Locust Is A First-Class Nashville Restaurant Without Servers

Many things make Nashville's Locust restaurant stand out among the army of food warriors in Music City. Championing a new version of Southern cuisine, the cafes, bistros, gastropubs, and fine-dining establishments in the city are anything but shy. And Locust doesn't need to be — the food speaks for itself, loudly. Minimalist design complements the elegant, unexpected simplicity of the focused, limited-option menu, explains Condé Nast Traveler.

Just about everything about this high-end eatery in Nashville's 12 South neighborhood defies restaurant convention, even its approach to servers and staff. Locust owner and chef Trevor Moran made a regional name for himself at The Catbird Seat on Division Street, but not before years of dishing out at Copenhagen's Noma, which earned the top 50 Best honor as the World's Best Restaurant for 2021. The Noma experience was not lost on the Irish-born Moran, apparently. His passion project, Locust, landed on "The Restaurant List 2022" by The New York Times, despite being open for only two years.

Locust does things its own way and cheers to that. But one notable and seemingly impossible component is a lack of servers.

Staff plays double, triple duty

The mystique of Locust Nashville starts by visiting its sparse website. It's literally a three-click wonder containing an intro page and two links for purchasing gift cards or making reservations, which are usually sold out. They're only open three days a week. The home page provides hours, address, contact info, and a single photo — that's all. Contacting them is by text or email only.

When you do get a coveted table at Locust — surprise! The staff doesn't include servers. However, that quirk appears to be more of an asset than a liability. That's because the knowledgeable chefs preparing your food also double as servers and food runners explains the Robb Report. As a result, everyone becomes part of the inclusive experience at this cozy 36-seat eatery, which also offers intimate glimpses into the inner workings of meal creation by Moran and his team of culinary cohorts.

Now for the food and drinks: think dumplings, saki, seafood, and Japanese-style kakigori shave-ice dessert. Those signature menu items endure, but variations on them come and go. Condé Nast Traveler shares options such as spicy hand-cut noodles, steamed chili-oil pork noodles, and charcoal-roasted oysters, while The New York Times reveals escargot-stuffed halibut and deconstructed sushi with steak from a Tennessee ranch.

Servers or not, consensus reigns that you'll get all the attention you want at Locust. From their own lips, via Tock, they aspire to be "a fun and easygoing hangout centered around seafood and wine."