The Best Restaurants in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

An excellent restaurant is never far away in Downtown Nashville
An excellent restaurant is never far away in Downtown Nashville | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
From casual diners to award-winning high-end restaurants, there’s a wide choice of places to eat in Nashville that will satisfy all tastes and budgets. Exploring Downtown is a must when visiting the Tennessee capital, and you’ll need mouthwatering eats to fuel your explorations. Culture Trip’s insiders share their tips so you can dine like a local.

Woolworth on 5th

Bar, Restaurant, American

Restored to its former glory – think sweeping staircases and gilded handrails – the Woolworth on 5th is a certified historic building. Black-and-white movies play, and photos of a bygone era decorate the wall. It’s proud of its history and happy to tell you all about it. Dinner brings short-rib pot roast and shrimp and grits, while a more casual affair at lunch sees sandwiches, salads and “munchies” such as pulled-pork nachos and avocado toast. The famous, old-school banana split makes you wonder why every restaurant doesn’t serve up this sugar bonanza. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

Dinner, Dessert, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Traditional

The Hampton Social

Restaurant, American

Just off Lower Broadway, the East Coast-inspired Hampton Social has quickly become the place to go for Nashville’s Instagram elite – the leaf wall, complete with a neon sign, cementing it. The light and airy interiors also feature a lot of natural wood. Choose from the rooftop, dining area or Rosé lounge to feast on delicious food and unique cocktails. Share the signature frosé served in a giant seashell with your pals and feast on some flavorful main dishes before heading off to the honky-tonks or a show to complete your perfect Downtown Nashville evening. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

All Day, Brunch, Dinner

Atmosphere:

Casual, Nightlife, Outdoors, Stylish

Stateside Kitchen

Restaurant, American

Located within the trendy Dream Hotel, Stateside Kitchen offers seasonal cuisine and a slamming drinks menu. It’s open from brunch till sundown, so why not kick off the day with the breakfast sandwich (house sausage, biscuit, soft scrambled egg, white cheddar, strawberry-quince jam and creole potatoes). The dinner menu is astounding, with a noteworthy dish being the 22oz kurobuta bone-in pork chop. With beautiful black-and-white tiled flooring and a glass atrium arcing over the bar, the interiors here are swoon-worthy. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Atmosphere:

Casual, Arty, Modern, Nightlife
Sun:
10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Mon:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Tue:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wed:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Thu:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri:
10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat:
10:00 am - 10:00 pm

417 Union

Restaurant, American, $$$

Take a step back in time and learn a thing or two at 417 Union. This two-story family-run restaurant is covered in memorabilia from the American Civil War and World War II. Located next to the Arcade, it serves up traditional but creative Southern fare made with local ingredients. The brunch is a winner, with the lemon and blueberry waffles stealing the show. Cajun-spiced blackened redfish and rattlesnake chicken pasta are just some of the delights served up at dinner. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso

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Kayne Prime

Restaurant, American

Kayne Prime is leap years ahead of your traditional steakhouse. Inventive starters such as popcorn-buttered lobster and the house-made bacon pay homage to Southern cooking and are very tasty. As you would expect, the steaks are mouthwateringly good; wagyu ribeye and filet mignon come with truffle béarnaise, yuzu chimichurri or blue-cheese butter. Located in the heart of the Gulch and dimly lit with stylish, modern decor, this is a great spot for a date night. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

Dinner, Dessert
Tue:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Wed:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Thu:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri:
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Sat:
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Bourbon Steak

Restaurant, Steakhouse, American

It’s not only the 360-degree views of the Nashville skyline that make Bourbon Steak stand out from the rest, but the menu is stellar, too. The steak tartare is crafted tableside, and the wood-fired steaks and seafood come with three sauces of your choosing. The waiters know the wine list like the back of their hands. If you’re not feasting on one of the best steaks you’ve ever had, the lobster pot pie is out of this world. On the 34th floor of the JW Marriott Nashville, the restaurant has sunset vistas that are beaten only by the sundowner in your hand. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

Dinner, Dessert, Late Night

Atmosphere:

Gourmet, Romantic
Sun:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Mon:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Tue:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Wed:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Thu:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Fri - Sat:
4:00 pm - 1:00 am
Sat - Sun:
4:00 pm - 1:00 am

Virago

Restaurant, Japanese, Sushi, $$$
With nearly two decades at the helm of Asian-fusion cuisine in Nashville, Virago is doing something right – the sushi is right up there with the best. The godzilla with tempura shrimp, cream cheese, spicy mayo and sriracha is dreamy, as is the golden dragon with lobster tempura, asparagus, eel, yuzu tobiko, wasabi mayo, unagi and sriracha. Sleek, seductive interiors and private booths make an evening here feel like you’re in a Bond movie. Though it’s in the heart of the Gulch, the entrance is a little obscure, so you’ll be in on a secret here. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd
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Meal service:

Dinner, Late Night
Mon:
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Tue:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Wed:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Thu:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri:
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Sat:
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Emmy Squared

Restaurant, North American, $$$

Renowned for its square, Detroit-style pizzas with a crispy base, fluffy dough and cheesy frico crust (are you drooling yet?), Emmy Squared is the place to grab a slice, or five, when in the Gulch. The waffle fries and burgers are good, too, with the Le Big Matt named Nashville’s Best Burger by The Tennessean. It has a casual vibe and is great for groups, so bring along the whole crew. The local-favorite Colony Squared pizza comes with pepperoni, pickled chili and honey. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Otaku Ramen

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$

Sometimes, the only thing that’s going to soothe your soul is a big bowl of steaming ramen. Otaku serves up the goods Downtown at this incredibly popular spot known for its lines out the door. Start with some chicken gyozas, followed by the szechuan pork miso ramen. Here, you can choose from seats at the bar or long communal tables shared with other noodle schlurpers. Recommended by local insider Leena Kollar

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Meal service:

Dinner, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Family Friendly, Casual
Sun:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mon:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Tue:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Thu:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Sat:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Etch

Market, Restaurant, American, Contemporary, $$$
Multi-award-winning chef Deb Paquette is at the helm of this unique restaurant. Her globally influenced dishes – an eclectic mix from Mexican tostadas to a Vietnamese bánh mì – leave a lasting impression, or etch, on everyone who visits. Grab a seat at the chef’s table, and watch the magic unfold. The chef loves to chat as she creates your dishes, all of which are all beautifully plated. Recommended by local insider Leena Kollar
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Mon:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Mon:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Tue:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Tue:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Wed:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Thu:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Thu:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Fri:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Sat:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Superica

Restaurant, Mexican

The atmosphere at Superica is as fun as its menu, which features Tex-Mex greats. Its tacos, enchiladas and Delta-style tamales will leave you licking your lips, hands and elbows. Quirky and easygoing, it’s a great spot for date night or swapping travel tales with friends. With a cocktail selection to make any tequila-lover happy, grab yourself a margarita or mezcal mule, and toast your success. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

Dessert, Dinner, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Quirky
Sun:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Tue:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Thu:
4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm

The Stillery

Restaurant, American, $$$

Nashville locals know all about the Stillery, and they’re happy to share it with you. Its Southern comfort food is guaranteed to bring a smile. Rustic-style pizzas and fresh salads are served alongside the famous “two-handed sandwiches” that come with house-cut fries, greens or baked mac and cheese. It champions Nashville in its drinks selection, with 10 local beers and cocktails arriving in mason jars. Try the honeysuckle with Old Forge moonshine, honey syrup, lime and ginger beer. Recommended by local insider Leena Kollar

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Meal service:

Dinner, Lunch

Atmosphere:

Family Friendly, Relaxed, Loud
Sun:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Mon:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Tue:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wed:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Thu:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sat:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Ellington’s

Restaurant, American

Located on the fourth floor of the Fairlane Hotel, Ellington’s serves up panoramic views of Downtown on the side with your dinner. Enjoy lunch on the wraparound outdoor deck, or dinner in the stylish indoor bar area. The dishes may seem like classics – think T-bone steaks and grilled chicken caesar salad – but the skilled chefs elevate each meal to something special. The bar offers one of the best happy hours in the business district, so time your visit right. Recommended by local insider Chaney Curd

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Meal service:

All Day, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert

Atmosphere:

Secret, Traditional, Arty, Casual
Sun:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Mon:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Wed:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Thu:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sat:
3:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant

Restaurant, Pub Grub, $$$
Puckett’s started as a village grocery store in the ’50s and has grown to a whopping six restaurants across Tennessee. Well known for championing live music and serving up tasty Southern fare, it must be doing something right. Try the cherry-wood-smoked baby back ribs and creole-fried fresh catfish. It’s also ideally located on Church Street, close to some of Nashville’s must-see attractions. Recommended by local insider Erica Commisso
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Sun:
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Mon:
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Tue:
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Wed:
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Thu:
7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri:
7:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat:
7:00 am - 10:00 pm

This is an update of the article by Chloe Hanschen

These recommendations were updated on June 11, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.