I've lived in Nashville 5 years this month and have thoroughly relished eating my way through the city. There are, of course, plenty more restaurants I wish I had time to try before I move to San Francisco but these are the places I'll miss the most.
(While some have establishments in a couple of neighborhoods, I listed the one I go to. A few restaurants are in ambiguous areas so if you don't see a neighborhood listed, that's why.)
Coffee and Tea
Crema (Rutledge Hill)- If you go in the fall and they have Bourbon Barrel Double Sorghum Latte on the menu, order it post-haste. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the Cuban. I've done a lot of great writing and conversing in this place. Amanda and I used to have weekly writing dates there, which means it will always have a special place in my heart.
Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- This place is my other staple, whether I'm writing or meeting up with friends. They have a great loose-leaf tea selection from Rishi and I am especially fond of the Tangerine Ginger. When I'm in a latte mood, I go for Always Fall Somewhere or Abbe Road or one of their fun specials.
Thistle Stop Cafe (West Nashville)- The cafe is a part of Thistle Farms, a social justice enterprise for women who survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. I'm a huge fan of their work. The cafe has a tasty menu (always get the soup) but I go mostly for the tea. You can order a pot of their loose leaf tea and it will be served to you in a china teacup. The cafe is lit by various teacup chandeliers. However, they also have great coffee and lattes, if that's more your style.
Ugly Mugs (East Nashville)- This shop sits next to Silly Goose, which is next to Jeni's Ice Cream, so basically all your needs are met for the day. Whatever special drinks they're offering that day, go with it. They've never steered me wrong.
The Well (Brentwood)- This is a nonprofit missional coffeehouse, which means any profit they make is put toward building wells in impoverished areas around the world. So there's that. But they also offer a range of loose leaf teas and various fancy ways of preparing coffee.
Breakfast and Brunch
Biscuit Love (The Gulch)- Started out as a food truck and now serving up breakfast and brunch daily. I could weep from how delicious the East Nasty is. Try it and thank me later.
Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- You can't go wrong with their frittatas but when I'm feeling indulgent, I get The Grilled PBCB, which is a grilled peanut butter, chocolate, and banana sandwich. Amazing. Their specials are top notch- I'm still dreaming about the Biscuit and Peaches dish I had last summer.
Marché (East Nashville)- I head here when I want a little nicer breakfast. They use local and seasonal food and the menu changes regularly. It's almost always busy so try to get there early. Otherwise you can order coffee and pastries at the counter while you wait.
Mere Bulles (Brentwood)- The best Sunday Brunch Buffet I've ever experienced. They have crab bisque, an omelet station, and crème brulee French toast. I rest my case.
Pinewood Social (Rolling Mill Hill)- The Pot Roast Hash won me over from the start. More on this interesting place below.
Star Bagel (Sylvan Park)- This is my breakfast (and lunch) go-to from even before I moved to Nashville. They have amazing bagel sandwiches. I usually order The Breakfast Sandwich with bacon or The California. If it's closer to lunchtime, I'll get the Asiago Turkey. And you MUST get the fruit tea. It is the best in all of Nashville.
Tavern (Midtown)- Brunch is served up on the weekend only. I recommend getting there right when they open. If they have a dish with their homemade sausage, get it. The Red Velvet Waffle sounds good but it sadly doesn't live up to its reputation. Skip the waffle and get a libation instead.
Lunch and Dinner
312 Pizza (Germantown)- I'm from Chicagoland so I have high standards when it comes to pizza. Lucky for me, the owners also hail from Chicagoland and decided to remedy Nashville's pizza situation. Lou Malnati's is my favorite Chicago pizzeria and this is almost as good as that. No small feat. I also love that you can get your Chicago sports fix here. It gets busy fast so I recommend trying to go early if you don't want a long wait.
Burger Up (12 South)- I go here for the Lamb Burger and fried pickles. I've ventured out into other burger territories but the Lamb Burger always tempts me back and rightly so. If lamb isn't your thing, try the Woodstock. My best friend swears by their Chopped Kale Salad and another friend raves about the Marathon Burger, which is vegetarian.
The Dog of Nashville (Hillsboro Village)- This is the hot dog place of your dreams. I'm especially fond of the Chicago dog (shocker). The basket of fries is enormous so order one and plan on sharing. Be sure to take in all the Chicago sports memorabilia. Go White Sox!
Edgehill Cafe (Edgehill)- Yes, this is the third time I've mentioned this place. It is that good! The lemon-basil chicken salad is a refreshing choice, as is their kale salad, and I've loved every sandwich I've ever consumed there. But 9 times out of 10, I go with a special. The BLT Flatbread I had a few weeks ago might have changed my life.
Edley's Bar-B-Que (12 South)- How do I love thee, Edley's? Let me count the ways. I love thee for thy fried pickles, BBQ Nachos, and Chicken Sandwich. And I love thee most for thy Brisket Sandwich. Get in my belly, right now, please and thank you.
Epice (12 South)- This is a Lebanese restaurant and it is beyond amazing. Try the hummos, of course, and any of the lamb dishes. The Fattayer, a trio of savory pies, is also a great choice.
Fido (Hillsboro Village)- While you can go to Fido for all your coffee and breakfast needs, I prefer to go there for lunch or dinner. I alternate between the Local Burger, which is one of the best in Nashville, and the Braised Beef Sandwich. I always get the fries. Sometimes I only get fries.
FLIP Burger (Sylvan Park)- If you're a fan of Top Chef, you'll be excited to learn this is Richard Blais's restaurant, which first started in Atlanta. Nashville got a location earlier this year and we are better for it. I'm partial to the Lamburger, though the RBQ and Oaxaca are also quite tasty. Last time I was there, they used liquid nitrogen to create my cocktail, which had a mesmerizing effect. Viva la Gingerita!
The Local Taco (Sylvan Park)- I used to live a couple blocks away and loved walking down for an easy meal. Pick how many tacos and/or enchiladas you want. Mix and match to your heart's content. Favorite tacos: Tequila Lime Chicken, Carnitas, Smoked Brisket, Portabella. Favorite enchiladas: Chicken Tinga, Mushroom & Spinach. I always get the lemon crema sauce on my enchiladas, though I also love the verde. The Chicken Salad (really, a salad with chicken) is another great choice, especially if you get the jalapeno ranch dressing.
The Loveless Cafe (Bellevue)- This is a local institution that you should experience at least once. Go during off hours, otherwise plan on waiting a while. The Loveless is known for their biscuits and jam and I've been known to eat more than my fair share. A classic meat-and-three, I'm partial to their poppyseed chicken when it's on the menu. Otherwise, it's fried chicken all the way. (They also serve breakfast.)
Mas Tacos Por Favor (East Nashville)- It's not much to look at but the flavor that comes out of this kitchen is no joke. The menu is always changing but if you see cast iron chicken tacos listed, get at least one. This is another place to head to early, as seating is limited and the line can be long. They also have a food truck!
The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden (East Nashville)- If the weather's nice, plan on sitting outside. It can take over an hour to get inside so head here early. The burgers are great but if you're feeling adventurous, try one of the homemade German wursts to accompany your beer. Not in the mood for beer? They've got a soda shop, too.
Pinewood Social (Rolling Mill Hill)- Meet friends for coffee and stay for lunch or grab a seat at the bar or chill poolside. Bowl, if that's what you want to do. What I'm trying to say is: this place has options. They also have super fun cocktails. I recommend the fried broccoli if you order an appetizer. Really. I'm also partial to the fried chicken.
The Silly Goose (East Nashville)- This place never fails me. It's hard to pick a favorite: maybe the Sicilian Couscous or Bird Wrap. But I can't forget The Frisby either. The dinner specials change on the regular. No matter what, you can count on good fresh, quality ingredients. Plus, if you've got room, you can head next door to Jeni's Ice Cream for dessert.
Taco Mamacita (Edgehill)- The guacamole is top notch. I come here for the stellar margaritas (and drink specials!), as well as their interesting take on tacos, like the California Club, Loaded Gyro, and Oy Vey. I've been known to polish off the Grande Chopped Salad with jalapeno ranch dressing in one sitting.
Thai Esane- This is my favorite Thai restaurant here. It might sound like a strange choice but order the homemade sausage. It's an experience! The papaya salad is as good as what I ate in Thailand.
Treat Yo Self Restaurants
City House (Germantown)- I love coming here when there's something to celebrate or I have company in town. The menu is ever changing according to the season and what's available locally. But I can tell you this: try the pizza, made in their wood-burning oven. Add a farm fresh egg. Revel in ecstasy. The cocktails are inventive and refreshing. Reservation recommended.
Husk (Rutledge Hill)- This place, y'all. If I could afford to eat there weekly, I'd sign on in a heartbeat. The menu changes with the season and each dish comes together thanks to complicated technique and layered flavors. Sean Brock is a culinary genius. I had a filet of beef that practically melted in my mouth from the tenderness. I'm drooling just thinking about it. I haven't tried going for lunch but I hear the fried chicken is out of this world and sells out fast. My friend and I treated ourselves a couple of years ago and decided to save room for dessert. This was a wise decision, as Lisa Donovan was still the pastry chef at that time. I got to take a baking class from her and she is the real deal. Dinner reservation recommended.
Rumours East (East Nashville)- On a nice evening, there's no place I'd rather sit than their back patio. The food is tremendous, as is the extensive wine and cocktail list.
There are literally hundreds of food trucks in Nashville. These are the ones I can't resist. Follow them on social media to find out where they are.
Loco Donut (not currently operating as a food truck but I hope for your sake they come back around)
Sum Yum Yum (banh mi!!!!)
Sweets and Treats
The Cupcake Collection (Germantown)- The perfect cake-frosting ratio, I'm a happy camper when Red Velvet, Blackout, and Peanut Butter Mousse are on the menu.
IveyCake (Franklin)- Gold Digger (chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting) is my absolute favorite. I'm not ashamed of how many of their flavors I've consumed over the past 5 years.
Jeni's Ice Cream (East Nashville)- Nothing wrong with this gourmet ice cream and I've sampled about every flavor to prove it. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new, like Goat Cheese and Cherries (tastes like cheesecake) or Queen City Cayenne. Just make sure you leave enough Buckeye State for me. Flavors change seasonally.
Las Paletas (12 South)- These Mexican popsicles are a refreshing treat. Avocado is my favorite but I've been known to eat the fruity paletas, too. You can also go to Hot & Cold in Hillsboro Village and get your paleta dipped in chocolate or dunked in your coffee.
I will never turn down fried pickles and have eaten more than my fair share around this town. These are especially superb.
Bobby's Dairy Dip (Sylvan Park)
Burger Up (12 South)
Edley's Bar-B-Que (12 South)
Whiskey Kitchen (MStreet)