A lot has changed in Nashville over the last few years. We’ve seen a bunch of new buildings, heavier traffic, and more commas on our rent checks. We’ve mourned the closing of some beloved community institutions - RIP Limelight - and the death of free parking in the city. But behind the neon lights of Broadway and the “It City” label, 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 concepts open, we keep going back to our local favorites: the neighborhood mainstays that give Nashville its character. So whether you’re trying to find a place to become a regular, or you’re visiting and want to feel like a local, these are our favorite places where you’ll pull up a chair and wish you lived just around the corner.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. Restaurants You’ll Want To Be A Regular At is presented by American Express ®. Dine at a local small business and make a big impact on your community.
Long before Rosepepper was known for its witty, regularly-changing sign, it was known for great tacos and margaritas - which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. This East Nashville favorite is always busy, with consistently delicious Mexican classics - like tamales and chile rellenos - and a large patio that screams, “come day drink on me.” You’ll likely see at least 12 people you know - or possibly make 12 new friends - every time you go here, so be prepared for Margarita Monday to bleed into Taco Tuesday.
Walk into Frothy Monkey on any given morning, and you’ll see a slice of the 12 South neighborhood: moms with strollers, students and freelancers on laptops, couples squeezing in a breakfast date, and a bachelorette group recovering from last night. Whichever group you fit into - or if you just need caffeine - you’ll immediately feel at home in this house-turned-coffee-shop. There’s a long menu of coffee drinks and local teas, along with homemade pastries, and more breakfast and lunch options. Frothy Monkey also serves a nightly dinner menu with beer, wine, and cocktails.
When your plans to stay home and cook are foiled by a greater need to just have food made for you, head over to 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 slow cooker your aunt got you and asks about every time you call. This is one of the only 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 one of those places that doesn’t have to try too hard to be cool. There’s a standard-issue neon sign, and somehow-not-obnoxious pink furniture. But it’s the great food, coffee, and cocktails that make this a staple, whether we’re swinging by for stout waffles for breakfast, the vegetarian Roze Bowl with beet tahini for lunch, harissa chicken for dinner, or fries and a negroni in between. Cafe Roze is the perfect spot for a low-key date or to meet up with friends on any day of the week.
51st Deli is part convenience store, part deli - and it’s where you can order the best breakfast tacos or a pastrami on rye, while also grabbing hot dogs for tomorrow’s cookout. There’s a grocery section full of things like Topo Chico sparkling water, kombucha, and Mexican sodas and they offer a daily Happy Hour with $1 domestic beers. Hang out until they close at 9pm, then head across the street to The Centennial, a wood-paneled dive bar with a surprisingly good craft beer selection and a large-scale mural of the late Patrick Swayze.
Yes, Nashville also has a neighborhood called Five Points, but if someone says they’re “going to Five Points,” there’s a good chance they’re getting pizza here. The New York-style pizza, stromboli, and garlic knots are served by guys who look like they’re in a cool new band you don’t know about yet, and with both a dine-in and a counter service side, you can make it work for whatever’s on your agenda that day. And if that agenda includes having too many Bushwacker beers and calling pizza to the rescue, know that Five Points’ late-night counter is open until 1am on weeknights and 3am on the weekends.
Hidden in the bottom of an apartment building, Woodlands is well worth the U-turn you’ll have to make to find it. Not only is this one of the best Indian restaurants in Nashville, but everything on the menu is vegetarian, and most dishes can be made vegan. Regardless of whether the last time you ate meat was for breakfast or six years ago before watching a documentary you can’t unsee, you’ll find something to love at Woodlands - from samosas and garlicky naan to aloo dal palak (a creamy lentil, potato, and spinach dish).
City House is like that girl from high school who got famous on a reality show for juggling while singing opera on a unicycle - we’re really proud of its national acclaim, but it will always be one of our own. The menu is Southern and Italian, so you’ll find dishes like a ham belly pizza and catfish over grits with ragu, all of which could even satisfy your friend who thinks peanut butter and jelly is a major food group. Our favorite part of City House is its Sunday Suppers where the weekly menu is based on what’s in season.
Right up there with church and football (and usually consumed in between the two), brunch is a Southern institution. And while there are plenty of options for where to eat biscuits and drink mimosas on a Sunday afternoon, Marché is the place that we keep going back to. It’s a European-style bistro that serves all-day brunch (every day of the week), with plenty of crepes, french toast, pastries, and omelettes. This place is always packed, so be prepared for a wait. It’s worth it.
Housed in a converted garage behind some very “New Nashville” condos, Adele’s menu is based on the chef’s mom’s recipes. We really can’t say enough about their signature roasted chicken, especially when paired with the brussels sprouts and potatoes. This dish is definitely one to split, which means you can order another Elvis Old Fashioned (made with peanut butter bourbon and bananas) or one of the local drafts on tap and still leave having spent less than you would have expected for food this good.
When you first pull up to Peter’s - a small, casual spot in a suburban shopping center - you might assume your GPS screwed up and took you to a very different sushi place than the one your friends have been raving about. But trust us: go inside, and you’ll quickly understand. Peter’s has a following that includes a few celebrities and also we normal people who’ve been spotted there multiple times a week eating the perfect rainbow roll and shrimp pineapple curry.
Lockeland Table might be a casual neighborhood spot, but that doesn’t stop it from also being one of Nashville’s best 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.