More than 500 new restaurants have hung their hats in Nashville since 2010. The choices are endless, which is why we’ve made a list of some can’t-miss stops which have been hailed by many publications and hold a number of accolades. Add these to your dining list next time you’re in Music City.
Start with the mothership of Nashville Hot Chicken, and learn why hell hath no fury like a woman scorned at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. The Jefferies family has been serving up their Scoville-worthy, recipe for nearly a century. The battered chicken is deep fried and served at varying degrees of spicy heat. Start with the mild and work your way up, if you dare. With Nashville Hot Chicken spreading across the country, Matriarch Andre Prince Jefferies’ secret patented recipe is preserved for generations to come.
Peg Leg Porker
Perhaps, smoke is more your speed? Follow your nose over to the Gulch where Pitmaster Carey Bringle and crew prove their barbecue prowess at Peg Leg Porker. From Memphis Sushi (sausage cheese platter with saltines) to a full rack of dry-rubbed ribs, it’s as if you can almost see the Mississippi off in the distance with this Memphis-style barbecue. Don’t miss Bringle’s favorite “sauce”- Peg Leg Porker 12-year Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Arnold's Country Kitchen
Just around the corner, is the Southern classic “meat-and-three” Arnold’s Country Kitchen. Chef Kahlil Arnold peruses the Nashville Farmers’ Market each morning for fresh-picked produce from farms like Smiley Hollow. Back at Arnold’s, the daily menu offers choices of meats and tantalizing sides. Grab a red tray and head for the cafeteria style line. Plan on a cat nap afterwards.
Still in the Gulch is a tiny restaurant housed in a shipping container accommodating up to 56 guests nightly. Chef Matt Bolus and his team may work in tight quarters, but big flavors come out of The 404 Kitchen where Southern seasonal dishes speak to guests in a European vernacular. Start with the buttermilk burrata and work your way down the menu with accoutrement such as speckled butter beans dressed in schmaltz, estratto and breadcrumbs or Anson Mills cornbread with barrel-aged sorghum butter.
As soon as you walk through the doors of historic Husk Nashville, the ember-fired grill wafts inviting aromas where Chef Sean Brock’s curated list of heirloom vegetables, pastured meats and food artisans across the Southeast entice. Do not pass go until you’ve had “A Southern Plate of Vegetables” which usually includes Brock’s renowned hot water grits alongside vegetables that look nothing like anything you’ve ever seen, and they taste even better. Even the cocktails are garden-to-glass using herbs from the garden patio just outside the restaurant.
Rolf and Daughters
Across town, Chef Philip Krajeck is at the helm of Germantown’s Rolf and Daughters. Upon entering the vintage Werthen Mills building, old is made new with Krajeck’s creations. Sourdough and seaweed butter set the tone, while offerings such as Stracciatella, Paccheri and Cecamariti are integrated with seasonal finds such as sugar snap peas, hokum carrots and herb pistou. Scratch-made flows freely at Rolf and Daughters.
No list of award-winning Nashville restaurants would be complete without a certain culinary pioneer. Chef Tandy Wilson is to Italian cuisine what turnip greens is to cornbread at Germantown’s City House. Regarding culinary origins, Wilson starts with farms such as Turnbull Creek and Eaton’s Creek and Bear Creek Farms while changing the face of Southern cuisine with Italian inspirations. While most can’t resist his wood-fired Belly Ham Pizza, it’s notions of a Southern drawl that keep patrons trying an array of new and simple yet well-composed dishes. With a thoughtful wine and cocktail list, the only thing left to complete a perfect night at City House is Pastry Chef Rebekah Turshen’s cookie plate. They’ll have the whole table ordering seconds. Layer cakes, pies and custards are also her specialties.
Pull up a seat and sit a spell at one of these leading lady’s patios, and you’ll leave with more than a full belly.