4 Self-Guided Nashville Food Tours That Will Have Your Mouth Watering
Between Southern tradition and the hip trends of a quickly growing city, Nashville has an enviable food scene. Follow these DIY Nashville food tour itineraries to explore the tastiest treats of major Music City neighborhoods from fluffy biscuits and hot chicken to craft beer and barbecue.
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Self-Guided Nashville Food Tour Itineraries
Nashville Farmers’ Market to SoBro Food Tour
Think of this itinerary less as a quick food tour and more as a guide to where to eat in downtown Nashville. (If you’re looking for a shorter tasting itinerary, check out the 12South food tour below.) These stops are best spread out so you can enjoy full meals with breakfast at Puckett’s Grocery, lunch at the Nashville Farmers Market, and dinner at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. The Tennessee State Capitol, Ryman Auditorium, strolling down Broadway, and the Country Music Hall of Fame are all great nearby attractions to fill the rest of your day.
Puckett’s started out as a small town grocer in the 1950s and remains a staple of local Nashville food. Start your day with a classic Southern diner-style breakfast. I recommend getting country ham on a biscuit. If you’ve never had country ham before, prepare yourself – it’s really salty because it’s cured, not entirely unlike prosciutto or jamon serrano.
Nashville Farmers’ Market
This artisan bakery’s pastries are shaped by hand and take three days to finish. You’ll have a hard time not being tempted by the flaky twists and turns of their brioche and croissants with savory flavors sausage or ham with cheddar and sweet flavors like cinnamon, chocolate, and salted caramel pecan.
The Picnic Tap
A local butcher supplies the meat for these all-beef hot dogs. Try the Southern topping with pimento cheese, coleslaw and a pickle spear. The restaurant also has several locally brewed beers on tap.
Butter Cake Babe
Some of the most popular items from this farmers’ market bakery include their cinnamon hazelnut coffee and strawberry butter cake cookies.
Jeni’s Ice Cream
The cult-worthy Jeni’s Ice Cream isn’t original to the Nashville Farmers’ Market or even to Nashville itself, but you’d still be remiss to skip a stop. Jeni’s cones boast creative flavors like brambleberry crisp and sweet cream biscuits with peach jam.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Whether you spell it barbecue, BBQ, or Bar-B-Que, a menu like this belongs on your Nashville bucket list. Try a pulled pork sandwich or, if you have the room, a plate of ribs. Whatever your order, head upstairs to check out Martin’s whole hog pits and beer garden.
Midtown & Music Row Food Tour
This Nashville food tour fits into about half a day taking you from lunch to dinner. If you need a longer break between meals, the historic RCA Studio B is a top attraction or you could take a walk around the Vanderbilt University campus. Being Music Row, you’re also likely to find lots of live local music in the evening — take your time to enjoy it!
Try a taco or two with a uniquely Southern twist like The Memphis with barbecue pork, The Oy Vey with chipotle beef brisket, a Shrimp Po’Boy BLT, or a Hot Chicken. Their margaritas are the bomb — they make the sour mix in-house. Who cares if it’s lunchtime? You’re on vacation.
While it was African-American-owned restaurants like Prince’s and Bolton’s that pioneered Nashville hot chicken, the most convenient stop for this quintessential Nashville dish near Music Row is Hattie B’s. Steer clear of the tourist trap heat level labeled “Shut the Cluck Up” — in fact, don’t attempt anything above “Hot.”
The Row Kitchen & Pub
It’s not a night on Music Row if you don’t hit at least one spot with live music. The Row has an impressive draft list featuring largely local craft beers. The menu is basic American fare like burgers and barbecue, but for something a little lighter and more decidedly Southern, order the fried green tomatoes.
Top off the night with a high-end cocktail at the uber-upscale Patterson House. Opulent decor and old-school house rules like no cell phones and you must be seated to order a drink — to say nothing of the apothecary-like jars of house-made bitters and syrups — reinforce the private turn-of-the-century club vibes. The menu is ever-changing, but let that be a testament to this bar showcasing the craft of mixology at its best. Even the ice is given careful attention to detail.
12South Food Tour
Cobble together a lunch in one of Nashville’s trendiest neighborhoods with this bar snack-focused food tour. Add a stop at one of the areas hipster-friendly cafes and walk off the calories as you explore 12South’s many murals.
Kick things off with a specialty coffee at Frothy Monkey. Their Monkey Mocha features house-made chocolate and a unique banana syrup, while the Hummingbird (named for a common Southern cake recipe) combines espresso and steamed milk with house-made pecan syrup, banana, cinnamon and dried pineapple.
Try the street corn topped with lime, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper and enjoy this restaurant’s laidback coastal vibe.
Though, as the name implies, Burger Up is best known for its gourmet burgers, this itinerary is sticking to bar snack classics. Sample a flight of fries with house, sweet potato and truffle varieties, or indulge in fried mac and cheese bites.
Pimento cheese is my favorite Southern snack (so much so that I not only make my own, but I’ve even grown pimento peppers in my garden for it). Edley’s serves theirs with smoked sausage, pickled jalapenos and saltines. And if that is somehow not Southern enough for you, add a basket of fried okra.
Jeni’s Ice Cream
So good it deserves another mention. Jeni’s has multiple locations throughout Nashville, so even if you aren’t wandering around the Farmers’ Market, you can find a scoop shop to sample. Try one of the most Nashville flavors they’ve got: Middle West Whiskey & Pecans.
The Gulch Food Tour
Indulge your basic bitch in one of Nashville’s trendier neighborhoods. The Gulch occupies a semi-circle cradled by I-40 between Broadway and Music Row. This food tour itinerary will take you to Nashville’s best brunch spots on a Saturday morning. If you need a break, stand in line for a selfie with the well-known “What Lifts You” Nashville wings mural or take a swing through the Frist Art Museum.
Few restaurants are as iconic to Nashville as Biscuit Love. Start your morning with a mimosa and one of their popular breakfasts. If you’re feeling savory, get a biscuit topped with fried chicken and sausage gravy (they call this the East Nasty and it was once named best sandwich in America). If you’re feeling sweet, get a round of “bonuts” — fried bits of biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and bluberry compote.
My personal favorite brunch in Nashville is the Latin-flavored menu at Saint Anejo. Let the sangria flow. Keep it light by munching on guacamole or queso, fill up on a breakfast burrito or horchata French toast, or split the difference with an order of hot chicken tacos.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House
One of Nashville’s top restaurants, Chauhan blends Indian and Southern cuisines. Grab some freshly baked naan with a selection of chutneys or try one of their more unique fusion dishes, tandoori chicken poutine. If it’s the weekend, treat yourself to a drink off their “brunch hangover cures” menu, like the Silk & Spice, featuring chai infused bourbon, malabar spiced liqueur, cream tequila and cinnamon.
Bar Otaku Izakaya
One of the city’s most popular ramen joints recently opened this small plates bar modeled on the traditional Japanese izakaya. For something that feels more breakfast-friendly, try the okonomiyaki – a cabbage pancake – or sweet potatoes dressed in soy sauce, honey and sesame.
Whether spread out to cover three square meals or packed into an afternoon, these self-guided Nashville food tours will help you explore Music City at your own pace while experiencing the best Southern bites and local drinks. If you prefer guided tours, try one of these:
Once you’re stuffed, read these posts to plan the rest of your Nashville trip: