Any Nashvillian knows that they live in a great food city that attracts big names from the culinary world, nationwide chains, and everything in between.
Nestled among the newcomers is a group of neighborhood favorites. A Turkish restaurant in a Lion’s Head strip mall has served hearty lamb stew, among other homey dishes, since 2003. A James Beard Award nominee mixes Southern flavors with Pennsylvania Dutch accents at an acclaimed spot in 12 South. In Germantown, a beloved cafe rebuilt after a 2020 tornado continues to draw regulars for its legendary French onion soup.
Whether they’re craving casual comfort or a celebratory meal, Nashvillians love revisiting these 15 neighborhood gems. Read on to book a table at these beloved local restaurants now.
Anatolia Turkish Restaurant (Lion’s Head)
Tucked into an unassuming strip mall, Anatolia has dished up comforting Turkish delicacies since 2003. Its cozy, textile-draped interiors evoke a traditional Mediterranean home. Meals here begin with creamy housemade hummus and ezme, a roasted bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, and walnut dip. Nashvillians return for the spinach-stuffed chicken and hearty lamb stew, full of veggies and cubed lamb, baked in a stone oven and served with rice pilaf.
What began as a food truck serving South Indian street food in 2019 graduated to a brick-and-mortar home in East Nashville that same year before relocating to a new home out West in 2021. With an emphasis on gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes, 615Chutney serves up North Indian classics such as tikka masala, but the menu also features less common finds such as dosa (savory filled crepes) and uthappam (pancakes made of rice and lentils, topped with a variety of flavors). While the dishes are enticing on their own, 615Chutney draws crowds thanks to its now famous server: Singam. Named for the Tamil word for “lion,” Singam is a hardworking robot programmed for food delivery, much to the delight of diners.
Bella Napoli (Edgehill Village)
For those looking to expand their pizza palate beyond the average slice joint, Bella Napoli, co-owned by Francesco Angelillo and Marco Sedda, serves up Neapolitan-style pies made with high-quality ingredients ordered straight from Italy. The wood-fueled brick oven churns out pizzas in minutes thanks to the 900-degree heat. The pies are best eaten with a glass of one of the many Italian wines on the list. Pasta lovers shouldn’t miss the oven-baked lasagna or the restaurant’s riff on penne alla vodka, which features pancetta and sweet onions.
Jimmy Kelly’s (West End)
If you know, you know: Jimmy Kelly’s has remained a Nashville mainstay for nearly 90 years. Opened in 1934, the iconic spot is renowned for great steaks and generous whiskey pours. Diners can expect a clubby but cozy setting—the restaurant is in a regal Southern mansion. The longstanding menu continues to tip a hat to its surroundings, featuring staples such as shrimp remoulade, barbecue prawns, and fried oysters, in addition to a variety of steakhouse classics.
Elliston Place Soda Shop (Midtown)
Elliston Place Soda Shop has welcomed locals and visitors since 1939. When its future became uncertain in 2019, Lisa and Tony LiGiarratana, a local real estate developer, purchased and preserved the soda shop and cafeteria hybrid. The red-and-white striped awning transports diners back in time before even entering. Inside, checkered floors, retro vinyl seating, and vintage signage fuel more nostalgia. Breakfast is served all day: Choose from combos such as eggs your way, bacon, fried bologna, pancakes, or grits. The lunch and dinner menu, with a meat-and-three option, burgers, salads, and more, is available daily after 10:30 am. Save room for a milkshake or a banana split, or grab a dessert to bring home from the resident “pie lady,” Linda Melton.
Josephine (12 South)
Chef Andy Little pairs his Pennsylvania Dutch roots with Southern flavors at this James Beard Award-nominated spot. Josephine’s comfortable, open-concept dining room and wraparound bar are ideal for an after-work negroni or a glass of wine, paired with sage gnocchi or a locally sourced cheese plate. Don’t overlook weekend brunch, with savory and sweet options ranging from duck confit hash to cinnamon sugar donuts. Conservation and innovation shape each menu, as chef Little aims to leave no potential ingredient behind, from animal organs to fruit rinds.
The Treehouse (East Nashville)
The Treehouse’s whimsy and rustic charm is a fun departure from the common Nashville restaurant aesthetic of subway tiles and industrial finishes. True to its name, the interiors feature plenty of intricate woodwork by Massachusetts-based craftsman, Martin Cadieux. On the menu, find sophisticated farm-to-table fare including pork tenderloin and seared halibut. The spacious heated patio is an excellent spot for a laidback hang, especially for the array of tasty snacks and cocktails for killer prices available at happy hour. Five Points residents also flock here for brunch, where standouts include Southern-inspired buttermilk drop biscuits and the decadent cinnamon crunch French toast.
Chateau West (Midtown)
Driving down West End, one might do a double take at the Chateau-styled stone building next to a strip mall with a wedding atelier and a Dairy Queen. But once inside, diners are shuttled to a time when fine dining in the U.S. was synonymous with French cuisine. Chateau West is all about white tablecloths, fresh flowers, chicken coq au vin, and boeuf bourguignon. A little drama adds to the experience; try a bubbling fondue pot full of Brie, honey, and truffle oil, or the chateaubriand for two, a prime center-cut filet seared and carved tableside with seasonal vegetables, roasted potatoes, and béarnaise sauce.
Germantown Cafe (Germantown)
Germantown Cafe has been a neighborhood staple since 2003. When a massive tornado struck the building in March 2020, the team (under general manager Sean Lyons and chef Jeff Martin) knew rebuilding was the only option. Now, the charming corner cafe, with bay French doors overlooking the city street, welcomes regulars and visitors for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The Southern-inspired menu features fried green tomatoes and crab cakes for dinner, plus a French onion soup that draws a crowd on its own. Brunch is extra lively, thanks to drinks including mimosas, frosés, and bloody Marys. Soak up the weekend fun with lemon poppy bread French toast, a chicken salad sandwich, or shrimp and grits.
The Yellow Porch (Berry Hill)
Since 1998, The Yellow Porch has anchored the casual fine-dining scene in Nashville, serving lunch and dinner in its charming Berry Hill location. The menu is packed with sophisticated bistro fare (available individual or family-style) including herb-marinated skillet chicken with sauteed spinach and heirloom tomatoes, bacon, caramelized onions, garlic whipped potatoes, and pineapple chutney. It’s truly a something-for-everyone spot that has kept regulars lining up for years.
Park Cafe (Sylvan Park)
Today, Sylvan Park is a trendy neighborhood boasting many shops and restaurants, but before all the new additions, there was Park Cafe. This chic but casual American bistro has been serving seasonal dishes sourced from local farms and producers since 2001. Happy hour is an ideal time to share small plates such as rosemary parmesan fries and goat cheese pizza. For dinner, choose from dishes such as the crowd-favorite shrimp and grits or the Asian-inspired salmon with Sichuan green beans, chile plum sauce, coconut rice, wontons, and grilled lime.
Giovanni’s Ristorante (West End)
In 2008, chef Giovanni Pinato moved Giovanni’s from its longtime midtown Manhattan home to Nashville, and it’s been beloved ever since for its swanky but friendly atmosphere and stellar northern Italian food. Standouts include fresh ravioli made daily, an ever-changing risotto of the day, and fresh seafood and bread flown in from Greece and Portugal. An extensive wine list rounds out the glorious experience and lends a celebratory feel to any meal.
Midtown Cafe (Midtown)
Since 1987, Midtown Cafe has been known as one of the best spots in town for a business lunch or a memorable night out. Seasoned Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn keeps the menu fresh while ensuring it includes the classic plates that draw regulars, such as meatloaf and local rainbow trout with roasted red potatoes, sauteed spinach, and crawfish cream sauce. In addition to lunch and dinner, there’s breakfast daily with a bevy of egg dishes and French toast topped with Jack Daniels peach compote and whipped cream. A truly dedicated regular could dine there all day if they were so inclined (and they might be).
Riddim N’ Spice (Fisk/Meharry)
After the success of their food truck, brothers Rashean Conaway and Kamal Kalokoh teamed up to open this colorful pan Caribbean spot in 2019. The duo serves dishes inspired by countries across the region including Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago with vibrant options such as the island bowl, a customizable entree with an array of proteins and toppings, such as sweet n’ tangy peppers and Cuban black beans. For spice lovers, the smoked jerk chicken might be the winner. And even meat eaters are fans of the barbecue jerk jackfruit.
The Southern V (North Nashville)
This family-owned restaurant turns classic Southern soul food into plant-based vegan plates. Married team Tiffany and Clifton Hancock started out selling fluffy vegan donuts at the Nashville Farmers Market in 2015, but soon expanded into savory dishes, offering their version of Nashville hot “chicken” and “sausage” and biscuits (made with seitan). The pair’s Buchanan Arts District restaurant brings a missing element to the neighborhood, and vegans and non-vegans have embraced the tasty, inventive food.
Kellie Walton Benz is a food, drink, and travel writer based outside of Nashville. Follow her adventures and eats on Instagram at @kellie.benz.
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