Where was your last best meal in Nashville? A far easier question than “What is your favorite meal in town?” right? Just a place you’ve recently been to that really knocked your socks off.
We asked 10 notable Nashville tastemakers where their last best meal in Nashville was, and we got some great insight. Enjoy and remember to embrace our local food scene.
My last best meal in Nashville was …
Elizabeth Nichols, CEO, Taigan
“My last best meal in Nashville was at Miel, Tuesday night after we lost power. The first course was the Spanish Octopus sous vide put in an ice bath and then charred and served in a little skillet with crispy fingerling potatoes, an aioli, pepper relish and garlic chips. Next, I had the heirloom tomatoes and squash blossoms, an entrée that captures the essence of what Seema Prasad [Miel’s owner] is growing on her roof!!!! It included pink eye peas, squash, grilled radicchio and the most amazingly prepared squash blossoms ever—with a teeny little indulgence of Iberica lardo. And for dessert, I ordered the peach and Miel plum crostata (the plums came from the tree in the back of the restaurant), with peach curd, ricotta and lemon. Delicious!”
Eric Viars, co-owner, The Oxford Shop
“At Noshville in Green Hills, I had an egg white omelette with whole wheat toast and fresh fruit … and the greatest cinnamon roll. It’s the best breakfast. Add running into so many of my customers, and it’s a great way to start my day!”
Beth Sachan, director of marketing at Goo Goo Clusters and blogger behind Eat. Drink. Smile.
“My last best meal was at Little Octopus, the current resident of the POP space in East Nashville. Their food is the kind that I crave this time of year—bright, vibrant flavors and incredibly fresh and light. Three of us shared the avocado bowl, hamachi crudo, bok choy and root vegetables, burrata with nectarine and torn herbs, and grilled scallops on braised lentils with kimchee. Just fantastic! Oh, and the grapefruit sage spritzer was delightful, too!”
David Lusk, owner of the Memphis and Nashville locations of David Lusk Gallery
“I travel to Nashville (from Memphis) several times a month. For lunch in Memphis most days, it’s peanut butter, cottage cheese, Cheez-Its and water at my desk. Lunch in Nashville is different; the gallery is next door to DOZEN, and all their sandwiches and pies rock (especially the lemon lavender ice box).
Dinner, though, is when I get to eat. All three of my top three meals in Nashville have been at The 404 Kitchen: I like the intimate environment, I like the nonchalance and I like the rabbit. My wife hasn’t made it to The 404 yet, so I get another visit soon.
Also on my notable list: the pork belly and egg pizza at City House; my daughter’s a huge proponent of The Smiling Elephant; Biscuit Love lives up to its name and a Vietnamese iced coffee (or a growler of the same) at Eighth and Roast makes the drive to Memphis faster.
But, as a promoter by trade, I will really rave about anyone who prepares a meal for me in their home.”
Kristen Winston, owner, Kristen Winston Catering
“One of the most memorable meals I have had was at The 404 Kitchen (although it was a while ago … wedding season has not been kind to my ability to eat out!) The food was really terrific … the delicious burrata and crudo linger in my mind. Even the bread was great. The service was impressive. Our server was warm, professional, attentive and very knowledgeable about the food and wine.
I also had another favorite last week, Samurai Sushi (on Elliston Place), which is always so fresh and delicious!”
Glenn Simmons, manager at Merridian Furniture
“I tend to go to the Mexican places on Nolensville Road, like La Hacienda and La Terraza. But to stick to the “last best meal” request, I’d have to go with Cantina Laredo in the Gulch. We were down there and, since I like Mexican, we decided to go in. I was surprised at how good it was! I had carnitas tacos and recommend them!”
Roger Higgins and Ann Shipp of R. Higgins Design
“Our most recent great meal was at Union Common. We actually went with some friends and just wanted a light dinner and ordered lots of small plates. We had the marinated olives, Brussels sprouts with pork belly and pine nuts, pecan salad with blue cheese ice cream and smashed fingerling potatoes. It was the perfect amount for the four of us, and we had great cocktails to accompany it all. We give this place high marks for food and décor. Felt like we were in a very chic big city! Oh wait, we are!!”
Chris Chamberlain, food and drink writer based in Nashville and the author of The Southern Foodie, The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig and Nashville Beer: A Heady History of Music City Brewing. He is a regular contributor to the Nashville Scene, Nashville Lifestyles, Local Palate and several other regional and national publications. He is also the senior Southern correspondent for FoodRepublic.com, which to his NYC editors means he covers anything not in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
“We celebrated my girlfriend’s birthday with a dinner at The 404 Kitchen. It’s one of those rare places that can make you forget that you’re even in Nashville, except for the fact that I’ve listened to about a hundred bluegrass bands and drank countless beers next door at the Station Inn. (I had my first beer there, back when I was in high school. Shhh … don’t tell anyone. Statute of limitations?) Chef Matt Bolus is extremely talented with seafood dishes and loves to work with seasonal local ingredients, so his combination of fava beans with rock shrimp, orange, honey and Grana Padano was the perfect starter. When I asked if the delicious broth was basically mostly butter, the server admitted it was, but graciously offered me a coffee mug if I wanted to finish it surreptitiously. My main course was Atlantic barracuda, a fish I am normally hesitant to eat because, well … it can kill you if it’s too old. But I put myself in Chef Bolus’ capable hands and was rewarded with a fantastic dish of the delicate fish served with eggplant, heirloom tomato, sultana and Cedar Key clams. It almost made me want to rush my own next birthday so I could enjoy it again. Note I said ‘almost.'”
Ridley Wills, owner of The Wills Company and Wills Handyman
“5th & Taylor. The appetizers are amazing. The beef tartar with capers and mustard seed was my favorite, but the hot, bacon-wrapped quail with dates and sorghum was also delicious!”
Carrie Ward, owner of Bar Method
“My last best meal was this past Wednesday night. One of my childhood friends and her husband were in town from San Francisco, and my husband and I took them to one of our new favorite spots, 5th & Taylor. We enjoyed dirty martinis and shared the ahi tuna appetizer, beet salad and heirloom tomato salads … delicious! For dinner, I had the beef zabuton with mashed potatoes. I got to sample John’s beer can chicken, and both were delicious!”
This all begs the question: where was your last best meal and where, oh where, will your NEXT best meal in town be?!