40 Popular Restaurants In Nashville, Ranked

First-timers to Nashville may assume the food here is quintessentially Southern. While they're not entirely wrong, what they may not know is that Nashville has become a serious food town in the last decade and is now home to a diverse and expansive culinary scene. Music City may be famous for its hot chicken and barbecue (which are undoubtedly delicious) but Nashville is now home to more award-winning chefs and nationally acclaimed restaurants than ever before.

With so many places offering unique menus and inventive takes on cuisines from around the world, ranking these restaurants is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. and they're arguably all popular for different reasons and great in their own way. So, we'll start with more laid-back and casual (but still tasty) spots and work our way to the most talked about and most award-winning restaurants Nashville has to offer.

40. Pancake Pantry

Take a walk in Nashville's Hillsboro Village on any given morning and you'll likely see a line wrapped around a retro-looking building: That's The Pancake Pantry. One of the last surviving institutions in this particular neighborhood, The Pantry has been in business since 1961, serving famous made-from-scratch pancakes and sandwiches from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day in a classic diner atmosphere. The menu has plenty of inventive pancake flavors to choose from, including seasonal items like the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes, which are only available in July.

39. Loveless Cafe

The Loveless Cafeis one of the most famous restaurants in Nashville and for good reason. It's considered one of the best breakfast restaurants and one of the best roadside restaurants in America. The menu is full of Southern classics from the famous biscuits to fried chicken and barbecue. Opened in 1951, Loveless is one of the oldest restaurants in Music City, and celebrities in Nashville like Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift have been spotted taking a seat at the red-checkered tablecloths.

38. Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

Home of the original Nashville hot chicken, the city's most famous dish, Prince's Hot Chicken Shack is one of the oldest and most iconic restaurants in Music City, dating back to the 1930s. Lore claims the dish was intended as punishment from a jilted lover of Thornton Prince, who instead liked the spice and started a restaurant with the recipe. It has now become a Nashville favorite, inspiring a host of hot chicken restaurants around town and beyond. But nothing compares to the original: crispy, perfectly spiced, and as fiery as fiery can get, particularly if you go for the XXX hot.

37. Otaku Ramen

There are few things as comforting as a bowl of hot ramen. Otaku Ramen is considered one of the best ramen restaurants in America, so it's no surprise that it's the place where many Nashvillians go to get their noodle fix. At Otaku, chef and owner Sarah Gavigan takes the beloved dish to new culinary heights with astoundingly flavorful broths and inventive ingredients. Otaku's menu covers a lot of ground with options available for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Beyond the noodles, the snack menu includes options like hot chicken buns, Tokyo fried chicken with wasabi-yuzu mayo sauce, and gyoza. And to drink, there are plenty of boba options.

36. Redheaded Stranger

Created by Butcher & Bee chef Bryan Lee Weaver, Redheaded Stranger is the place to go for Tex-Mex in town. If you're someone who likes Southwestern flavors and classics like brisket, homemade tortillas, Hatch green chilies, and breakfast tacos, you won't be let down dining here. The tacos range from classic to inventive (like the number 8 that uses whipped feta and crispy rice). But, it's the crunchwraps that are truly a local favorite, especially when loaded with the house-made Dr. Pepper hot sauce.

35. The Southern V

The South has a lot to offer when it comes to delicious and flavorful food, but the one drawback is that it's often not very vegetarian-friendly. For those that want to enjoy the comfort of Southern food without the meaty ingredients, The Southern V has you covered. Especially if it's plant-based Nashville Hot Chicken you're after. Family-owned by Tiffany and Clifton Hancock, the restaurant is dedicated to serving vegan versions of comfort food classics like fried chicken, biscuits, and mac and cheese. Since opening in 2016, the spot has quickly gained a reputation for being the best vegan cafe in town.

34. Five Points Pizza

A summary of a city's food scene is incomplete without mentioning the best place to get a slice. In Nashville, Five Points Pizza is a must-mention spot. With two locations, one on the eastside and one on the westside, it's the best place in town to get a New York-style slice to-go any time of the day. But it's also a great sit-down spot, as well, where you can sip on a beer and snack on what are probably the best garlic knots you'll ever have while you wait for your whole pie to be handmade and cooked to perfection.

33. Joyland

Sean Brock has been one of the leading chefs in the South since opening Husk in Charleston in 2010. The James Beard winner now makes Nashville his home and has opened several restaurants in town throughout the years, including a second Husk. The most surprising, however, might be Joyland. Rather unlike his other endeavors, Joyland is an homage to fast food where you can find inventive twists on classics, like the CrustBurger composed entirely of the crispy edges of the hamburger, and the Joystick, which is an insanely flavorful fried chicken thigh on a stick.

32. Butchertown Hall

Butchertown Hall is a popular spot in Germantown that serves expertly smoked meats with a focus on Southwestern flavors. The meats are high-quality cuts, which are all smoked in Tennessee oak, and the menu also offers an array of sausages, tacos, and margaritas. The ribs are probably the most highly-rated dish. Connoisseurs certainly won't be disappointed with their tenderness and flavorful seasoning. The interior is rustic and stylish with an outdoor space that offers a relaxing place to dine on days when the Nashville weather is on the agreeable side.

31. Skull's Rainbow Room

Located in the historic Printer's Alley, Skull's Rainbow Room is one of the few places where vintage Nashville really comes alive. The restaurant and bar date back to 1948 and stars of the time like Elvis Presley were frequent patrons. It closed in 1998 after the owner, David "Skull" Schulman, was found murdered in the building, reports Nashville Scene, and the property sat empty until 2015 when it was bought and revived by a local businessman. Now you can watch live jazz and burlesque performances nightly on the original stage while enjoying the revamped menu composed of classic upscale American food. The lobster bisque is said to be the best in town.

30. Once Upon A Time in France

You might not expect to find a restaurant in Nashville that can make you feel like you've been transported to Paris, but Once Upon a Time in France will do just that. The 1920s Parisian decor will have you feeling like you stepped into another place and time. Located in East Nashville, this French-owned bistro serves classics like escargots de Bourgogne, le steak tartare, foie gras de canard, steak frites, and caviar d'esturgeon. Not to mention, you can also enjoy plenty of aperitifs, cocktails, and French wines to choose from. One can even indulge in "the green fairy," absinthe.

29. Mas Tacos Por Favor

A lot of restaurants have come and gone in the ever-changing landscape of Nashville in the past decade, but Teresa Mason's Mas Tacos Por Favor, which opened in 2010, feels like a forever spot. Named one of the best taco shops in America, tourists may have found out about the popular joint in East Nashville, but it still remains a favorite of locals as well. You can't go wrong with any of the delicious items on the menu but check out weekly specials as well for items like tamales and cactus and chorizo tacos. And nothing really beats the comfort of a bowl of Mas Tacos chicken tortilla soup.

28. 5th & Taylor

James Beard nominated Chef Daniel Lindley's 5th & Taylor in Germantown is an impressive space. What was once a textile warehouse  has been transformed into a candle-lit open dining experience centered around a life-size statue of General Francis Nash, who Nashville is named after. The menu is composed of American and Southern-inspired dishes, plated with unexpected ingredients. You'll find items like hot chicken skin biscuits, meatloaf sandwiches, and fried peach pies alongside dishes like beef tartare, bacon-wrapped quail, and scallops.

27. Hathorne

Hathorne, located in Sylvan Park, is vegetable-forward casual fine dining at its finest. While the menu is vegan-friendly, it's not without plenty of exciting options for meat eaters, as well. With its locally-sourced ingredients, colorful, aesthetically-plated dishes, a farm-to-table vibe, neighborhood friendliness, and delicious cocktails, Hathorne promises to be a memorable dining experience. The house-made focaccia with seasonal jam, the tahini beets, and the chicken a la schnitzel are all local faves. And it's advised to save room for the blueberry brioche doughnuts with sassafras cream on the dessert menu.

26. Josephine

At Josephine in 12 South, James Beard semifinalist chef Andy Little creates farm-style dishes both inspired by his Pennsylvania Dutch roots and his new Southern home. There's a heavy focus on using seasonal fresh ingredients with little waste and creating classic dishes with subtle, unexpected twists. It's a great spot for solid dinner on any occasion, but on the weekends Josephine also serves brunch where you can indulge in items like strawberry-filled donuts with elderberry cream and the duckfat hashbrown.

25. Cafe Roze

New York chef Julia Jaksic is behind Cafe Roze, an all-day cafe in East Nashville that serves simple yet sophisticated dishes and cocktails. This minimalistic yet chic spot is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. During the day, there are plenty of fresh smoothies, specialty coffee drinks, cocktails, toasts, and sandwiches to enjoy. On the dinner menu, you'll find beautifully plated vegetable dishes as well as pasta, seafood, and various other meat dishes including a burger, all expertly prepared.

24. Pelican & Pig

Owned by husband and wife culinary team Nick and Audra Guidry, what makes Pelican & Pig unique is their commitment to cooking with fire. About 95 percent of the menu is cooked in the wood-burning hearth that is the heart of the visible kitchen, giving everything on the menu a comfort-inducing smokiness. While there are plenty of fire-cooked meats to choose from, it's the sweet corn ribs that are the most famous dish here. Slices of corn, still partially attached to the cob, get flash-fried then charred in the fire then tossed in herbed butter and spices.

23. Peninsula

At Peninsula, you'll find a small but adventurous menu that's like taking a trip to the Iberian peninsula with your taste buds. Chef Jeff Howell's creations are inspired by Spanish and Portuguese culinary traditions but with modern twists. Here you can indulge in beautifully plated and brightly flavored dishes like octopus with passionfruit or scallops with cherry blossoms. Peninsulas also offers an entire menu of inventive gin and tonics that are probably unlike any gin and tonics you've ever had.

22. Riddim N Spice

Brothers and owners Kamal Kalokoh and Rashean Conaway are behind this spot where you can get insanely delicious Caribbean cuisine for brunch, lunch, and dinner. At Riddim N Spice, you'll find Jamaican classics like oxtail and jerk chicken plus plenty of options for vegans. The meatless soy chicken is just as good as the real thing and the barbecue jerk jackfruit with cucumber mango slaw and rice and peas will have you feeling truly transported. The fresh juices are also not to be missed.

21. Nicky's Coal Fired

At Nicky's Coal Fired, you'll find authentic Italian food cooked in the only coal-burning oven in Tennessee. Owned by husband and wife team chef Tony Galzin and Caroline Galzin, the ambiance is that of a welcoming casual neighborhood spot. The specialty here is certainly coal-fired pizzas with perfectly charred crusts, but the pasta, which is freshly made in-house, is not to be missed. Consider the house-made rosemary focaccia or Mama G's Meatballs, which will likely be some of the best meatballs you've ever tasted. To drink, they offer an array of Italian wines on tap and fun seasonal frozen concoctions like frozen Aperol spritz and frozen fernet and coke.

20. Chauhan Ale and Masala House

Chauhan Ale and Masala Houseis celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan's popular restaurant in The Gulch neighborhood. The menu can best be described as Indian food with a hint of Southern flair. For instance, the Nashville hot chicken pakoras are a super popular dish that rivals any of the classic hot chicken dishes in town. But, you'll also find more traditional Indian flavors as well like the whipped paneer with freshly baked naan and tandoori chicken.

19. Lou

With a contemporary Parisian-inspired vibe, Lou is quickly becoming a Nashville favorite since opening in 2019. Located in a casual cottage-like space in East Nashville, owner and chef Mailea Weger has created a menu that reflects her background–a touch of California and a touch of Paris. There's plenty of charcuterie, fish, and cheese to choose from as well as vibrant vegetable dishes and meat-centric entrées. The wine list is focused on natural wines which pair nicely with the fresh ingredients used in the food.

18. Etch

Chef Deb Paquette is a Nashville culinary veteran. In fact, she was the first woman to qualify as a certified executive chef in the state of Tennessee. After running the popular Zola restaurant for many years until it closed in 2010, she opened Etch in 2012. Located downtown, Etch has become a Nashville staple over the past decade, serving bright and beautiful dishes inspired by an eclectic mix of culinary traditions. The menu changes seasonally but you can count on the flavors being inventive and fresh. Try her recipe for chilled roasted cantaloupe soup.

17. City House

In the 16 years that James Beard-winner chef Tandy Wilson's restaurant, City House, has been opened, it has remained a top-notch spot to dine in Music City. The menu can be described as rustic Italian food meets Southern comfort. There's something for everyone on the menu: salads and vegetable dishes, cornmeal-crusted catfish, pasta, or octopus. Plus, the pizza options are particularly popular. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients, the dishes impress by being simple and expertly prepared.

16. Epice

In the heart of the bustling 12 South neighborhood in Nashville, you'll come across a small bistro named Epice. Here you'll find some of the best Lebanese food Music City has to offer. Feast on classics like manoushi, falafel, fatayer, kibbeh, and grape leaves in a sleek, casual fine dining environment. The salads are fresh and herbaceous, the fish and meat dishes are wonderfully aromatic, and the wines and cocktails are curated to complement the Middle Eastern flavors.

15. Lockeland Table

You'll find Lockeland Table tucked away on a quiet street in East Nashville. Since it opened in 2012, chef Hal Holden-Bache has been creating reliably delicious dishes that highlight the freshest ingredients Tennessee has to offer. The menu is full of farm-to-table American dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and rotating seasonal specials. Monday thru Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., they hold a community hour which is like happy hour but for a great cause, offering affordable prices on snacks and drinks while a portion of the proceeds support PTOs in Nashville schools.

14. Xiao Bao

Owned by husband and wife team Joshua Walker and Duolan Li, Xiao Bao has filled a gap in the Nashville food scene, offering unbelievably delicious eats inspired by various Asian cuisines that you can't find anywhere else in Music City. The menu is small and selective, rotating seasonally, but consistently features dumplings, noodles, and vegetable share plates. The bar offers inventive cocktails and a curated beer and wine list. It's located in East Nashville near some other restaurants on this list: Redheaded Stranger, Folk, and Audrey. Look for the oversized strawberry sculpture outside.

13. Butcher & Bee

Butcher & Bee has been a popular spot in East Nashville ever since it opened in 2015. The concept that began as a sandwich shop in Charleston, South Carolina, led owner Michael Shemtov to create a full dining experience in Nashville that cleverly melds Israeli and Southern cuisine. The chefs utilize local and seasonal ingredients so the menu changes accordingly though some items are a constant. For instance, the whipped feta with fermented honey has been on the mezze menu since opening and is a crowd favorite.

12. Maíz de la Vida

Maíz de la Vida may only be a food truck (for now) but chef Julio Hernandez has received an insane amount of praise for his colorful tortillas and authentic Mexican dishes which resulted in him becoming a 2023 James Beard semi-finalist for emerging chef. The truck is parked outside of the tiki bar Chopper in East Nashville six days a week so you can conveniently grab a cocktail while you wait for some of the best Mexican food imaginable. The birria beef tacos are said to be life-changing. In addition to the food truck, a tortilla shop is located in North Nashville and a full dine-in location is planned to open in the Gulch neighborhood in 2023.

11. Tailor

At Tailor, chef Vivek Surti has created a unique dining experience. Indian-inspired flavors make up the menu at this prix fixe-style restaurant. Located in Germantown, Tailor offers two dinner slots at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday. With the intention of capturing the essence of a dinner party, everyone gets sat at the same time so the meal can be served in courses with everyone in the dining room enjoying the same dishes at the same time. This allows the chef to explain the ingredients and tell stories about the food, which enhances the already highly-rated food.

10. Rolf & Daughters

Rolf & Daughters is a New American restaurant by James Beard-nominated chef Philip Krajeck. The menu is heavy on pasta dishes, though Krajeck doesn't call it Italian food. Instead, he calls it "modern peasant food." The rustic ambiance fits with this concept. Located in Germantown, Rolf & Daughters has become a quintessential Nashville restaurant. Locals and visitors alike tend to agree that it's one of the best spots to get dinner in town.

9. Margot Cafe & Bar

James Beard semifinalist chef Margot McCormack opened Margot Cafe & Bar in East Nashville in 2001. A pioneer of the culinary scene in town, this European-inspired bistro is still one of the best restaurants in Nashville. The atmosphere is inviting, with a two-story brick interior, a cozy bar, and an outdoor dining space. The menu changes daily using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The food is consistently brilliant, and it's hard not to feel at home here.

8. Folk

Owned by James Beard semi-finalist chef Philip Krajeck, Folk is the sister restaurant of Rolf & Daughters. The sourdough crust pizza is undoubtedly the heart of the menu and the main reason to continue coming back time and time again. With seasonal ingredients and rotating pies, there's always something new to try. But, there's also a lot more to Folk than just the pizza, such as the thoughtful wine list, the impeccable cocktails, the seafood options, and the vegetable and fruit-focused dishes.

7. Henrietta Red

Henrietta Red is an American restaurant and oyster bar with an impressive national reputation. Owned by James Beard finalist and chef Julia Sullivan, this Germantown spot can best be described as sleek, modern, and chic with the Southern hospitality you'd expect in Tennessee. The ingredients aim to be simplistic and fresh with a focus on locally sourced vegetables and high-quality, sustainable seafood. Since opening in 2017, Henrietta Red has received multiple accolades, including as a best new restaurant semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation.

6. Lyra

When Lyra opened in East Nashville in 2018, it felt like nothing else in town: part casual neighborhood spot and part fine-dining experience where Middle Eastern flavors are 100% the focus. Family-owned, chef Hrant Arekilan and wife Elizabeth Endicott created Lyra to have an inviting modern space. The wood-burning oven where bread like pita, man'oushe, and fatayer are made to order is on full view from the dining room. While the menu changes seasonally, you can always count on an array of beautiful and inventive dishes that incorporate fresh ingredients and vibrant spice blends. Plus, the patio is considered one of the best in town.

5. Yolan

James Beard Award-winner and Michelin-starred chef Tony Mantuano opened Yolan in 2020 inside The Joseph, an upscale hotel located downtown. It's a true Italian fine dining experience with a menu of carefully crafted antipasti, beautifully plated pasta, and the highest quality seafood and meat dishes. There are two dining options to choose from include a tasting menu or you can order a la carte. The tasting menu changes seasonally and is based on various regions of Italy. Yolan can be summed up as an unexpected slice of European luxury in the heart of Music City.

4. Catbird Seat

Catbird Seat has offered guests a unique culinary experience since it opened in 2011. It's a chef-driven test-kitchen style spot where you can expect an ever-changing menu that takes inspiration from all over the world, along with unexpected drink pairings. Some of the best chefs have showcased their culinary skills here in the past decade and continue to do so today. A reservation can get you a seat at the counter where you'll be fully immersed in the kitchen experience as chefs prepare delicately-plated dishes composed of seasonal ingredients right in front of you.

3. Bastion

One half of Bastion, located in the Wedgewood-Houston area, is a casual bar where you can order exceptional cocktails or snack on nachos. The other half is a reservation-only, 24-seat restaurant. It's in this space where you'll find some of the most artistic food in Nashville. A 2023 James Beard finalist, chef Josh Habiger (formerly of Catbird Seat) creates inventive and beautiful dishes that have earned the restaurant national recognition. The menu changes weekly, but expect a six-course dinner with drink pairings that use seasonal ingredients.

2. Audrey & June

Chef Sean Brock has played a huge role in elevating Southern food in the past decade. Audrey, located in East Nashville, is his latest restaurant and since its opening in 2022, it's gained quite a reputation. The menu at Audrey consists of Appalachian-inspired food like you've never had it before, full of familiar Southern recipes thoughtfully recreated using unexpected ingredients. On the second floor of the building is June, Sean Brock's more experimental tasting-menu restaurant; a true taste bud adventure.

1. Locust

Since opening in 2020, Locust has gained an impressive national reputation. Located in 12 South, it's owned by chef Trevor Moran who worked at Noma in Copenhagen for four years before moving to Nashville to take on the role as executive chef at Catbird Seat when the property first opened. His newest endeavor is a concept that has inspired a lot of attention. Locust is only open three days a week. The menu changes every meal but dumplings are always a big focus and expect a lot of Japanese influence. There are no servers and during service the chefs keep the atmosphere laid-back and inclusive. The space is small — only eight tables — so reservations are required and, unsurprisingly, they fill up fast. But, if you do land a spot, you'll be dining at what is widely considered one of the most fun and inventive restaurants in America right now.