After a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the biggest impression on all 24 Eater cities over the past 12 months.
Here are the places — from a gorgeous cocktail go-to housed in an old blacksmith shop to a Detroit-style pizza place with a show-stopping burger — that have taken the Nashville food scene by storm this year. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of both the readers’ choice and editor’s choice awards. Here’s a little more about this year’s best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year 2018
Yes, it’s true the East Nashville restaurant opened in October of 2017, but that was too soon to be considered for last year’s awards. The stellar team — executive chef Jake Howell plus co-owners Craig Schoen and Yuriko Say — have really come in to their own throughout the course of 2018. Bringing Nashville something truly unique to East Nashville in cuisine inspired by the Iberian Peninsula, Howell executes flawlessly with French techniques and unexpected flavor combinations. The tomato toast, braised rabbit, and constantly-changing broths are all instant favorites at this Nashville restaurant standout of the year.
Reader’s Choice Restaurant of the Year — Black Rabbit
Chef of the Year
Philip Krajeck, Folk
It’s hard enough for a Nashville chef to open one wildly successful restaurant. In 2018, Eater Nashville’s chef of the year Philip Krajeck proved in tumultuous dining scene times that he could somehow manage to do it again, doubling down to Folk in East Nashville to much fanfare. After wowing diners with essential Nashville restaurant Rolf & Daughters for over six years, it seems he’s done it again in the kitchen at Folk, his pizza-focused neighborhood restaurant — a passion project for Krajeck long in the making, providing him with an outlet to share his love of pizza. The clam pie with bonito flakes has quickly become one of the most talked about pizzas in town.
Reader’s Choice Chef of the Year — Katie Coss, Husk
Design of the Year
In a world where everything seems over the top, shiny, and flashy, Geist’s simpler approach stands out in a different way, incorporating history into consideration of the design. Housed in the former 118-year-old blacksmith shop, it took nearly three years to complete owner Doug Martin’s intensive restoration and renovation project. Built circa 1900, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, Geist’s ‘less is more’ design, a collaboration between Martin, his team, and local designer Anne Marie Garcia of Sobremesa Design, is a noticeable departure from many of Nashville’s recent openings. The shell of the original building has remained intact, and the interior has maintained a much rawer look than typically seen, with brick walls, hardwood floors, and exposed wood ceilings throughout.
Readers’ Choice Design of the Year — Rambler Cocktail Bar
Restaurant Import of the Year
Opening in March of this year, Hyland’s Nashville outpost of the Detroit-style pizza joint has already found its way onto most every best pizza and burger list in the city. While there have been a flurry of restaurateurs nationwide focusing on importing restaurants to Nashville, many of them relocating here to do so, the Gulch’s Emmy Squared shows that yes, the city did really need another place for pizza and burgers.
Readers’ Choice Restaurant Import of the Year — Sunda
Nashville’s Dining Neighborhood of the Year
The growth in East Nashville is hard to keep track of, continuing its hot, hot, hot dining trajectory with the openings of Peninsula, Folk, Lyra, and so many more restaurants having opened in the last few months alone. Bake shops are also on the rise with the additions of Slow Hand and Brightside. Tap cocktail bar Walden and pretty island lounge Pearl Diver added to the list of destinations for libations, while Tailgate Brewery’s newest outpost gave East Nashville beer lovers a new place to hang. Chefs Sean Brock and RJ Cooper each have projects in the neighborhood in the works. With so many outstanding choices, it’s getting much easier for residents of the East side to not ever have to cross that bridge for a stellar meal.
Readers’ Choice Dining Neighborhood of the Year — East Nashville