The 10 Best Foods to Try in Nashville

Nashville style hot chicken
Tatiana Volgutova / Getty Images

Nashville's food scene is a unique blend of traditional Southern favorites, unique culinary fusions, and unusual local creations that simply aren't found anywhere else. Among some of the best down-home dishes that Tennessee has to offer, Nashville is known for hot chicken and meat & 3.

If you're headed to Music City, these are the absolute best foods that you have to try while there.

01 of 10

Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich and fries

bhofack2 / Getty Images

If Nashville has a signature dish it has to be hot chicken. Prepared like traditional fried chicken, but with the spiciness turned up to the max, this is one food that will either leave you craving more or cowering in the corner in fear. Make no mistake, this one will leave your taste buds burning, but if you like spicy food it is delicious.

Where to Try it: Hattie B's or Prince's Hot Chicken

02 of 10

Southern Barbecue

10 barbecue chicken wings in a metal bowl with white paper in it

 Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

There are a handful of regions across the U.S. that are known for their barbecue and thankfully Tennessee is one of them. In Nashville, you'll find a variety of places selling mouth-watering brisket, ribs slathered in sauce, and some of the best pulled pork imaginable. Many places make their own sauces and sell them on the side, allowing you to take them home and use them on your own cuts of pork, chicken, or beef. If you consider yourself a BBQ connoisseur, you're going to be extremely happy in Nashville.

Where to Try it: Edley's Bar-B-Que or Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint

03 of 10

Meat & 3

Another Southern tradition that got its start in Nashville, a "meat & 3" restaurant is one that presents customers with their choice of a single type of meat (beef, chicken, ham, etc.) and the option to select three sides to pair with it. Those sides can include such items as mac and cheese, potatoes, corn, vegetables, or any number of other items. In this way, you get to build a perfect plate filled with your favorite comfort foods.

Where to Try it: Arnold's Country Kitchen or Loveless Cafe

04 of 10

Biscuits and Gravy

biscuits and gravy on a plate

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Biscuits are another favorite across the South, often appearing at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When done right, these light and flaky pieces of bread can be eaten with nothing more than a layer of butter slathered on top, although there are many that love to smother them in gravy. Biscuits and gravy are a staple in Nashville, with a number of places offering a fantastic rendition of this classic dish.

Where to Try it: Nashville Biscuit House or Biscuit Love

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05 of 10

Local Burgers

Burger in a basket from The Pharmacy with country ham, applewood-smoked bacon, farm egg, maple mustard and a glass of a light-colored beer

 The Pharmacy

The humble American burger is a popular food no matter where you go, although Nashville still manages to offer a few stand-out options. That's due in part to the level of creativity you'll find on the food scene here, where various restaurants have found ways to stand out from the crowd. Farm burgers are a local favorite, for instance, often incorporating an egg into the traditional mix of beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Depending on where you go, you'll find everything from the basic burger done perfectly all the way up to gourmet burgers that blend tastes and textures in inventive ways.

Where to Try it: The Pharmacy or Husk

06 of 10

Fried Pickles

fried pickles on a plate

bhofack2 / Getty Images

Fried pickles often appear on menus as an appetizer throughout Nashville and if you come across a place that is serving them you should definitely take the opportunity to indulge your taste buds. This surprisingly addictive snack wraps a savory pickle slice in a light, golden batter, and then it's fried until warm and perfectly crispy. Some recipes include a variety of spices, like garlic, onion, or just good old salt and pepper. Others prefer to keep it simple and straightforward, but either way, you're likely to be satisfied.

Where to Try it: Wildhorse Saloon or Cock of the Walk

07 of 10

Classic Pizza

Oval shaped pizza from Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria topped with spinach, basil pesto, heirloom tomatoes, artichoke, spicy pepperoni and jalapeño cilantro Ranch

Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria 

One of the great joys of being a traveler, and enjoying pizza, is that you get a chance to see how different destinations put their spin on the dish. In the case of Nashville, the recipe for good pizza doesn't wander too far from the Italian source material, using great sauces, savory cheeses, and a blend of fresh meats and vegetables, all placed with great care atop a flaky and delicious crust. Once again, the best places in town use locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible and make their crusts from scratch.

Where to Try it: Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria or Desano Pizza

08 of 10

Deli Sandwiches

Two halves of a porchetta sandwich next to each other on a wooden table. The sandwich is slow-smoked pork loin and bacon with roasted tomatoes, mayonnaise, red onion and lettuce.

 Mitchell Delicatessen

Deli sandwiches are another common food found in many cities across the country but once again, Nashville's creative side has helped to turn the humble sandwich into an art form. Staying in step with the city's healthy lifestyle and innovative food scene, Nashville delis go to great lengths to not only use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, but to find unique and unusual combinations of bread, cheeses, meats, and other toppings. The result is often something that goes well beyond just a traditional sandwich, offering unique and unexpected flavor combinations.

Where to Try it: Mitchell Delicatessen

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09 of 10

Mac and Cheese

Close up of mac and cheese in a paper cup with red peppers in it

 Hattie B's Hot Chicken

You wouldn't think that something as simple as macaroni and cheese could be turned into a gourmet dish that would leave you longing for more. But in the South, mac and cheese is another staple that pairs nicely with a wide variety of other foods or is incredibly delicious all on its own. In Nashville you'll find all kinds of creative options when it comes to mac and cheese, including versions that are rich and creamy, blending a variety of different cheeses, while others mix in chicken, pork, or even crab.

Where to Try it: The Stillery or Hattie B's

10 of 10

Banana Pudding

banana pudding with vanilla wafers

bhofack2 / Getty Images

After a large meal filled with all kinds of wonderful foods dessert may be the last thing on your mind. Thankfully, one of the local favorites is banana pudding, which makes a wonderful chaser to the other courses you've already eaten. On its own, the pudding is light and sweet, but add in slices of its namesake fruit, mixed with a couple of vanilla wafers, and you get a snack that is almost irresistible. Satisfying on its own or as a complement to barbecue or Hot Chicken, banana pudding is one of those can't-miss foods in Nashville.

Where to Try it: The Southern Steak & Oyster or Edley's Bar-B-Que