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Where to Eat in The Nations

Head to the west side of town and find yourself in the Nations — a neighborhood exploding with newness 

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It’s hard to imagine a time when The Nations wasn’t bursting with eateries, bars, breweries, and coffee shops. As more folks have moved in, restaurants have quickly followed. These days, you can’t walk a block down 51st Avenue without stumbling upon somewhere to eat. Despite its small size, the growing neighborhood boasts a culinary lineup that rivals other pockets of town — without the heavy tourist traffic. Locals make up the majority of the clientele at these neighborhood haunts, but out-of-towners won’t feel out of place — everyone is invited to enjoy a bite or a beer in the Nations. Here are 16 spots to get you started.

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Maru Sushi

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The Nations’ first sushi spot opened in fall 2022 much to the delight of locals. The former Burger Joint building was transformed into a modern farmhouse-style restaurant with a menu of Asian dishes ranging from bibimbap and bulgogi to fried rice and an impressive sushi lineup. Try the Pink Lady, a spicy crab and cucumber-filled roll topped with yellowtail, avocado, green onion, fish roe, and spicy mayo with mango mochi for dessert.

Southern Grist Brewery/L by Lauter

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Three friends’ homebrewing hobby turned into a bustling brewery with two taprooms in the Nashville area. The Nations outpost of Southern Grist Brewing not only serves up the IPAs, sours, and ales locals have grown to love but also boasts an onsite food concept, L by Lauter. The limited menu of bites like green chili queso, hushpuppies with crab butter, and a charcuterie board pair perfectly with a cold pint.

Nicky's Coal Fired

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In the case of this Nation’s favorite, it is both the food and the atmosphere that contribute to its popularity. The menu is primarily pasta and coal-fired pizza, plus craft cocktails, wines, and beer. Pizzas are coated in a red or white sauce before being topped with surprising combinations of meat, seasonal veggies, and cheese.

A pizza sitting on a metal stand on a wooden table Nicky’s Coal Fired

Bringles Smoking Oasis

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Brought to you by Peg Leg Porker founder Carey Bringle, Bringle’s Smoking Oasis brings a slice of the southwest to the heart of Nashville. Choose from meats like pulled pork, smoked turkey, or brisket to pair with street corn, macaroni and cheese, cowboy beans, or all of the above for a seriously smoky feast. Catch any big game on the turf-covered outdoor patio, sheltered by an awning for fanfare in any weather.

La Juquilita

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A local favorite and repeat mention on the Essential 38 list, this unassuming taqueria is terrific. Expect homemade dishes with simple flavors and ingredients, and fill up on tacos, tortas, empanadas, and burritos for less than ten bucks. It is no surprise that the no-frills family establishment only takes cash and doesn’t serve booze. Plan accordingly.

51st Deli

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51st Deli flies under the radar and those who have experienced all it has to offer would prefer to keep it that way. Housed in the space formerly home to Savemore Super Market, the deli specializes in hot and cold sandwiches and also serves a well-rounded menu of all-day breakfast, salads (from chicken salad to ceviche), tacos, and burgers. Good luck trying to keep this well-kept secret to yourself. 

Bare Bones Butcher

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First and foremost a butcher shop, Bare Bones Butcher focuses on dry-aged beef, heritage breed pork, and local eggs and dairy. The old-school-style butcher sells quality cuts alongside cheeses and pantry products to take home; there is also a small menu of meaty dishes to enjoy on the spot. Cheeseburgers, beef-fat fried potatoes, and a messy meatball sub are a few of the tempting choices.

Maddie Teren/Bare Bones Butcher

Field House Tavern

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Torn between watching your favorite team from home or at a bar? Field House Tavern is the spot for you. Tuck into a room inside the house or opt for a spot on the massive outdoor patio to enjoy bar favorites like burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, and wraps, best paired with a cold beer and a touchdown.

Burger & Grain

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One of The Nations’ most elevated dining options, everything from the cozy booths to the impressive menu at Burger + Grain exudes approachable elegance. The dishes hailing from the open-concept kitchen include shareables like bourbon braised short rib dumplings and mushroom tartine, and mains ranging from dry-aged steaks to seafood and pasta. Wash it all down with a bourbon-forward New York sour or perfect Old Fashioned.

Midnight Oil

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Cure your pizza craving (and your hangover if you did, in fact, burn the midnight oil) at Midnight Oil, whose pies range from traditional favorites to an out-of-the-box “pie of the month.” Previous iterations have included a pickle-topped spicy chicken pizza or a spin on a BLT with a honey mustard drizzle. Bring your pup for some outdoor time while you enjoy a crispy slice on the pet-friendly outdoor patio.

Brightside Bakeshop

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This locally-owned bakery has everything you need for a sweet or savory treat. Born from a childhood dream, Brightside Bakeshop serves fresh-made delicacies that take up to three days to complete, including croissants, cookies, and breakfast brioches. Weekends here are extra sweet, with their own lineup of baked goods ranging from caramel pecan monkey bread to seasonal specialties.

51 North Taproom

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Much like its sister restaurant, 12 South Taproom and Grill, this neighborhood taproom focuses on craft beer and elevates taproom-style eats with fresh ingredients. Beer lovers enjoy the 100+ beers available, and wine and craft cocktails mean there is something for everyone. Snag a seat on the patio when the weather is warm.

Nations Bar and Grill

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It’s a laid-back vibe that has made The Nations Bar & Grille a go-to in the neighborhood for weeknight and weekend hangs. Cold beers pair perfectly with easy eats, and both suit the cast of regulars who frequent the local joint. Dishes favored by repeat customers included the soft-baked pretzel, chicken tenders with a side of tots, a simple burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, and the steak salad. 

Eater Nashville/Submitted

Wendell Smith Restaurant

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This Nashville mainstay has been feeding hungry customers since its doors opened in 1952. The charming diner serves meat-and-three-style fare that rotates daily, including BBQ spare ribs on Mondays, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and a fried pork chop on Thursdays. Pair your main with a selection of good-for-the-soul sides ranging from creamed potatoes to macaroni and cheese and baked apples.

The Café at Thistle Farms

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If you’ve heard of Thistle Farms, you are familiar with their mission to heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. At The Café, teacups hang from the ceiling and the menu showcases familiar favorites — a breakfast biscuit, chicken salad, turkey sandwich, and pot pie. The space is sweet, and the food is comforting.

Streetcar Taps & Garden

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Tucked in the former home of West Nashville’s first grocery store, Streetcar Taps and Garden is now a contemporary gastropub off of Charlotte Avenue. Come for the drinks but stay for the bar bites, which include favorites like wings, sliders, and brisket specials on weekends. On a nice day, take a seat in the sweeping outdoor beer garden to enjoy live music and good company.

Maru Sushi

The Nations’ first sushi spot opened in fall 2022 much to the delight of locals. The former Burger Joint building was transformed into a modern farmhouse-style restaurant with a menu of Asian dishes ranging from bibimbap and bulgogi to fried rice and an impressive sushi lineup. Try the Pink Lady, a spicy crab and cucumber-filled roll topped with yellowtail, avocado, green onion, fish roe, and spicy mayo with mango mochi for dessert.

Southern Grist Brewery/L by Lauter

Three friends’ homebrewing hobby turned into a bustling brewery with two taprooms in the Nashville area. The Nations outpost of Southern Grist Brewing not only serves up the IPAs, sours, and ales locals have grown to love but also boasts an onsite food concept, L by Lauter. The limited menu of bites like green chili queso, hushpuppies with crab butter, and a charcuterie board pair perfectly with a cold pint.

Nicky's Coal Fired

In the case of this Nation’s favorite, it is both the food and the atmosphere that contribute to its popularity. The menu is primarily pasta and coal-fired pizza, plus craft cocktails, wines, and beer. Pizzas are coated in a red or white sauce before being topped with surprising combinations of meat, seasonal veggies, and cheese.

A pizza sitting on a metal stand on a wooden table Nicky’s Coal Fired

Bringles Smoking Oasis

Brought to you by Peg Leg Porker founder Carey Bringle, Bringle’s Smoking Oasis brings a slice of the southwest to the heart of Nashville. Choose from meats like pulled pork, smoked turkey, or brisket to pair with street corn, macaroni and cheese, cowboy beans, or all of the above for a seriously smoky feast. Catch any big game on the turf-covered outdoor patio, sheltered by an awning for fanfare in any weather.

La Juquilita

A local favorite and repeat mention on the Essential 38 list, this unassuming taqueria is terrific. Expect homemade dishes with simple flavors and ingredients, and fill up on tacos, tortas, empanadas, and burritos for less than ten bucks. It is no surprise that the no-frills family establishment only takes cash and doesn’t serve booze. Plan accordingly.

51st Deli

51st Deli flies under the radar and those who have experienced all it has to offer would prefer to keep it that way. Housed in the space formerly home to Savemore Super Market, the deli specializes in hot and cold sandwiches and also serves a well-rounded menu of all-day breakfast, salads (from chicken salad to ceviche), tacos, and burgers. Good luck trying to keep this well-kept secret to yourself. 

Bare Bones Butcher

First and foremost a butcher shop, Bare Bones Butcher focuses on dry-aged beef, heritage breed pork, and local eggs and dairy. The old-school-style butcher sells quality cuts alongside cheeses and pantry products to take home; there is also a small menu of meaty dishes to enjoy on the spot. Cheeseburgers, beef-fat fried potatoes, and a messy meatball sub are a few of the tempting choices.

Maddie Teren/Bare Bones Butcher

Field House Tavern

Torn between watching your favorite team from home or at a bar? Field House Tavern is the spot for you. Tuck into a room inside the house or opt for a spot on the massive outdoor patio to enjoy bar favorites like burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, and wraps, best paired with a cold beer and a touchdown.

Burger & Grain

One of The Nations’ most elevated dining options, everything from the cozy booths to the impressive menu at Burger + Grain exudes approachable elegance. The dishes hailing from the open-concept kitchen include shareables like bourbon braised short rib dumplings and mushroom tartine, and mains ranging from dry-aged steaks to seafood and pasta. Wash it all down with a bourbon-forward New York sour or perfect Old Fashioned.

Midnight Oil

Cure your pizza craving (and your hangover if you did, in fact, burn the midnight oil) at Midnight Oil, whose pies range from traditional favorites to an out-of-the-box “pie of the month.” Previous iterations have included a pickle-topped spicy chicken pizza or a spin on a BLT with a honey mustard drizzle. Bring your pup for some outdoor time while you enjoy a crispy slice on the pet-friendly outdoor patio.

Brightside Bakeshop

This locally-owned bakery has everything you need for a sweet or savory treat. Born from a childhood dream, Brightside Bakeshop serves fresh-made delicacies that take up to three days to complete, including croissants, cookies, and breakfast brioches. Weekends here are extra sweet, with their own lineup of baked goods ranging from caramel pecan monkey bread to seasonal specialties.

51 North Taproom

Much like its sister restaurant, 12 South Taproom and Grill, this neighborhood taproom focuses on craft beer and elevates taproom-style eats with fresh ingredients. Beer lovers enjoy the 100+ beers available, and wine and craft cocktails mean there is something for everyone. Snag a seat on the patio when the weather is warm.

Nations Bar and Grill

It’s a laid-back vibe that has made The Nations Bar & Grille a go-to in the neighborhood for weeknight and weekend hangs. Cold beers pair perfectly with easy eats, and both suit the cast of regulars who frequent the local joint. Dishes favored by repeat customers included the soft-baked pretzel, chicken tenders with a side of tots, a simple burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, and the steak salad. 

Eater Nashville/Submitted

Wendell Smith Restaurant

This Nashville mainstay has been feeding hungry customers since its doors opened in 1952. The charming diner serves meat-and-three-style fare that rotates daily, including BBQ spare ribs on Mondays, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and a fried pork chop on Thursdays. Pair your main with a selection of good-for-the-soul sides ranging from creamed potatoes to macaroni and cheese and baked apples.

The Café at Thistle Farms

If you’ve heard of Thistle Farms, you are familiar with their mission to heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. At The Café, teacups hang from the ceiling and the menu showcases familiar favorites — a breakfast biscuit, chicken salad, turkey sandwich, and pot pie. The space is sweet, and the food is comforting.

Related Maps

Streetcar Taps & Garden

Tucked in the former home of West Nashville’s first grocery store, Streetcar Taps and Garden is now a contemporary gastropub off of Charlotte Avenue. Come for the drinks but stay for the bar bites, which include favorites like wings, sliders, and brisket specials on weekends. On a nice day, take a seat in the sweeping outdoor beer garden to enjoy live music and good company.

Related Maps