The Loveless Cafe
8400 Highway 100, West Nashville
Another institution, the Loveless has been around since the 1950s when it began as a motel. Refurbished and expanded in 2004, it is now a restaurant. GP had dinner here, and the food was delicious. The supper platters (grilled catfish, fried chicken, homemade meatloaf) are served with hot biscuits and sides like turnip greens and creamy coleslaw.
434 Houston St., Wedgewood-Houston
Bastion is the place to head when you can’t decide between a really fun bar, or a really great restaurant. That’s because it offers both, separated by a sliding door that creates two distinct spaces. Start in the bar with one of their specialty cocktails (we’d go for the Rosemallow Daisy, made with tequila, lime, and hibiscus), and follow it with the five-course tasting menu in the 24-seat restaurant. Helmed by chef Josh Habiger, it’s hard to predict what you’ll get, but part of the joy of a meal here is seeing your dinner prepared in the open kitchen, just beyond where you’re sitting.
823 Meridian St., East Nashville
Chef Philip Krajeck (of Rolf & Daughters) opened Folk earlier this year in McFerrin Park, an up-and-coming area of East Nashville that’s currently booming. First impressions are striking, with an interior that features custom artwork from local artists Alex Lockwood and Paul Collins, exposed brick walls, and plenty of light wood accents and potted greenery for that indoor-outdoor effect. As for the food, you can’t go wrong with one of the wood-fired pizzas, which are topped with ingredients like kale, fermented potato, pickled chilis, and preserved peppers.
516 Hagan St., Wedgewood-Houston
This Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood standby is usually full of locals, who feast on crunchy baguettes with butter, mushroom and ricotta toasts, pickled veggies and salads, and authentically French croissants. Grab a box of chocolate chip pecan cookies for later—they make the perfect late-night snack.
Mop/Broom Mess Hall
1300 3rd Ave N., Germantown
“This Germantown restaurant is run by the same team as another favorite, City House. It’s family-friendly and a must-visit,” says Lily Aldridge. The healthyish, Southern-inflected food here includes chili cheese chickpea fries (made with cashew cheese sauce and vegan chili), charred collards with garlic and hot sauce, and roasted cauliflower with chorizo, pickled red onion, and pepitas.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
410 4th Ave S., Downtown
If nothing else, come here for the Redneck Taco. It’s famous in Nashville—and not just for the controversial name. It’s not so much a taco as a heaping pile of brisket, sausage, pulled pork, fried catfish (whatever you like) and coleslaw on top of a cornbread “hoe-cake.” We’ve never seen anything like it. There are long communal tables, and the huge space has a rustic cabin feel (plus dartboards and Ping-Pong tables), so it’s ideal for large groups and families.
1200 4th Ave N., Germantown
We come to Henrietta Red as much for the surroundings as the food. It’s an immensely pretty dining room, spacious, flooded with natural light, and accented with tons of natural wood and beautifully designed contemporary furniture. But it’s also casual—a neighborhood spot in the middle of historic Germantown, with a homey, welcoming feel. Chef Julia Sullivan (she’s worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Per Se) serves up food that’s both comforting and surprising (wood-fired bread slathered in anchovy butter; squash gratin with feta, lemon, and basil; mussels with saffron cream, mustard seed, fennel, and herbs), and the raw bar is possibly the best you’ll find in Nashville.
37 Rutledge St., Rutledge Hill
Chef Sean Brock grew up foraging, pickling, and preserving the South’s produce since childhood. His restaurant, Husk, captures that passion for the region and its food in dishes that are familiar (to Southerners, at least) and comforting: country ham with cheddar biscuits and pickles; shrimp and grits, hearth-fired cornbread; oyster stew with celery root. The menu changes constantly, but you get the idea. Every ingredient is grown in the South. And we are totally enamored with the setting: an 1870’s Victorian home.
1115 Porter Rd., East Nashville
Our favorite breakfast spot in the city is found in East Nashville, at Cafe Roze. Grab a seat at the long marble bar and settle in for a crazy good avocado shake (made with kale, banana, almond milk, and bee pollen) before a bowl of savory oats, served with a poached egg, mustard greens, and roasted shiitake mushrooms. The space itself is light-filled and cheerful, and it’s an ideal place to start the day (or for lunch, dinner and cocktails, too).
Peg Leg Porker BBQ
903 Gleaves St., The Gulch
Excellent barbecue isn’t exactly hard to find around Nashville. And while we’re certainly not experts in the delicate art of stoking a smoker—or the exact subtleties of West Tennessee-style hogs—we are expert eaters and Peg Leg Porker does not disappoint. Open since 2013 and helmed by pitmaster Carey Bringle, this joint draws a loyal and hungry crowd day in day out craving those heavy platters of fork-tender brisket, mouthwatering pulled pork, and of course, amazing sides.
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