Music City is known for its lively music scene and delicious food. But if you’re looking to get away from the touristy restaurants, here are some of the best-kept secrets for Nashville restaurants, many of them vasty underrated.
From Josephine to Hattie B’s Chicken, here are my top picks of must-try and most underrated eats from a whopping 1600 restaurant listing.
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Big Bad Breakfast
This spot is perfect if you’re looking for classic breakfast fare with a twist—think sweet potato pancakes topped with pecans and brown sugar syrup or a breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo sausage and potatoes.
No matter what you order at Big Bad Breakfast, it’s sure to be delicious! The biscuit with tomato gravy gets my vote! And don’t forget to try a Vietnamese coffee, too.
Fun Fact: This restaurant originated in Oxford, Mississippi. Hotty Toddy!
Address: 5304 Charlotte Ave. Phone: (615) 610-3403
If you’re looking for a delicious meal or a fantastic brunch, Josephine should be your first stop! This cozy restaurant located on 12th Avenue is a favorite among locals. It offers a unique mix of Southern fare with French influences that you won’t find anywhere else.
Dishes have an emphasis on seasonal ingredients, so it’s no surprise that their menu changes often, but one thing that always remains the same is their commitment to quality. The Peach Tartine is unbelievably good — with creamy goat cheese, arugula, pecans, and grilled peaches on a delicious grilled bread.
Address: 2316 12th Ave S Phone: (615) 292-7766
Puckett’s Restaurant: 5th & Church
Craving down-home Southern cooking from the array of Nashville restaurants? Puckett’s 5th & Church is the place to go. This restaurant has been serving up classic dishes like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese since 1995. And of course there is the meat & three lunch option.
Plus, Puckett’s offers live music every night, so you can enjoy some toe-tapping tunes while you eat.
It’s definitely a must-visit spot if you want to experience the best of Nashville’s culture!
Fun Fact: Did you know that Puckett’s serves breakfast? Smoked Brisket Hash and Skillet Cinnamon Rolls makes me want to get out of bed extra early!
Address: 500 Church Street Phone: (615) 770-2772
Sun Diner Nashville
This 24-hour diner is a favorite among locals for its hearty comfort food and friendly service. Sun Diner’s menu features all your classic diner favorites like burgers, fries, and milkshakes, as well as some more unique items like crispy chicken and waffles (with sausage gravy) and shrimp po’ boys.
I had the luscious Short Rib Hash breakfast dish, and it was 10/10 on point! The potatoes were infused with beer-braised short ribs, caramelized onions, provolone, and béarnaise sauce. Two perfectly fried eggs topped the stack. Yum! No matter what you order, you’re sure to leave satisfied.
Sun Diner sells really cool Nashville souvenirs, too.
Address: 105 3rd Ave S, Phone: none listed
Amerigo Italian Restaurant
For over three decades, family-owned chain restaurant Amerigo has been a cornerstone of the Nashville restaurants culinary scene. As the longest-standing restaurant on West End Avenue, Amerigo’s menu features both classic staples like cannelloni, lasagna, spaghetti, and bolognese, plus pizza, steaks, and chops.
And don’t even get me started on the desserts – the tiramisu is out of this world. Amerigo’s offers validated parking at this location.
Address: 1920 West End Avenue Phone: (615) 320-1740
Caney Fork River Valley Grille
Right around the way from Gaylord Opryland Resort, Caney Fork River Valley Grille is great for anyone craving unique bbq cuisine and hearty meat dishes. Specialties like wild boar ribs, pepper-crusted salmon, and shrimp and grits with tasso ham gravy make this restaurant a must-try.
The BBQ Pork Plate (with a loaded baker and green beans) was my dinner choice, and fabulous it was!
The outdoor seating at Caney Fork, along with live music, makes it an even more special place to dine.
Address: 2400 Music Valley Drive Phone: (615) 724-1200
This trendy and stylish Mexican taqueria has quickly become a Nashville favorite for its flavorful tacos, healthy choices, and fresh margaritas. And it is one of my favorite Nashville restaurants. Buzzfeed claims they have one of the best tacos in America.
Bartaco’s menu features both traditional tacos, like fish and chorizo, as well as more creative options like Korean BBQ, roasted duck, and cauliflower, my favorite. For goodness sakes, try the fantastic street corn, and the plantains are pretty tasty, too.
And be sure to save room for dessert – the churros with chocolate and vanilla sauces are not to be missed. Please note, credit and debit cards only are accepted for payment. This is a cash-free establishment.
Fun Fact: Bartaco is now in 12 states!
Address: 2526 12th Ave S, Phone: (615) 269-8226
The Loveless Cafe, the iconic roadside cafe, is a bit of a trek from all the downtown Nashville attractions, and the lines are horrendous. With all that being said, it is still (65 years later) Nashville’s #1 iconic eatery with freaking fantastic food and a meal you have to experience.
Loveless Cafe’s menu features all your favorites like fried chicken, homemade biscuits and gravy, and banana pudding, as well as some less common items like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese sandwiches. And don’t get me started on the fantastic little biscuits with three jams and jellies to try.
Allow some extra time to explore the onsite gift shops. If you are dining with a family, consider the family breakfast option, with all you can eat eggs, hash brown casserole, bacon, sausage, country ham, stone-ground grits, fresh fruit, biscuits, and gravy.
Trust me, this place is worth the drive, and it’s right at the Natchez Trace Parkway entrance.
Address: 8400 Hwy 100 Phone: (615) 646-9700
This casual seafood spot may not look like much from the outside, but trust me – the food here is unbeatable. We’ve been eating the same meal from Sportsman’s Grille for 30 years or more.
The menu features everything from spicy beef con queso and catfish bites, to chicken parmesan and bourbon bacon burgers cakes. Our standing order is and will always be the barbecue on cornbread with fresh cut fries. Nom, nom.
There is extra BBQ sauce on the table to drench the yummy cornbread/hoecake in.
Splurge on a slice of the coconut cake after cleaning your plate.
Address: 5405 Harding Pike Phone: (615) 356-6206
Barbecue lovers rejoice — Edley’s Bar-B-Que has freaking fantastic flavorful bbq dishes and sides! This local favorite serves slow smoked-cooked meats, like pulled pork and brisket, alongside delicious Southern-inspired sides like mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens.
And don’t forget about Edley’s signature sauces — they come in three flavors, so there’s something for everyone! So don’t miss out on this classic Southern barbecue joint when visiting Nashville, even though you will hear talk about a few other BBQ joints more often. This one is the real deal.
Address: 2706 12 Ave. S, Phone: (615) 953-2951
San Antonio Taco Co
San Antonio Taco Co, a longstanding institution in Nashville, is one of the best places in town for authentic Mexican food. The menu features all your favorite tacos (al pastor, carnitas, barbacoa), as well as burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and more.
San Antonio Taco Co. also has an amazing selection of tequila if you’re looking to wash your meal down with something strong.
Address: 416 21st Ave. S, Phone: (615) 327-4322
For upscale American cuisine made with high quality ingredients, J Alexander’s Restaurant is the place to go. They specialize in steaks, seafood, and salads, but also offer lighter options like sandwiches and burgers, too.
J Alexander’s has a great selection of craft cocktails, perfect for sipping while enjoying your meal.
Keep your eyes open—I’ve seen many famous country music singers here.
Address: 73 White Bridge Rd #130 Phone: (615) 352-0981
McDougal’s Chicken Fingers
You can’t go wrong when you order always fresh, never frozen chicken fingers from McDougal’s! They serve up classic chicken tenders, as well as buffalo tenders, that are sure to satisfy your cravings, and available in a wide array of sizes.
Fingers range from 1 to 10, and jumbo wings, from 6 to 24.
Complement your meal with a super sweet tea!
Address: 901 12 Ave South Phone: (615) 645-5902
Cascades American Cafe
Inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort is Cascades American Cafe. The menu features items like a full breakfast buffet, Albacore Tuna Melt and Wedge salad for lunch, and Duroc pork chop and BBQ shrimp for dinner.
You may be surprised to learn that Cascades also has a sushi menu with five rolls.
Address: 2800 Opryland Drive Phone: (615) 458-6848
Once Upon a Time in France
Venture over to East Nashville for a unique dining experience that packs in the locals like mad! Once Upon a Time in France transports you to a 1920’s time period with a French bistro setting that is perfect for foodies and Francophiles.
You’ll find incredibly delicious Steak frites, escargot, and all your favorite classic French fare in this cozy and charming eatery. Start your dining experience with the excellent duck and chicken paté with grilled bread and cornichons.
And don’t worry, if you’ve never tried paté before, this is a proper place to do so. There is enough to share. For dinner, why reinvent the wheel? My friend and I both chose Steak frites, a 14 oz. Ribeye with bistro fries. Medium-rare is how this tastes best.
Pair your meal with one of the 75 French wines available for the perfect accompaniment. Or, in my case, creme brûlée. Please note, this restaurant is closed on weekends.
Address: 1102 Gallatin Avenue Phone: (615) 649-8284
This restaurant is known for its steakhouse-style menu and top-notch service…since 1934. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. If you’re looking for a nice dinner out on the town, a special occasion celebration, or a romantic date night venue, then Jimmy Kelly’s is the place for you!
The filet mignon comes highly recommended, but they also serve up other classics like prime rib and lobster tail that can’t be beat.
Jimmy Kelly’s is closed on Sundays.
Address: 217 Louise Avenue Phone: (615) 329-4349
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
No trip to Nashville is complete without trying the iconic signature dish… hot chicken! Hattie B’s Hot Chicken has become an institution in Music City since opening its doors in 2012. The family-owned and operated eatery serves up mouthwatering fried chicken with various levels of heat ranging from mild all the way up to “shut the cluck up.”
The chicken is yummy, but I’m there for the Southern sides (pimento Mac & cheese, greens, and red skin potato salad) and the lip-smackin’ good banana pudding.
If you’re feeling brave (or just really hungry), head over for some of their signature dishes! My husband and I often visit the one in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, too, which is our neck of the woods.
Address: 112 19th Ave. S Phone: (615)802-5700
Dalts American Grill
This family-owned spot, circa 1980, serves up true Southern comfort food at its finest, and claims to have the best brunch in Nashville, too. From country fried steak and turkey & dressing to perfectly fried green tomatoes topped with homemade remoulade sauce – Dalts offers all kinds of tasty treats that will have your mouth watering in no time.
And don’t forget about their famous Aunt Elaine’s peanut butter pie — with its own TikTok; it’s definitely worth trying!
Address: 38 White Bridge Road Phone: (615) 352-8121
Nashville: Underrated Eats for the Win!
Nashville may be best known for its country music scene, but there’s so much more to this city than just country music! Nashville is also a foodie’s paradise, with something to offer everyone from the most die-hard carnivore to the most committed vegan.
And yet, for all its culinary riches, there are still some hidden gems that don’t get the attention they deserve. So if you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience on your next trip to Music City, be sure to check out these underrated restaurants.
Do you have any to add to the list?
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