When people think of going out in downtown Nashville, visions of pedal taverns and honky-tonks are typically conjured rather than opulent meals in high-end dining establishments. While there have always been plenty of places to grab a bite to eat in Nashville’s city center, the influx of visitors in recent years has helped draw new restaurants and food options to the area. Dining out in downtown Nashville has truly never been better.Read More
21 Great Places to Dine Near Downtown Nashville
Stumble outside of the basic celeb-named Broadway stops for everything from duck confit empanadas and to gourmet hot dogs
Gray & Dudley
Chef Matt Bell moved to Nashville last year, and after a tough first year in Music City, the chef has had the chance to make the menu his own. Pop by for brunch or for dinner and feast on comforting dishes bursting with flavor — from boudin Rangoon with red-eye gravy and shrimp toast bites to charred carrots with whipped feta or soul-warming falafel skillet bread.
The Farm House chef-owner Trey Cioccia now has two restaurants under his belt with the opening of this cozy Printer’s Alley cocktail den. It’s an ode to a bygone era, with both decor and menu reflecting that aesthetic. Dishes range from the addictive signature rabbit rolls to a grilled Caesar or a smoked ribeye with red potatoes and compound butter.
Take the elevator up to the fourth floor at the Fairlane for cool midcentury vibes and a menu with plenty of takes on American classic dishes. Begin with brioche bread service or burrata toast, then move on to mains like shrimp and grits, surf and turf, or harvest risotto.
Skull's Rainbow Room
The original Skull’s Rainbow Room dated back to the 1940s and was a legendary local hangout for 50 years before shuttering in 1999. It reopened in 2015 with many of the atmospheric touches of the original, plus revamped lunch and dinner menus with lobster bisque, duck empanadas, and an excellent garlic honey-glazed pork chop.
Manny's House of Pizza
Tucked inside the Arcade, Manny’s House of Pizza is easy to overlook — but that’d be a big mistake, as the small counter serves some of the city’s best cheesy, pepperoni-studded slices. In operation since 1984, this pizza joint is quite a popular lunchtime destination, selling NY-style pie whole or by the slice, plus calzones, and subs.
Rae's Sandwich Shoppe
A line is a common lunchtime occurrence at the weekday lunch-only deli on Union, open since 2002. Find standout versions of hot sandwiches like Cubans, Monte Cristo’s, and Hot Brown handhelds all served on New Orleans-style French bread on the menu beside other deli classics, soups, and salads.
Track down the cart on 4th Avenue or walk up to the window in historic Printers Alley to sample the best hot dogs to be found in Nashville. Choose from classics like the New York or Chicago-style dogs or gussied up options like the Big Daddy — topped with cream cheese, bacon, pickle, grilled onion, jalapeno, and Daddy’s secret sauce.
Hot weekend brunches and weekday happy hours featuring $5 cocktails draw the crowds to the chic spot on the ground floor of the Dream Nashville hotel. Sit below the Gehry-esque glass atrium and sample a wide range of shared plates, salads, and entrees, then finish with Oreo beignets before closing down Broadway or Printers Alley.
Church and Union
Church and Union opened downtown in 2021, dishing out American cuisine from two-time Top Chef alum Jamie Lynch and chef Adam Hodgson. On the menu, find swanky seafood towers, French onion agnolotti, and a Kurobuta pork chop, plus confit Spanish octopus and a Certified Angus Beef porterhouse for two.
D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe
Nashville native David Andrews moved back from NYC in 2016 and opened his first bakery downtown. Look for rotating pastries including double butter croissants, pain au chocolat,
and brioche pecan cinnamon buns in the mornings, plus a selection of salads, soup, and sandwiches during lunch.
Prince's Hot Chicken
The grandaddy of them all — Prince’s is the original hot chicken shack, serving legendary fiery fowl for over 70 years, and even snagging a James Beard Award along the way. André Prince Jeffries continues the decades-old tradition on the south side of town and in limited menu formats at 6th and Peabody Assembly Food Hall at 5th and Broadway, both downtown.
Robert's Western World
Since what feels like lightyears before Broadway’s streetscape was overtaken by three-story mega-bars named after modern country music stars, Robert’s Western World has consistently offered old-school country music and rockabilly for those seeking a true Nashville honky-tonk experience. And while it’s undoubtedly more bar than restaurant, the fried bologna sandwich with an icy PBR and MoonPie for dessert is an unarguably iconic Music City meal.
Merchants has been a fixture in downtown Nashville dining for more than 25 years. The first-floor bistro menu offers a mix of modern and traditional American dishes (duck fat tater tots, anyone?), while the second-floor dinner space is more upscale—serving steak and seafood entrees.
Open since late 2018 on the first floor of the Renaissance Nashville Hotel, Little Fib serves up a seasonally rotating menu of elevated Southern cuisine with items like Nashville hot shishitos, tea-brined smoked chicken wings, and a grilled Manhattan strip steak with dandelion chimichurri. And yes, there’s a full wall lined with photos of Johnny Cash — perfect for a great photo opp with a cocktail in hand.
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Slim & Husky's
The new downtown Fifth + Broadway location of the hip-hop-inspired pizza joint made history in 2021 — it’s the first-ever Black-owned restaurant to open on Broadway. Co-owned by Nashville natives Clint Gray, Derrick Moore, and Emanuel Reed, Slim & Husky’s offers a menu of cleverly named and totally customizable pizzas alongside made-to-order salads and unique cinnamon rolls.
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Assembly Food Hall/Fifth + Broadway
Assembly Food Hall at massive mixed-use development Fifth + Broadway opened in 2021, adding dozens more choices for those visiting the popular honky-tonk strip. Besides Slim + Husky’s, Blanco, Cava, Elixr Coffee, the Twelve Thirty Club, and Shake Shack mixed in with downstairs retail, pop upstairs to Sixty Vines or the country’s largest food hall for offerings from Whisk Crêpes Cafe and Donut Distillery to Thai Esane, Prince’s Hot Chicken, and Oke Poké.
Trattoria Il Mulino
The New York-based Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the Hilton Downtown opened several years ago, with a focus on service in a dimly lit room that makes diners feel much farther from the Broadway strip than they actually are. On the menu, find classic Italian starters like ricotta meatballs, and burrata followed by a selection of pasta, pizzas, and exquisitely prepared meats.
The Southern Steak & Oyster
Tourists and locals flock to the Southern Steak & Oyster for a refined Southern dining experience. For years, the Southern was one of the only spots in town with an oyster bar. Though more options have emerged in recent years, the Southern’s reputation for consistently good food makes it one of the most popular restaurants in the downtown sector.
Since opening in 2012, Etch has become a staple in the downtown Nashville dining scene. Chef Deb Paquette has a knack for creating bold and flavorful dishes and is a welcome alternative to the barrage of bar food served just blocks away. Perhaps the most popular menu item: the roasted cauliflower, served with truffled pea puree, salted almonds, feta crema, and red bell pepper sauce.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
When visiting meat-seekers ask about the best barbecue in Nashville, Martin’s is an ever-popular pick. Pitmaster Pat Martin’s downtown location opened in late summer 2016 and has seen consistent lines out the door ever since. This one looks and feels like all the other Martin’s locations, just a Texas-sized massive beer garden in the back, providing tons of seating, games, and a stage set for live music.
Nashville scored big when the husband-and-wife culinary powerhouse moved to town (and when it got a see-thru cheese cave). James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano and wine and hospitality expert Cathy Mantuano brought Nashville the fine dining Italian menu it had been missing alongside standout service and a welcoming atmosphere inside the lovely new Joseph Hotel. The chef’s tasting menu (plus wine pairing) is always a solid move — as are any and all of the pasta options. And don’t miss pastry chef Noelle Marchetti’s jaw-dropping desserts.