Nashville is a city that is so often overlooked. Compared to giant American cities like New York and Los Angeles, it has a hard time distinguishing itself outside of its niches of country music, barbeque, and wild whiskey-fueled parties on Broadway.
However, those who have truly explored Music City beyond the honky tonks know that it has so much more to offer, including a bustling culinary scene. The city is growing like crazy, and so is the number of bar and restaurant options. Here, we list 4 of our favorite restaurants and bars in Nashville from a local’s perspective.
IN THIS GUIDE:
- Barcelona Wine Bar
- Skull’s Rainbow Room
- Robert’s Western World
- Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
- Bourbon Steak
- …and more
Barcelona Wine Bar
1200 Villa Place, Suite 110
A full glass of white wine or rosé is the perfect way to cool off after a hot Nashville afternoon, and Barcelona Wine Bar is here to help with a full list of the best options from around the world. Sample a few new-to-you wines and pair them with mouth-watering tapas and charcuterie off the well-thought-out menu. Barcelona the bar is the perfect place to enjoy Nashville, whether it’s for a light happy hour or a full evening of eating and drinking.
Hot tip: Although we love the Nashville location, Barcelona has other locations around the country too. So, keep an eye out for them as you plan more of your travels around the U.S.
Skull’s Rainbow Room
222 Printers Alley
What a wild place Skull’s Rainbow Room is! The name alone gives some insight into its unique character.
This place is simultaneously a fine dining destination, a burlesque, a jazz club, and one of the best cocktail bars in Nashville. What’s more, it’s an iconic local favorite with a wonderfully gruesome story – the former owner, David “Skull” Schulman, was gunned down on location in 1998 – and in its time, the lounge has hosted some of the best artists of the 20th century, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney.
It comes as no surprise that this place is popular, so make sure to book a reservation well in advance so you can experience one of the greatest Nashville restaurants with live music and their award-winning craft cocktails.
601 12th Avenue South
What’s not to love about Sambuca? Whether you’re after a pre-dinner happy hour, a killer steak dinner, or a place to dance the night away with some live music, Sambuca is a crowd favorite for all of it and more. It’s the perfect spot to bring a group of friends for a great evening, and it’s one of those places that people love to go back to again and again.
Sambuca’s home neighborhood, the Gulch, has been undergoing major changes in recent years, and it has quickly become one of the most fun and happening parts of the city. In addition to Sambuca, there are loads of other sleek spots to check out in this neighborhood. So, if you’re looking to try the other great bars and restaurants in the area, make sure to check out Sambuca – one of the best restaurants in Nashville – first.
This place also has a few different party and event packages, so if you’re coming to Music City for your bachelor or bachelorette party (congrats, by the way), then definitely check this place out.
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Robert’s Western World
416 Broadway, B
We couldn’t resist adding at least one Broadway spot to this list. That row of honky-tonks may be tourist and bachelorette party central, but an undeniable part of the city’s soul is in the loud country music and bourbon flooding the street. Now, not all bars on Broadway in Nashville are created equal, and Robert’s Western World is hands-down a local favorite.
Maybe it’s because the bands here tend to lean more toward Johnny Cash and Ray Price than pop-country that plays on loop like the other Broadway bars, but something about this place is just so much more charming than its neighbors. Once you’ve seen Jason Aldean’s and Tootsie’s, make sure to give Robert’s Western World a chance too before leaving Music City.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
5814 Nolensville Pike, #110
Don’t worry, we would never forget to add a hot chicken staple to our list of the best restaurants in Nashville.
Prince’s was founded in 1945 by Nashville resident James Thornton Prince. As the story goes, Prince was known as somewhat of a player around town, and as punishment for staying out a bit too late one night, his girlfriend prepared him some fried chicken the next morning cooked with an excessive amount of hot pepper. Turns out, he actually loved the taste so much that he opened a chicken shack of his own to sell it to people.
Prince may not have learned his lesson, but at least it gave us hot chicken! Since this barbeque Mecca opened its doors almost 80 years ago, the popularity of this Nashville specialty has spread across the country.
There are three Prince’s locations around Music City, but if you want the original, head to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack South on Nolensville Pike (although, who are we kidding, they’re all amazing). Just be warned that if you get to any of their locations much later than when they open their doors, be prepared for a line.
201 8th Avenue South, 34th Floor
Bourbon Steak is a true fine dining experience that presents an elegant, smart vibe with none of the pretentious stuffiness. If you’re looking for the perfect spot to entertain guests from out of town or need to set the perfect scene to close an important business deal, you’ve come to the right place.
The menu features all the fine dining staples you’d expect, including lobster, wagyu beef, king crab, and some of the most delicate, wonderfully prepared filet you will find anywhere in Nashville. Their wine list is extensive and it features the best of every famous grape from every famous region. If you are more in the mood to experience whatever elixirs their mixologists have been crafting with, however, you may want to try the Bourbon sky lounge, which promises its guests a unique “floating in the air” feeling.
Before you dine here, please note that it does fill up quickly, so Bourbon encourages you to make a reservation, in addition to showing up in business casual attire.
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Special Nashville Bar & Restaurant Guided Tours
Of course, we all love to wander around from place to place but sometimes it makes sense to let the professionals handle everything! Here are some fantastic food-and-drink-focused tours around Nashville that we love:
Secret Foods Tours: Nashville is the perfect way to make your way through the city, via small group food crawl. Capped at 12 people, guests get to try classics like pulled pork and buttermilk biscuits along with the rather ominous-sounding “Secret Dish.”
Taste of Nashville Food & Sightseeing Tour combines good eats and notes about history, culture, and landmarks. Flexible bookings allow guests to schedule pickups at convenient times, and traveling by van ensures a designated driver.
Downtown Nashville Walking Food Tour is a great way to slow down and see everything up close and personal. Enjoy a classic southern lunch and a few drinks in between learning all about the history of some of Nashville’s most iconic buildings.
There aren’t a ton of places in the U.S. undergoing makeovers as dramatic as Music City’s, and it’s exciting to think about what its profile will look like even just five or ten years from now. Until that day comes, however, you can absolutely rely on this as your go-to guide to the best restaurants in Nashville.
Have a favorite Nashville restaurant or bar to recommend to our readers? Share with us in the comments why it stands out and perhaps we’ll include it in our guide!
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