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The Best Places to Eat in Nashville

A photo of Red logo
by The OpenTable Team
Updated February 26, 2020

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.

A photo of Park Cafe restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1221)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Sylvan Park & Sylvan Heights
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
TennJenn
Dined 3 days ago
Food was fantastic! We had great service and the espresso martinis were on point
A photo of Giovanni's Ristorante - Mid Town restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1545)
$31 to $50
Italian
Music Row
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
HaroldCvip
Dined 3 days ago
Wonderful experience as always! I have been coming there for 15 years and is still my favorite restaurant in Nashville. Food is always fresh and delicious. Staff always professional and knowledgeable.
A photo of Trattoria Il Mulino - Nashville restaurant
4.8
4.8 (3373)
$50 and over
Italian
Downtown / Sobro
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
MLS727
Dined 2 days ago
Awesome food and wine! Service was great too. Nice, quiet environment.
A photo of The Palm Nashville restaurant
4.6
4.6 (4771)
$30 and under
Unspecified
Downtown / Sobro
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 3 days ago
Molly was great as well as the food. Quick turn for the game as well. 5 stars!
A photo of Bob's Steak & Chop House - Nashville restaurant
4.6
4.6 (3377)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
Downtown / Sobro
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
CynthiaH
Dined 3 days ago
Food was very good but a bit pricey. Service was excellent!!
A photo of Merchants restaurant
4.5
4.5 (3873)
$30 and under
American
Downtown / Sobro
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
TimG
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
My girlfriend and I first experienced Merchants 4 months ago when we visited Nashville. With it behind downtown and close to the action, we kind of stumbled on it because we were looking for a restaurant that offered gluten free options. The atmosphere was excellent, the service was great and food was amazing!!! We ended up eating there twice during the visit. Fast Forward a few months and we decided to visit Nashville once again and celebrate New Year’s in Nashville. Of course we needed to add Merchants as a definite stop. We stopped in for lunch and once again did not disappoint. On New Year’s Eve, we had lunch and ran into a familiar face in MICHELLE (she had served us months ago). Her pleasant personality and amazing food made lunch wonderful and it was because of her that we cancelled a reservation at another restaurant and give UPSTAIRS Merchants a try. During that lunch, the GM (Jimmy) came along to see how things were going and we discussed our pleasant experience with Merchants and said how thankful we were that gluten free options were readily available. We jokingly discussed how awesome it would be if the crab cakes were gluten free. We finished lunch and we’re very much looking forward to dinner upstairs the following day. We arrive upstairs and the atmosphere upstairs is amazing. We were welcomed by our server Cassidy and once again were thrilled with her service. After placing our order, she surprised us with GLUTEN FREE Crab cakes!!! Amazingly, after our discussion the day before, Jimmy made it happen and we were absolutely blown away by this because we certainly did not expect that. That was an amazing start to another wonderful experience at Merchants. I apologize for the lengthy review, but with so many amazing experiences at Merchants, I wanted to ensure that I captured it all. If given the option, I would rank Merchants 6 ⭐️’s out of 5!!!
A photo of Ruth's Chris Steak House - Nashville restaurant
4.5
4.5 (2626)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
Music Row
About the restaurant
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.
Top review
BtMaui
Dined on Apr 8, 2024
Great food and service for our anniversary dinner. Hannah took great care of us.
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