We know the G-word can be a little touchy around this time of year, but just focus on the amazing meals you’ll get to eat with all of your family over that weekend instead of jobs, bills, moving, ok this does sound stressful.
Back to the food: we’ve compiled a list of the best Nashville places to grab a table during the festivities. Wanna blow that graduation money on the best steak you’ll ever eat? Kayne Prime it is. More of a casual family who just wants a fun time? Try DeSano’s- you won’t regret it. These places are only the beginning-there’s really something for everyone here.
Start checking these places out-Nashville’s a happenin’ place, and reservations are usually recommended.
This casual eatery may seem simple, but get this-it won a James Beard Award (like the Oscars for restaurants). Don’t worry though, the fame didn’t get to their heads-they’ve been serving their Southern classics for decades and it’s the real deal. Think juicy roast beef, spicy turnip greens and the creamiest mac n’ cheese you’ll find in this city. Don’t even get me started on the daily dessert specials-spicy chocolate pie, bread pudding…you get the picture.
If you want to show your family Nashville’s Southern side-and do it for under ten bucks-, this is the place. Just remember it’s lunch only and there will be a line. Man up and wait-that banana pudding is not gonna eat itself.
Another brunch/lunch spot, this food truck turned brick-and-mortar specializes in-you guessed it- biscuits. With a menu that focuses on local ingredients and some serious Insta-worthy dishes, this is a perfect Saturday morning destination.
Get a round of bonuts (sweet fried biscuit dough “doughnuts”) for the fam and, if you’re feeling extra crazy, order the Gertie, a fluffy biscuit topped with chocolate gravy, peanut butter, caramelized banana jam and a pretzel crunch-guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth. If you’re more of a savory bruncher, check out the ham bar (yeah you read that right) or the Wash Park burger with bacon jam served on a biscuit of course.
This is the place to be in Nashville. The food’s awesome, but it’s more than just a restaurant; Bocce ball, a bowling alley, and a pool area make this a trendy hangout spot. If your parents want to feel a little cooler, take em’ here and maybe even rent out the private karaoke room (okay, maybe you don’t want your parents feeling that cool…).
Pick out a drink from the lengthy cocktail menu, order some steak tartare toasts or a side of fried broccoli and enjoy.
This place is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before: baked potato bread pudding? Fish and beignets? Butter tastings? We didn’t think so. The atmosphere is pretty high-class, and Etch is on the pricier side, but if you’re going to splurge somewhere, let it be here (maybe even take advantage of their private room).
Each dish is a colorful, carefully crafted piece of art, and every course tastes better than the next. Take some risks and order something you normally wouldn’t try (octopus bruschetta anyone?), and make sure you finish with the chocolate and peanut torte-it has peanut butter whipped cream, nuff’ said.
Right in the heart of downtown (don’t sweat it-they have valet parking), the classy Southern offers good service, great drinks and a menu that’ll please both seafood aficionados and meat lovers. If you’re not in the mood for, say, a 24 oz T-bone with black pepper butter and garlic whipped potatoes, then splurge on the sea scallop linguini or fresh oysters.
You can book a private room for your graduation celebration or hit this place up for weekend brunch-service starts at 10:00am, and we hear the steak benedict is to die for.
Only a few blocks from Vandy, 1808 Grille serves up seasonal American fare from right inside the swanky Hutton Hotel. This place has a few different private dining options, and the service is top notch.
Take in the elegant décor and interesting plating as you enjoy the braised short ribs or the night’s fish special. And if you’re there for brunch, make sure y’all share some red velvet monkey bread and a pitcher of mimosas.
A trendy, gastropub spot just a few steps off campus, this is an any-situation type of place. Not only is it open every day for lunch and dinner, but it also boasts a special late night menu starting at 11pm. There’s options for just about anyone (vegans included) including lots of good things to share (like “Bazooka” Guacamole and giant baskets of fries).
Tavern also serves one of Nashville’s best brunches-you haven’t lived if you haven’t had red velvet waffles or “white trash hash” with their signature red sangria.
Bring everybody here-grandma, your five year old cousin, the ‘rents-, order some large pizzas and grab a communal table to kick back at. You can watch the staff flip the dough and slide the pizzas in the wood-burning ovens in their big open kitchen.
This is the authentic Italian stuff-even their salt is shipped over from the Mediterranean Sea. Do yourself a favor and order the Diavola, and don’t forget you can bring your own wine.
Long known as one of the best places Nashville has to offer, Rolf and Daughters serves up modern American dishes and creative cocktails. Wood ceilings, iron lightbulbs and open shelving at the bar add to the modern industrial feel of the place, and the food fits right in.
The menu includes a few meatier entrees, like the beef short rib, and also boasts quite a few pasta dishes. Think gnocchi with fresh spring vegetables and a squid ink campanelle with shrimp. The desserts are also stunning in both presentation and taste-splurge, it’s your graduation!
This is another one of those any-situation type places: it’s not the fanciest place in Nashville, but it serves up awesome eats and a lively atmosphere. Order the ½ pound of boiled shrimp to share and then try one of their southern specialties or attempt the double-cut pork chop with fresh smoked peaches (spoiler alert: it’s insanely huge).
And did you see that picture?! Don’t leave without trying those vanilla bean donuts for dessert. Bring the whole family, rent out the private room and enjoy the grub (get it?).
Classy. Lavish. Italian. Open for dinner every night, this is an excellent place to use up those graduation checks and celebrate the night away. Moto’s not your typical red-sauce joint; this is new Italian.
Blueberry lasagna and the Brussels sprouts side are both must tries, and ask for a $3 pat of black truffle butter cause…why not? The atmosphere is very classy and very trendy; bring a big group but just remember to dress to impress.
A smaller, upscale place next to The 404 Hotel, the kitchen serves up modern European cuisine with some Tennessee twists. Since the chef keeps the emphasis on local ingredients, the menu changes frequently, but if the burrata or tri-tip are on the menu, order them.
The atmosphere’s a little quieter but still super-trendy. Other perks include the outdoor seating and the restaurant’s accolades-it was a semi-finalist in the 2014 James Beard Awards.
An absolutely legendary steakhouse, Kayne Prime is an experience. Start with the housemade bacon (*it comes with maple cotton candy*) or popcorn buttered lobster and then order your steak of choice and as many sides as you can handle. Seriously, I don’t know how you can possibly choose between the crème corn brulee and macaroni gratinee.
Don’t worry veggie lovers; there are plenty of good options for you too like, for instance, the roasted roots and black kale salad. Ask for their private room, but remember this place is the definition of classy so make sure you follow the dress code.
Lockeland Table’s historic neighborhood location, familiar dishes and friendly atmosphere make it a true neighborhood spot. The menu’s focused on Southern fare and there’s sure to be something for everyone.
For the more adventurous eaters, try the bone marrow and pig ears appetizers and, well, if you’re not wanting to eat ears, then stick to the seriously good wood fired pizzas or the braised beef short rib shepherd’s pie. Whatever you choose, make sure you save room for the chocolate chip cookie skillet; your family will be fighting each other for the last bite.
A classic French eatery with a cozy atmosphere and menu that changes daily, this is a perfect place to enjoy dinner with your parents or grandparents. The food’s as refreshingly simple as the décor, and the open kitchen and outdoor patio create a casual ambiance.
Make sure you start with the homemade potato chips if they’re offered, but you really can’t go wrong with any of your choices. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to end with cinnamon and chile chocolate cake-yes it’s really that good.