Best New Restaurants in Middle Tennessee

 

Nashville has always been known for its flavorful, rich cuisine, and this year there were 10 restaurants that joined this tapestry of tastes with a bang. We recommend each of them for their delicious menu offerings, and some for their incredible locations.


House of Cards
119 Third Ave South, Lower Level
Nashville (Broadway)

Perfect for a special occasion, this unique, opulent restaurant (part Twin Peaks, part Vegas) will particularly delight lovers of magic and mystery. Located under the Johnny Cash Museum, the nearly 10,000-square-foot House of Cards invokes the Art Deco period vividly. Be sure to enjoy the extensive art and European antiquities collections and magical memorabilia displays (including a pair of Harry Houdini’s own “Kingbreaker” handcuffs).

The menu is mostly traditional American fare, but for most patrons the focus is—and arguably should be—on lingering over cocktails with someone one enjoys while enjoying the innovative magic show and exhibits.

Reservations are required for the dining room, and a formal dress code is strictly enforced. Purchase of an entrée is necessary to gain access to the show. Photography is not permitted inside the venue.


Pearl Diver
1008 Gallatin Ave
Nashville (East Nashville)

If you need a tropical escape but can’t get away from town, Pearl Diver’s got you covered. Serving Hawaiian cuisine and tropical drinks, this cocktail lounge is where you should head if you want to relax and mingle.

Reservations are not accepted, but there’s plenty of room to move about if there’s a wait—and they hope you will! Patrons are encouraged to explore, then walk up to the bar or patio window when they’re ready to order.

When it’s warm outside, we recommend that you park yourself out on the patio, kick up your flip-flops, order some grub, and work your way through the drinks menu. Aloha!
Parking is scarce, so we suggest using a ride-sharing service to avoid the hassle. If you do drive yourself, keep your eye out for Pearl Diver’s distinctive red-and-green sign as you head by on Gallatin.


Shake Shack
4031 Hillsboro Pike #904
Nashville (Green Hills)

This favorite burger chain has finally come to Tennessee! Burgers, hot dogs, shakes, frozen custards, crinkle-cut fries, and a mushroom-based vegetarian option are the menu’s most-ordered items, but they’ve added a chicken sandwich that’s quickly gaining popularity as well.

Boasting an emphasis on quality ingredients often missing in fast food, the price point jumps accordingly. Reviewers say it’s well worth it, so expect Shake Shack to be hopping when you visit! Use the app to order if you’re in a rush; you’ll be able to head right to the counter instead of getting in line. Parking is available in the garage behind the restaurant, and there’s plenty of seating inside and out.


Woolworth on 5th
221 5th Ave N
Nashville (Downtown)

Lauded as the most important historical restaurant in Nashville, Woolworth on 5th has been impeccably restored to its former glory. The original five-and-dime location was the famous spot where lunch counter sit-ins were held during the town’s Civil Rights Movement; now visitors can experience the Art Deco splendor once again.

When you visit, note the original terrazzo floors, cast iron railings, and stained maple that made the original location so beloved. The expansive main dining room faces a huge bar inspired by the original lunch counter, though the mezzanine and lounge are also open (the lounge has a separate bar).

Funk, jazz, gospel, and swing music by the Downtown Dippers will grace the New Era Ballroom, while on Wednesdays, Nashville’s own Barry Scott will lead a community night of poetry and performances.

The Southern-inspired menu marries the classic flavors we love with ingredients and techniques from all over the world. Stop by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner any day of the week; you can enjoy beer, wine, soda fountain-inspired handcrafted cocktails, or non-alcoholic favorites like milkshakes and ice cream floats.


CoreLife Eatery
2330 Medical Center Parkway
Murfreesboro

With every passing year, it seems like more of us are trying to choose healthy food options. However, if we have to sacrifice flavor and satisfaction, it’s not as likely that we’ll keep choosing to eat well.

CoreLife Eatery seeks to bridge the gap between our health and our taste buds with hearty, superfood-packed bowls. With options for vegans, low-carb eaters, and omnivores alike, CoreLife is an excellent choice for a group or anytime you need a fast, good-for-you option.

The interior is simple and chic, following the bright and clean cafeteria-style setup that’s gained popularity as the demand for quick and healthy choices has continued to grow.
Reviewers praise CoreLife Eatery for their generous portions, diverse menu (ranging from tuna poke to Mediterranean greens and beyond), super-fast service, and exceptionally clean interior.


Geist
311 Jefferson St
Nashville (Germantown)

This historic location was once occupied by a blacksmith, and until 2006, it was the city’s oldest family-owned business. Now it’s been revived and transformed into an elegant bar and restaurant, though the original brickwork and rafters serve as a subtle reminder of what used to be.

Geist is ideal for those seeking a soft, refined, plush experience. Choose from the bar, dining rooms, or beautiful Champagne Garden courtyard; wherever you choose, you’re guaranteed to feel like you’ve stepped out of Germantown and into downtown LA or NYC.

Reviewers love the chef’s skilled renditions of American classics, the extensive selection of affordable cocktails, warm and welcoming service, and ease of access thanks to the parking lot located behind the restaurant. Note that last call is 11 p.m.


Saltine Restaurant
1918 West End Ave
Nashville (West End)

Saltine merges classic Southern cuisine with a modern take on seafood, and the results are delectable. Located in the former home of the Blackstone Brewery, Saltine is expansive, airy, and bright, recalling the best of the coast in its colors and décor.

Featuring a large bar, raw bar, private dining hall, and multiple dining rooms, Saltine is a great choice for group events. With an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, choice of several types of oysters, and classic Southern favorites like po’boys and steaks, Saltine aims to have something for everyone.

There’s plenty of parking in the lot next to the restaurant, and you should be able to stop by anytime and get a table quickly. Reviewers recommend this spot for business lunches thanks to the location, delicious grub, and quick yet attentive service.


Sunda
592 12th Ave S.
Nashville (12 South)

For something completely different, Sunda presents Nashville with high-end Asian fusion cuisine, presented beautifully and inspired by the owners’ travels through Japan, The Philippines, China, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Offering a modern and unique take on Sunday brunch, a wide variety of sushi dishes, steamed buns, and a range of exciting ways to enjoy pork belly, it’s easy to see why Sunda stands out from the competition. The daughter restaurant to the brand’s Chicago location, Nashville’s Sunda has won praise for their careful elevation of beloved classics from across Asia, making it the answer for anyone who can’t force down another burger or burrito.

The interior is serene and modern, with carved artifacts and contemporary art that echoes the menu’s harmonious blend of both old and new Eastern and Western sensibilities.
Reservations are recommended, especially for larger groups or special occasions, but are not required. Garage parking is available in the garage and on the street.


O’ Be Joyful
328 TN-6
Franklin

This little gem is a tavern-style neighborhood favorite already. The bar focuses on Nashville’s beloved whiskey, with over 100 varieties to sample, and serves upscale burgers (including the rare “impossible” vegan burger) and bar appetizers.

Inside O’ Be Joyful’s pared-down interior that focuses on wood, brick, and copper, patrons should feel comfortable stopping by on a casual weekend to relax and chat over a pint or three.


Bread and Butter
2309 Mercury Blvd
Murfreesboro

Bread and Butter has already won the hearts of the people of Murfreesboro. If you haven’t already, check out this family-owned sandwich shop and experience what reviewers are hailing as “the best sandwich shop in town.”

Focusing on homemade, high-quality ingredients and affordability, Bread and Butter offers favorites like the Cubano and chicken salad, but also offers exciting takes on classics (pork belly BLT, anyone?).

While Bread and Butter can be hopping during the lunch rush, service is impeccable and swift, ensuring that you’ll be able to get back to work on time. Choose this new gem to support a local Tennessee family, save some money, and eat what might just be the best sandwich you’ve ever had.

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