Believe it or not, Nashville is known as much for as its food as for its music scene, although often, the two are combined. Wondering where to get the best eats in Music City? Head to one of these six Nashville restaurants, or better yet, make reservations at all of ’em, Cowgirl.
COUNTRY EATS: SIX NASHVILLE RESTAURANTS WE LOVE
123 12th Ave North, Nashville, 615-242-8426
Executive Chef and co-owner Maneet Chauhan, who is a judge on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” has spiced up the Gulch area with a restaurant that offers a happy marriage of Southern staples and traditional Indian food. Locals like Taylor Swift have been spotted there, and globally-inspired drinks and drafts are abundant. Try the Moni and the Mule, for example, made with aria gin, ginger, lemon, lavender, tamarind soda and mint.
One particularly memorable appy is the Gol Suppa Shots, widely sold, we were told by the friendly Chef Chauhan, on the streets of India where she grew up. The light semolina puffs are filled with black garbanzos and potato. Pour in a little mint cilantro water, pop in your mouth, and wait for it to gently kick your taste buds like an Indian spur.
Images of Bollywood films projected onto the walls make this “gastropub” even more hip and exotic.
1922 Adelicia Street, (615) 490-8550
There was a time when Nashville nosh was mostly BBQ ribs and chicken joints, but those days are long gone now that Music City is also a Foodie City. Witness the opening of Le Sel, a new French restaurant located in Midtown on the ground floor of the Adelicia apartments, where Taylor Swift calls home (how many times can one drop TS’s name?).
Le Sel offers a cheeky spin on iconic French dishes during Saturday brunch, and a tip of the cowboy hat to the South. From its graffiti-inspired artwork to the staff’s bow ties and aprons by a local designer, owners Benjamin and Max Goldberg are on a tear to open as many high-caliber restaurants in town as possible. My breakfast consisted of a sublime omelet resting atop a crispy potato pancake.
609 Lafayette Street, 615-324-1010
Plan on visiting the city’s first and only fully operational winery, restaurant and theater space located in the Pie Town District. You can tour the winery and order tastings of the house brands paired with a selection of local cheeses.
Oenophiles can produce their personal blend with the help of the restaurant’s winemaking team—and make up to 21 cases under their very own label. Try the farm burger, one of the local’s favorite dishes, along with your wine, which is served with Muenster, caramelized onion, pickle, sundried tomato aioli, lettuce, and fingerling frites. Vegetarians can have the black bean & chickpea burger instead.
Come for the food, wine and entertainment!
1411 5th Ave North, (615) 242-4747
This relatively new arrival to the Germantown section is the creation of Chef Daniel Lindley, whose menu is inspired by the Sunday dinners of his childhood, with his traditional yet refined American fare that includes venison Carpaccio with charred kale, sunchoke, and caper; beer can chicken with swiss chard and beer sauce; trout with truffled faro, beet and sunchoke; and roasted cauliflower, acorn squash, poblano quinoa.
For dessert, you can order the Elvis Moon Pie, which is fried with bacon (you read correctly). The pastry chef drew a likeness of the man himself in chocolate sauce. As I dipped my spoon into Elvis’s image, who walks in but Connie Britton, the actress who plays Rayna Jaymes on TV’s Nashville. Heads turned but no one made a fuss, as Nashville has cultivated its celebrity cool.
The exquisitely designed warehouse space features rustic high ceilings, fiddle leaf fig trees, and candles on the center divider where a statue of General Francis Nash stands. I don’t know what your Sunday dinners were like, but mine were often unwrapped and unfrozen.
Hermitage Hotel, 231Sixth Avenue North, 615-345-7116
Even if you don’t stay at the luxurious Hermitage Hotel, you might want to get gussied up and go to its AAA Four Diamond-rated Capitol Grille. Chef Tyler Brown’s elegant, creative southern cuisine uses only the finest farm-to-table ingredients for his dishes.
Go for the heirloom grits in tomato gravy (best grits I’ve ever tasted), followed by the Loop de Mer, a lightly braised bass, and a luscious southern coconut lime cake.
Once a private men’s club, the restaurant is open to all genders as is its restored green-striped Art Deco men’s room, which has a shoe-shine stand inside. It is a favourite stop for a photo opp during bachelorette parties and prom nights.
5209 Charlotte Avenue, 615-712-7137
Want some real southern fried chicken that doesn’t come in a bucket with a white-bearded Colonel? Hungry locals head to Hattie B’s in West Nashville for poultry that’ll knock your boots (and socks) off. If you’re a wimp like me, you’ll stick with the mild, but if you have an adventurous and sturdy palette, I dare you to try the Too damn hot or Shut the cluck up.
You can wash it all down with pitchers of beer and sides of potato salad, collard greens and slaw. Talk about comfort food.
Jodie Gould is an award-winning writer and author of nine books, including HIGH: Six Guilt-Free Principles for Pleasure and Escape (Hazelden) and co-author of DATE LIKE A MAN: To Get the Man You Want (HarperCollins). She has contributed to numerous magazines and blogs, including Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Redbook and Showtime.com, where she wrote a monthly column. Jodie has appeared on Oprah, CNN, Extra and other national TV and radio shows.