7 Nashville Restaurants You Gotta Try
From fine dining to the best down home grub joints, here are seven restaurants you have to try next time you visit.
For more than 50 years, Vanderbilt University students, downtown office workers, and thousands of other Nashville residents and visitors have made the trek south down Highway 100 to the Loveless for some of the best scratch biscuits and crispiest fried chicken in Tennessee. Located at the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, the cozy eatery serves hearty, country-ham-adorned breakfasts, as well as classic meat ’n’ three lunches and dinners daily.
8400 Highway 100, lovelesscafe.com
Their friends said they were crazy when Jan and Bernie Strawn opened their MacK & Kates Café & Wine Bar in Kingston Springs (18 miles from Nashville) six years ago—and they probably repeated that opinion when the couple premiered Macke’s Restaurant in the city’s Green Hills neighborhood a few months later. After all, the couple had never run a restaurant and had two daughters (MacKenzie and Kathleen) in college. But Jan knew her way around a kitchen—and how to find excellent chefs. The results were two fine dining experiences that have drawn raves from local foodies and food critics. Try one of Jan’s down-home dishes made with a twist (such as the macaroni and cheese with lobster appetizer), and you’ll be crazy for Macke’s too.
While out-of-towners hit the Broadway honky-tonks, Nashville locals belly up to this speakeasy hangout on Division Street. The 30-stool bar retains a hush-hush, Gatsby-and-Governor sophistication, and savvy bartenders stir and shake in Capone-era getups. Try the Juliet and Romeo for slow sipping underneath the vintage chandeliers.
1711 Division Street, thepattersonhouse.com
Nashville has sent ordinary fried chicken back to the farm. A Tennessee legend, Prince's Hot Chicken may fry up its spicy goodness in a sketchy neighborhood, but loyalists flock to its one-room storefront every noon hour. Chicken gets cooked by the order, so expect a 30-minute wait. And expect it hot. We suggest the "Medium" order.
123 Ewing Drive, 615/226-9442
Owners Jack and Rose Arnold have been serving country music stars, downtown workers, and ordinary folks in their little red meat ’n’ three since 1982. You'll find some of the state's best fried chicken, fried green tomatoes (cooked with apple juice and hot sauce), and the creamiest banana pudding this side of heaven. Even the James Beard Award foodies have taken notice, bestowing a prestigious "American Classics" nod in 2009.
605 Eighth Avenue South, 615/256-4455
Sandwiched between art galleries in the up-and-coming East Nashville neighborhood, this alfresco “weenery” sells chargrilled dogs out of a vintage yellow Volkswagen bus. There are no tables here, but the staff hands out picnic blankets as readily as extra napkins. Signature dogs include the Rebel Yelp, served with jalapeños, mustard, red onions, and spicy Tennessee chowchow, and the equally hot Flamin' Frank, which substitutes chili and salsa for the chowchow.
1108 Woodland Street, 615/226-2622
If Nashville had a superstar chef, it'd be Margot McCormack, the gourmand behind the Eastside restaurant revival. Her Margot Café and Bar has won every local award imaginable, but its her second spot, Marché Artisan Foods, a Euro-style market and cafe, that has our taste buds’ attention. Marché whips up a brunch like no other. Ask for sunny eggs and sausage polenta with your pomegranate mimosa.