The 9 Best New Nashville Restaurants to Try Now
Planning a trip to Nashville? Don’t rely on outdated travel guides to build your itinerary. Everything’s a-changing in Music City, including (and especially) the food scene. Below are the best new restaurants to try right now.
Stay Golden Restaurant & Roastery
The idea that customers should be able to get great food, high-quality coffee, and craft cocktails at the same location doesn’t seem like a novel one, but until Nashville’s Golden Hospitality Group opened Stay Golden Restaurant & Roastery in August 2018, it hadn’t been done. The new Berry Hill hot spot is the perfect place for all-day eating with its expected but well-crafted options like breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, and two-patty burgers. Thanks to an on-site roastery, the coffee is fresh and sublime and even shows up in inventive cocktails like Can’t Catch Me (made with Faretti Biscotti liqueur, espresso, and ginger snap cookie milk) and Cautious and Curious (gin, Amaro Meletti, mole bitters, and coffee ice).
The Green Pheasant
The folks behind Nashville's acclaimed Two Ten Jack Izakaya and Ramen House are at it again, this time with the decidedly more refined The Green Pheasant in downtown SoBro. The menu puts a modern spin on traditional Japanese cooking with an emphasis on local ingredients: lunch focuses on on teishoku (traditional Japanese “set meals” that feature a main dish, miso soup, tsukemono, rice, and daily sides) while dinner standouts include a Tennessee trout that’s wok-fried whole in ginger oil and served with steamed buns and slaw as well as Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake made with potato, smoked ham, bacon, and scallops. Regardless of your entrée choice, be sure to start your meal with an order of karaage—Japanese-style fried chicken nuggets that are crispy, tender, and served with a malted Kewpie mayo.
Sunda New Asian
If deciding between Japanese, Thai, Chinese, or Vietnamese is too difficult, Sunda New Asian is a welcome compromise for everyone in your dinner party. It’s also an opportunity to eat your way around southeast Asia in one meal. We recommend starting with the crispy Brussels sprouts and oxtail pot stickers, then staying late for the garlic crab noodles or the crazy rice—Sunda’s jacked up version of fried rice that’s studded with lobster, chicken, shrimp, and spicy sambal sauce. Sunda is only open for dinner and Sunday brunch and, because the restaurant is located in The Gulch (one of Nashville’s hottest and trendiest areas), it's best to get there early. Once you’re finished, head across the street for some live jazz at Sambuca.
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Whether you're a Nashville first-timer or veteran, ending up on Broadway at some point during your visit is inevitable. Owned by rocker Gavin DeGraw and his brother Joey, the four-story Nashville Underground features 40,000 square feet of space, so there's plenty of room to spread out for a casual lunch, romantic dinner date, or making new friends on the double-decker rooftop. Be sure to order some Nashville hot chicken while you’re here—NU is the only joint on lower Broadway serving it up authentic, bone-in style. The heat ranges from naked to Ring of Fire, and if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even get your dessert hot. The Nashville Hot Ice Cream tops three scoops with NU’s signature sauce, candied pecans, and crumbled bacon.
Some restaurants are known for their food, others are known for their ambience. Geist has perfected both. Named after John Geist, Sr., a German immigrant who first opened the location as a blacksmith shop in the 1880s, the building just off Jefferson Street now fuses old-school tradition with new-school chic and is a perfect glimpse of the young, sophisticated New Nashville. Sharing of plates is encouraged, so don’t be shy about ordering more than usual. (Go for the pickled vegetable salad, glazed carrots, roasted half chicken, and seared scallops.)
Nashville is chock full of steakhouses, so it’s imperative that newcomers stand out. Celebrity chef and cookbook author Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak, which sits on the 34th floor of the brand-new JW Marriott hotel in downtown Nashville, is one of them. The panoramic views of the city are stunning, but the food is just as remarkable. Plus, steak options are organic and hormone-free, so you’ll feel better about topping yours with truffle butter or a king crab and béarnaise sauce. There’s plenty of options for non-beef-eaters, too, including a lobster pot pie and a shellfish platter with oysters, gulf shrimp, lobster, and king crab that can be served cold or broiled with red miso butter, charred lemon, or lemongrass tea.
Earlier this year, chef/owner (and Nashville icon) Philip Krajeck followed up his widely acclaimed New American restaurant Rolf and Daughters with Folk in East Nashville. It's a neighborhood pizza joint by design, but don’t be fooled by assumption: the tightly curated menu has a whole section dedicated to vegetables, where inventive dishes like a Caesar salad made with kohlrabi and topped with trout roe will make you want to eat your greens. There's also some non-pizza mains to choose from, including a dry-aged strip and mussel toast, but the pies are the highlight, of course. If you want to squeeze in a few more veggies, try the fermented potato pizza with kale or the tomato-mozz topped with olives and fall lettuces. If you’re a carnivore at heart, go for the sopressata pizza with preserved peppers.
Celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan of Food Network fame has already scored several Nashville restaurant hits with Tansuo (contemporary Chinese), The Mockingbird (modern diner fare), and her signature Chauhan Ale & Masala House (Indian with a Southern spin). Chaatable, Chauhan’s newest concept, is a tribute to Indian street food, served up in a bright, colorful space that is authentically reminiscent of an Indian bazaar. The word "chaat" refers to hand-held foods, and the menu has plenty to choose from, whether you prefer an Indian-spiced chicken kabob or potato stuffed peppers aptly dubbed "Just Chili’n." Looking for more traditional bites? Opt for roasted butter chicken (The O.G.) or cauliflower masala (Go Be Awesome).
Tavern at Bobby
With many of Nashville’s best restaurants open only for dinner, Tavern, located just off the lobby of Bobby Hotel (one of the newest in the city's growing portfolio of boutique hotels), is a welcome all-day option. Try the blueberry and lemon pancakes or the ratatouille omelet for breakfast and the portobello patty melt for lunch. For dinner, chef Jeff Axline has added comforting, seasonal dishes to the menu, including duck confit with artichokes and charred carrots and braised rabbit rigatoni with turnips, golden beets, and mushrooms. Because brunch is a must in Music City, be sure to stop back in on Saturday or Sunday before 2 p.m. for Tavern's sweet-meets-savory take on Brussels sprouts (they’re doused in a chili-bacon syrup and scattered with bacon pieces), bananas foster french toast (it's decadent but not too heavy) or pimento cheese and bacon omelet (ideal for the Southern food fanatic who’s tired of biscuits and grits).
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