to arrive immediately when doors open at 5:30 p.m., eat at the bar, or wait until 8 – 9p.m. for second service. We love to eat at the bar and order as much as we can stomach. We’ve never tasted a single bad thing.
- Burger Up (12 South)—our favorite place to be regulars. Two Lamb Burgers, Two House Red Wines. Done and Done.
- Lockeland Table (East Nashville)—wood fired pizzas, great cocktails, awesome value. Just a good ol’ neighborhood spot.
- Two Ten Jack (East Nashville)— Asian flavor invasion. This place does Ramen like a pro.
- Josephine (12 South)
- Bobbie’s Dairy Dip (Sylvan Park) — it may look suspect from the outside, but Bobbie’s Dairy Dip is a Nashville establishment, famous for its specialty shakes and soft-serve treats. Cheap, awesome. Perfect after a hike at Percy Warner.
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (12 South or East Nashville)—Jeni’s has more locations around the nation now than it used to, but the flavors are always changing so it’s always fun to go see what they have in the freezer. HINT: Ask for a taste of an ice cream sandwich. They’ll cut you a piece!
- Tempur Chocolate (Germantown) – this new spot has great truffles and an insane cup of hot chocolate.
FOR THE MUSIC:
- Ryman Auditorium (Downtown)— original home of the Grand Ol’ Opry. This is a place you must see a concert before you die, but unfortunately, most concerts sell out months in advance. Plan a trip around a concert you want to see, or simply pop in for a tour. (Tours leave ever 20 minutes or so.)
- Roberts Western World (Downtown) — the honky tonk to beat all honky tonks. Show up at 10 am, prepare to drink cheap beer, listen to some great bluegrass, and dance with the regulars.
- Country Music Hall of Fame (Downtown) — to be fair, I’ve never been to the hall of fame. But I hear it’s a must-see, so I would feel remiss if I didn’t include it. SOMEDAY…
Alright folks… so what did I miss? What did I forget? Those of you who have been here recently, what did you enjoy the most?