While Nashville, TN is best known as Music City for its wide variety of exciting music venues, its culinary offerings are sure to be a highlight of your trip as well. Food in Nashville ranges from traditional “meat and threes” to famous Southern barbeque to global cuisine options. You’ll find options for every budget and opportunities to experience regional flavors, like Nashville Hot Chicken or the iconic Loveless biscuits.
Where the Locals Eat in Nashville
When you are visiting a new city, you can always judge whether a place is really worth the hype by how many locals you see enjoying it day after day. There are some restaurants that you just don’t get tired of visiting in Tennessee.
1. Loveless Café
Loveless Café is sure to be found on any list of “must-eats” in Nashville, and for good reason. The biscuits at Loveless are legendary and come with three different jams: strawberry, peach, and blackberry.
The whole table will have fun arguing over which is the best (hint…it’s the peach!). If traveling with kids, they have a blast going to the kitchen window and watching the biscuits being made before devouring the plate.
The other offerings at Loveless include southern favorites like meatloaf, fried chicken, and smoked turkey breast. As a local, I can honestly say we eat here once a month despite all of the visiting tourists. A dinner here isn’t complete without a slice of pie.
Loveless Café is located west of downtown Nashville and if visiting during the day, you can enjoy the many shops surrounding it or take a drive on Natchez Trace parkway afterwards.
8400 TN-100, Nashville, TN 37221
2. Arnold’s Country Kitchen
If you find yourself in downtown Nashville, Arnold’s Country Kitchen should be on your list. It’s a famous meat and three, meaning you pick a meat and three sides for your meal, from a cafeteria-style serving line. It’s won a prestigious James Beard American Classics award for its Southern dishes. It’s a true “mom and pop” business where everything is made from scratch and the menu rotates daily.
Some of its most famous dishes are actually the sides, and not the mains. The slow-simmered collard greens are the best in town, and there are even a few “off menu” favorites, like the bread pudding. You’ll have to ask for it, and you won’t be disappointed! Lines can get long as locals flock to Arnold’s for their lunch break.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
Get ready for the Heat with Nashville Hot Chicken
Nashville’s namesake dish, Nashville Hot Chicken, comes in a variety of heats with some of the hotter versions sure to have you reaching for the milk to cool it down. Nashville Hot Chicken is made by soaking chicken in a mixture of buttermilk and spices, flouring and frying and then squeezing a spicy paste, made primarily of lard and cayenne pepper, into the chicken right after it’s done frying. It’s traditionally served with pickles and white bread.
3. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
The original hot chicken can be found at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. While there are lots of places to enjoy hot chicken in Nashville, Prince’s still serves an almost 100-year-old recipe. You can choose from 8 different heat levels, from plain to XXX hot. You’ll find traditional sides like baked beans, greens, and mac n’ cheese.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
5055 Broadway Place Stall #2268 Nashville, TN 37203
4. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken has quickly risen to the top of the list for delicious Hot Chicken and has a following of its own. It comes in 6 heat levels from Mild to the infamous “Shut the Cluck Up” which is sure to require a glass of milk afterwards!
Hattie B’s also offers traditional comfort side, and the pimento mac n’ cheese is a favorite. With seven different locations in Nashville, it’s easy to find a Hattie B’s near your activities and can be counted on for a solid Nashville meal.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
112 19th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203 (6 other locations available as well)
The Best Barbeque in Nashville
Another Nashville favorite is the barbeque and there are several locations dedicated to perfecting the art.
5. Peg Leg Porker
Downtown Nashville boasts Peg Leg Porker for great barbeque and sauces. While their pulled pork is the draw, the sides here are worth the visit. Kool-Aid picked and their made-from-scratch pimento cheese are favorites on the menu.
Their fried peach and apple pies are so much better than peach and apricot crumbles. Their pitmaster has been asked twice to cook at the James Beard House, and prepares everything fresh daily at this downtown location.
Since everything is prepared fresh daily, and when they run out, they are out so getting here early is imperative if you want to have full pick of all of the options. For dessert, they have several fried pie options that are a great way to round out your visit.
Peg Leg Porker
903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203
6. Martin’s B-B-Q Joint
Martin’s offers all manners of barbeque, from pulled pork to ribs to wings. They also have several locations making them a convenient choice. While other barbeque joints focus on their sauces, Martin’s actually excels at their dry rub. The chicken wings with Memphis dry rub are exceptional. They also have sampler options that let you try a little bit of everything.
Martin’s B-B-Q Joint
410 4th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37201 (multiple locations available)
Where to find Non-Southern Fare in Nashville
While a lot of the famous Nashville restaurants focus on southern comfort food, there are so many more options. Whether you are looking for delicious Indian food or authentic Italian, Nashville has something for you.
7. Chauhan Ale & Masala House
Brought to Nashville by Chef Maneet Chauhan, the Ale & Masala house is consistently ranked in the top restaurants in Nashville. You’ll get to build your own dish, picking your protein and sauce. You’ll have choices of classic meats like chicken or can even go to signatures like center-cut filet or lamb chops. Their menu offers six different Indian bread options, and they even delve into Nashville classics with a hot chicken pakora appetizer.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House
123 12th Avenue North Nashville, TN 37203
8. Coco’s Italian Market
The best Italian in Nashville can be found at Coco’s Italian Market. Like its name implies, it also boasts a great market inside where you can buy high quality ingredients or Italian favorites to-go.
The pizza at Coco’s is delicious as are the traditional Italian favorites like their lasagna and ziti. One of the more unique and populate dish is the Tortellini Elliston, a cheese pasta tossed with spinach and a blush sauce.
The desserts at Coco’s are also a star. From cannoli to the extremely decadent Chocolate Eruption Cake (chocolate brownie cheesecake inside a chocolate mouse). It’s also a great place to visit with friends or kids. They have a bocce ball court and play kitchen area for kids while you wait for the pizza to cool down!
Coco’s Italian Market
411 51st Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209, United States
Bio: Sarah from Moment Mom
Sarah from MomentMom runs a family travel blog focused on collecting moments and exploring the world with her family. Whether it’s adding new stamps to their passports, visiting their beloved Disney Parks, or even exploring their hometown of Nashville, Sarah loves sharing tips for making the most out of your family vacations. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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