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The 18 Essential Nashville Restaurants, April '14

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It's time for a spring update to the Eater 18, your answer to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This elite group covers the entire area, spans myriad cuisines and should offer something for every occasion or craving. Every few months, we will revisit this list and add restaurants that were omitted, have stepped up their game or were too new to be included.

For this edition, the 18 bids farewell to perennially popular Nolensville Road Mexican restaurant La Hacienda and Hillsboro Village's Pancake Pantry, where the line will never get any shorter, and welcomes some pie to the list in the form of Midtown's DeSano Pizza Bakery, as well as the already essential Husk Nashville, which celebrates its one year anniversary next month.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Arnold's Country Kitchen

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No trip is complete without a pilgrimage to this pioneering meat and three. Serving lines of hungry Nashvillians and tourists alike for over three decades, this James Beard America's Classic award winner is the gold standard by which all others are judged. Plus, what's not to like about a restaurant where dessert comes first? [Photo via TripAdvisor]

Capitol Grille

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Located downtown in the historic Hermitage Hotel, the Capitol Grille is a standard bearer for fine dining in Nashville. Executive chef Tyler Brown is serious about the local movement, sourcing his ingredients from the Farm at Glen Leven, run by the restaurant since 2010. And while you're there, make sure you stop in for a drink at the Oak Bar, one of the city's best.

The Catbird Seat

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No other restaurant in Middle Tennessee has garnered as much national attention as The Catbird Seat. With 32 seats wrapped around a U-shaped kitchen, diners have the opportunity to interact with the chefs as they are taken on a set, multi-course journey. After the recent departure of both opening chefs, Noma alum Trevor Moran was named as the new executive chef, and the restaurant doesn't seem to have missed a beat. [Photo via Nashville Lifestyles]

City House

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This Germantown hot spot has garnered near universal praise since opening at the end of 2007. Chef Tandy Wilson's rustic offerings change frequently, based on the freshest product available, and his house-cured meats are a menu highlight. And judging by his turn as a recent James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast, there is no slowing down. [Photo via 365Nashville]

DeSano Pizza Bakery

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Nashville is having a bit of a 'pizza renaissance' at the moment, with a number of new spots opening up over the past year. But DeSano, which opened up back in the fall of 2012, is a real standout. Serving up true Pizza Napoletana from three 10,000 lb Grand Forni ovens hand made in Italy, it's a no-frills pizza shop that is about as consistent as they come.

Etch Restaurant

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Chef Deb Paquette's Etch fills the fine dining hole created when her award-winning restaurant Zola closed in 2010. Now, with ample space to work her culinary magic (and a new expansion of the dining area and kitchen), Paquette's signature bright, globally-inspired flavors once again continue to draw crowds.

Flyte World Dining and Wine

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Since opening in 2006, Flyte has consistently been one of the most interesting dining experiences in Nashville. Executive chef Matt Lackey, recently named a 2013 Eater Young Gun, has brought true focus to the menu, utilizing modern techniques to highlight the best local products. Don't miss out on pastry chef Tony Galzin's unique creations and the best by-the-glass wine list in the city.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

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This Midtown stalwart takes Nashville's famed hot chicken and does it right, plus some. With heat ranging from 'mild' to 'shut the cluck up,' a roster of classic southern sides, desserts, beer on tap, Sunday brunch, the list goes on. And that constant line out the door doesn't lie.
This outpost of the Charleston original turns one next month, and executive chef Sean Brock's inventive take on Southern cuisine has consistently brought the crowds, and the accolades, from the start. With Husk Charleston/Aldea alum Tim Moody now running the kitchen as chef de cuisine, pastry chef Lisa Donovan's desserts continuing to impress and quite possibly the best bourbon list in the city, this one is here to stay.

Kien Giang Restaurant

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Over the years, a number of Vietnamese eateries have made their home along Charlotte Pike. But with over two decades behind it, this is still the one to beat. While steaming bowls of pho are the main attraction, don't miss out on the fresh spring rolls or the classic banh mi sandwich. And don't forget to bring cash, no cards accepted. [Photo via Tennessean]

Korea House

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Located in a nondescript strip mall on Charlotte Pike, you can expect big flavor out of this tiny space. Run by the Choi family, all the traditional dishes, such as bibimbap and bulgogi, are there. No frills, just good food cooked with care.

Loveless Cafe

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Admittedly, the crush of tourists here can sometimes be a little overwhelming, but for anyone with an appreciation of country cooking, the Loveless Cafe is an essential stop. Even though their legendary biscuits tend to be the main focus, don't miss out on other items such as the fried chicken and homemade desserts. [Photo via Benton.us.com]

Marché Artisan Food

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While chef Margot McCormack first put East Nashville on the culinary map with her eponymous upscale restaurant, Marche is the younger, more casual sibling that draws the crowds. Serving light, seasonal fare for every meal of the day, Marche perhaps shines brightest on the weekends, offering one of the best brunches in town. [Photo via Delta Sky Mag]

Mas Tacos Por Favor

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One of Nashville's original food trucks, Mas Tacos Por Favor parlayed their huge success and opened up their own brick-and-mortar in East Nashville in the summer of 2010. Serving up a roster of tacos such as cast iron chicken and fried avocado, along with soups, elote and an ever-changing selection of agua fresca, Mas Tacos continues to be one of the city's most beloved destinations for Mexican street food.

Martin's Bar-B-Que

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This temple to smoked meats, run by award winning pit master Pat Martin, has been drawing Nashvillians from their usual stomping grounds and down to Nolensville for years. But now with his first in-town location having just opened on Belmont Blvd., those Redneck tacos, brisket burgers and whole hogs are hotter than ever.

Mitchell Deli

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Pound-for-pound the best sandwiches in the city. Opened in East Nashville in 2008, the deli recently moved to larger digs just down the street from its original location, and seats can still be tough to come by. Also now available is a selection of high gravity beer and Sprecher soft drinks on tap. And that Asian flank steak? No longer just a Monday special. [Photo via Nashville Lifestyles]

The Pharmacy

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This East Nashville neighborhood spot quickly rose through the ranks of the city's best burger joints. With a solid selection of wursts, a rotating selection of beers on tap, old-school house-made sodas and floats and a great outdoor space, The Pharmacy does it right. [Photo via ElizabethGatlin.com]

Rolf & Daughters

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Situated in the former boiling house at the Werthan Factory, multiple Beard Award nominee Philip Krajeck serves up Mediterranean influenced, self-described "modern peasant food." It's a packed house night after night, and with Bon Appetit and Esquire recently naming it one of the best new restaurants in the country, don't expect it to slow down.

Arnold's Country Kitchen

No trip is complete without a pilgrimage to this pioneering meat and three. Serving lines of hungry Nashvillians and tourists alike for over three decades, this James Beard America's Classic award winner is the gold standard by which all others are judged. Plus, what's not to like about a restaurant where dessert comes first? [Photo via TripAdvisor]

Capitol Grille

Located downtown in the historic Hermitage Hotel, the Capitol Grille is a standard bearer for fine dining in Nashville. Executive chef Tyler Brown is serious about the local movement, sourcing his ingredients from the Farm at Glen Leven, run by the restaurant since 2010. And while you're there, make sure you stop in for a drink at the Oak Bar, one of the city's best.

The Catbird Seat

No other restaurant in Middle Tennessee has garnered as much national attention as The Catbird Seat. With 32 seats wrapped around a U-shaped kitchen, diners have the opportunity to interact with the chefs as they are taken on a set, multi-course journey. After the recent departure of both opening chefs, Noma alum Trevor Moran was named as the new executive chef, and the restaurant doesn't seem to have missed a beat. [Photo via Nashville Lifestyles]

City House

This Germantown hot spot has garnered near universal praise since opening at the end of 2007. Chef Tandy Wilson's rustic offerings change frequently, based on the freshest product available, and his house-cured meats are a menu highlight. And judging by his turn as a recent James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast, there is no slowing down. [Photo via 365Nashville]

DeSano Pizza Bakery

Nashville is having a bit of a 'pizza renaissance' at the moment, with a number of new spots opening up over the past year. But DeSano, which opened up back in the fall of 2012, is a real standout. Serving up true Pizza Napoletana from three 10,000 lb Grand Forni ovens hand made in Italy, it's a no-frills pizza shop that is about as consistent as they come.

Etch Restaurant

Chef Deb Paquette's Etch fills the fine dining hole created when her award-winning restaurant Zola closed in 2010. Now, with ample space to work her culinary magic (and a new expansion of the dining area and kitchen), Paquette's signature bright, globally-inspired flavors once again continue to draw crowds.

Flyte World Dining and Wine

Since opening in 2006, Flyte has consistently been one of the most interesting dining experiences in Nashville. Executive chef Matt Lackey, recently named a 2013 Eater Young Gun, has brought true focus to the menu, utilizing modern techniques to highlight the best local products. Don't miss out on pastry chef Tony Galzin's unique creations and the best by-the-glass wine list in the city.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

This Midtown stalwart takes Nashville's famed hot chicken and does it right, plus some. With heat ranging from 'mild' to 'shut the cluck up,' a roster of classic southern sides, desserts, beer on tap, Sunday brunch, the list goes on. And that constant line out the door doesn't lie.

Husk

This outpost of the Charleston original turns one next month, and executive chef Sean Brock's inventive take on Southern cuisine has consistently brought the crowds, and the accolades, from the start. With Husk Charleston/Aldea alum Tim Moody now running the kitchen as chef de cuisine, pastry chef Lisa Donovan's desserts continuing to impress and quite possibly the best bourbon list in the city, this one is here to stay.

Kien Giang Restaurant

Over the years, a number of Vietnamese eateries have made their home along Charlotte Pike. But with over two decades behind it, this is still the one to beat. While steaming bowls of pho are the main attraction, don't miss out on the fresh spring rolls or the classic banh mi sandwich. And don't forget to bring cash, no cards accepted. [Photo via Tennessean]

Korea House

Located in a nondescript strip mall on Charlotte Pike, you can expect big flavor out of this tiny space. Run by the Choi family, all the traditional dishes, such as bibimbap and bulgogi, are there. No frills, just good food cooked with care.

Loveless Cafe

Admittedly, the crush of tourists here can sometimes be a little overwhelming, but for anyone with an appreciation of country cooking, the Loveless Cafe is an essential stop. Even though their legendary biscuits tend to be the main focus, don't miss out on other items such as the fried chicken and homemade desserts. [Photo via Benton.us.com]

Marché Artisan Food

While chef Margot McCormack first put East Nashville on the culinary map with her eponymous upscale restaurant, Marche is the younger, more casual sibling that draws the crowds. Serving light, seasonal fare for every meal of the day, Marche perhaps shines brightest on the weekends, offering one of the best brunches in town. [Photo via Delta Sky Mag]