Your Guide to the Best of the Nashville Food Scene

busy restaurant kitchen with blurry elements

While Nashville will always be a draw for those seeking live music and rowdy neon-soaked nights, more and more, it’s also becoming a thriving foodie town. With restaurants helmed by award-winning chefs and the regional bounty of rich southern farmland, the culinary scene sees as much growth as the local housing market – and if you’ve ever counted the cranes that dot the skyline, you know what we’re talking about. From dive bars to five stars, we’re giving you the best of the Nashville food scene so you can enjoy some truly amazing culinary treats on your next visit to Music City. We hope you’re hungry; let’s dig in!

Best Restaurant in Nashville

chef plating a beef dish

Local-voted-and-approved, the best restaurant in Nashville had a lot to overcome as it replaced the beloved Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel. It didn’t take long to realize Drusie & Darr would have staying power, though. With their dedication to locally sourced ingredients and a redesign that invited guests into the process of food creation with its open-concept kitchen, the restaurant has revitalized the spot and serves up delicious creations from acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his executive chef Kelsi Armijo.

The globally inspired menu is a tribute to Chef Vongerichten’s worldwide acclaim and features dishes like mouthwatering Roasted Lobster, Porcini Crusted Salmon, and Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Chops. The team also offers a tasting menu comprised of succulent bites from the Beef Tenderloin paired with smooth parsnip, roasted Brussels sprouts, and soy miso mustard, all of which combine into one perfect moment, or the inventive take on Roasted Cod which pairs unique hazelnut emulsion, broccoli rabe, and chili oil into a symphony of flavors most would never even conceive to try. Open seven days a week for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner; if you’re looking to try one of the hottest new places in town, be sure to schedule a reservation at Drusie and Darr.

Best Breakfast in Nashville

A testament to James Beard award-winning chef John Currence’s southern roots, Big Bad Breakfast has taken over Nashville and the surrounding areas, serving up delicious breakfasts that feature classic dishes and quality ingredients. With the first location opening in a small strip mall in Oxford, Mississippi, Currence wanted to show his love and appreciation for the most important meal of the day by creating dishes that reminded him of his childhood, and that’s exactly what he did. From the cat-head biscuits and tomato gravy to the cooked-just-right fatback bacon, every bite feels like a hug from your grandma. If you’re looking for the best breakfast in Nashville, there’s really only one answer. Be warned, though, weekend mornings are still just as busy as the day it opened, so get there early or be prepared to wait – we promise it’s worth it.

Best Diner in Nashville

glass of iced tea on a diner table

One of the things that really makes a dinner memorable is the vibe, and from the second you pull into Wendell Smith’s parking lot, you just know you’re in for something great. Attached to a liquor store by the same name, it’s a landmark for locals. It’s also next door to our aforementioned favorite breakfast joint!

Wendell Smith’s is a meat and three that beckons memories of old Nashville before the bars were named for country stars, or a beer would set you back 10 bucks. From the counter loaded with farm-fresh tomatoes and veggies to the staff that still calls you sugar as they pour your tea, sliding into one of their worn yellow booths feels like coming home. Here, you can indulge in every true Southern favorite you can think of, from fried chicken and black-eyed peas to pork chops and mashed potatoes. And with a commitment to serving the community they’ve been a part of since 1952, you’ll enjoy prices that won’t break the bank, either. Serving sometimes upwards of 500 hungry patrons a day, it has more than earned its stripes as one of the best in the Nashville food scene.

Best Hot Chicken in Nashville

People will argue about this until they’re blue in the face, but there can only be one best hot chicken in Nashville. As far as we’re concerned, that honor goes to the OG, the originators of this dish that’s gained global fame, the keepers of the hot sauce secret… Prince’s Hot Chicken.

When they still had their food truck in the beer garden at the Ole Smoky Distillery, you’d see lines down the street every day. Recently, they’ve set up shop at the Assembly Food Hall on Broadway, making it easier than ever to try a daring bite of their scorching creations. With EIGHT spice levels to choose from, as well as delicious sides like seasoned fries, “Get It Girl” greens, mac and cheese, baked beans, and more, you can enjoy a full feast that’s guaranteed to light up your senses. A lot of places try to recreate what Prince’s has dreamed up, but there can only be one hot chicken G.O.A.T. in this list of the best of the Nashville food scene. If you go for the triple X, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Best Dive Food in Nashville

cheeseburger, fries and a beer at a bar

Dating back to the 1970s, Dino’s is the oldest dive bar in East Nashville and has served as a watering hole for locals and visitors alike for decades. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but once you’ve discovered this gem, it anchors itself in your heart. From its dangling Christmas lights to the portrait of our Queen Dolly, it’s a close-quarters hole in the wall that focuses on the basics: cold beer, good food, and quality company. With a well-loved menu that covers all the basics, from fries to Frito pies, what you’ll really want to get your hands on is their namesake Dino’s Cheeseburger. Voted in the top three burgers in the country by Bon Appetit Magazine and even enjoyed by the late Anthony Bourdain, this burger is everything a burger should be. The juicy beef patty and the decked-out dressing of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles all come together on a toasted bun to create a bite that will melt all your troubles away. Sink into a corner booth with some good friends and enjoy this simple delicacy as you watch a little piece of the world go by.

Best Sweet Treat in Nashville

There are tons of options for delicious desserts in Nashville, from the tiramisu at Coco’s Italian Market to the chocolate croissant at Le Macaron, and it really is hard to choose just one, but somehow, we managed. No, it’s not the unique flavors at Jeni’s Ice Cream or the cronut at Five Daughters, though; those were in the running, too. For the best sweet treat in Nashville, we chose something truly unique. The Donut Distillery is part bar, part bakery, serving up fantastic mini-donuts paired with local beers or craft cocktails, delivering a one-of-a-kind experience that’s as fun and memorable as it is scrumptious. Visit their Assembly Food Hall or East Nashville location, and if you’re a coffee lover, be sure to try their coffee cocktail flight – a perfect pairing of four delicious mini donuts and four unique caffeinated creations.

Book Your Culinary Adventure in Nashville

living room of nashville vacation rental

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the best of the Nashville food scene. If you’re planning a visit this month, you’ll be just in time for Restaurant Week, taking place February 26 – March 3, where you can try some of these top eateries for yourself. But before you can make those dinner reservations, you have to find the perfect vacation rental! At Nautical Properties, we have several luxury downtown condos perfect for your culinary adventures in Music City. Browse our complete list of Nashville vacation rentals and book your trip directly with Nautical Properties!