Nashville, Tennessee, is filled with country music history, but you don’t have to sing for your supper to get an amazing meal. All you need to do is pick a restaurant, plop yourself in a seat and dig in to some of the finest Southern food east of the Mississippi River.
Set a spell
Southerners know how to appreciate a good meal, and most suppers consist of a raft of side dishes and hours of swapping stories. Nashville is home to many Southern-style eateries where you can tuck into the day’s meat and three. The Loveless Cafe is a Nashville favorite where you can get country ham, red-eye gravy, homemade preserves and the best biscuits in town.
If you like your sides with a little salsa, check out Cha Chah. They have a great menu featuring a long list of globally-influenced tapas like Chorizo Croquettas and Harissa BBQ Quail Wings. You can also taste a little bit of everything in their Tasting Room, which accommodates 2-18 guests.
Supper for a song
In a town known for music, it’s only natural that Nashville is home to many great restaurants that feature live music while you dine. The Bluebird Cafe is one of the most famous spots hosting songwriters in-the-round and serving up down-home staples like their Cajun Catfish Sandwich and Pork Barbeque Plate. Save room for a second set and the Big Blitz Pie — a caramel, peanut and chocolate concoction that is their best seller. Make reservations early because the room usually sells out.
Every Nashville visitor also needs to make a trip to the grocery, meaning Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant. Their menu features Cherry-smoked Baby-back Ribs and Chicken Fried Chicken, while their music venue sings nearly every night with up-and-comers and old favorites. If you can’t stick around to hear some tunes, take advantage of their hearty dinners-to-go.
Southern style is all about easy, breezy living. This applies to many of Nashville’s casual lunch and dinner spots where you can pop in and grab a slice or a sandwich. City House Nashville was named best pizza maker in Tennessee by the Food Network, and they are dishing up the finest rustic Italian fare in town. You can get classic pies or mix things up with belly ham pizza topped with a fried egg. They also offer pastas and entrees with specialty ingredients like house-made sausage and green tomato agrodolce. If you are in town over the weekend, don’t miss their Sunday Suppers, which feature an ever-changing menu that’s great for sharing.
If you prefer your carbs in sandwich form, you have to hit Mitchell Delicatessen for tasty sandwiches like Turkey, Avocado, and Swiss or the more exotic Banh Mi. Not in a sammy mood? Then belly up to the hot bar for daily specials from meatloaf to marinara and meatballs. (You can follow MitchellDeli on Twitter to find out what’s on the hot bar today.)
Down on the farm
Tennessee is farm country, and Nashville restaurants are proud to provide delicious vegetarian options. If you’re eating out and looking for a veggie meal that’s wild with flavor, check out Wild Cow Vegetarian. They specialize in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes with lunch and dinner specials every day. From sweet potato tacos to a Buffalo grinder made with tofu or tempeh, Wild Cow has you covered. You might want to skip dinner and head straight to dessert since they bake amazing sweet treats like gluten-free Chocolate Heaven Cake and a vegan peaches and cream “cheesecake.”
For a more international take on vegetarian, visit The Smiling Elephant. This traditional Thai restaurant offers reasonable prices for frugal dining and an outstanding selection of flavorful non-meat options. Ask about their daily curry special and pair it with a salad topped with lemongrass ginger dressing. Eating healthy never tasted so good!
Dining out in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without the most important Southern food: dessert! The best way to beat the Southern heat is to dip into delectable ice cream treats. For a superb scoop, stop by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Her seasonal and signature flavors range from sweet corn and black raspberries to bourbon buttered pecan. She also offers sorbets and frozen yogurts. You might be there a while deciding what to order — just go ahead and get two scoops!
Those of you who love popsicles should stick it out and head over to Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles on 12th Ave. Their selection ranges from fruity (strawberry blackberry) to creamy (chocolate with hot peppers), and they are always whipping up some surprises that are definitely worth a lick.
Restaurants in Nashville range from country to creative, and you are always guaranteed to find a fresh take on Southern cuisine. Go on your own eating adventure and explore the culinary delights that Nashville is known for!
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