402 12th Ave. S, The Gulch
Located in the up-and-coming Gulch neighborhood, the Station Inn is a vestige of another time. Don’t be fooled by the bare-bones exterior, this is the best venue for bluegrass. Period. They don’t take reservations and it’s first come, first serve—doors open at 7 p.m. so be sure to line up early. When it fills up, they stick a paper plate on the door that says “Sold Out.” One of the nights GP went, she saw Jim Lauderdale, one of the best and most well-respected local singer-songwriters, and his band play some rockin’ bluegrass (she was in the company of a bunch of musicians that night and they were truly blown away by the music). The Time Jumpers, who play there on most Monday nights, are also worth catching if you get a chance.
401 11th Ave. S, The Gulch
Nashville’s hip factor reaches new heights at this hotel in the Gulch. The city’s relentlessly cool neighborhood is adjacent to both Music Row and Downtown, and the Thompson’s central location means there’s easy access to landmarks like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Frist Art Museum. Inside, guest rooms epitomize rustic chic—hardwood floors, repurposed sliding barn doors, and subway-tiled bathrooms give off a Brooklyn-meets-Dixie vibe. And Marsh House draws in the locals with a menu of fried oysters, gumbo, and snapper crudo.
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.
316 11th Ave. S, The Gulch
Karl and Sarah Worley started Biscuit Love as a food truck (an Airstream they lovingly named Lilly, to be specific), selling their biscuit-based menu at farmers markets around the city. The streamlined yet vintage-inspired design is reminiscent of Lilly, with clean walls and white brick making the open space feel airy and summery, and a marquee sign that says "NASHVILLE" as the focal point. The menu is also largely the same, offering breakfast and brunch all week long and relying heavily on biscuits as a vehicle to deliver everything from homemade jam to hot chicken sandwiches. Other locations include Hillsboro Village and Downtown Franklin.
1120 McGavock St., The Gulch
Nashville's M Street has churned out some of the city's best restaurants, with the interesting strategy of clustering them all along the same street. Moto is their Italian spot, and it's the kind of place that draws you in from the sidewalk, with high ceilings, a long bar, and clean, Scandinavian-inspired furniture with a masculine blue, grey, and brown color scheme. The menu meets high expectations with excellent meatballs, wood-fired pizzas, and a solid list of pastas.
1120 Mcgavock St., The Gulch
This Mexican joint from M Street is the kind of place where it's easy to camp out at a table and spend the afternoon. You'll find a big, wide patio outside and a ton of seats, meaning they can accommodate big parties even on busy brunch mornings and weekend nights, then the bar starts to heat up. Menu-wise, they're known for excellent brunch-time cocktails, like their Bloody Marias (a ridiculously good Bloody Mary that subs tequila for vodka) and Mexican breakfast classics, like huevos rancheros and smothered breakfast burritos. Don't miss the chips and guac.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
605 8th Ave. S, The Gulch
Opened in 1982 and still family-owned, Arnold's is only open for lunch on weekdays, but we heard so much about the fried chicken and Meat & Three options that we paid a visit—it was well worth it for an all-around authentic experience. Their James Beard award for American Classics is well deserved.
118 12th Ave. S, The Gulch
This rowdy restaurant serves typical American fare. Get lots of plates to share; the sweet potato fries are delicious, the fried chicken sliders do the trick, and the biscuits might be the best in the entire city of Nashville. Plus, the oysters on the half shell come with a shot of Bloody Mary. What more could you ask for? Just be sure to bring an Alka-Seltzer.
1210 McGavock St., The Gulch
Jonathan Waxman named his second restaurant (the first is Barbuto in NYC) after his mom, Adele, whom he credits with turning him onto cooking. The space is simple and clean (like many of its Gulch area neighbors, it was once an auto repair shop), with recycled wood tables, a sprawling open kitchen, and huge garage doors, which are kept open in the warmer months. As far as food goes, expect to find seasonally inspired veggies (shaved zucchini salad, sautéed spinach, and the famous JW potatoes) and wood-oven specialties like crispy trout and NY strip steak.
The 404 Kitchen
507 12th Ave. S, The Gulch
James Beard-nominated 404 Kitchen is unlike anything else in Nashville. Many consider Matt Bolus one of the best new chefs in town, and the protein-heavy, strictly locally-sourced menu (how local? Herbs come from a garden on the restaurant’s roof) backs up the lofty claim. Don’t miss standout dishes like a Benton’s ham-wrapped trout with salt and vinegar potatoes, the smoked fried chicken, and the creamed kale with lemongrass, fish sauce, and black vinegar.