Nashville, Tennessee is a Southern city that makes waves in country music, tourism and food. Its culinary scene is a MUST for foodies and we’re not just talkin’ hot chicken. While hot chicken is trendy and tasty, there is so much more to eat in Nashville. So, yes, check out the live music in the honky tonks. Then head to one of these fab spots for some of the yummiest southern food in Nashville.
Nashville Restaurants that Foodies Will Love
Nashville, Tennessee, is known as Music City USA. And it’s comprised of several neighborhoods in addition to the Gaylord Opryland Resort which is like a city within a city. The four major areas are:
- Downtown, a touristy area with lots of life, the sports arena and stadium.
- 12 South, the hot neighborhood where the country music celebs hang out.
- East Nashville, the area for hipsters and one-time $99,000 houses that now go for a half million or more because it’s the trendy place to be.
- Belmont/Hillsboro Village, where the colleges are, about 10-15 minutes from downtown.
Each year, my daughters, Taylor and Peyton, and I attend the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, which showcases our favorite country music artists. We try to expand our culinary palates by adding five to six new eateries every time we visit.
Here are five appealing dining spots in Nashville that offer great food in a family friendly atmosphere. We do recommend that young foodies reach beyond the chicken tenders and hot dogs. Some of the restaurants on our list showcase trendy new dishes, while others lean toward classic menu items. All are kid-friendly restaurants. Downtown Nashville also several has food tour offerings.
I would be remiss if I did not mention hot chicken in an article about Nashville food, but honestly, I’m not a big fan. However, you have to try it. Hattie B’s is the most popular place to get it but I would say Puckett’s Grocery has the best and it is in walking distance of downtown.
1. bartaco, 12 South Neighborhood
bartaco restaurant has been one of Nashville’s favorites since opening in the 12 South neighborhood in 2015. Buzzfeed claims bartaco has one of the best tacos in America. The upscale street food menu and coastal cantina vibe add to the ambiance of this hot spot. The chunky guacamole and spicy salsa were both big hits. Both were served with bartaco’s tortilla chips, big, fat, freshly fried ones that did not crumble when dunked into the guacamole. That’s what I’m talking about!
We tried the Tuna Tatakos (lettuce leaf, no taco shells), Grilled Corn on the Cob (lime, cayenne, and cojita…plus the staff will remove from the cob for you!), Plantains, Chicken Quesadilla, and amazing Cauliflower Tacos. Every dish received praises. The margaritas at bartaco were pricey, but the cheaper food prices made up for it. A kids’ menu was also available.
2. Flying Saucer, Downtown-ish
Connected to stately Union Station Hotel, the Flying Saucer restaurant is worth a visit. Hundreds of collector plates (saucers) and outer space decor decorate the restaurant. The Flying Saucer is a chain, mostly in the South, with 15 locations. My daughter and I shared the Saucer Dipster sandwich with fries. Packed full of shaved roast beef on a tasty roll with melted Swiss cheese, it was definitely a good comfort food choice. The stout au jus (dipping juice) was rich and perfect for dipping the billowy bread.
You must order Loaded Rocket Tots; these golden brown jalapeño babies are dotted with goat cheese, bacon, green onions, and topped with a fried egg. Holy goodness, they were amazing! German inspired dishes were also on the menu.
3. Pharmacy Burger, Several locations
This hipster burger and soda joint is a popular eatery with friendly bartenders and cool burger creations. My daughter found this place on Google and it turned out to be a FIND! I loved Pharmacy Burger’s pure cane sugar soda choices and opted for a Creamsicle soda (orange soda, cream, vanilla syrup). When you want to burger up, Pharmacy Burger’s organic burger toppings and combinations are sheer genius. I applaud the clever recipe creations and use of quality ingredients, although the organic burgers did not have enough seasoning for me.
For dinner, I had the Stroganoff Burger with mushrooms, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and béchamel. Yum, that saucy combo and the billowy light buns. Other dishes we tried were the Chicken Sandwich, Chili Burger, and side items including tater tots, black bean & corn salad, and hand-cut sweet potato fries. It is one of the best kid friendly restaurants as well with several options on the menu.
4. Josephine’s, 12 South Neighborhood
Located in the trendy 12 South area, Josephine’s is a restaurant that serves American farmhouse cuisine. The atmosphere is relaxed with a stylish contemporary decor. After reading Josephine’s brunch menu selections, my daughter and I decided to try it. We started with a killer dish: Peach Tartine. The bruschetta (tartine) was topped with creamy goat cheese, arugula, pecans, grilled peaches, radish slices and a rich balsamic drizzle. Kudos to Chef Andrew Little for creating this sublime dish.
Peyton had the Chicken and Biscuit, which was was just that, two pieces of fried chicken with a biscuit and fries. I opted for the Spinach Quiche with creamy goat cheese and thyme, served with fries and a side salad. The prices were steep, but we both enjoyed Josephine’s food and dining experience.
5. McDougal’s Chicken Fingers & Wings, Belmont/Hillsboro Village
If you love chicken, as my daughters do, this is the place for you. McDougal’s Chicken Fingers & Wings is located in the Belmont/Hillsboro Village neighborhood. McDougal’s knows how to do chicken right; you can get it in wing or chicken strip form, fried, grilled, or tossed in a sauce. The fresh hand-cut fries were phenomenal and the homemade dipping sauce was a must. Everything about this restaurant is super casual and affordable.
It’s a family restaurant and as a family we each had our own McDougal’s chicken basket meal, which came with fries, a drink, and slice of Tennessee toast. My favorite thing about McDougal’s is that the restaurants only uses high-quality ingredients and fresh chicken; there are no freezers, microwaves, or ovens. There’s no gelato here but you do get a free soft serve ice cream cup.
This post was updated by Kim Orlando on April 17, 2020.
Jade Mortimer says
wow! amazing food. i love the look of that quiche, im hungry now!
Juliette | Snorkels to Snow says
These all look like delicious options. I love tacos so I would be first visiting Bartaco! I’d be keen to try the lettuce shell ones too. Nashville seems like a good place for foodies.
All the food in your pictures looks delicious! I have a feeling that the day we visit Nashville we are going to love the food!
Dave (Silverbackpacker) says
I have never associated Nashville with food before. Only Johnny Cash !!!! This is good to know just incase the road takes me that way one day.
All of these places sound amazing! Bartaco sounds awesome though because we love Mexican food! We will definitely need to get over to Tennessee at some point though to try all of these!
Katie @ Zen Life and Travel says
I didn’t know Nashville had such a foodie scene. I admit, all I think of when I hear Nashville is country music! Guess maybe I should check it out.
I have never been to Nashville but the food looks absolutely delicious!!
Travelling Dany says
Oh my gosh! You made me so hungry with this post! Everything looks absolutely delicious, I bet hubby would go head over heels for the McDougal’s chicken basket!
Ok ,ok, ok, more tasty food joints I gotta check out when I come to that side of the pond. For me, I really want to check out the The Loaded Rocket Tots. It just looks so appealing to me and my lips are very wet 😀
Angela @ Dang Travelers says
We’ve been to Nashville a few times, but never focused on the food. Next time, it’s on! Thanks for sharing
Christine Tibbetts says
Such mouth watering tips! Now I am ready to travel to Nashville. Thank you for your luscious photos to match up with your words.
Lara Dunning says
I haven’t spent much time in Nashville, but it looks like I would not have a hard time eating my way around town. 🙂 I think I’d start at Josephine’s and the spinach quiche with goat cheese and thyme!!!
Nashville is on my bucket list and this food just makes me want to visit more, thanks for sharing
Evelyne CulturEatz says
I have heard Nashville is really climbing the foodie ladder fast. Great selections here, I think the first two are my favorite. Ha ha clever name the flying saucer!
carrie @ frugal foodie mama says
Nashville looks absolutely delicious! 🙂 My husband wants to visit for the music, but I want to go just for the food!
Melody Pittman, Southern SheBuysTravel says
It has the best of both worlds. 😉 You should try to get the Nashville pass to save some money.
Lois Alter Mark says
Nashville is one of my favorite cities and, yes, their food scene is amazing! How have I never eaten at any of these places you mentioned here???! Time to plan another trip!