Nashville’s music scene has churned out hit singles and legendary musicians since the early days of the Grand Ole Opry and Music Row. But in recent years, Music City has become the hot new place to open a restaurant. Talented chefs are descending on the Buckle of the Bible Belt, bringing with them new renditions to Southern home cooking and James Beard Awards that follow. Yet, Nashville still clings to its roots, and local favorites such as hot chicken continue to have a cult following. Prince’s Hot Chicken is the original eatery behind the scorching, pepper-laced dish. Almost 100 years later, they still serve up a mean hot meal as a new breed of shops and restaurants moves in alongside.
Olive & Sinclair
The makers and chocolatiers at Olive & Sinclair know a thing or two about seriously good chocolate. The old-school shop and factory handcrafts every small batch of bean-to-bar chocolate from select single-origin beans using traditional methods of slow roasting and stone grinding. Bourbon Brittle Nib, made with aged cacao beans in bourbon barrels, is a buttery caramel treat. Seersucker Confections is another Southern throwback that makes everyone feel like a kid again.
5th & Taylor
The year-old restaurant in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood is chef Daniel Lindley’s tribute to the American family meal. Inspired by dishes from his childhood, the six-time James Beard nominee redefines familiar dishes such as Beer Can Chicken—no ordinary herb-brined poultry. Smoky, succulent meat is flavored with a beer and chicken sauce that’s poured tableside from a Pabst Blue Ribbon can.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Go whole hog—literally—with a sampler tray of juicy barbecue straight from the pit, where entire fresh pigs are roasted daily and hickory smoke emanates throughout the no-frills eatery and backyard beer garden. Owner Pat Martin and a crew of pit masters smoke meats—including beef, turkey and chicken—in signature West Tennessee-style. From ribs to brisket, the result is fall-off-the-bone, finger-lickin’ good.
Chef Sean Brock has a few ground rules about what is allowed in his kitchen. For one thing, if it’s not Southern, then it’s not coming through the door. The James Beard Award-winning chef leads heirloom, husbandry, in-house pickling and charcuterie programs that are core to the cuisine. Housed in a Victorian mansion built for Nashville’s mayor in the late 1800s, the restaurant’s elegant and cozy ambience is the perfect complement.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Midtown and West Nashville
Get your hot chicken fix at Hattie B’s, where there’s always a line out the door for deep-fried goodness. The heat profile ranges from completely mild to damn hot and shut the cluck up, in which the dangerously hot ghost pepper is thrown into the mix. Chicken is served with bread, pickles and sides made from scratch such as collard greens and pimento mac and cheese. A generous glass of sweet tea doesn’t hurt, either.