The year is drawing to a close and, as is tradition, Eater Nashville has surveyed several Nashville food writers and dining experts on everything from their best meal in 2018 to their food headline predictions for 2019. Responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited, and are listed in no particular order. The experts have already given their restaurant standbys when dining off duty. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more Year in Eater coverage.
Now, Nashville’s dining authorities name their top restaurant newcomers for 2018.
Q: What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2018?
Beth Sachan, founder and food writer at Eat. Drink. Smile: There are still several new spots I haven’t had the opportunity to dine at, but of those I have, The Green Pheasant and Lyra are two of my favorites. In just a few days I’ll be dining at Vivek Surti’s new restaurant, Tailor, for the first time and if it’s anything like his VEA Supper Club meals, I’m quite certain I’ll be adding it to this list!
Courtney Hood, founder of Blonde Voyage Nashville: Even though the Nashville food scene was flooded with openings in 2018, I’d say Emmy Squared, Folk, and Lyra were easily top contenders. For something more fast/casual, Shake Shack and True Food Kitchen. I know, quite the contradiction. Green Hills certainly upped its dining game in 2018 but it was long overdue.
Nancy Vienneau, restaurant critic, The Tennessean; food journalist, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine: Folk, Lyra, The Green Pheasant.
Chris Chamberlain, food writer at Nashville Scene, Sounds Like Nashville: I’ve really enjoyed the Green Pheasant, both at lunch and for dinner. They’ve assembled an all-star team of culinary talent, and their approach to infusing innovative flavors to traditional Asian dishes using unexpected ingredients like country ham dashi is really fun. Mop/Broom Mess Hall isn’t exactly my favorite name for a restaurant, but I really enjoy the vibe of seeing Tandy and Sal back in the kitchen together creating food like I wish I could cook at home. Finally seeing Vivek Surti get his own bricks and mortar with Tailor in the back room of M/BMH is a really pleasant development.
Margaret Littman, author of Moon Nashville and Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip guidebooks, freelance writer for Nashville Scene, the Telegraph, PUNCH, Nashville Lifestyles and other publications: Hathorne, Mile End, Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, and Walden.
Kristen Luna, travel and food writer and founder of travel blog Camels & Chocolate: Tailor Nashville is, by far, my favorite debut of 2018. I’ve been a fan of Vivek Surti’s food since first meeting him in 2012, not to mention a frequent patron at his pop-up dinners and chef collaborations, so the fact that I can now dive into his authentic Indian cuisine anytime I want (well, provided it’s a Thursday to Sunday!) is a game-changer.
I’ve also been to Green Pheasant three times in the two months that it’s been open, and I’m delighted there’s such a dynamic restaurant and bar right downtown that’s the perfect first stop of the evening before heading to a show.
Erin Byers Murray, Nashville Lifestyles magazine editor: So many good ones — Folk, The Green Pheasant, Hathorne, Tailor, Mop & Broom.
Delia Jo Ramsey, Eater Nashville editor: The collective “we” as food writers saw each other at many openings this year. For me, many of those end up running together, so standing out in the current state of affairs is hard to do. A bright spot in my year and shining star opening for the city was that of The Green Pheasant. Jess Benefield and Trey Burnette are doing something so needed and truly important for the dining scene here, in a part of Nashville that feels it has lost its way lately, as far as openings go. Just adding to the appeal, it’s one of the prettiest new spaces I’ve seen.