A Food Lover's Guide To Nashville's Best Eats

Those who have been hit with the travel bug also tend to be pretty enthusiastic foodies. A good meal and exploring new destinations go hand in hand and diving into new-to-you cultures typically involve experiences of new dishes and cuisine. Luckily, Nashville is not only one of the most fun cities in the United States to travel to but also has a pretty decent scene for food lovers. Since tourism is still growing and going strong in the city, there is even more room for great dining spots to pop up.

Whether you're coming into the city with family, solo, or as a wedding party for an exciting destination bachelorette party, you and your travel-mates will need to eat and there are so many local restaurants and food spots to satiate even the most hungry groups. Eating in Nashville isn't just about the food, though, it's an entire experience. From the many unique neighborhoods found within Nashville and Broadway's honky-tonks to the city's impressive rooftop bars and hidden dives, the food scene is spread throughout the city and has so much to offer locals and newcomers alike. Here are some of Nashville's very bests, and here's hoping you can hit them all on your next trip to the Music City.

Most loved by locals

As a tourist city, Nashville is packed with people pretty much all the time – at least, if you stick to Broadway and the tourist trap areas. While you'll find plenty of restaurants and bars that appear to be popular and filled with people, chances are those aren't locals you see filling the seats. To find the true gems, you have to do as the locals do.

Nashville residents love food just as much as visitors do, and they frequent various establishments throughout the city. There are two places, though, that offer plenty of variety in one place and while tourists may not flock to them, locals do make good use out of the large collection of food spots found in both areas.

Assembly Food Hall and Marathon Village are interesting points of interest because they are technically malls. Assembly Food Hall is a food mall with various dining experiences, some of which are additional locations to some of Nashville's most popular restaurants, like The Pharmacy and Prince's Chicken. No matter what you're in the mood for, you'll be able to find some quality eats here as well as a refreshing rooftop and live music events. As for Marathon Village, the food hall is located in a collection of now-renovated buildings that were once the auto factory Marathon Motor Works. The dining choices here include two distilleries, a candy company, and Southern Engine Deli, where you can grab one heck of a sandwich.

Best on Broadway

Broadway is made up of a number of iconic honky-tonks that make the NashVegas strip what it is. Now the neon strip resembling a mini Las Vegas isn't where you will find Nashville's most prestigious food spots, but it's worth mentioning a couple staples just for the sheer importance of the street and how popular it is with tourists.

Probably the most crucial of these honky-tonks is Tootsies Orchid Lounge, which has three stories of bars and stages for live music and is pretty much always packed to the brim with patrons. The vast majority of travelers won't be patronizing the bar for its food selection, but they do offer the standard fried bar fare that is more than fit for soaking up the massive quantities of alcohol consumed here nightly. Whether you eat or not, though, Tootsies is an absolute must for anyone visiting the Music City for the first time.

Much higher on the quality food chain is Acme Feed & Seed, which interestingly enough is another Broadway staple that spans three floors including a rooftop bar. The food scene here is interesting, as each floor has different offerings. Head to the second floor for sushi in the lounge, or grab something from the full menu on the ground floor and take it up to the roof with you for a dining experience overlooking the strip.

Best rooftop bar

Nashville has a staggering amount of rooftop bars. The city loves food, music, and fun, all of which can be found in almost all of the rooftop bars and restaurants within it. Some of the very best rooftop bars and restaurants in the city have found homes elsewhere in this guide, but there are so many quality food spots with gorgeous rooftops that you could spend all your meals for your entire trip on a different rooftop and still not hit them all.

Teddy's Tavern is a new spot downtown and they have quickly become one of the best rooftops in the area. One of the best things about the bar – other than the food – is the live music. Most establishments in Nashville have a live stage for musicians to perform, but a great deal of live music in the city are cover bands belting out the songs trending on the radio. Teddy's prides itself on being a place where locals and tourists can come to hear small-time musicians performing their own songs, which is very much true to the spirit of Nashville. Teddy's serves your typical pub menu, but they swap out regular fries for sliced cottage fries – a happy surprise – and incorporate different cheeses into practically half their menu, which will have cheese lovers foaming at the mouth.

Best breakfast joints

The Nashville Biscuit House may look a bit questionable from the outside, but it's the perfect example of why you don't judge a book by its cover. The breakfast here has a whole lot going for it — it's affordable, good food that comes out quickly and with generous servings. You won't find a whole lot of bells and whistles here, just good down-home country cooking and a few chipped plates piled with meat, eggs, and biscuits.

For this next one, we're actually taking you outside of the city, as Loveless Cafe is located on the outskirts of Nashville. Don't worry, though, the short drive is worth a visit to the quaint, historical little motel cafe. The Loveless Cafe has been around for over 70 years and started when a couple started selling chicken biscuits out of their home to travelers, which then led to the addition of a full cafe and motel. The cafe looks as though it belongs to Route 66's motel collection with its vintage neon sign right off the highway. The food offered here is still just as good as it is said to have been from the very beginning, and service is lightning-quick. Come for the chicken biscuit and BBQ and stay for the retro vibes and country hospitality.

Best brunch

Brunch has basically taken over the hospitality industry on Sundays. People love the hybrid meal and while a lot of restaurants have a special brunch menu on the weekends, there are some establishments that are purely a brunch spot.

Suzy Wong's Drag'n Brunch is one such spot and it even comes with a show, as your eggs and toast will be served with an eye full of some of Nashville's most talented drag queens. Music City has a bustling nightlife, and attending the show at Suzy Wong's is a great way to keep the party going past the early hours of the morning. They offer a flight of rainbow cocktails to share with your friends, and there's really no better way to avoid a hangover than to brunch it up with their Hong Kong Millionaire menu item.

For those wanting a more traditional brunch experience, Josephine on 12th is a local favorite and fuses southern charm with dining luxury. Their menu is drool-worthy and takes traditional southern cuisine and elevates it – be sure to order the chicken and waffles, scrapple wings, or something from their selection of mouthwatering baked items.

Haven for Hot Nashville Chicken

If there's one dish you have to try at least once while in the Music City, it is its namesake dish. Nashville Hot Chicken has become a menu item all over the country, but the recipe that started it all can only be found in its birthplace city of Nashville. Prince's Hot Chicken is known as the OG when it comes to the spicy fried chicken meal and luckily, the little restaurant chain is still slinging chicken for Nashville and has two brick-and-mortar locations and a food truck.

Hattie B's is another chicken restaurant that has become known for how well they do a Nashville chicken sandwich. With a heat index that ranges from a heat-less "Southern" to "Shut the cluck up," the accommodating chicken restaurant is ideal for those trying to ease into the heat of a typical Nashville sandwich. Other southern side items and desserts are available as well, such as peach cobbler and sweet tea with enough sugar to make anyone alert.

Hotel bars that'll make you want to stay in

Nashville is a party city on the surface, where plenty of grooms and brides-to-be come to have one last big party before getting hitched, but under its surface level of open late honky-tonks and all-night live music, the city is just another southern town that likes the slow life. Depending on how long you're planning to stay, you may want to channel that energy and have a fun night in. If you stay at a hotel with a nice bar or restaurant, it's easy to have the best of both worlds.

The Graduate's rooftop bar White Limozeen is a must for girl trips or anyone who wants to indulge in femininity akin to Dolly Parton. The roof is a whole vibe with hot pink canopies and plenty of space to kick it by the pool. As far as the food situation here goes, there are a number of menus to consider depending on when and where you are planning to enjoy what you order. It doesn't matter much, though, as everything from the small snacks to the steak dinners are as satisfying as the bar's atmosphere.

The Bobby Hotel is another luxe accommodation that has a killer bar located on the rooftop. Our recommendation is actually another of the hotel's dining options, though, as Bobby's Garage Bar's grungy, nostalgic atmosphere is a hit far left field from anything you'd expect to be in the well-kept and classy hotel.

Gems of The Gulch

Nashville is made up of a few different neighborhoods, all of which come with their own gems. As far as The Gulch goes, The Co-Op Frosé & Eatery is a fun option. Though the fun and pink-filled frozé (frozen rosé) bar and lunch spot is ideal for a girls' trip or bachelorette weekend, anyone with a penchant for alcoholic slushies and overloaded, greens-filled sandwiches will love this little eatery.

The local chain Biscuit Love has a location in The Gulch, and you can probably guess what they're well known for. Their flakey, golden biscuits have inspired four locations and are award-winning. While in Nashville, you should experience a made-from-scratch biscuit and Biscuit Love makes some of the best in the city – not considering all the local grandmas, of course. Biscuits aren't just for breakfast, either, as savory chicken sandwiches and veggie bowls are served through lunch.

Best of Sobro

The Listening Room Cafe is a great place to spend some time if you are staying around Sobro. As you can probably tell from the name, it is a music venue that doubles as a bar and restaurant. This can be said for most restaurants and bars in the city, as Nashville is very much for music lovers of all kinds, but the Listening Room is something really special.

Unassuming from the street, the venue is quite hip and trendy inside and perfect for photo-ops, as there are a few prime spots for a music-themed backdrop, like the Song Suffragettes sign used for the all-female musician live show that happens here weekly. As far as the food options go at the Listening Room, the menus are quite extensive and you could have a four-course meal while watching the live shows if you so desired.

Husk is a much slower dining experience in Sobro. The menu has been carefully crafted with deliberate care taken with each ingredient. With dishes changing regularly due to the availability of seasonal and regional ingredients, a meal at Husk truly is an experience geared toward foodies.

Music Row musts

If you're wanting to see the historic district of Music Row while you're in Nashville, choosing a spot to eat amongst the many record label companies is a great use of your time here. The Electric Jane is perfect, as it has great drinks and food as well as an appropriate atmosphere for the district. The interior is striking, with sleek and moody designs throughout and odes to music legends scattered around. The energy here is meant to be shared with a group, and that is reflected in the menu with many shareable board options. While you certainly can dine here solo or with one companion, come here with a few friends to get the full experience.

Switching gears almost entirely, the Patterson House has an air of traditional class to it. The slow sit-down experience here is driven by a small menu that features thoughtful ingredients. The drinks are equally as important and carefully crafted at the Patterson House, each flavor working to complement the other. Come here for a slow, easy night that also stimulates your taste buds.

East Nashville favorites

If you're a fan of burgers and high-quality ingredients paired with made-from-scratch recipes, then The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden is the perfect lunch spot for you. It's located in East Nashville, which is a great place to stay if visiting for a while as the neighborhood is full of locals and not too far from Broadway and the other neighborhoods worth exploring. The patio area is pretty amazing and one of the best places to dine outdoors in Nashville, as patrons are surrounded by lush greenery and fairy lights appear to float overhead. Don't leave Nashville without trying one of their burgers and a side of fries – you won't be disappointed.

East Nashville has plenty of burger spots, but maybe even more coffee shops. Ugly Mugs is a great coffee spot for the artistic-minded and those wishing to be caffeinated in the kindest way possible. Their mission is all about kindness and coming through for their fellow humans – and supplying them with caffeine is honestly a pretty great way to do so. With a pretty solid baked goods and savory food menu for a cafe, Ugly Mugs should be on your radar for a spot to grab a coffee and a bite to eat.

Places vegans have ample choices

If you have dietary restrictions, you know how hard it can be to find a place to enjoy a meal out. Even if you find something on the menu you can enjoy, you typically don't have enough options to make a conscious choice, as it's practically been made for you by the menu. Forget choosing the only vegan option on the menu, as Nashville has some great establishments that cater to people who don't eat meat or meat byproducts – which can be especially tricky considering the city's love of southern soul food.

The Be-Hive is not only a deli with a relatively large menu of vegan options, but also a market in which patrons can buy vegan products and foods to prepare at home. Extraordinarily, the deli puts out dishes that are near-perfect renditions of meat-centric dishes like a Philly cheesesteak and, naturally, the Nashville chicken sandwich.

The Southern V is another great vegan option for foodies who do not indulge in eating anything with a mother or a face. Everything here is plant-based and the selection of baked goods in particular are drool-worthy, though there is also a selection of southern-inspired dishes made vegan that are worth a taste test as well.

Nashville's hidden gems

Fleet Street Pub won't show up in many generic Google searches if you're trying to find the best places to eat in Nashville, but that doesn't make it up to par or even better than establishments you'll find on all the lists. Located in the grungy Printer's Alley, the dive is a traditional pub that locals consider to be a pretty special hidden gem with a laid-back atmosphere and some pretty great bar food on a surprisingly extensive menu.

We love a good hybrid business, and Vinyl Tap in East Nashville is just that. The bar has two dozen beers on tap while also doubling as a record store. You can buy and pre-order new release records while waiting for your food and admire your new ear candy over a cold beer. The menu is a light one with small bites, but the vibes and unique business plan make up for the lack of meal options – though, a food truck serving up burgers is available right outside four days out of the week.