The Best Places to Eat In Nashville When Visiting Vanderbilt University
In the last few years, Nashville has joined the ranks as one of the South’s hottest food towns, and it would be a shame not to spend some time eating and exploring beyond campus. For extended stays, Parents Weekends and Game Days we mapped out the ultimate guide for Nashville, this is where you want to go when visiting your kids.
When Bon Appetit Magazine named the East Nasty at Biscuit Love the top sandwich of the year in 2105 it sure didn’t help the already long lines snaking down the block, easily up to an hour-plus on the weekends. Is it worth the wait for fried chicken on a warm biscuit with aged cheddar and sausage gravy? Try one and see--without the wait-- by heading straight to the bar seats; strictly first come first serve. Once seated, don’t skip an order of donuts—friend biscuit dough with lemon, mascarpone, and blueberry compote. There’s a second location right in Hillsboro Village, just a few blocks from Vandy’s campus. Want something more local; also in Hillsboro Village, everyone loves Fido.
The cool industrial space is a WOW at artisan coffeehouse Golden Sound Barista Parlor in the Gulch. The name pays homage to the brick building’s original incarnation as a car stereo shop called the Golden Sound of Nashville. Barista is the kind of place people linger at all day—we would too if we lived in Nashville. (There are two other locations, one in East Nashville and one in Germantown.) Runner-Up: The Frothy Monkey on 12 South is bustling with students and locals, grab a coffee in this cozy house and sit on the porch, especially inviting on a nice day.
We start craving shrimp and grits as soon as our plane touches down on southern soil, and not too many places do it better than Sean Brock’s Husk, located in a stately Victorian House from the lauded Charleston chef. The menu changes every weekend, but a constant is Brock’s legendary cheeseburger, considered by many to be the perfect burger. Other choices: Tavern, Le Sel and Josephine’s.
Best ALL DAY DINING
Six bowling alleys? Check. A great coffee bar? Check. Good food? Check. Great Design? Check. Trendy vibe, yes that too—all at Pinewood Social, a popular place during the week, and hopping on the weekends, especially for brunch.
Best BBQ (AND MOST FUN)
Perfect for a large group or a solo meal, Martin’s BBQ from pitmaster legend Pat Martin is a massive indoor/outdoor fun party celebrating all things BBQ. Known for his whole hog pit cooking, must orders include the brisket and the pulled pork; don’t skimp on the outstanding sides. After lunch, we got in a competitive game of shuffleboard before taking our rivalry to the dartboard. It’s not hard to whittle away a whole afternoon or evening at Martin’s, no wonder this is on everyone’s list of where to go in Nashville.
The BEST FRIED CHICKEN
Mention Nashville and pretty quick you’re going to hear you must go to Hattie B’s for insanely good hot chicken. Be warned when they say hot they mean hot so order cautiously your first time. Insider tip: avoid the constant long lines by calling in your order in advance, then you can go straight to the pickup line when you arrive.
Serving hungry locals and tourists alike for over three decades, Arnolds Country Kitchen is Nashville’s beloved meat-and-three, a southern institution serving comfort food cafeteria style. Like the name implies you choose meat from the daily rotating menu plus three sides. Choices are usually familiar, nothing out of the box here, think roast beef, fried chicken with collard greens, candied yams, creamed corn and mac and cheese. Arnolds is only open for lunch and closed on Saturday and Sunday.
The Best ON BROADWAY
If you get hungry weaving in and out of the honky tonks on lower Broadway, head for a bite at Merchants, a three-story building that was formerly a 19th-century hotel. There's a ground-floor bistro and a more refined dining room upstairs. Merchants is known for delicious cocktails, the perfect refresher before heading back out for more country music and dancing.
BEST FOR FOODIES
The Germantown neighborhood is home to some of Nashville’s best restaurants. Consider yourself lucky if you can score a reservation at Rolf and Daughters, City House or Henrietta Red. (All three are within a block or two, why not make it a progressive affair by starting the night at the bar of Henrietta Red with a cocktail and a few light bites before heading down the street to one of the other two.
BEST EATING STREET
Students refer to McGavick Street as “M” Street, a buzzy little corridor with a choice of excellent restaurants including Kayne Prime, Virago, Tavern, Whiskey Kitchen, and Moto. Across the street buzzy New American Adele’s, set in a dazzling transformed industrial garage has an excellent patio, inventive cocktails, and delicious food.
BEST IN EAST NASHVILLE
Over in East Nashville there’s always a line at The Pharmacy, for the burgers and the beer garden, but if the line is too long head across the street to Mas Tacos, a hole in the wall with authentic Mexican street food. Or head to Butcher and Bee for veggie-centric small plates and eclectic, global more substantial entrees.
Best Up and Coming Neighborhood
Head to Bastion over in Wedgewood-Houston where the former chef of Catbird Seat, Josh Habiger, is drawing crowds for his creative tasting menu. The old factory divided into two spaces with one half a restaurant with just 24 seats and the other a speakeasy bar, serving delicious cocktails and killer nachos.