What to eat in Nashville: 12 must-try local delights

From Southern fried chicken to sweet banana pudding, these tips on what to eat in Nashville include famous food, foods to try, and everything in between.

As the cultural heart of the Deep South, Nashville is famous for many things. Known as Music City, it is home to the nation's country music and entertainment industry, not to mention several sports teams and a vibrant art scene. But one of the biggest attractions Nashville is known for is its unique style of Southern cuisine.

What food is Nashville known for? There are so many options that it can seem overwhelming. Therefore, here is a guide on what to eat in Nashville for foodies and first-time visitors, with 12 of the tastiest food to eat that'll leave you wanting more.

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1. Turn up the heat with Nashville hot chicken

By far the most famous food in Nashville has to be its signature hot chicken dish. Nashville hot chicken is deep fried the traditional way but mixed with chili peppers to give it that extra spiciness. If you can stand the heat, you're sure to be hungry for seconds.

How to eat the best hot chicken in Nashville?

Restaurants and eateries throughout Nashville will have their own spice blends, from mild to ghost pepper hot. Some of the best Nashville hot chicken recipes can be found on a private walking tour of The Gulch.

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2. Get messy with smoky southern barbeque

The Southern style of cooking meat is one of the most popular food choices in Nashville. From smoky brisket to tender beef ribs that slide right off the bone, all slathered in tasty homemade sauces, this is one food you must eat when in town. Don't be afraid to make a mess; it's all part of the fun.

How to eat the best southern barbeque in Nashville?

Barbeque smokehouses can be found everywhere in Nashville, and many make their own unique sauces. Try some delicious southern barbeque with fine whiskey and bourbon on a BBQ, beer, and bourbon experience.

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3. Find the perfect combo with meat and three

When it comes to what to eat in Nashville, meat and three is a simple yet brilliant concept. First, you choose the meat, whether it be beef, chicken, ham, or whatever you fancy. Then, you pick three side dishes on the menu, such as mac and cheese, fries, vegetables, or anything else to create the perfect meal combination.

How to eat the best meat and three in Nashville?

Meat and three is one of Nashville's favorite comfort foods and can be found throughout the city. Explore the delicious culinary delights of Nashville's barbeque smokehouses with a secret food tour.

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4. Get sticky with a Goo Goo Cluster bar

Created in 1912, the Goo Goo Cluster has become Nashville's most famous candy bar. Shaped like a cookie, the traditional Goo Goo Cluster contains nuts, marshmallows, and caramel covered in milk chocolate. Some variations feature pecan nuts and peanut butter in place of the caramel.

How to eat the best Goo Goo Cluster bar in Nashville?

Head to the Goo Goo Cluster Store to sample this sticky but delicious chocolate bar, and join the a hands-on chocolate workshop to make your own.

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5. Have a light breakfast with biscuits and gravy

Another Nashville favorite, biscuits and gravy is often eaten for breakfast but can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Traditionally the biscuits are similar to flaky bread with butter on top and smothered with gravy.

How to eat the best biscuits and gravy in Nashville?

Biscuits and gravy is a staple of Southern cuisine and can be found in cafes and diners across Nashville. Indulge in this satisfying dish for yourself on a country cooking food tour.

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6. Taste Nashville's unique take on the donut called bonuts

Have you ever wondered what a donut would be like if it was made from biscuits? Wonder no more as Nashville has perfected its own original donut recipe known as the bonut. Made from fried biscuit dough, the bonut is the best food for breakfast or dessert, served with cream and berry sauce.

How to eat the best bonuts in Nashville?

Bonuts can be purchased in many restaurants and cafes throughout Nashville. Take a donut tour to find some of the best bonut locations in the city.

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7. Try some delicious savory cornbread

Cornbread is a unique Southern dish that can be eaten by itself or as a side. Made from cornmeal, it has the consistency of bread but with a more savory taste. A great side dish for southern barbeque meals or even on its own as a snack.

How to eat the best cornbread in Nashville?

Corn bread is a common side menu item in many eateries in Nashville. Try some with traditional southern cooking on a showboat dinner cruise.

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8. Savor some of Nashville's local burgers

While you can find the traditional American hamburger anywhere in the country, Nashville has its own variations on the classic burger recipe. Hot chicken is an obvious choice for local burger recipes, but there are also ones that include egg, brisket, and special homemade sauces.

How to eat the best local burgers in Nashville?

Many restaurants and fast food eateries will have their own selection of unique burger choices in Nashville. Take a trip to Hard Rock Cafe Nashville and try the Legendary Burger.

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9. Fill up on homemade mac and cheese

You may think you've had mac and cheese before, but you haven't really until you've tried it Southern-style. Nashville eateries get very creative with their mac and cheese recipes, combining them with some surprising blends of cheese such as brie and parmesan, as well as additional ingredients such as lobster meat and chicken for extra flavor.

How to eat the best mac and cheese in Nashville?

Gourmet mac and cheese is often served as a side with barbeque dishes and other southern-cooked meals. Try some with a trip on the General Jackson showboat.

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10. Sip some genuine Tennessee whiskey

Tennessee whiskey doesn't just refer to the place the whiskey is made but also to the way it is made. Unique to Tennessee, whiskey here is made using corn in a method called the Lincoln County Process. This gives it its distinctly smooth and delicious taste.

How to drink the best Tennessee whiskey in Nashville?

Head out to Lynchburg for a tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery. While on the Lynchburg Jack Daniel's distillery tour you'll be able to sample some of the delicious premium whiskey made there.

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11. Sample some of Nashville's unique craft beers

Nashville has a big craft beer scene, and some brews can only be found in Nashville's bars and honky tonks. Take some time to visit the bars on Printers Alley and Broadway to sample some of the craft beer flavors available in Nashville.

How to drink the best craft beers in Nashville?

Craft beers are available at many bars and restaurants throughout Printers Alley and Broadway and are the perfect accompaniment to any southern-cooked meal. Head out on a pub crawl to find some of the best craft beers in town.

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12. Finish off with some sweet banana pudding

We've saved the best for last. Once you've finished your meal, a light but sweet glass of banana pudding is one of the most perfect foods to try for dessert. If you have the room, you can also add vanilla wafers, cookie pieces, and banana slices to the mix to make it even more indulgent.

How to eat the best banana pudding in Nashville?

Banana pudding offers a smooth contrast to the spiciness of hot chicken. Try some at a restaurant on the a walking tour.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Nashville?

Nashville hot chicken and southern barbeque are the must-try dishes in Nashville. For sides, try cornbread or mac and cheese, and for dessert, go for banana pudding.

What are the best food tours in Nashville?

There are many tours that will take you to the smokehouses, where you can enjoy a delicious southern barbeque. There are also beer and bourbon tours where you can sample the unique brews Nashville has to offer.

What are the top local food markets in Nashville to visit?

The East Nashville Farmers' Market is possibly the most popular food market in Nashville. There is also the Mazfresco Market, Coco's Italian Market, and Madison Inglewood Market.

What is the best time of year to visit Nashville for food lovers?

Nashville has great food throughout the year. However, summer has a number of food festivals, such as Nashville Restaurant Week, which is a foodie's delight.

How much should I budget for food in Nashville?

An average meal in Nashville will cost you around $15, while a meal at a fine restaurant may cost around $40 per person. Try to budget at least $60 a day for food in Nashville.