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What to Eat in Nashville – 8 Nashville Food Favorites

Are you wondering what to eat in Nashville during your first visit to Tennessee’s largest city? Read on to discover eight must-eat Nashville food favorites that you should not miss during your exploration of Music City.

Hot Chicken at Princes in Nashville

Important Update
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.

Once a sleepy southern town popular with country music devotees, Nashville is now a major city with two professional sports teams (hockey and football), bustling businesses and more than its fair share of hipster residents. But, at the end of the day, Nashville is a mecca for those of us who love music.

The Music City lives up to its nickname with a plethora of country music venues ranging from the Bluebird Cafe to the Grand Ole Opry. However, culture vultures will want to dive deep into a musical rabbit hole filled with musical artists who relocated to Nashville from around the world.

But what about the food in Nashville??? Don’t worry, this city doesn’t disappoint when it comes to eating and drinking. Whether you take a Nashville food tour or explore independently, you won’t go hungry during your visit.

Nashville Food Favorites

Grits and Shrimp at Husk in Nashville
Eating Southern food is a must when you visit Nashville. We ate this plate of Grits and Shrimp at Husk.

As an up-and-coming American city, Nashville has eateries that run the gamut from traditional ramen shops to nationally recognized restaurants. We’ve eaten at some of Nashville’s best restaurants including Husk and Rolf & Daughters, and our only regret is not having time to eat at more.

However, we get that most food travelers will want to focus their time and calories on Southern cuisine when they visit Nashville. With this in mind, we recommend that you start your culinary exploration with the following Nashville food favorites:

1. Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken at Pepperfire in Nashville
We dropped it like it’s hot when we ate hot chicken at Pepperfire in Nashville.

Invented in Nashville but beloved beyond its borders, hot chicken is a must-eat Nashville food whether you spend a day or week in the city. We’ve eaten Hot Chicken in cities like Columbus and Philadelphia but we’ve never had better Hot Chicken than in its homeland.

Rumor has it that Thornton Prince started serving Hot Chicken after his girlfriend concocted the firey recipe as revenge for Prince’s infidelity. Decades later, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the Nashville Hot Chicken standard-bearer with a recipe that includes ingredients like buttermilk and plenty of cayenne pepper.

Start your Hot Chicken exploration at Prince’s Hot Chicken to taste the original version flavored from ‘plain’ all the way to ‘xxx hot’ based on your heat tolerance. Then go to newer Hot Chicken specialists to find your favorite. You may gain a few pounds from this unique fried chicken crawl, but you certainly won’t be bored.

2. Biscuits

Biscuits at Biscuit Love in Nashville
Biscuits come in different shapes and sizes in Nashville. We ate these small gems at Biscuit Love.

Biscuits may have originated in Persia but they were perfected in the American South. We’re not talking about the original incarnation or the dessert version in London. Southern biscuits are fluffy, flaky buttermilk morsels that are more similar to scones than to cookies.

Many Nashville restaurants and cafes serve biscuits along with other Southern specialties like grits and collard greens. Best eaten hot, biscuits pair well with toppings like gravy, jam and pimento cheese though not all at the same time. That would just be wrong.

Plan to eat several biscuits in Nashville since the best bakers add their signature twists. Go crazy and pair a biscuit with hot chicken for what may be the ultimate Nashville food combo. You can do this at Biscuit Love though you’ll probably have to wait in line depending on the day and time.

Where to Eat Biscuits in Nashville

Biscuit Love, Loveless Cafe and Sweet 16th Bakery

3. Meat and Three

Meat and Three in Nashville
Meat and Three is a Nashville classic. | Photo/Joseph Lekkas

Although cities around the American South serve Meat and Three meals, Nashville is the epicenter for this particular cheap eats favorite. Taking Southern Food to the next level, the Meat and Three concept lets diners choose their meal from a variety of meats and sides.

True to its name, a Meat and Three meal consists of one meat and three sides. Meat options often include fried chicken, BBQ, meatloaf and pork chops while popular sides skew towards carbs like macaroni, corn and potatoes.

Pair your Meat and Three meal with Sweet Tea, a classic Nashville beverage. Also, don’t pass on fried green tomatoes if they’re on the cafeteria-style menu.

Where to Eat Meat and Three in Nashville

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

4. Brunch

Pancakes at Husk in Nashville
Brunch time is the perfect time for pancakes in Nashville. We ate this stack of cast iron flapjacks at Husk.

As great as biscuits are for breakfast, sometimes that they’re not enough on weekend mornings after late-night shenanigans. For those mornings, Nashville has a thriving brunch scene fueled by throngs of transplants and tourists.

The upside of this popularity is a varied selection of Nashville brunch options ranging from Southern comfort food to upscale dining. On the downside, Nashville brunches typically require either a reservation or a wait.

Do your research and save spontaneity for another meal. Once you sip your Bloody Mary and bite into your omelet, you won’t care about anything except the food on your plate.

Where to Eat Brunch in Nashville

Biscuit Love, Butcher & Bee and Husk

5. Chocolate

Chocolate at Olives and Sinclair Chocolate Company in Nashville
You can your chocolate passion in Nashville? Will it be Salt & Pepper or a more standard flavor?

Although Goo Goo Clusters were invented in Nashville, the chocolate-covered nougat candy isn’t the only chocolate game in town. In Nashville, artisan chocolatiers create unique treats using ingredients like imported beans and hand-crafted marshmallows.

Start your chocolate exploration with a tour at Olive & Sinclair in East Nashville. Not only will you learn about the company’s bean-to-bar method using stone mills, but you’ll also get to taste enough chocolate to find your favorite.

6. Donuts

Doughnuts at Five Daughters in Nashville
Two doughnuts are better than one at Five Daughters Bakery in Nashville.

Donut lovers will not be disappointed in Nashville. A motivated visitor with a sweet tooth will find it entirely possible to visit a different Nashville bakery every day of the week and eat enough flavors to achieve donut bliss.

Not all Nashville donuts shops are the same, including our two favorites. Fox’s Donut Den serves classics donuts to crowds of locals while Five Daughters Bakery specializes in layered donuts similar to cronuts sold in New York.

Which is better? Try both and let us know what you think.

Where to Eat Donuts in Nashville

Five Daughters Bakery and Fox’s Donut Den

7. Third Wave Coffee

Coffee at Barista Parlor in Nashville
Finding the best third wave coffee is a must wherever we travel. In Nashville, we found it at Barista Parlor.

Like much of America, Nashville has joined coffee’s third wave movement. Once a city filled with diner-style coffee shops, the city now has a plethora of specialty coffee shops serving cappuccinos, flat whites and pour-overs.

We started and ended our Nashville coffee crawl at Barista Palace, a leader in Nashville’s coffee scene since 2011. We dug the funky vibe at the former transmission shop almost as much as we enjoyed the modern cafe’s freshly roasted coffee.

Whether you want to stick with Barista Parlor or further explore the best Nashville coffee shops is up to you. Options include Crema Coffee Roasters and Sump Coffee among others.

Where to Drink Third Wave Coffee in Nashville

Barista Parlor

8. Tennessee Whisky

Bottles of Tennessee Bourbon
Bottoms up! Tennessee whisky is in the house! | Photo/Joseph Lekkas

Whisky fans travel the world to drink the popular potent potable, but Nashville natives only have to drive to the nearest watering hole to drink locally-produced world-class whisky. Tennessee distillers like George Dickel and Jack Daniel’s use sugar maple charcoal in a special Lincoln County Process to create the state’s liquid gold.

You can drink Tennessee whiskey at bars and restaurants all over Nashville. Feel free to drink it neat or add a mixer like cola or ginger ale. For the full experience, you can take a VIP Jack Daniel’s tour with a whisky tasting and lunch.

Where to Drink Tennessee Whisky in Nashville

Bars around Town

Nashville Quick Facts

Breakfast Sandwich at Sweet16th in Nashville
  • Country – USA
  • Continent – North America
  • Currency – US Dollar
  • Language – English
  • Restaurant Tipping – 15 to 20%*

* Tips are expected and comprise a large component of a server’s compensation.

Research Nashville Hotels

Five Daughters Donuts in Nashville

Click here to find a great Nashville hotel deal.

If you prefer to stay in an apartment, click here to research Airbnb rates.

Hungry for More?

Check out our picks for the best places to eat and drink in nearby Memphis.

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Red Beach Selfie in Santorini

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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