Ten years ago, visitors to Nashville didn’t really have many reasons to experience Germantown, the gritty neighborhood north of the downtown that was named after the immigrant construction workers who had been imported into the city to construct new government buildings after the city was named the capital of Tennessee in the 19th century. Since then, an influx of new residents, fantastic restaurants and drinking establishments have turned the neighborhood into a desirable place to live and visit. Easily walkable, or accessible by scooter if you’re feeling adventurous, Germantown is now on the radar of foodies everywhere.
Here’s your cheat sheet on where to check out when you journey to this hip district.
Germantown Cafe was one of the first dining destinations worth making the trip to visit when it opened in 2003, along with the gone-but-not-forgotten Mad Platter and still popular Monell’s. With a great view of downtown from an angle that most locals never see, Germantown Cafe remains one of the best spots in town for a power lunch, and you’re likely to see politicians making the short trip from the Capital to meet over a meal any time of the week.
James Beard award-winning chef Tandy Wilson really revitalized the Germantown dining scene when he opened City House in the former space of local artist Alan LeQuire’s studio. Wilson was a genuine outlier when he introduced his take on rustic Italian cuisine made using primarily Southern ingredients, and even though others have followed his path, he is still at the top of the city’s pantheon of talented chefs.
Henrietta Red is the brainchild of chef Julia Sullivan and GM Allie Poindexter. The two talented ladies certainly contribute a welcome feminine touch to the city’s hyper-masculine restaurant environment with a lovely restaurant featuring a seafood-centric menu of shellfish and other specialties from the ocean. The vibe is appropriately calm and welcoming unless it happens to be Jello shot happy hour on Thursdays.
Philip Krajeck opened Rolf & Daughters after a successful stint cooking at Fish Out of Water in Watercolor on 30A in the Florida Panhandle. Seriously, he left a dream job in paradise to come to Nashville to cook, and we couldn’t be luckier. Krajeck brought his incredibly creative attitude toward Mediterranean cooking to a small space in the old Werthen Bag factory, and Nashville hasn’t been the same since. From fantastic toothy handmade pastas to comforting roasted vegetables, the fare at Rolf & Daughters encourages you to bring some friends with you to dine so you can share the entire menu!
SILO skews to the masculine side of the dining spectrum, and delightfully so. An emphasis on fine whiskey drinks, elaborate charcuterie trays of meat and soulful Southern main dishes make for a meal fit for a king, or a queen.
For a great cup of coffee or a menu of both savory and sweet crepes plus sandwiches, visit Red Bicycle Coffee & Crepes. The casual eatery is a mainstay for locals, but intelligent tourists add it to their dining itinerary, too.
Tailor is where chef Vivek Surti recreates the sort of pop-up menus that made him so beloved as the entrepreneur behind VEA Supper Club. Surti cooks dishes that represent his experience as a first generation Indian-American and shares the stories behind each one. It’s dinner and a show!
312 Pizza Co. serves Chicago-style pizzas, as befits the area code in the pizzeria’s name. Featuring both the heavy deep-dish variety and the less famous (but still delicious) thin crust style, 312 is a beloved spot to enjoy a great pie and watch a ballgame on the television.
Monell’s offers a traditional family-style Southern dining experience with platters of fried chicken and dish after dish of delectable vegetables brought to the table to be passed around from patron to patron, Don’t worry if you get seated with some strangers; that’s part of the fun! And don’t forget to pass to the left.
The Nashville outpost of Virginia-based Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint chain is a fun no-frills spot for a burger and a beer. Or more than one beer, for that matter. Their playful roster of burgers includes the “Greg Brady,” topped with house made mac n’ cheese and Martin’s BBQ potato chips. Peter and Bobby should be quite jealous!
5th & Taylor features a sexy dining space filled with modern art and dramatic furnishings. The menu revolves around elevated versions of traditional American cuisine such as beer can chicken like you might make on your home grill, but probably much better than yours. No offense. Be sure to save room for dessert, especially the salted caramel skillet cookie.
Neighbors is the second outpost of a neighborhood watering hole, joining the first in Sylvan Park. Just like the original, smoked chicken wings are the highlight of the menu, but don’t skip over the other excellent smoked meats on the menu like beef brisket or pulled pork shoulder or ribs. Neighbors also serves up a very respectable Black Angus Burger.
Geist is a relative newcomer to Germantown, but has quickly become a neighborhood fave, thanks to a menu that revolves around bubbles and fire-roasted foods. Their “Champagne Garden” is a cozy outdoor porch with an outdoor cooking stove that is the perfect spot to snuggle with somebody you love. Or just belly up to the bar for some creative cocktails or a glass from Geist’s excellent wine list.
Butchertown Hall is a slice of Texas Hill Country in the middle of Germantown, featuring smoked meats and an extensive menu of tequilas and mezcals. The attractive interior features a huge open fire hearth and more subway tile than the bathroom section at your local Home Depot. Their beer garden is also a fine spot to enjoy selections from one of the best craft beer menus in town.
Germantown residents were tickled to hear that The Southern V was turning their successful plant-based catering operation into a brick-and-mortar operation in their neighborhood. The husband and wife cook team behind The Southern V creates exceptional food that just happens to be vegan. Most of the menu is made from scratch, and dishes like Fried Chick’n made using seitan and BBQ Jackfruit Sliders delight vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
Because plenty of people live in Germantown, but not many folks actually work there during the day, the neighborhood doesn’t have a plethora of great lunch spots. Vui’s Kitchen is a welcome addition to the list of potential midday meals thanks to a menu of fresh inventive takes on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. From Tofu Lettuce Wraps to a fine version of a Beef Banh Mi, there’s plenty to love coming out of Vui’s Kitchen.
Most of the restaurants listed above have great bar menus, but sometimes it’s nice to visit a spot with a laser focus on cocktails like The Green Hour. Sharing a space with the Tempered Nashville chocolate shop, The Green Hour is open whenever you see the green neon sign lit in the window. The bar focuses on drinks made with absinthe, the exotic liqueur that was once thought to trigger madness. That’s not true, but you might still go crazy about their drinks!
Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen near First Tennessee Park serves up some fantastic food, but even if you don’t have time to enjoy a full meal before a Nashville Sounds baseball game, you can still take advantage of their world-class roster of craft beers. It’s operated by the same team behind one of Nashville’s best beer lists at M.L.Rose, so you know that they pick some great brews for their menu!
Germantown Depot is actually a complex of three spots to drinks: a Mexican cantina, a craft beer and cocktail saloon and a whimsical trolley bar with a fun outdoor patio area featuring semi-private cabanas and games like cornhole. Whichever you choose, it’s a casual hang for friends and family. In fact, you don’t even have to choose. Hit up all three.
Sedona Taphouse is another new addition to Germantown, part of a chain of taphouses known for serving fine craft beer and wines in a warm, natural and sophisticated environment. From burgers to seafood to steaks, the eclectic menu appeals to all sorts of diners, including gluten-free options. The food offerings change seasonally, so visit often to see all the options.
The Goat is part of a small chain of upscale gastropubs featuring a little something for everyone. In addition to beer, wine and spirits, the food menu has all the burgers, pizzas, salads, wings, sandwiches, wraps and elevated bar snacks you could want. They also feature live music several nights during the week.
If the Germantown neighborhood was lacking anything over the past few years, it was a great place to watch a ballgame on television. Germantown Pub fills that void nicely with food and drink specials during big NFL games and the promise to show every Big 10 college football game on their multiple television screens. Non-sports nights revolve around karaoke and trivia, two activities that are only made better with pitchers of beer.
Speaking of beer, when Bearded Iris Brewing opened their brewery in Germantown, the neighborhood got even better! Their comfy taproom has a pool table, plenty of seating and a glorious “Hoppy Hour” Monday through Friday with discounts on IPA beers, the brewery’s specialty. Homestyle IPA might as well be named the official drink of Germantown.
Pastime offers all sorts of flexible seating options depending on whether you feel like dining indoors or outside or even on their rooftop deck with a commanding view of the downtown Nashville skyline. Plenty of televisions show all the big games, but you can also just enjoy a great meal even if you don’t have a dog in the hunt. Choose from surprisingly elevated versions of standard sports bar fare ranging from wings to burgers to pizza.