Top stops in the action-packed neighborhood
Nashville’s trendy Gulch neighborhood didn’t have many attractions beyond Station Inn until 2012, when the Music City’s food scene saw staggering growth. Since then, the action-packed Gulch counts plenty of places to discover the city’s culinary charms, new and old. In a neighborhood characterized by growth, in which change is an essential part of its fabric, the dining scene is layered with possibilities for hungry locals and visitors. Barbecue and biscuits mingle with sushi and contemporary seafood. There is always a new kid on the block, but don’t overlook the long-standing spots that give the Gulch its strong culinary foundation.
Travel just north of the Gulch to find three eateries by famed celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan. This one, bearing her name, marries a traditional approach to Indian dishes with an appreciation for Southern ingredients. Before diving into the desi fare section, make a pit stop at the appetizers for gol guppa shots. The Mockingbird and Tánsuŏ are Chauhan’s sister restaurants in the neighborhood.
The Mockingbird is a stunning space with modern diner fare. Clever names denote playful dishes. Rice, Rice, Baby is a small plate of pimento cheese arancini, and tatchos are tater tots topped with lamb chili and beer cheddar. Quench your thirst with a Tequila Mockingbird or Punchin’ Bag. Now serving brunch, Wednesday through Sunday.
Setting the standard for quality sushi in the city, Virago has held court on McGavock Street for nearly 20 years. Even in its new digs just steps away from the original restaurant, the stylish joint continues to uphold its longstanding reputation. Expanded offerings include a late-night menu and a handful of new rolls.
Moto is the Italian gem of the M Street Restaurant Group (the folks who brought Nashville Kayne Prime, Moto, Saint Anejo, Tavern, Whiskey Kitchen, and Virago). The enoteca offers an inviting dinner menu with pizza and pasta as crowd favorites. But another reason to dine here — the gorgeous interiors with cool vibes. Oh, and the cocktails.
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Kayne Prime is a dressed-up chophouse with out-of-the-box offerings — think house-made bacon with maple cotton candy, popcorn buttered lobster, cream corn brûlée and risotto tater tots. These dishes expertly accompany the requisite steaks and loins, which are always prepared to perfection. The romantic atmosphere only elevates the experience, as does dessert.
This restaurant’s name honors Jonathan Waxman’s late mother, and its kitchen celebrates seasonal ingredients showcased in comfort food. While some items, such as the meatballs, kale salad, and jw chicken, have rightfully held their place on the menu since the restaurant’s opening, new dishes are introduced each season. Dinner is the main draw, but that said, the Sunday Brunch Buffet is a tasty way to end the week.
Here, biscuits come every which way — fried and tossed in sugar, for instance, or filled with fried chicken, cheese, and sausage gravy. Each of the restaurant’s three locations draw crowds daily because no one can resist the smell of freshly baked biscuits.
Right next to his Nashville location of the Dutch, famed NYC restaurateur Andrew Carmellini brings a restaurant inspired by his early career at two-Michelin-star San Domenico in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Carne Mare is modeled after an upscale Italian chophouse, specializing in hand-selected cuts of steak and serving plates like spicy crab lettuce cups; octopus carpaccio; cacio e pepe honeynut squash; and baked spumoni for two, flambéed tableside. Sit at the bar for a classic steakhouse experience.
One of the city’s more stylish spots to stay, The Thompson Hotel houses two restaurants: one more polished, the other more upbeat. Marsh House is an all-day kitchen specializing in seafood-forward dishes steered by Southern flavors. As you polish off chargrilled (or raw) oysters and shrimp toast followed by seafood mains, paired with seasonal cocktails, admire the modern décor with art deco elements. Upstairs, the indoor-outdoor rooftop bar and restaurant buzzes with energy as drinkers discuss which small plates to share and their plans to come back for weekend brunch.
Named as Eater Nashville’s Restaurant import of the Year in 2018, Emmy Squared has been celebrated by locals for introducing Detroit-style pizza to the Gulch. It should come as no surprise that the must-orders here are square-shaped pies, but you’ll also want to consider the award-winning burger.
This New Orleans-style fast-casual spot slid into the former Bar Otaku in 2021, bringing a Gulch destination for hurricanes and daiquiris on tap, oyster happy hours, crawfish boils, and of course, po’ boys and gumbo. .The po’ boys begin with New Orleans’ own Leidenheimer Bakery French bread with choices of fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, roast beef with debris gravy, fried green tomatoes, or some combination of the above. The trio of gumbos — chicken and sausage, seafood, and gumbo z’herbes — supposedly undergo a 14-hour cooking process.
A Chicago import, Sunda has gained a reputation locally for its swanky interiors and the menu’s Southeast Asia influence. Two standouts on the long list of hot and cold dishes are the crispy rice topped with wagyu and tuna roll stuffed with yellowfin tuna, escolar, pickled jalapeño, fried shallots, and spicy mayo.
Getting its start in a shipping container with only 56 seats, 404 Kitchen was once the hardest reservation to secure in town. Now in a new, larger space, seats are much easier to come by. Stop by Gertie’s Bar for a whiskey, then head upstairs to experience the culinary creations of chef Matt Bolus.
You don’t need to be a barbecue aficionado to understand that Peg Leg Porker is down-right delicious, but if you appreciate the art of barbecue, you’ll admire pitmaster Carey Bringle’s dedication to the craft. Either way, you will be left licking your fingers and asking for another rack of dry-rub ribs. If you are going back for seconds, order the pulled pork sandwich this time.
A place worthy of every bit of the recognition it receives, Arnold’s home cooking and casual atmosphere meets expectations. This establishment — where they serve from-scratch sides and Southern mains — is an essential part of the city’s dining scene. Be sure to secure your spot in the always-long line on Tuesdays and Fridays for their famous meatloaf.
Seeing a ramen bowl-sized gap in Nashville restaurant scene, Sarah Gavigan debuted Otaku Ramen in East Nashville before it landed permanently in the Gulch. The Shoyu Tonkotsu with pork belly is heavenly, while the Tantanmen is an excellent choice for vegetarians. Those interested in more than noodles will quickly be directed to the hot chicken buns; the jasmine milk tea boba is a highlight as well.