Nashville is a culinary treasure, known for meat-and-three diners, fiery fried chicken and fluffy biscuits as well as a strong farm-to-table community. Eat like a local with this guide to some of the best places to eat and drink in Music City.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
If you’re coming to Nashville to eat, put hot chicken at the top of your list. Made legendary by Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in North Nashville, the fiery fowl is fried, then basted in a nostril-burning spice mix. Hattie B’s brings the local dish to several neighborhoods in Nashville and beyond in a fast-casual setting where you can order your bird in five different heat levels, from Southern (no spice) to Shut the Cluck Up (not for the faint of heart). They also offer comforting Southern sides, like black-eyed pea salad and pimento mac and cheese, plus a small selection of beers on draft or in the can, which you can enjoy on the spacious, year-round patios at their Midtown, Charlotte Avenue, and 8th Avenue locations.
Born of a beloved local food-truck concept, Biscuit Love is the brick-and-mortar extension of chef-owners Karl and Sarah Worley’s passion for biscuit-focused Southern fare. At any of the three locations (the Gulch, Hillsboro Village, or downtown Franklin), order at the counter, choosing from a selection of biscuit-centric breakfast items, like the Princess, which features a piece of boneless Nashville hot chicken, or an order of bonuts, deep-fried biscuit dough topped with mascarpone. Those who need a break from biscuits during their Nashville stay can opt for other items, like Bill Neal’s shrimp and grits. Waits can get heavy on the weekends at all of the locations, but there’s a selection of curated local merchandise to browse while you wait.
You can find quality artisanal pizza inside a good number of Nashville’s dining rooms. But for a quick, casual stop, find your way to ‘za in Hillsboro Village, where long communal tables and a wood-fired oven await. Made with a long-fermented dough, the pizzas here feature a light, airy crust that’s also sturdy enough to hold the smart selection of toppings. Pies like the Margherita and Pepp in my Step are classics (the ‘roni cups are addictive) but they’ve also got white pies like the Shroom Pizza. Round out the meal with an orb of wood-fired pizza dough served with a ricotta-honey dip, a spicy kale Caesar, and a selection of wines, local beers and sodas. Their patio, framed by a mural of Bill Murray, is just the spot for a casual warm-weather hang.
Nowhere else in Nashville (or most places, really) can you find a bowling alley, two outdoor pools, a bocce court, roomy booths and a dedicated Airstream trailer bar, not to mention excellent food and a full coffee shop. Pinewood Social is a cool, laid-back all-day-playhouse adults. The space serves New American fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks available anytime, and pool-bar options like an excellent fried shrimp po-boy. The cocktail program is also top-notch: Go for the Big Picture Mentality, a blend of Luxardo, Plymouth gin, lychee, egg white and rose water.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Few pitmasters carry the torch for whole-hog barbecue. But it’s a dying art that Pat Martin aims to uphold through his barbecue restaurants in Nashville and beyond. With customized pits in each of his joints, Martin smokes whole hogs every day, serving up tangles of the sweet, smoky meat and charred bits by the platter. The selection goes wider with wet and dry ribs, an addictively fatty brisket, smoked chicken wings and smoked turkey, plus an array of the pitmaster’s homemade sides, like broccoli salad and baked beans. At the Downtown location, you’ll also find a sprawling, landscaped beer garden.