Take a Bite of Nashville's Food Scene
While Nashville has long been known for its expansive music scene, the talent and creativity of its culinary scene has recently put Nashville on the map. Dubbed “The Coolest, Tastiest City in the South” by Bon Appetit, Nashville’s creative spirit has infiltrated into its kitchens, turning them into the chef’s studio. From southern fare to haute cuisine to quite literally everything in between, Nashville’s palate offers it all.
Two popular Nashville traditions are Meat & Three restaurants and hot chicken. Meat & Three restaurants are a Southern staple in which you pick one meat and three vegetable side dishes. Some of our more famous meat & threes are Puckett’s, Arnold’s and Swett’s. Nashville’s most notable contribution to Southern culinary culture, hot chicken “shacks” let you choose the level of spiciness of your chicken. Some of the well known hot chicken shacks are Prince’s, Boltons and 400º.
Many great local restaurants are located a little off the beaten path so you have to know where you’re going. Places like The Pharmacy and Holland House in East Nashville, Urban Grub and Burger Up in 12South, Jackson’s and Cabana in Hillsboro Village and Rolf & Daughters in Germantown offer laid back atmospheres and farm-to-table cuisine that provides an authentic taste of what Nashville has to offer.
Recently named one of the “Top Ten Best Restaurants by GQ Magazine”, Catbird Seat brings a new dining concept to Nashville. Local restaurateur brothers Ben and Max Goldberg opened the 34-seat restaurant in October 2012 that features an ever-changing seven-course menu of seasonally inspired dishes, prepared by acclaimed chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson. Together they cook in a U-shaped kitchen surrounded by countertop seating, giving patrons the opportunity to observe and interact with the chefs as their food is prepared.
Hotels also offer exquisite dining options. The historic Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille goes beyond sourcing local food by actually growing their own ingredients at the Farm at Glen Leven, just five miles from the restaurant and at their new 245-acre farm, Double H Farm. Executive Chef Tyler Brown creates a menu that shifts with the seasons, is based on what is the freshest and best available, and pays homage to historic Southern cuisine. 1808 Grille, located in the hip Hutton Hotel, features New American cuisine with a global twist. Executive Chef Charles Phillips creates sensational dishes such as the lamb t-bone and fennel dusted scallops using local produce and sustainable seafood.
M Street Entertainment, which runs some of the hottest restaurants in town including Kayne Prime, Virago, Whiskey Kitchen and Tavern, takes an artful approach to their menus. It is easy to see artistic work in such dishes as the Wagyu brisket at Virago with its playful textures and geometric forms or the baby octopus at Kayne Prime that is set against the vibrant colors of heirloom cauliflower and chorizo vinaigrette. Whiskey Kitchen offers a plethora of whiskey and bourbons in a see-and-be-seen atmosphere. Tavern’s brunch is a city favorite; dine on the outdoor porch, by the bar or sip blood orange mimosas on the patio.
With a multitude of colleges and universities and a city full of thriving musicians you can imagine the diverse crowds found sipping their lattes at the local coffee shops. Places like Bongo Java, Nashville’s oldest coffee company, Fido, a Hillsboro Village favorite, Crema, whose menu is 95% locally sourced and Barista Parlor, located in a former car repair shop, are some of the best places to fill your caffeine needs and get a sense of the local scene.
While Nashville will always be Music City, it’s clear that the creative energy and talent in the city extends far beyond music and into a burgeoning culinary scene that is worth a visit all on its own.