12 Nashville Restaurants Where You’ll Want To Become A Regular

The neighborhood spots you'll aspire to go to on a bi-monthly basis.
12 Nashville Restaurants Where You’ll Want To Become A Regular image

photo credit: Eliza Kennard

A lot has changed in Nashville over the last several years. We’ve seen a bunch of new buildings, heavier traffic, and more commas on our rent checks. But behind the neon lights of Broadway, Nashville is still a big small town, where you’ll be called “sugar” more than once and won’t be able to visit any public place without a stop and chat.

That’s why no matter how many chains or restaurant transplants from NYC open, we keep going back to our local favorites: the neighborhood mainstays that give Nashville its character. These are the places you’ll wish you lived around the corner from, whether you’re visiting and want to feel like a local or just need a new go-to spot.


photo credit: Nick Rau


The Nations

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineDrinks & A Light Bite


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Nicky’s Coal Fired is our nomination for the best SCRPRTCUWFF in The Nations. What’s a SCRPRTCUWFF, you might ask? It’s a Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends, and Nicky’s checks every box. The pizzas and pastas are consistently excellent and hover around the $20-25 mark, the space isn’t too big—but is always lively enough—and the food is never boring. 

Get a plate of cavatelli bolognese, a Hey Paisano pizza with capicola and spicy honey, and an order of meatballs for good measure. Their bagel shop also makes this place really feel like a neighborhood icon, with woodfired bagels and a calabrian chile cream cheese that’s up there with GPS when it comes to great inventions of the 21st century.

​​Common Ground is the platonic ideal for a casual neighborhood hangout you’ll want to revisit often: it’s simple, unpretentious, and never too busy to squeeze you in. The decor is pretty pared down, with some large leather booths and plenty of two-tops, but you wouldn’t want anything to distract you from the crumbly carrot cake french toast, a wagyu smashburger, or plate of focaccia with tomato jam and whipped boursin. And with a former Patterson House bartender and Yolan sommelier running the show, you can count on excellent cocktails and an on-point wine list.

Once a blacksmith shop that originally opened in 1886, Geist is a Germantown staple that briefly closed after the 2020 tornado devastated the neighborhood. But it’s back, and better than before—sort of like your friend who went through some traumatic sh*t but is now posting on TikTok about their therapist. It’s a cool, sort of under-the-radar spot, where you should always bring your out-of-town people for brunch (even if they visit semi-regularly). Get the banana bread french toast soaked in bourbon, cinnamon rolls topped with cream cheese icing, and steak and eggs with black garlic butter. If the weather’s nice, settle into a spot on the garden patio.

Sadie’s stands out from all the Mediterranean spots around town. It might be the warm, white-washed digs with funky chandeliers, trees, and exposed brick, or maybe it’s the opportunity to people-watch from the sun-dappled patio out front. While all of those are reasons to make this place your second residence, Sadie’s slow-cooked lamb shank, mezze platters, and Mediterranean margaritas top them all. This place falls in that sweet spot between fast-casual and fancier sit-down spot, making it a perfect candidate for that standing monthly catch-up (a.k.a. gossip session) you have with your old manager who’s suddenly a real friend.

House of Kabob has a menu with more replay value than your dad’s favorite Steely Dan album. Both the chicken kubideh and lamb sultani platters give you a substantial amount of meat and saffron-kissed rice for around $20, but every option we’ve tried here tastes delicious (and can be stretched into at least three meals). The huge space is also somewhere you can have a low-key lunch or dinner, take in the smell of sizzling lamb, and settle into booths so comfortable you could fall into REM sleep, dreaming of char marks.

Yes, there are often lines at Redheaded Stranger in East Nashville, but we still find ourselves coming here every time we crave a breakfast taco, burrito, or crunchwrap (which is, unsurprisingly, quite often). They get people in and out quickly, and once you have your egg and tortilla breakfast item, you should stay a while at the counter bar or patio out back. Avoid the bulk of the crowds and come during the middle of the day, where you can chat with the friendly bartenders over a margarita, split some totchos with a friend, or down a couple bacon, egg, and cheese tacos which are available all day. 

If seeing multiple types of manzanilla sherry on the menu didn’t tip you off, Folk isn’t your typical neighborhood pizza shop. It’s owned and run by the same team behind Rolf & Daughters, so you can count on perfectly blistered sourdough littleneck clam pies, great meat and seafood dishes, and a vibe that’s still chill enough that you can feel comfortable leaving your designer-collab Birks at home. The staff always makes great wine selections, and there are lots of two-tops and cozy banquets that work for literally every member of your social circle. It also consistently smells like bread in here, which is impossible not to like.

We don’t talk enough about Mas Tacos Por Favor, a small, cash-only taco shop in East Nashville, and that's probably because we want to gatekeep it for ourselves. It's been open since 2010, and still makes some of the best tacos in the city. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but definitely get some tortilla soup and at least one elote per person. We like to get lunch and hang out on the patio whenever we’re in East Nashville, especially after a few drinks at The Pharmacy beer garden next door

If you religiously watch Hot Ones or try to recreate the show at home, you should be a regular at Thai Esane. Dishes like chicken larb, papaya salad, and dry sukiyaki are legitimately fear-inducingly spicy, even on the lowest heat level you can choose from—don’t say we didn’t warn you if you go for Nina Hot. Inferno aside, this is one of the top options for Thai food in Nashville, and we hope to one day split an order of sausage with Sean Evans while he asks us extremely thoughtful questions. Until then, we’ll pretend we’re on the show by telling the waiter random details about our lives while profusely sweating.

When our plans to stay home and cook fall apart, which truly happens multiple times a week, we usually find ourselves at Otaku Ramen. The small space and warm bowls of ramen give you that “staying in” feeling with much better food than you can make at home—even with that Instantpot your aunt got you and asks about every time you call. This is one of the few dedicated ramen restaurants in the city, and with everything made from scratch and a wide selection of sake, it’s a spot you’ll want to keep coming back to.

Cafe Roze is cool without trying hard to be, but it's the great food, coffee, and cocktails that make this place a staple, whether we’re swinging by for stout waffles for breakfast, the vegetarian Roze Bowl with beet tahini for lunch, paprika chicken for dinner, or fries and a negroni in between. This is the perfect spot for a low-key date or meet up with your friends on any day of the week.

Lockeland Table might be a casual neighborhood spot, but that doesn’t stop it from also being one of Nashville’s most reliable restaurants. The staff is always friendly, and it’s the type of place where you want to bring a couple of friends, order a bottle of wine (or two), and stay a while. The menu is made up of seasonal American dishes with Southern twists, like duck breast with kohlrabi and a catch of the day served over cheesy grits. You can also stop by for one of the daily “community hours,” a sort of happy hour with kid-friendly menus, where the proceeds go to benefit local schools.

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