Little Black Book

A Honky-Tonk Hipster Food Tour of Nashville

by Rene De Leon
An Old school Nashville. Photo courtesy of Dino's.

Max and Benjamin Goldberg, the Nashville natives behind everyone's favorite local restaurant The Catbird Seat, recently teamed up with chef Rene De Leon (formerly of Alinea in Chicago) to open a new French restaurant, Le Sel. We asked Rene for his favorite food and drink spots in his new town. The brothers Goldberg chimed in, too.

NASHVILLE – Over the past year, I had the good fortune of getting to eat and explore Nashville. There were places that I knew I would enjoy; others surprised me. The city is diverse, with more quality restaurants and dining options on the way. It has been incredible getting to know people, like my partners Benjamin and Max, that have contributed to the city's exciting, dynamic scene.

Arnold's Country Kitchen
605 8th Ave. S.; +1-615-256-4455
This meat-and-three is a must. You choose one meat and three sides for around $10. It's cafeteria-style, and it's the only restaurant in Nashville with a James Beard Award. – Rene

I love this place. The food is really great, and the environment is unique. Grab a tray, pick your items, and grab a table. My favorites are brisket, tomato pie, and bread pudding. You never know who you will sit next to. So many Nashville chefs, politicians, and businesspeople love this place. It's a little bit of everything, which makes it special. – Benjamin

This is the best restaurant in the country! Lots of signature dishes that represent Nashville. The bread pudding is out-of-this-world great. – Max

Arnold's Country Kitchen in Nashville

The meat-and-three situation. Photo courtesy of Arnold's Country Kitchen.

Interior of Crema Cafe in Nashville

Coffeeshop hustle and bustle. Photo courtesy of Crema.

15 Hermitage Ave.; +1-615-255-8311
Crema is located downtown and also has an outpost in Pinewood Social (33 Peabody St.; +1-615-751-8111). It's my favorite place, and I think it serves some of the best coffee in Nashville. – Rene

I love Crema. The coffee is delicious and the people are so nice. I feel like I'm visiting family when I go. – Benjamin

The Patterson House
1711 Division St.; +1-615-636-7724
I love the cocktails at this Midtown bar. I prefer dealer's choice. – Rene

37 Rutledge St.; +1-615-256-6565
This restaurant executes everything well. I also love the cocktail program. – Rene

The Catbird Seat
1711 Division St.; +1-615-810-8200
Of course this one makes the cut. The small tasting room above The Patterson House has a menu that can stand up against any in the country. – Rene

2316 12th Ave. S.; +1-615-292-7766
A great restaurant in the 12South neighborhood. The food is delicious, and I love the feel of the room. – Rene

Interior of Josephine's in Nashville

Interiors at Josephine's. Photo courtesy of Josephine's.

3-Crow Bar in Nashville

Simple outside, rowdy inside. Photo courtesy of 3 Crow.

3 Crow
1024 Woodland St.; +1-615-262-3345
The hipster bar in East Nashville is a cool scene in town. – Rene

Loveless Cafe
8400 Tennessee Hwy. 100; +1-615-646-9700
It's a little out of the way but worth the drive because it's hard to find restaurants with this kind of charm anymore. A staple for years and known for serving a killer breakfast. – Rene

City House
1222 4th Ave. N.; +1-615-736-5838
Tandy Wilson's City House is one of the founding restaurants of the food scene in Nashville. The seasonal menu isn't too fussy and always full of great flavors. – Rene

Three words: belly ham pizza. They also have classic cocktails and a great selection of spirits, beer, and wine. – Max

411 Gallatin Ave.; +1-615-226-3566
A tiny hole-in-the-wall with a pretty good burger and a nice selection of late-night food. It's Nashville's oldest dive bar. – Rene

Robert's Western World
416 Broadway; +1-615-244-9552
This Broadway honky-tonk is surprisingly popular with locals and has a bologna and beer combo for $5. – Rene

All the bars in Nashville close at 3 a.m., so if I am going to do a big night out — they're few and far between these days — I love going to Robert's. I think the music, the vibe, and the down-in-Broadway location make for a really fun, special experience. One beer usually turns into a few because you get so caught up in the music. – Max

Rolf and Daughters

Interiors at Rolf & Daughters. Photo courtesy of Rolf & Daughters.

Martin's BBQ in Nashville

Dig in. Photo courtesy of Martin's BBQ.

Rolf & Daughters
700 Taylor St.; +1-615-866-9897
This chef-driven restaurant is located in Germantown and offers a cool take on Italian food. – Rene

I love Rolf & Daughters. It's an amazing restaurant with a phenomenal cocktail menu. You can sit at the bar and have a few great drinks and a couple of snacks. – Benjamin

I've been into Rolf & Daughters for some time now. It's in an old warehouse and the owners have really made the space warm and inviting. It's also the best pasta I've had outside of Italy. And their cocktail program is very dynamic: My favorite is the Man About Town. – Max

Martin's BBQ
3108 Belmont Blvd.; +1-615-200-1181
The best barbecue in town, hands down. And that's saying a lot: We have a ton of choices. – Rene

They opened one by my house, and I went on a kick where I was eating there about three times per week. Pat Martin and his crew do the best barbecue in the city. I usually get what Pat recommends, but everything they do is incredible. – Benjamin


Chef Rene shares a recipe from Le Sel's new menu.


Fathom's Nashville Guide

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.