Typical bar food with a slant towards Tex-Mex. Slightly high prices for the type of food served ($9-$14 on average) with a good beer selection. Great food with fair service. Some live music performances at night.
Fabulous Southern cooking and diverse clientele, so you can get your fill of soul food and people watching.
Athens Family Restaurant has an extensive menu featuring delicious Greek delicacies such as souvlaki, spanakopita, mousaka, pastichio, and more! They also have American items. Prices are reasonable (most items are less than $10 at lunch and $15 at dinner) and the service is friendly. The menu is also literally huge and has vegetarian options. Take out is available.
This little cafe boasts amazing, authentic Cuban cuisine. If it is your first time, try the roasted pork (lechon asado) with black beans, rice, and fried plantains or the great Cubano sandwich. You might also want to try a smoothie. They are made Latin American style — fruit and milk with a heap full of sugar mixed in. The food is always cooked fresh and service is quick.
There is always a line at this delicious burrito restaurant. It has a very cool vibe - the bright decor may make you feel like you’re on the beach. It’s a great place to stop in for a quick, inexpensive lunch to eat inside or on the patio, or to go. Major plus: 100 Oaks is right across the street, so be sure to check this place out if you are shadowing over there. Their flavorful burritos, tacos, and salads cost about $6. Try the “La Tinga,” aka the spicy pulled chicken, burrito. It’s always listed as the “Special of the Day,” even though I’ve never seen another daily special! They also make excellent guacamole tacos. Top your meal off with a delicious Mexican rice drink and a Las Paletas popsicle, which are sold at this restaurant.
A Chicago-based chain of cocktail-oriented bars, Bar Louie is the newest addition to the Gulch dining scene. It boasts an awesome vibe with a really cool interior design to add to the overall hip atmosphere. Portions are large and it’s a great place to watch the game with some friends or just grab a drink after a long day. Also, be on the lookout for their annual Tator Tot Eating contest. It occurs every spring at every Bar Louie location across the nation, and two years ago, 3 VMS III’s--Kristin Stevens, Zain Gowani, and Alexandra May--made up part of the winning team!
Another of celebrity chef, Arnold Myint’s, creations (others include PM down the street and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum) known for its burger and interestingly seasoned French fries. However, one of the best parts of a meal at Blvd is the bread--buttery pretzels and cornmeal waffles with coarsely ground mustard and vanilla butter respectively. The duck cassoulet is also a must-try.
Ranked the 2nd best milkshake in Nashville (in the competitive Gelber rankings), this outdoor stand rules the world of old-fashioned burger and shake joints. Among the best burgers in town, Bobbie’s also offers phenomenal sweet potato fries and delicious fried pickles. They’re famous for their dipped cones (hence the name) found in flavors like peanut butter, chocolate, butterscotch, and espresso. You MUST try this place at some point! Note, however, that this restaurant generally closes from December through February, and check that it’s open before heading out for a dipped cone! A 2nd location for Bobbie’s Dairy Dip has opened downtown, though this location has shorter hours and generally sports a long line. The authors would recommend the original location to you milkshake seekers out there.
A solid but not spectacular Indian restaurant in a city that doesn’t have too many of them. They serve a distinctive omnivorous North Indian cuisine. The lunch buffet is filling, and ranks slightly below Tamarind in terms of selection and quality. Fill up a to-go box before you leave. The atmosphere is casual with plenty of parking available. Normal entrees are usually less than $15 during dinner time.
One of the most popular coffee shops here in Nashville, this Belmont spot attracts undergrads, grads, and locals at almost all hours of the day. Prices are more or less in line with independent coffee shops around the city, and the coffee is highly regarded. Something about the way the place is arranged always makes it feel a little cramped, but there’ll always be an open table or two - no promises on an outlet though. Board games and patio seating give it a casual vibe, and they have food. Try the veggie sausage breakfast or the world-famous “nun bun” cinnamon bun, where you can see Mother Theresa in her chewy, cinnamon form.
This is a popular, hip restaurant in Midtown. Wear something snazzy - this is a place to see and be seen. Their fusion cuisine from many different cultures (Mediterranean, Asian, Southern) is excellent, but expensive (entrees range from $16-$26). The lobster BLT pizza comes highly recommended - from someone who does not even like lobster. This is a great place to experience with a date, or to take Mom and Dad to when they come to visit. They take reservations. They also feature an enviable reduced price late-night menu (Mon - Thu : 10 pm - 12 am; Fri - Sat : 11 pm - 1 am; Sun : 10 pm – 11.30 pm).
It might be a bit off the beaten path (it’s located in Belle Meade), but this cute Italian restaurant has some awesome, homestyle Italian food. Past VMS’s recommend the beef carpaccio and the eggplant parmesan. My personal favorites are the veal rollitini and pork osso bucco. Best of all, there are many many coupons for Bria on Groupon and Scoutmob, so with those, this restaurant is probably the best value in Nashville.
Bricktop’s is a Nashville gem. They serve sandwiches, salads, steaks, etc. ranging in price from $13-$30. I love their delicious flatbreads, but don’t fill up on the entree. You must save room for their amazing, infamous dessert: a big, warm, fresh chocolate chip cookie served right in the pan, topped with ice cream. Different folks argue over whether Bricktop’s chocolate chip cookie or Jackson’s cookie dough egg roll is better, so you should just try them both. I recommend Bricktop’s for a date night or birthday celebration.
If you’re in the mood for Cajun cooking, this is the place for you. It was started by a native Louisianan, Darrell Breaux, who felt Nashville needed some Creole cooking. This place is not for the squeamish, though. Check out their special crawfish broils on Friday evenings from 5 pm - 8 pm. You can get a lunch sandwich for less than $10 while dinner entrees can range from $5 - $15.
A truly undiscovered Nashville Classic. This author is just waiting for Brown’s Diner to blow up with tourists and 45 minute lines after Hayden Panettiere visits it on “Nashville.” Fortunately for us, Brown’s remains a fiercely local spot, located in the trailer across the street from the Hillsboro Harris Teeter. They are known to have among the BEST burgers in town and are super cheap. Prepare to get your fill of cholesterol and cigarette smoke. Bring your dog, bring your appetite, bring your hankering for great bluegrass. Bottom line, get yourself to Brown’s Diner quickly and often.
Bruegger’s is a popular, inexpensive place to grab breakfast or lunch during the week. It is conveniently located across from Central Library on Vanderbilt’s undergraduate main campus near the med center. They have many different varieties of bagels (rosemary and olive oil, jalapeno cheddar, etc.) which are good, but small. I recommend the Western bagel sandwich.
YUM! This is the best word possible to characterize this upscale burger joint. Yes, they specialize almost exclusively in burgers, but that just means they take them seriously. Despite their seemingly narrow culinary focus, come prepared to struggle deciding between the bison burger, pork burger, salmon burger, black bean burger, etc. Fortunately, you can always go back and try the others. It tends to get crowded, so plan ahead!
Cabana is one of my very favorites. It is conveniently located in Hillsboro Village, and is open nearly all the time - until 3 am M-Sat! There are a variety of seating options. In the nice weather, sit on the patio or out toward the back. The back of the restaurant is all windows on a moveable track. In the summer months, the track lifts up to provide for an open-air dining experience. Inside, the booths are pretty expensive, but are great for large groups (about 10), especially for birthdays. If you reserve one, you can bring your iPod and play your music in your booth! Cabana has unique, American dishes. Prices are a bit expensive ($15+), but completely worth the money. Try their homemade potato chips and sweet potato ravioli for delicious treats!
An eclectic coffee shop, a jack-of-all-trades restaurant, and a live music venue with a distinct hipster vibe. They’ve got wifi and might be the only Nashville coffee shop that’s open 24 hours. If you need a late night study place or a late night pretend-to-study place this might be the place for you. Supposedly, they also deliver for lunch and dinner until 1 am.
Great food at reasonable prices. I would highly recommend this place for “date night.” Reservations recommended, especially on weekends, because it’s small and can be hard to get into. You can eat for less than $15 but could easily spend more than $30 if circumstances are right. Patio dining available.
Amazingly tasty, cheap, and close to campus. If you’re sick of the American/fast food/pizza around campus, try this place. Popular items include the jerk chicken, Caribbean burger, the humongous nachos black bean salad, and BBQ sauce salad dressing. Steer clear of the cornbread muffins though. You won’t take your parents here when they come visit, but you probably should rave about it to your friends from back home. Takeout is available and if you’ve got a hungry roommate, the family-style takeout is even cheaper! Healthy, cheap, delicious.
An upscale Mexican chain in the Gulch with an urban, trendy atmosphere. The food is pricier relative to other Mexican places, but the quality is better and the fare is more creative. It’s not really Tex-Mex or authentic Mex, but highlights like the made-at-your-table guacamole and the brisket tacos will leave you satisfied and full. Cantina Laredo occupies a niche of its own, so if you’re looking for upper scale Mexican food, this is the place to go.
Dine in the charm of downtown’s historic Hermitage Hotel. Features regional cuisine and considered a top restaurant by some--however, upon dining, this critic was not very impressed. If money is limited, don’t waste it on this place. Guys, make sure you check out the bathroom – it has been used in many movies, music videos, etc. Reservations recommended and valet parking provided. Be warned that main courses are expensive ($20 - $35 on average for dinner).
A visit to the Catbird Seat is definitely a highlight for any Nashville foodie. Recently named one of the Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2013, the Catbird Seat has also been featured by Food and Wine, the Los Angeles Times, Bon Appetit, and Conde Nast Traveler. With 33 seats surrounding the chef’s table, this meal provides an incredible dining experience perfect for a special event. Be prepared to shell out some money though – this 10 course tasting menu costs $100 per person, plus an optional $30 alcohol tasting menu. Make reservations online the month before you want to go, they usually fill up within a couple minutes.
Chagos is a fun, inexpensive restaurant pretty close to Vanderbilt. It is in the Belmont-Hillsboro area, which is an eclectic area across from Belmont University. The margaritas are supposedly delicious. Prices are also very reasonable (around $10-12). Try the Pollo Gringo for a delicious meal!
Located across Hillsboro Road from the Green Hills Mall, this place is a huge step above Dragon Garden or Hunan Express, though it’s not fantastic. Very quick carryout.
If you have a cookie craving, this is the best place to satisfy it. Get a cookie cake for a birthday, or buy a cookie gift basket to thank your preceptor. This is also one of the only places to get some great gelato!
Chuy’s is a new, fun, vibrant restaurant in midtown. Home of one of Nashville’s best happy hour specials, it’s everything Tex-Mex is supposed to be with its free chips, huge portions, and deliciously cheesy entrees. Is it the most authentic Mexican food around? No, there are other places for that. Chuy’s is for the meat, bean, cheese, and sour cream lovers among us. You might feel like you’re on vacation as you dine surrounded by metal palm trees. Everything is good, but I especially recommend the Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken when you’re in the mood for something unhealthy and delicious. How do you make fried chicken taste even better? Fry it in potato chips! That’s exactly what Chuy’s does for the Green Chile Fried Chicken dish. Definitely check out the free nacho buffet displayed in the trunk of a fake car. Prices are very reasonable at Chuy’s (about $8-12). Give Chuy’s a try!
Decent, affordable food? Check. Decent, affordable margaritas? Check. Competent, friendly service? Check please. Vandy med students particularly recommend the wonderfully chunky, spicy salsa as well as the Fajita Burrito and the Pollo Fundido.
City House is a hip restaurant in downtown Nashville that offers creative Italian food and a wide selection of drinks. They also change the menu up, which leads to a unique experience every time. I personally love the gnocchi and the Carolina trout (one of the best fish I’ve had in Nashville). Go here if you want an all-around fun night with great food! Be aware that the Sunday menu is limited.
If you’re in the Lipscomb area (there’s also a downtown location), stop by this quaint little meat-and-three. Don’t be turned off by the cafeteria-style orientation - the food won’t disappoint! They have plentiful side dishes like mac and cheese, broccoli salad, mashed potatoes, turnip greens a variety of homemade desserts. Don’t forget about the sandwiches either - the Cajun Prime Rib is everything a sandwich should be. Also, on Sunday morning/afternoon at their Peabody Street location they serve brunch, which costs $16.25 and includes an omelet station, a carving station, and all-you-can-eat Southern cooking.
Highly touted by many as one of the best coffee shops in Nashville, Crema overlooks the river and downtown Nashville. If you’re a coffee shop “poser” like me, and only like the frappacinos and hot chocolatety drinks, then this might not be the place for you. Their menu is mainly comprised of coffee-heavy drinks, and the one time we got hot chocolate there, it was below par.
A cool sports bar and grill adjacent to the Green Hills Kroger. The menu is typical for a bar/grill, serving a variety of sandwiches as well as some seafood. The food is not bad, and a dinner averages about $10 - $15. During the crawfish season (Mardi Gras until June), they have a crawfish broil every Sunday.
Dalt’s is frequently crowded with a regular, well-satisfied clientele — and for good reason. The milkshakes are pretty good, and you can count on a kid-friendly environment (crayons and free balloons), as well as cheerful service. The pricier entrees still only cost about $10 - $15. Carry out is available.
This is one of the best pizza places in Nashville. A bit pricier than other pizza places, but the pizza is big and you can BYOB. Thin crust, Italian Classic Pizza, bringing your own wine, a Summer Day, what’s not to like?
The name says it all. Your standard hot dog plus traditional and untraditional varieties, like the Chicago Dog, the Philly (cheesesteak) Dog, the Buffalo Dog, and even a Veggie Dog. You can also build your own! Fries, tots, and basically any other fried side you can think of. A great place to go for lunch when you want to get off campus. Hot dogs are $5 or less. Also, they have a 2-for-1 drink special on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. This place is great when you’ve had McDougal’s one too many times but still found yourself on Belcourt Ave.
In this humble writer’s opinion, Dose has the best coffee in Nashville. However, it is in a bit of a strange neighborhood. Housed on Murphy Road opposite two freeway entrances, this is not a coffee house you stumble upon when out for a walk. Additionally, Dose may take the cake for most hipster-y bar in Nashville, with the baristas always sporting some combination of vest, top hat, suspenders, and/ or wire rim glasses. That being said, the coffee is SO GOOD that you must overlook any potential negatives. A good place to study, Dose is fairly quiet and offers some nice cheap food as well. Side note, this is the only place in the USA I have ever been that offers Australia’s classic “Flat White.” Not sure what that is? Head to Dose (or down under) to find out!
Many swear that this is one of the best fast-food Chinese restaurants they have ever been to. An important quality is the large serving size. Hint: when getting take-out, call ahead (20 min.) to avoid waiting. Delivery is free for orders of $15 or more.
Located in the Villa Plaza on Edgehill Avenue, Dulce Desserts is not too far from campus. Great to just stop in for a treat or for your custom cakes, pies, tarts, and cupcakes needs!
As you walk into Edgehill Cafe, you can’t help but notice how aesthetic the place is. The light shines through the huge windows and off the beautiful wood decor. While most coffee shops are smaller and more condensed, the relative room you get at Edgehill is a comparative breath of fresh air. They’ve got board games and books available for those with the time, but most patrons of Edgehill are a bit more consumed with their work - or the coffee. The staff is friendly, the space is hip, and the food is surprisingly good (and filling! - Go with the asiago-stuffed meatball sandwich!). In Edgehill Village just a few blocks from school, it’s a pretty great place to study or hang out.
Edley’s is a fun place to gather with friends and enjoy some delicious food. In the warm months, you can enjoy your meal on the expansive patio. In true Southern fashion, the drinks are served in mason jars. Prices are pretty inexpensive.
As you walk into this restaurant, you take a step back in time into the 1950s. This is an old-fashioned restaurant, with black and white tiles on the floors, red bar stools, and neon lights on the walls. Items on the menu include grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, a meat dish with three vegetable sides, ice cream sundaes, and milkshakes. Prices are very inexpensive. You must try the milkshake.
This new American restaurant is a great place to go with your parents for visit. This author’s second favorite fancy restaurant in Nashville, Etch offers intricate dishes that span all sorts of international fare. The venison is outstanding, and the drink selection is as interesting as the food.
This critic’s most favorite restaurant in Nashville!! An energetic bistro for all occasions, this is the perfect place to take that special someone on a date or your family when they’re in town. F. Scott’s features creative and contemporary American cuisine and live jazz in the lounge Tuesday through Saturday. It has been voted Nashville’s Best Restaurant in Nashville Scene’s Reader’s Poll multiple times, and reservations are recommended. Dinner entrees are in the $20 - $35 range, but after 9:00 (every night) ALL FOOD IS 50% OFF!! *Note: the 50% off does not include alcohol.
Do you like Shepherd’s Pie? (The answer should be yes!) Do you like beer? Are you a hipster? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, this place is definitely for you! This tantalizingly tasty tavern is located in East Nashville. Tuesday night is “Pie and Pint Night” when you can get a Shepherd’s pie and a pint of beer for $10.
A tasty drive-through joint offering burgers, fries, and drinks in massive proportions at a cheap price. Rumored by many VMS II’s to be among the biggest and best burgers in Nashville. Incidentally, “Mo” stands for “Mohammed,” and the mostly Iranian staff is friendly and outgoing. It’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s greasy, and it’s not McDonalds. ‘Nuff said.
This Hillsboro village staple is extremely popular with students, young professionals, and individuals in the music industry. Fido is a coffeeshop, and students love that they can study and get their caffeine fix close to campus in a place with a cool vibe. However, beware - Fido sometimes shuts down their wireless. Besides coffee, Fido also serves delicious food. Their breakfast menu is served all day. One of my favorites is the basic bagel sandwich. The Egg McFido is also very popular. Give the “spuds” a try; they know how to make some of the best hashbrowns in Nashville. Although Fido is famous for its breakfast items, this restaurant also serves lunch and dinner. Items include some unique dishes - fish tacos, the eggplant tower, and a nice variety of salads. Prices vary from $5-11. Fido is not just a favorite of Vandy students; while you’re catching up with friends at this coffeeshop, you just might run into Taylor Swift.
The self-proclaimed “friendliest and funkiest neighborhood joint in Green Hills”, Firefly Grille is a true hidden jewel, tucked away on a side street near the Kroger in Green Hills. A past Nashville Scene winner, Firefly Grille boasts a pleasant wait staff with a creative menu that changes seasonally. The setting is intimate and reservations are a good idea. Firefly is a great place to bring your parents, a date, or friends from out of town. Be sure to try a slice of cake made by Leland Riggan for dessert if one happens to be on the menu when you are there. Ps - If you do bring a date here, the 2 for $40 deal isn’t bad! (1 app, 2 entrees, 1 dessert)
This is a restaurant for lovers of fine steak and fine wine, offering more than 100 varieties of wine. ‘Wine flights’ allow you to sample small portions of multiple wines. I also highly recommend their great sides (especially the creamed corn and gourmet macaroni and cheese). This restaurant is an excellent choice for a very special date or when the parents are in town.
Flyte is one of Nashville’s most highly regarded fusion cuisine restaurants, boasting a large wine and beer menu to pair with their world cuisine. Diners can sample both wine and select menu items in “flytes” to get a diverse medley during their experience. They are committed to using fresh, local, and organic ingredients when possible and have a no-smoking and no-cell phone policy to ensure a premium dining experience.
The best donut place in Nashville. That said, there is much more to this small local shop than donuts – they also sell a variety of really good muffins and amazing bagels. I must have been there several times before I ever tried their bagels, but it only took one delicious toasted and buttered blueberry bagel to turn me into a regular customer. They also have some more unusual bagel types, such as spinach parmesan. Make sure you check out the awesome, really old school neon sign that tops off the front of the building.
About a 30 minute drive away from Nashville down 65-S, this little place sure is worth it! Every time we go, our same waitress recognizes us as soon as we sit down. We’ve driven out there four times and have NEVER ordered anything bad. While it’s nothing fancy, it is solid, affordable comfort food and a great place to take the family or that special someone. Although not on the menu, ask for the Garden Burger: a perfect combination of hamburger, spinach, bruschetta, and feta in one’s mouth.
This coffee-shop is in the very hip 12 South neighborhood of Nashville, not far from campus. They have a wrap-around balcony that is a nice place to sit out on warm days. The food is delicious here - try the parfait or the hummus. Prices vary from $5-13. The only downside to this restaurant is its hours - it is only open until 9.
Highly recommended for authentic and high quality sushi. The sashimi is fresh, portions are generous, and the presentation of the food makes it that much more fun to eat! Larger parties can be seated in semi-private Japanese-style rooms with frosted glass sliding doors.
Garden Brunch Cafe has the corner market on delicious breakfast and brunch. Most customers rave about the Bananas Foster pancakes so we got them when we went and boy were they tasty! Located near Germantown and situated in a cozy home, GBC is a great place to take friends and family out to brunch when they’re in town!
Probably in the discussion of the best restaurants in Nashville, Germantown Cafe has carved a few niches for itself. Although the upscale fare and interesting Germantown nature lends itself to being a great restaurant to take your family when they’re in town, the reasonable prices, low lighting, and ever-present hum makes it a great place to take a date. Upscale without being snooty or overly expensive, Germantown has you taken care of for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch. The portion size is perfect - you’ll be quite full without having to take home ⅔ of your meal - and the food quality is top notch. Arguably the best value in Nashville dining, we highly recommend Germantown Cafe for any occasion - and the little donuts they serve as “bread” are delightful!
Gerst Haus serves up solid German cuisine in a classic beer hall setting. Thus, you’ll have a large selection of beers to choose from, including their specialty Gerst brew. Although their entree prices are a bit high, the sandwiches are more reasonable if you’re looking for some fill to go with your delicious brew!
These aren’t your mama’s cupcakes! Gigi’s produces an abundance of irresistible designer flavors such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, Caramel Sugar Mama, Cherry Cordial, and Chocolate Turtle. That being said, they are expensive ($3 per cupcake or $33 per dozen). Check out their website for the full list of cupcake flavors that changes daily.
This is a great restaurant to try some authentic Ethiopian food. Great food, and a fun experience all around! The service can be a little slow, but the portion sizes are large are great for sharing. BYOB with no cork fee, so great for a big group of friends!
Their Sunday buffet features authentic Chinese dishes such as steamed dumplings, steamed buns, a few dim sum items, Tapioca milk tea, and dishes that you can’t get in other Chinese restaurants in Nashville. During weekdays, they serve your typical Americanized Chinese food. In a city lacking in decent Chinese, Golden Coast is one of the best of a mediocre bunch. If you are looking for a mountain of OK Chinese food for an incredibly cheap price, go to their very inexpensive weekday lunch buffet.
One of the best Thai restaurants in town presenting a great selection of dishes, many of which are very original. The curries are particularly well spiced and quite tasty, but be sure to specify the spicy hotness when you order (the jump from “mild” to “medium” is a BIG one). Elegant interior and a good choice for vegetarians.
Goten offers pretty much every type of popular Japanese food. This is the kind of place where half the fun is watching the chefs flip a thousand knives a minute. It’s probably better to go on weekdays in order to avoid the wait. There is a large range of entrée prices, but you can get lunch for about $10 - 15. Similar to Kobe Steaks Japanese Restaurant but cheaper.
Wonderful breads – they always have a great variety of standards (wheat and country white) and daily specials (tomato basil, focaccia, jalapeño cornbread, etc.) that come in loaves and rolls. Includes a cookie and muffin selection with low-fat options. The best thing about this place is the HUGE samples (with butter and honey) they give you when you walk in the door!
Grins (pronounced like the color “Green”) is an amazing vegetarian, Kosher restaurant located in the Schulman Center on the Vanderbilt undergraduate main campus, right beside the Student Life Center. This restaurant is extremely popular with undergrads, but this gem is not known by many med students. Spread the word, because this restaurant is incredible. Grins serves a variety of wraps, salads, and paninis. Try the Apple PBG wrap or the Nutella Panini for an amazing treat. Prices vary from $5.50-7. The only downside to this restaurant is its popularity - be prepared to wait and wait if you come during peak hours (12-1p or 6p). Also, Grins is closed every Fri. night - Sun., and during Jewish holidays.
This simple, inexpensive walk-up stand is a Nashville specialty. The pork shoulder and beef brisket sandwiches are the way to go, with barbecued pickle spears on the side. They are known for their white BBQ sauce and most meals cost less than $10. Great place for lunch followed by a walk through Centennial Park to burn off the huge number of calories you’ve just consumed. Homemade desserts change daily.
Like Patterson House, this East Nashville establishment is really mostly famous for its drinks. There’s a reason for that too. While the drinks are good (although I personally like Patterson House’s better), the food is overpriced and pretentious. True, I’ve only tried two meals at Holland House (sample size, n = 2), but both were mediocre with one dish being much too salty and the other being overcooked. Popcorn at the beginning is a nice touch though.
A brand new restaurant in Nashville, Husk was already famous in Charleston before opening its doors here in May 2013. Chef Sean Brock, who won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2010, is famous for using local ingredients in his food, which is primarily Southern with a twist. Reservations booked up fast for Husk, so I haven’t been yet, but other VMSII’s say that it’s a must-go.
This “East Nashville Weenery” peddles in the food niche of specialty hot dogs, including the Civil War-inspired Rebel Yelp, which contains Tennessee Chow Chow, mustard, onions, and jalapeño peppers. Vegetarian-friendly ‘tofu dogs’ are available in addition to beef and turkey varieties. This unique establishment is a moving food cart, so there’s no seating available. That being said, you’ll reap the benefits when you see the more than reasonable prices and the mouth-watering dogs.
An upscale downtown sushi bar and restaurant. The sushi is fresh and attractively prepared in a quiet and romantic atmosphere. The only drawback is its location on 2nd Ave. You have to search for street parking or pay a few dollars to park in the nearby lot. You can get away with spending less than ten dollars for a meal at lunch, but expect more in the $15-20 range for dinner.
Family-owned and consistently delicious, the generous portions and prices will keep you coming back for more. Although they’ve catered it for school events on occasion, you haven’t really treid the place until you’ve been there. The lentil soup, shawarma, and baklava are all awesome, and the service will be great, no matter which family member serves you. Plus, it’s on restaurant.com! Check the restaurant deal section for more info!
Conveniently located on West End by the Vanderbilt campus, J. Alexander’s is your typical all-American steak and fancy fare restaurant. If you have picky parents in town who are willing to pay for your meal, this should be your go-to place. It is delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I swear I’ve been to a restaurant just like this a million times before.
At first, J.J.’s Market looks like a little convenience store. Then you pass through the front room into a cool little coffee shop. They sell everything from premium cigars to imported beer and also function as an internet cafe. I find the environment comfortable and relaxing, perfect for studying or catching up with an old friend. If you are in need of a keg, this is also the place to go.
Order the ribs. Cover the ribs in Jack’s homemade BBQ sauce. Eat the ribs. Find yourself repeating this pattern frequently. Jack’s is located downtown under a gaudy sign on Broadway. Don’t let the rustic atmosphere fool you; Jack’s has world class BBQ.
A place for all occasions. With a good beer selection, it can be a great place to get a drink as a group immediately after an exam or to take in a fine spring afternoon. This is a breakfast alternative to Pancake Pantry. Save room for dessert because the fried cookie dough will melt all your willpower. The gooey batter cake will tempt you as well. Late night menu starts at 11 pm Sun - Thurs and 12 am on Fri and Sat. Brunch is available on Sat and Sun mornings. Expect to spend $10 - $20 on entrees, but sandwiches and wraps are cheaper.
Jasmine is a Thai restaurant near Cool Springs Galleria. It’s a bit of a drive away, but well worth it. Jasmine serves my absolute favorite Pad Thai in Nashville. Prices are reasonable ($10-15), so give Jasmine a visit during a trip to Cool Springs.
Jim ‘N Nick’s is well-known for their barbecue, but what everyone seems to love at least equally as much as the barbecue, if not more, are their sweet cornbread muffins that are served to each table! Definitely give this place a try. Prices are very reasonable ($7-13), and it’s conveniently located on Charlotte Pike near Walmart and Nashville West.
I am a huge fan of Greek food, and Kalamatas is my favorite Greek restaurant in Nashville. The food is delicious, and the prices are cheap for the portion sizes ($5-11). There is no wait service, and the chefs prepare the food very quickly. Try the falafel pocket, the chicken gyro plate, and the spinach pie plate for delicious meals. Kalamatas has several locations in the Nashville area - on Portland Ave. right near Hillsboro Village, in Green Hills in the Glendale Center outdoor shopping center (the one with Bank of America), and in Brentwood on Franklin Pike. The Portland Ave. location is small and is good for a small group. The Green Hills and Brentwood locations are much bigger, and are great for large groups. If you tell the Portland Ave. staff that you are a med student, they usually will gladly give you the student discount which they always give to Belmont students.
One of the few Vietnamese restaurants around here, Kien Giang serves up authentic noodle-based soups. If you’ve never been before, you’ll find that Vietnamese food is inexpensive, filling, spicy, and minty. There is not a lot for vegetarians though, and the service is minimal. They also don’t accept credit cards, so bring cash.
If you’re up for a great show, head over to Kobe for a dining experience you cannot afford to miss. Although it can be a good date restaurant, be prepared to dine with strangers or go in a big group because the tables are large. Valet parking is available and reservations are accepted. Most entrees are in the range of $15 - 25. Add in drinks and possibly dessert, and you could have an expensive, but memorable, meal on your hands.
Don’t be alarmed by the austere surroundings and simplistic décor. This restaurant is frequented by those seeking a glimmer of authentic Korean food in Nashville, including many a VMS student. The menu is pretty extensive and very well-priced. They have a great selection of banchan (complementary side dishes that come with the meal).
A non-Americanized Latin American restaurant that is a breath of fresh air. They serve dishes from both Mexico and El Salvador, including authentic soft-corn tortillas and burritos, oysters, and seafood. The highlights are pupusas, an El Salvadorian item consisting of fried cornmeal cakes with meat and cheese fillings. Speaking Spanish here will definitely help. There is an associated market where you can buy whatever you need to prepare your own Latin meals.
Las Paletas earns its reputation, and then some. They keep it natural and simple with the ingredients, and for lovers of frozen treats, this popsicle shop never ceases to amaze with its original flavors. The flavors change almost daily, but highlights include strawberry-lime (with real fruit chunks), rice (contains grains of rice and tastes like a horchata, a Latin American cinnamon milk drink), and more creamy concoctions. People rave about this place, but honestly, it’s more than worth the hype. Although you can get these wonderful Paletas at Nashville institutions like Hot&Cold, Whole Foods, Bongo Java, among others, at some point you’ll want to actually go to the little shop that creates so much magic. It’s Food Network recommended, but more importantly, it’s Paddle recommended. And it’s a great place to take people when they come to visit - with some risk... Last time I had a friend in town, I took him Las Paletas - and then he made us go back 5 more times in the next three days.
You want cilantro-onion authenticity? Look elsewhere. You want huge $3 margaritas during happy hour? Welcome. Las Palmas has your above-average Tex-Mex fare, huge portions included, for a great price. Yes, that includes burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and tons of refried beans. Not that you need it, but the added chips and salsa are great! Great for big groups and/or post test celebrations.
Located in Sylvan Park, this place has awesome tacos, as well as enchiladas and some of the best margaritas in town. In the summer their outdoor patio is great, and it is covered and heated in winter. Since the tacos are just 2.75 each (you’ll want 2 or 3) and come in options like Korean bbq (GET IT) and spicy shrimp, this is a good place to go out for a fun dinner with friends without breaking the bank.
One of Nashville’s newest restaurants, this place has great Southern food. Recently nominated by the James Beard Foundation as one of the Best New Restaurants of 2013, this is a great place for a special occasion. Try to get reservations before you go – it fills up quickly on the weekend!
The Loveless Cafe is a Nashville staple! It used to be a motel for weary travelers coming from Nathez, Mississippi to Nashville, but now it is a restaurant with wonderful, artsy shops surrounding it. Go during the day so that you can visit the pottery shop, faith shop, photography studio, and general market when they are open. You will inevitably have to do something to fill the time - the wait time can be up to an hour! But once you’re inside, you’ll realize that it’s well worth the wait. Their free biscuits come with a selection of delicious jams. The side dishes and barbecue are fantastic. Be sure to try the hashbrown casserole and fried green tomatoes! The Loveless is a little far away, but easy to get to. Just take West End Ave. all the way down to the fork, and veer left at the fork onto Highway 100. Prices are very reasonable (about $8-13).
A self-proclaimed “neighborhood restaurant as unique as East Nashville”, Mad Donna’s has that hip but not trendy vibe you seek from East Nashville. It may not stand out more than that, but if you are looking for a place with great atmosphere and eclectic American fare at a decent price, you need not look any further. Their patio is even more enjoyable with one of their specialty drinks in your hand, and they often provide entertainment along with food - be sure to check their event calendar online if you are interested in joining in on drag show bingo!
Another Germantown hotspot, Mad Platter is a restaurant centered around food and food itself. The ambiance and decor might have you question the type of place you’re at, but you shouldn’t if you’ve read this review. They use only the freshest ingredients and have a menu that changes more often than you do. It’s fresh, creative, and pricey - so get your parents to take you and make reservations when they do (or find a girl you really like). There is a more reasonably priced lunch menu with most items around $10 or less.
One of the hot spots in the burgeoning 12 South neighborhood, Mafioza’s is a sweet place with a neat little bar and cool atmosphere. It can get loud when they’re busy and the service can be a little slow at times, but you come here to eat, drink, and unwind, not grab food and go. The food is solid, with menu winners like the Buffalo Chicken Pizza and the Bruschetta (which is humongous! [see pic below]). But don’t forget to come for Happy Hour: 2-for-1 Tuesdays (pizza until 9 pm and beer all night long)! A great weekday night out with friends. Come early/late or be prepared to wait, as it is popular, for the reasons mentioned above.
Don’t be fooled by the appearance of this little place. Though it looks a bit rough around the edges, the food is delicious. They serve a variety of traditional Italian dishes, all with fantastic and deadly garlic bread (you can feel your arteries hardening with every bite!). Bring your own bottle of wine, and they will provide the glasses (for a fee of $5 a bottle). It may get a bit loud and crowded on the weekends, but during the week, the candle-lit tables offer a more relaxed atmosphere. Go here if you want wonderful, authentic Italian food and great service. Reservations are needed for parties of eight or more.
Acclaimed pizzeria by Nashville critics and foodies alike, Manny’s is small, simple, and oh so cheesy. It’s only open until your grandparents’ supper time, so try to pop in during lunch. If you want floppy New York pizza at it’s finest, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check this place out.
Located in East Nashville, this quaint and comfy corner restaurant is the ideal brunch spot. Marché offers a light French fusion menu that changes seasonally as well as its own fresh made bakery products. Although there can be a bit of a wait on weekends (they do not take reservations) it is a perfect place to get a cucumber sake bloody Mary, cappuccino or blood orange mimosa and peruse the French food fare for sale lining the walls.
This is one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets! This place is really small and intimate. They specialize in French-Italian cuisine in a romantic setting. They have parking and take reservations. The menu also changes daily, so there’s always variety (available online). Be warned that it is pricey – entrees range between $20 and $40.
A great place to go in Hillsboro Village to kick back and relax with friends, fried chicken, and beer. They are known for their signature sauces to go with their fried chicken, hand-cut fries, and local brews on tap. The McDougal’s sauce is a must (along with ranch, of course)! Patio seating is great during nice weather, but it can get crowded. They also give you 2oz of free soft serve if you get food - really hits the spot! Great place to get off campus for weekday lunch.
To quote VMSII Michael Litt, “Mediterranean Cuisine is simply a gastrointestinal delight.” You can’t beat the $5.79 amazingly filling lunch specials, which include Chicken Shawarma Platters, Gyro Sandwiches, and other entrees, all served with Hummus, salad, and all the Pita you could imagine. The owners love VMS Students and go out of their way to cater and host events for us. VMS II Ishan Asokan is rumored to have eaten there for 75 days in a row. Simply put, this place offers affordable, healthy, and delicious Mediterranean fare. A favorite among medical students, Medical Cuisine is the perfect choice for lunch.
The Melting Pot is a nice place to take parents or a significant other. This is a fondue restaurant, so prepare yourself for delicious cheeses, breads, and chocolates. The major downside to this restaurant is that it is very expensive! It does not fit well into a med student’s budget, so you’ll probably only want to come here for special occasions.
This place has grilled seafood, steaks, poultry, and pasta dishes in an elegant historic building downtown. An exceptional atmosphere makes Merchants a wonderful treat for a birthday or that special someone. Esquire Dining Award winner. Their outdoor dining is nice in the summer, but it faces the very busy Broadway Avenue, so be prepared to do some people-watching. The Sunday brunch is rumored to be excellent. Happy Hour is from 4-7 Monday through Friday. Valet parking available. Reservations are recommended and can be made on their website.
This high-end restaurant, tucked away in the unassuming Sylvan Park neighborhood, is a real gem. With its French-inspired dishes and changing menu, there will always be something new and delicious to try! Previous dishes featured have included duck breast and rillettes, antelope, and rabbit gnocchi. They also have great drink and decent happy hour specials. By the way… Miel’s chef, Ashley Quick, was one of the judges last year for the Iron Chef portion of College Cup!
I didn’t know ice cream could even taste this good until I tried Mike’s. Since this establishment is downtown and delicious, the line can be long, especially after concerts at the Bridgestone Arena. However, it is worth the wait. All of the ice cream is homemade, and they have a wide selection of flavors. After a delicious meal at The Melting Pot or The Old Spaghetti Factory, or after a night spent at Bridgestone or the Nashville Symphony, definitely come here for dessert.
By far, one of my most favorite restaurants in Nashville and a true Nashville must!! Located in historic Germantown, fried chicken is served at every meal (including breakfast)! $17 gets you everything: all-you-can-eat food, drink, and dessert. Bring friends and a big appetite, as meals are served family style at long wooden tables. Monell’s has two rules: 1) no cell phones at the table and 2) pass the food to the left! A dining experience that will leave you stuffed and content. No reservations are accepted.
Noshville resembles a Jewish New York delicatessen. You can get your fix of pickles, Reubens, blintzes, cheesecake, and, of course, bagels without emptying your wallet (prices range from $6-16). Due to Noshville’s popularity, there is also a Noshville in the food court near Terminal A in the airport. You can get your matzo ball soup mix before flying home. However, if you are keeping kosher, please be aware that Noshville is a “kosher style” restaurant - although it may resemble an authentic kosher NY deli, Noshville also serve bacon. If you are looking for a kosher restaurant in Nashville, try Grins instead.
A traditional steakhouse featuring prime quality steaks, chops, and more! Named after one of Tennessee’s favorite sons, President Andrew Jackson. Reservations recommended. Located in the Delta part of the Opryland Hotel.
The Old Spaghetti Factory is located downtown, right near Wildhorse Saloon. This restaurant is eclectically decorated. The Italian food served here is very good - I recommend the chicken parmigiana. Entrees are reasonably priced, ranging from about $11-14.
“The Pub,” as it is popularly referred to by Vandy undergrads, is THE best place to go if you are craving delicious french fries and other yummy foods, or even alcoholic beverages - yes, you can buy beer without ever leaving campus. The fried chicken wrap is delicious, as is the Reuben (they make my favorite Reuben in Nashville), and the Mexican style salad. Do not come here during the peak hours of 12-1pm and 6-7pm, when it will be filled with hungry undergrads. Prices range from $8-10.
A nationally recognized steakhouse, The Palm is everything find dining should be - white tablecloth service, a classy atmosphere, and beautiful wood decor. Get your parents to take you here or spend some of your Research stipend here! Prices are a bit more reasonable during lunch, but are downright affordable during happy hour (and the portions are sizeable too!).
Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry is considered one of Nashville’s great traditions, as told by the Travel Channel and Vandy students everywhere. The hype starts with the pancakes, which are good but generally not worth the wait, which can get downright ridiculous sometimes. Most of the waitresses have been serving up hot pancakes for decades, and their fame is told in newspaper articles on the walls of the dining area. It’s most packed from 10-1 on weekends (the line wraps around the building). To ensure avoiding the 30 minutes+ line, come in the early afternoon or early in the morning. It’s a Nashville institution that’s only a couple blocks away, so if you get the chance, give it a try, but don’t wait in the Disney World-esque line to do so.
A small, cozy restaurant down the street from local taco. A great place to go for a nicer evening if you don’t want to go to downtown Nashville. Great wine choices and their salmon and duck dishes are phenomenal. A bit more expensive so better for a special date or a dinner with parents. Not great for large groups.
Unlike most other reasonably priced restaurants downtown, EVERYTHING here is fresh. Nothing is fried or microwaved, and they have everything from amazing steak to Asian chicken wraps. They have live music on most nights and a fabulous, huge wooden bar with an extravagant wine and drink list. The ambiance is interesting and different than anywhere else in Nashville. Great for a group of friends or for a date. Most entrees are in the $10 - $15 range.
OK, let me start this out by saying you probably won’t be going to Patterson House to eat. Really, it’s the speakeasy atmosphere and the delicious cocktails that draw people to Patterson House. Be prepared for a wait (unless you’re going really early or late) and long drink menu (also huge ice cubes!) That said, their desserts are pretty good as well so if you head there after dinner, try the s’mores or donuts alongside your cocktail.
Pei Wei makes delicious Asian-American food. The portion sizes are huge, and the prices are very reasonable (about $7-12). My favorite is the Pad Thai, but their honey chicken is also amazing. Even their fortune cookies are delicious! It is owned by P.F. Chang’s, but Pei Wei’s prices are less expensive, there is no wait staff, and they prepare your food very quickly. It is right in the middle of the Hill Center, so be sure to check it out during your next shopping trip to the Mall at Green Hills, Whole Foods, Anthropologie, or Francesca’s Collections.
Creamy interior tones, exposed wooden beams and reclaimed wooden tables lends to the rustic, yet refined, environment of The Perch, a trendy neighborhood creperie & coffee house/ wine & tapas bar in Green Hills.
Although this restaurant requires driving all the way to Brentwood, it deserves a mention because it is so darn delicious! The Thai food is even better than The Smiling Elephant; yes I said it. The sushi is also tiptop. Give it a try the next time you are in Brentwood hanging out with pro-athletes or country music stars.
I don’t usually like to pay to make my food, but there’s some real fun here in forgetting about your worries and making yourself delicious pancakes on your very own 500° surface. While neither Pfunky Griddle nor Pancake Pantry have the best pancakes in Nashville in this critic’s estimation (that would be the Bananas Foster Pancakes at Garden Brunch Cafe!), but each are fun Nashville institutions in their own way. Grab some friends and go make some breakfast!... or you know, invite them to your place and ask them to grab some eggs on the way.
If you’re looking for a great burger and a fun atmosphere – this is the place for you. Located in East Nashville, the Pharmacy has an awesome beer menu with daily specials. Be prepared for a wait during lunch and dinner hours, especially on the weekends. Definitely a place to eat at ASAP!
This one is recommended by Vanderbilt medical students of the Vietnamese persuasion. The quality is not as great as Kien Giang and there are fewer choices, but it’s a solid backup when Kien Giang isn’t open.
This is the BEST pizza I have had in Nashville (we LOVE the Baja Chicken Pizza! Yummy!). They have a huge assortment of custom-made pizzas, along with subs, salads, and appetizers to tantalize your palate (the garlic Parmesan boneless wings are to die for!). They make everything fresh--give it a try!
Pied Piper Creamery is a locally-owned ice cream store featuring an abundant selection of handmade ice cream sure to whet your appetite during the hot and sticky summer months in Central Tennessee. They have nearly 150 flavors so that even the most fastidious palate should find something to love. You can even have any flavor turned into an ice cream cake (assuming at least 48 hours notice!) for the birthday of one of your close friends or enemies
Is there such a thing as an Italian pizzeria in the middle of Nashville? Yes! This place serves delicious, thin, NY-style pizza (coming from a New Yorker!), as well as delicious baked ziti. If a New Yorker approves, then you should at least give this place a try! Prices are very reasonable - $2.50 for a slice or about $6 for an entree.
This spunky Asian fusion restaurant/bar is situated across from the Belmont campus. It has a good selection of sushi, innovative pseudo-Asian dishes, and an extensive drink menu. PM can get rather crowded, so plan ahead! Additionally, despite the availability of several moderately priced dishes, it can be expensive if you get drinks.
With a decor that could be decided as either decidedly blasé or so subtle it’s cool, Portland Brew is yet another awesome (and my favorite) Nashville coffee shop. When you walk in, you must choose between two sitting areas - a darker, quieter, and more serious zone to the left, and a sunlight-laden, more vibrant area to the right. P’Brew has a minimalistic, hipster vibe going for it - it’s not in your face but its there. With average coffee/tea prices are average for an independent coffee shop and just an ever-present quiet hum, Portland Brew is a great place to study, relax, and/or chill.
YOU MUST GO HERE!!! Featured on Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food Nation, Roadfood.com, and the Food Network, Prince’s is one of those “hole-in-the-wall” places that I take my friends to every time someone new comes in town. Two words: HOT CHICKEN. If you can handle the spice, it’s the best chicken around. However, be aware--when one Pakistani-spice-raised VMSII asked for the “Extra Hot,” the owner made him try it and told him “Don’t be a hero.” He wisely settled for “Hot.” Be adventurous — try it!
Ahhh…Provence…how do we classify Provence? It is a bakery, a gourmet shop, a coffeehouse, a restaurant, and a dessert shop. First and foremost, Provence produces the finest bread in town and is consistently voted one of Nashville’s top bakeries. Noteworthy are the olive oil/rosemary loaf and the baguettes. Provence is also your source for cheeses, including the most obscure ones. As a restaurant, they specialize in sandwiches (though they are pre-made, so you have to pick off toppings you don’t like), foccacia, pasta salads, and other light fare. The soups are great! The service can be subpar, and you’ll get tired of paying $12 for a lunch of a half sandwich and soup, so don’t go here all the time.
Puckett’s is my favorite restaurant in Nashville. Delicious barbecue and live music in a cool atmosphere makes for an almost magical combination. I’m not a huge barbecue fan, but Puckett’s makes an incredible BBQ sandwich. Puckett’s is decorated like an old, small-town grocery store, and you can actually buy little groceries as well as your meal there! There is a different musical act every night, so check the schedule online before you go. Be sure to make a reservation - this place fills up quickly. Also, avoid Friday and Saturday nights, when there is a $10 cover regardless if you eat anything (prices for meals range from $8-25). Puckett’s is closed on Sunday nights. Puckett’s has 2 locations - Downtown Nashville and Franklin. I prefer the more intimate Franklin location, but it’s a bit of a drive away. Definitely check Puckett’s out! This might turn out to be your favorite restaurant, too!
When I came to Nashville five years ago, there were no Brazilian steakhouses in the area. Enter Bombasha a couple of years ago, and now Rodizio. Having eaten at both, I would have to give the winning card to Rodizio because its meats are better and its side bar is more extensive. Still not as good as Fogo de Chao or Texas de Brazil, Rodizio offers an amazing experience for meatlovers (but at a price). Definitely check it out!
Part of a chain that serves consistently fair corporate Italian food. Pizza, pasta, fish, and more are prepared in an open kitchen. The portions are large, the service prompt, and the bread wonderful. They will sing to you in Italian if it’s your birthday. Most entrees can be had for less than $15, but if you add one of their many wines, the price will climb quickly. Make a reservation just to be safe since it’ll take about 20 minutes to drive out there anyways.
Rosepepper has great outdoor seating and live music. The food is Sonora-style Mexican, so it will come with some unexpected ingredients, like cauliflower, lima beans, and carrots. The atmosphere is eclectic and they have a huge selection of tequila-based drinks. The major reasons to come here include their margarita, salsas, and queso. Happy Hour is every weekday from 4 - 7 pm. Expect to pay in the $15-20 range for an entrée.
Family owned and operated, Rotier’s has been a staple close to Vandy for decades (it’s the oldest diner in Nashville!). With their burgers, comfort food, and milkshakes, you may take in enough calories for the rest of the week or month, but it’s well worth it. Take out is available, but I recommend coming in and enjoying the place. You rarely get a chance to enjoy service as helpful as the kind they have here.
Rumored to have the best steak in Nashville, Ruth’s Chris is across the street from the undergraduate campus. Besides U.S. Prime steaks, they feature 3 - 4 pound live Maine lobsters. It becomes a very popular place during undergraduate parents’ weekend. It is rather expensive, but if you are a cow connoisseur, this is the place to eat. Free valet parking. Reservations are recommended.
Another independent coffee shop that’s worth your visit. The drinks are great, and average in price, and the scene is less hipster than most of its Nashville counterparts. Simple decor with a hip vibe, you’ll find Sam & Zoe’s great to study at but even better to just unwind. While you’re waiting on a free refill of your apple berry tea or the fresh food being created in the back, dig through the box of vinyl records on top of the piano.
Voted Nashville’s best sports bar 40 years in a row (note: exaggeration), Sam’s is a popular joint in the Hillsboro neighborhood. A great place to catch a game, grab a brew, and chill with some friends, Sam’s also has some solid bar food (sandwiches, burgers, pizza) to go with a decent beer list. Having been highlighted by publications like Nashville Scene and Maxim, Sam’s has been known to get pretty packed on game day. But who cares if you know them or not, isn’t the point of watching a game to watch it with other people? With trivia nights twice a week (Monday and Wednesday around 8 pm), a daily happy hour (3 pm - 7 pm during the week), 2-for-1 Tuesdays all day, and late-night 2.99 food specials, you can hit up Sam’s at almost anytime for anything you’re in the mood for.
Sam’s is a true Nashville experience. Write your order on a card – Sam doesn’t speak much English – and hand it across the counter. It’s best to go alone or in pairs, as the restaurant is quite small. Also, don’t try tipping Sam: tax and service are included. He can also not serve you if he isn’t feeling like it, so stay on his good side. The great thing is that you get a ton of food for VERY low prices.
Sambuca is a cool place. It has live music seven nights a week, including Grammy-winning artists. The restaurant has a warm, eclectic atmosphere with red curtains, black marble, dark wood, and low lighting, which makes it a great place for a romantic dinner. Even at a place with such great entertainment and ambiance, the food still shines through and receives rave reviews. They feature crab cakes, sea bass, lamb chops, lobster enchiladas, and filet mignon. For students on a budget, Sambuca has a great deal on Sun - Wed evenings from 5 pm - 6:30 pm with a price fixed 3-course chef’s menu for only $20.
“SATCO,” as it is popularly dubbed by students, serves cheap (about $2/item), flavorful tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. The only downside to this restaurant is its ordering system - it is a little confusing. When you enter the restaurant, you have to mark your choices on a paper, and hand your paper to the cashier. Order a lot - portion sizes are small. Try their ground beef taco and chips with queso.
Featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dive’s, Savarino’s is conveniently located in Hillsboro Village. It’s less a restaurant and more a New York-style Italian deli, with meats, cheeses, and pastries in large glass cases. A bocce ball court was just recently installed on the side of the restaurant and there are only a few tables inside and outside, so it might be tight during lunch time. Favorites include their eggplant parmesan, the Dave Spires sandwich (it’s huge!), and cheesecakes.
In a city that is lacking in authentic Asian cuisine, Seoul Garden offers true Korean barbecue at a reasonable price. If you’ve never done Korean barbeque, get some friends together and go! You’ll get to grill wonderfully seasoned meats at your own table, and they provide an assortment of side dishes. While not ideal for vegetarians or those without cars (it’s a bit of a drive), Seoul Garden fills a much-needed Nashville niche.
This well-kept secret may be out of the way, but if you’re near Nolensville Road, consider stopping by. This should be considered the lower cost version of Golden Thai. The decorations are over emphasized, but the food is good and authentic. Make sure you specify the hotness when you order, because they can murder your taste buds if you’re feeling up to it.
Nice sandwiches and creative couscous dishes. Even if that doesn’t sound good to you, I implore you to read on. Hailed as part of the Nashville foodie revolution, Silly Goose’s creative and health-conscious fare is not only delicious, but also supplied by local purveyors. The Mexico City and Lyle’s Surprise (w/ turkey) are highlights on a menu that is sure to delight no matter what you order. The rosemary lemonade is a personal favorite, and if you’re feeling dessert (honestly, when should you not be?) and you don’t feel like making the fifteen foot walk over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, get the Sex!
The cuisine is billed as “elevated Southern” — intricately crafted international dishes, all prepared with Southern infusions. Chef Clay Greenberg is highly regarded: a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Greenberg was previously the executive chef at Virago. The beer selection is also fantastic, and the food is especially “green” – Silo works predominantly with local farmers for fresh and local ingredients.
Sip Cafe serves traditional espresso, coffee drinks and pastry from a local roaster and bakery. All of their house coffee is french-pressed, producing the top cup in Nashville. As a business that focuses on green practices, they give discounts to customers who share the same passion for the environment: 20 cents off if you ride your bike to the cafe or 20 cents off if you bring your own cup. My personal favorite is the espresso milkshake made with Mike’s Ice Cream!
Sitar has a nice interior and an extensive menu. Their lunch buffet has about ten main dishes and several desserts. The bhindi masala and garlic naan are both pretty good, as are many of the chicken dishes. You can reach this place from campus for a lunch buffet, which is fairly affordable at only $7. Most dinner entrees are less than $10.
This is another super authentic Korean restaurant in Nashville. The menu consists mainly of various types of tofu soups and Korean BBQ. Naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles) are a refreshing meal in the hot summer months. The service leaves a bit to be desired, but you get a ton of food for your money, and they sometimes forget to put drinks on your bill.
Many aficionados say that Sole Mio is the only Italian restaurant where they will eat in Nashville. Head there to enjoy authentic, delicious, and exquisite Northern Italian cuisine but don’t expect speedy service or reasonable prices (it’s expensive). The scene from the romantic patio was rated “Best View” and the restaurant was named “Most Underrated” by Nashville Life.
Fresh sushi, mouth-watering miso, and delightfully light tempura is brought to you by this authentic Japanese restaurant. You can request a Tatami room for a more unique experience - but you’ll have to take off your shoes and sit on the floor! The menu is extensive and will cater to most tastes. There is also a Japanese grocery store next door (11 am - 8 pm). Reasonably-priced as well, it’s a good place to go when you’re down in the White Bridge area.
Some people really seem to like South Street, but the food has never impressed me much. It does have a good atmosphere, especially when the weather is nice and the garage doors that serve as the exterior walls are opened, turning the whole restaurant into a covered patio. The atmosphere is laid-back and it turns into a bar at night. This a good place to go to unwind with the after-work happy hour crowd, but the food is a little pricey for the quality ($10 - $25 for a meal). Top off a good night of entertainment with dessert and a couple of drinks.
Simply the best brunch place in town. Their burgers are astronomical, the steak and blue cheese muffins are out of this world, and the shrimp sandwich rules. Most importantly, this place is extremely affordable. With abundant outdoor seating, this place is great for a Summer Brunch. Key note, you are walkable from the Country Music Hall of Fame, so make an afternoon out of it when you’re showing your family around Nashville!
Sportsman’s serves American food and is very popular with the med students. It is conveniently located across the street from the Children’s Hospital. They prepare delicious burgers, wings, and barbecue. This is a good place to bring large groups - many med students have celebrated their birthdays here. Prices are reasonable (about $10-12).
If you want a really good cup of coffee and a great low-key breakfast, visit this local establishment. But breakfast is not the only thing they serve here. They have many different types of sandwiches, wraps, salads, omelets, soups, and baked goods offered all day long at a good price (and they’re delicious!). The menu is extensive, so if you’re a bit indecisive like me, give yourself a bit of time on your first visit to peruse the choices or check out the website. If the weather is nice, eat on their patio or at nearby Sylvan Park.
You were always wondering what to think of this strange pink building on Broadway. Well, good news: they serve up some of the tastier, more affordable subs in town. Everything, including bread, is made fresh. A great alternative when you get sick of Subway, JJ, and Jersey Mike’s. Stop by for lunch, but beware: there is a formidable, though quick-moving lunch crowd.
Sunset Grill has won numerous awards over the years and has been featured in Southern Living and 20/20. This critic has had wonderful swordfish at Sunset Grill, but most other things I’ve had there have been about oar (the braised short rib was below par--wouldn’t recommend ordering). They do offer a late night menu at lower prices, so that might be a good time for a struggling med student to try it out, see what they think, and hopefully, have a good meal.
You’d expect more places like this in a city like Nashville. A trendy new fusion restaurant named after the 1950s novel “The World of Suzie Wong”, SWHY serves, in the words of its owner, a “brothel of epicurean delights” in the form of Asian dishes until the early hours of the morning. Portion sizes could be bigger and the food isn’t authentic, but it tastes pretty decent and the atmosphere has the vibe of a far more expensive place. Everything on the menu costs less than $10. On Monday nights, they have live karaoke from 9 pm - 12:30 am. Stop in for live music on Thursdays after 9:30 pm. It’s like getting lost in another world.
Table 3 is a new French restaurant in Green Hills. The menu is a bit limited, and very expensive ($12-22), but very good. I had the Table 3 Burger, which was very juicy, and was served on delicious bread. This is a great place to bring a parent or significant other who is a fan of French cuisine.
This trendy “Mexican” restaurant has made its name for itself on the Nashville scene. Casual yet undeniably hip, Taco Mamacita tries its hand at creative Mexican fare, and does so pretty well. Decent prices, above average food, and a great summer ambiance (the huge patio outside is great!) are highlights here. Their bar closes one hour later than the restaurant every day of the week and their specials include 2-for-1 margarita Wednesdays and ½ priced sangria Sundays.
Located right next to the Demonbreun bars, this Indian restaurant is our favorite Indian spot in Nashville. Less expensive than Shalimar with higher quality food than Bombay Palace, Tamarind also offers a decadent lunch buffet. Unlike many Indian restaurants, Tamarind offers their buffet on Sundays as well, meaning that just hours after you dance your way out of “South” on Saturday Night, you can return for to Demonbreun for some veggie korma and lamb vindaloo at Tamarind.
Located right behind Which Wich on West End Avenue, Taziki’s is new to the Nashville Mediterranean scene. It is a semi-small chain, with location across the southeast, and prides itself on making everything fresh. We must mention that a VMS student has reported food poisoning at Taziki’s. While we think that the food poisoning was an isolated accident, we wouldn’t feel right not informing y’all about it. Great food! Probably completely safe!
Ted’s is a great burger place with some old school charm. It is the most "upscale" burger place I can think of, if it is even possible for a burger place to be upscale. The main feature on the menu is Bison meat burgers. I think Bison makes a better burger than beef. Don’t fret if you are not convinced to try buffalo – Ted’s also offers every burger in beef or veggie. They also serve chicken. This is a good burger joint but, like most good burger places, you will not be going anywhere quickly after a meal here. Also, a big emphasis is placed on environmentally friendly practices.
A Thai-American student argues that this is the best and most authentic Thai restaurant in Nashville. The premises are not impressive, but the food is thoroughly spectacular and the service great. The place is family owned and operated, so you know you are supporting a local institution when you eat there. They have an extensive variety of Pad Thai as well as lesser known dishes like Holy Basil Chicken and 6 o’clock Train Fried Rice. Try the papaya salad as well. The food is super cheap and the people are adorable, but be careful when you order your food “spicy” as you could end up in a body bag if you are from Northern European stock.
Tin Angel is an American restaurant with a wide variety of entrees (eggplant parmigiana, beef tenderloin, etc.). Although this is a popular spot for dinner, definitely give the Sunday Brunch a try. The Banana Brulee French Toast is one of my most favorite dishes in Nashville. This is a nicer restaurant with prices that reflect the high quality of the food, so you might want to try this place when a parent or significant other comes to town.
Located over in East Nashville next to Jenni’s Ice Cream and Silly Goose, Ugly Mugs is a great coffe shop to go study at. It features a large menu full of coffees, teas, cold drinks, and specialty mochas and lattes. Since it is open later than most coffee shops, it is a great place to drive over to on a Saturday or Sunday and hole up for a good, long study day. It also has a large outdoor patio area that is really nice in the Fall and Spring.
Valentino’s is the kind of place to take that special someone for a romantic dinner, although you would hardly expect it from the relatively nondescript facade. The atmosphere is elegant and quiet, with tuxedo-clad waiters and valet parking. The fare (pasta, veal, chicken, and seafood top the menu) is authentic Northern Italian and is delicious. Reservations are not necessary but are a good idea on weekends. If you go, be sure to request seating in the cellar! Though on the pricier side, they’ve been known to be on restaurant.com, so don’t forget to check it out before you go!
Located in the Oxford House, this building looks like it belongs in a third-world slum, but don’t let this dissuade you from trying the Vandy Delicatessen. The ingredients are fresh and the people are friendly at this sandwich shop located across from the hospital. There is usually a pretty long lunch line, and you can get a sandwich and chips for around $5. Give this place a try.
It was completely by chance that I happened across Viener Fest a couple of months ago (actually, it was on Scoutmob and they might still have the 50% off coupon up!). As an avid lover of Austrian food (but also a snob), I was excited but skeptical to try their cuisine. The avid lover part of me thought our meal was absolutely delicious--both the Jaeger schnitzel and Holstein schnitzel had delectable sauces, the spinach spaetzle was way better than what I could make, and the desserts were wonderful. The snob part of me acknowledges that the schnitzels aren’t pounded quite thin enough and that the apfelstrudel’s crust could be a little crisper, but these feelings aren’t powerful enough to keep me from declaring this one of my favorite new restaurants in Nashville. At the very least, it is a huge step up from Gerst Haus.
Virago is a trendy sushi place. And by trendy, I mean pricey and filled with yuppies. Still, their sushi is some of the best in town. Go on Monday nights when a select portion of the rolls is half-price. The list of half-price rolls rotate weekly. Make sure to get a reservation if going on Monday, though. Entrees are over $20 on average, though individual items are far cheaper. Still, if you get a couple of rolls, it is normal for a sushi restaurant.
The floor-to-ceiling windows and sophisticated modern style in Watermark make this restaurant a perfect place for special occasions. For panoramic views of downtown, ask to be seated on their second floor balcony. The food features contemporary twists and southern favorites such as their Cheese Grit Souffle, Scallops with roasted mushrooms, Braised Wild Boar, Beef Carpaccio, and Chocolate Bread Pudding. It’s pricey, so this may be a place you bring your parents, your future wife, or the girl you’re dating during Restaurant Week.
Whiskey Kitchen is M Street’s ‘tavern-chic’ bar and restaurant. The menu is a mix of chef-inspired pub favorites, southern classics, and wood-fired pizzas. An extensive list of mixologist cocktails accompany the city’s largest collection of world-class whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, and Scotches. Large convertible windows and an expansive patio encourage a celebration of nice weather days. Whiskey Kitchen offers the hospitality and value indicative of a neighborhood gem, but delivers with top level talent and professionalism.
This is the finest restaurant in Belle Meade, an upscale (read: pretentious) bistro with a cozy atmosphere. The menu changes monthly and is filled with continental standards such as prime-rib and pan-seared trout. The service and dessert are said to be exquisite. Reservations are recommended.
If you want Tennessee Barbeque, Nashville Scene says this place should be on your short list. tasty Tennessee pork, beef, and turkey sandwiches with great lemonade. Don’t forget to include the fixings: slaw, potato salad, and baked beans. Wednesday boasts discounted sandwiches - they used to be $1.25, but they may have crept up to the $2 range. PS - Their regular prices are also very reasonable.
An interesting hole in the wall hidden away in East Nashville across from The Rose Pepper Grill. The Wild Cow serves exclusively vegetarian and vegan friendly fare at moderate prices. Try the vegan Philly Cheesesteak and be amazed by the sumptuous cheese-like substance and creative meat substitute. This restaurant tends to attract an eclectic crowd, making this dining experience potentially culturally enlightening.
Highly regarded among Vandy med students and Nashvilleans alike, Woodlands brings South Indian food in its finest meatless forms. The menu includes spring rolls (Indo-Chinese) and traditional curries, as well as specialties such as lentil pancakes (uthappa) and many varieties of stuffed crepes (dosa), their specialty. Newcomers to Indian food may prefer to go during their standard-quality lunch buffet and sample their selections. On the short list for best Indian food in Nashville (although honestly, that’s not saying much).
A Mediterranean must for vegetarians. I highly recommend the Greek Salad and Seared Salmon. The menu is a little pricey but definitely worth every dollar.
This Greek-influenced restaurant has recently moved from its Vandy location. Known as a take-out spot, it’s generally busy during the lunch hour. Zoe’s menu consists mainly of chicken dishes: grilled chicken wraps, chicken salad, chicken in pita, etc. It offers Greek salads and marinated slaw smothered in feta cheese, yet it lacks the hummus or falafel that you might predict from a “Greek” joint. The portions are large, the limeade is quite good, and the prices are reasonable (you should spend less than $10 there).
Zumi is a recent addition to the group of eateries near campus on Belcourt Ave. It’s close enough to campus for lunch if you have the 12 pm - 1 pm hour free. The menu is on the smaller side, as are most of the portions. Don’t count on getting your money’s worth at Zumi. It can get crowded during the dinner rush. Zumi runs like a deli where you order at the front counter and then your food is brought to you.