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The Best Places to Eat in Nashville

Nashville is famous for three things: great music, warm hospitality, and inventive cuisine. When one thinks of Tennessee meals, food like barbecue and fried chicken come to mind. Yet, Nashville is more than just meat and top chefs are reinventing this Southern cuisine. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to the Tastemaker Lists. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. Iconic Nashville dishes like “meat and three,” fried catfish, cornbread, mac 'n' cheese, and country ham all get a chance in the limelight, but so do some more exotic plates. Book a table and get eating at some of these Nashville icons.

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The OpenTable Team
11 Restaurants
Updated February 26, 2020
Restaurants:Opry Backstage Grill at The Inn at Opryland, Park Cafe, Giovanni's Ristorante - Mid Town
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:Regional American (Southern), Contemporary American, Italian
Neighborhoods:Nashville, West End
A photo of Opry Backstage Grill at The Inn at Opryland restaurant

Opry Backstage Grill at The Inn at Opryland

$$$$
Regional American (Southern)
Nashville
3.8
478 reviews
In Nashville, high-end cuisine is constantly fused with down-home cooking and traditional techniques. Yet the relationship between food and music is also just as important as the relationship between food and the integrity of its ingredients. The Opry Backstage Grill is just one example of a restaurant that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for convenience. It’s known for its traditional Nashville flavors set to the backdrop of nightly live musical performances. While the atmosphere is “fun and lively,” it’s still more sophisticated than your typical backyard barbecue. This is the perfect place to order “meat and three” — something you can’t leave Nashville without eating. You simply order one meat and three sides for a complete meal. Traditional sides include mac 'n' cheese, cornbread, and slaw. Or, opt for the shrimp and grits: shrimp seared in spicy candied cayenne and served over creamy grits.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Park Cafe restaurant

Park Cafe

$$$$
Contemporary American
Nashville
4.8
956 reviews
This minimalist bistro is a great example of how Nashville chefs are succeeding in soul fusion. There’s nothing more “Nashville” than the smoked Springer Mountain chicken. It’s served alongside house bacon, crème fraiche potato salad, and fried dill pickles and topped with an Alabama white sauce.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Giovanni's Ristorante - Mid Town restaurant

Giovanni's Ristorante - Mid Town

$$$$
Italian
West End
4.8
1272 reviews
This high-end restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine with a Southern twist. The ambiance is rustic — drawing both on Nashville and Northern Italy. The mac and cheese with ham and peas is a dish that is popular in both Italian and Southern cuisines. For the main event, order the chicken. It’s served on the bone with sausage, oil, garlic, and potatoes.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Yellow Porch restaurant

The Yellow Porch

$$$$
Contemporary American
Nashville
4.7
1579 reviews
Possibly one of Nashville’s most beloved restaurants, the Yellow Porch allows Southern ingredients to shine. You’ll notice some of the most popular Southern dishes have gotten an update here — dishes like fritters and pork chops become elevated with a few fresh ingredients and techniques. They become Sweetwater Tennessee sharp cheddar fritters with spicy aioli and chow chow and smoked sweet tea-brined pork chop. Sides include jalapeño mac ‘n cheese, roasted cauliflower ,and peach chutney.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Trattoria Il Mulino - Nashville restaurant

Trattoria Il Mulino - Nashville

$$$$
Unspecified
Nashville
4.6
2674 reviews
You might forget you’re in such a laid-back city while sitting at a booth at Il Mulino. The Nashville outpost of this Italian restaurant screams class while embracing the flavors of the South. Here, you’ll never go wrong ordering the cowboy ribeye, served with asparagus, marasala, and mushroom ragout.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of The Palm Nashville restaurant

The Palm Nashville

$$$$
Unspecified
Downtown
4.4
4365 reviews
Another famed high-end steak chain that’s made its way to Nashville is the Palm. The décor is just as interesting as the Palm’s locations in other cities (full of caricatures of celebrities and memorabilia), and their menu is as classy. The food speaks for itself here. When in doubt, order the filet medallions. Make it a “meat and three” by adding an order of the green beans or three-cheese potatoes au gratin on the side.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Bob's Steak & Chop House - Nashville restaurant

Bob's Steak & Chop House - Nashville

$$$$
Steakhouse
Downtown
4.6
2789 reviews
Possibly one of Nashville’s most iconic dishes (and exports) is hot chicken. Not for the faint of heart, hot chicken is an eye-watering dish that one might guess was a dare (it was actually a revenge scheme gone wrong). Many locals and tourists head to the hot chicken shacks in the city to try this delicacy. Luckily, Bob’s Steakhouse has created an upscale version of the dish that they serve in a setting one might expect to find in a Waldorf Astoria. The portions here are still quite sizable (what you would expect to find in a steak house instead of an upscale dining room), and the hot chicken isn’t so hot that it induces the pain and suffering you might find at the shacks.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Gray's on Main restaurant

Gray's on Main

$$$$
American
Franklin / Brentwood
4.3
1057 reviews
GRAYS on Main is the place you go when you want to imagine you’re a guest in a classy Nashville home. This down-to-earth spot is trendy as all get out — and has a menu to match. They're another one of the few “traditional” Southern restaurants on this list, and one you should push to the top of your “must visit” list. You’d be remiss if you didn’t start your meal with the fried pimento cheeseballs — house-made pimento cheese, fried and topped with moonshine pepper jelly. The ginger-braised short ribs offer just one more way to get your “meat and three,” featuring a soy-sorghum BBQ sauce. The chef serves it alongside kimchi, broccolini, and smoked gouda grits. It makes us practically forget that kimchi wasn’t invented in the South — well, almost.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Merchants restaurant

Merchants

$$$$
American
Downtown
4.5
3611 reviews
There are few “true” Southern restaurants on this list, but the ones included know how to elevate iconic Nashville cuisine and make each ingredient shine. If you’re going to order Nashville’s famous mac 'n' cheese somewhere, make it Merchants. Panko tops a cheesy pasta blend and pulled pork or rotisserie chicken — making this a “meat and three” in one dish. Start your meal with the baked pimento cheese (a Southern favorite) or the deviled eggs. Ham, another staple in Nashville cuisine, tops a yolk whipped with “Pop’s” famous spicy chopped pickles. Diners sit in a rustic, upscale dining room with white linen tablecloths. Head upstairs for the even more sophisticated dining rooms.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Ruth's Chris Steak House - Nashville restaurant

Ruth's Chris Steak House - Nashville

$$$$
Steakhouse
West End
4.3
2019 reviews
Ruth's Chris might be famous across the country as the place for meat, but in Nashville (where meat is king) it’s an even bigger deal. Since bigger is better when it comes to meat in the South, the tomahawk ribeye is the dish to order here. This USDA 40-ounce ribeye is a great example of a marbled steak. Herbed butter tops all steaks, which come with a choice of accompaniments. The ambiance is upscale and reminds diners of the musical acts that pinned Nashville to the map. Chandeliers twinkle from above and are reminiscent of the ones at the Grand Ole Opry itself — making diners the stars of the show.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Opryland restaurant

Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Opryland

$$$$
Steakhouse
Nashville
4.7
3098 reviews
The Old Hickory Steakhouse is set in an antebellum mansion — the perfect environment for elevated Southern fare. This fine dining restaurant has not only managed to elevate classic Southern cuisine, but they also add a touch of sophistication to your typical “meat and three.” The bone-in pork chop comes atop an apple, cheddar, and fennel bread pudding and braised cabbage. It’s topped with cider jus. Complete the dish with a side of cave-aged cheddar mac 'n' cheese for the table to share.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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