7 Foods You Have To Try When You’re In Nashville

When I moved to Middle Tennessee from Michigan in 1998, I had no idea what I was in for. Although grits and collard greens have never grown on me, I have discovered many Nashville eats I genuinely love. When friends come to visit from faraway lands like Southern California, Western Colorado, and Florida, I typically recommend items from this list — the seven things you must eat when you’re in Nashville.

1. Nashville Hot Chicken

If you only have time for one truly Nashville dish, it better be Hot Chicken. This spicy deep-fried chicken is one of Music City’s most notable dishes, and you can find it at numerous local “hole-in-the-wall” joints and a few Southern-style chain restaurants. It tastes best served in its original form, which includes pieces of bread and pickles on the top.

Most people will tell you to hit Hattie B’s, but you will wait in line. However, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the “home” of Nashville Hot Chicken and more than worth a visit. You can even hit the Prince’s location inside Assembly Food Hall, a massive eatery that features over 30 restaurants and bars.

2. Southern Barbecue

I realize that Nashville isn’t Kansas City or Memphis, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to whip up some delicious barbecue. Two joints claim to serve up “Nashville-style BBQ,” and that’s Edley’s Bar-B-Que and Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. You really can’t go wrong with either one of these two places, but definitely try at least one during your time in Music City because you’re in for a real treat.

3. Five Points Pizza

Most people who come to Nashville spend their time downtown, hitting the bars on Broadway or visiting country music hot spots. As someone who has spent nearly two decades in the greater Nashville area, though, East Nashville is one of my favorite parts of town, and a large part of that is because I love Five Points Pizza.

I promise you won’t find this pizzeria on any generic list of the best eats in Nashville, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of your time. They serve up a rotating list of “slices of the day,” or you can order a full pie from their menu. Also, definitely get an order of garlic knots — they won’t disappoint.

4. Any “Meat & Three”

As the name implies, a “meat and three” is any restaurant that offers a single-meat entree alongside three side dishes. It’s “Southern food” on a plate and is usually quite tasty. 

You can choose virtually any of Nashville’s meat and three options without disappointment. However, a few great choices depend on your comfort level with Southern hospitality. If you’re totally fine eating with total strangers or have experienced “family style” service before, then I highly recommend either of Monnell’s two locations. If sitting at a table with a dozen people you don’t know or eating in a restaurant that looks like it’s falling apart sounds too intimidating, then you can always go with Puckett’s Grocery, a local chain with four locations in the greater Nashville area.

5. Goo Goo Clusters

You’ll probably be in the mood for something sweet once you’ve eaten enough salty, spicy Southern food to last a lifetime. Luckily, Nashville is home to one of the best desserts ever to hit grocery store shelves: the Goo Goo Cluster. If you visit the Goo Goo Cluster Nashville Storefront, you can enjoy made-to-order Goo Goo Clusters or try out the make-your-own-candy kiosks to whip up your own unique treat. It’s just another one of those “only in Nashville” things you have to try at least once in your lifetime.

6. I Dream of Weenie

I Dream of Weenie is a “blink, and you’ll miss it” food truck located in the heart of East Nashville. They have a variety of unique hot dogs and bratwursts, including some brunch options and some ideas that sound completely disgusting but actually kind of work. They also have less adventurous options that taste great, too.

7. The Pancake Pantry

Although I don’t think of Nashville as a breakfast town, the Pancake Pantry is probably the one exception I’ll make. They’re only open from 6:00 am until 3:00 pm, but that makes sense, given they only serve breakfast fare. 

This breakfast joint serves up flap jacks, but it has other morning eats, too. You want to plan some time for this one because the line is usually out the door.

Nashville is a hub for many travelers. Next time you’re in the area, I hope you’ll hit up one of these recommendations and share other spots you discover with me because I’m always looking for my next meal.

Photo by Blake Guidry on Unsplash



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