Music City U.S.A. stands on the twangy traditions of its iconic Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and legendary Bluebird Cafe, where aspiring and established songwriters frequently test out new material. But Nashville long ago smashed the bumpkin mold, attracting a range of artistic talent, from rock innovators to fashion designers, wider than a country mile. Local and relocated chefs have made the city a North-meets-South culinary nexus, equally enamored of charcuterie and hot chicken.
Chef Julia Sullivan, lately of New York’s Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, returned home to open Henrietta Red, which specializes in oysters, crudos, and vegetable-focused dishes – many hot from the wood oven – in dining-centric Germantown.
In the trendy Gulch district between Music Row and down-town, sleek newcomer Little Octopus reveals its affection for Jamaica and Latin America in dishes such as spicy ceviche, goat curry, grilled meats, and creative vegetable options that include a cold dish of curried mango, watermelon, chickpeas, and goat cheese.
Its imported Italian oven is affectionately known as Enrico, but Nicky’s Coal Fired perfects more than thin-crust pizzas in The Nations neighborhood’s former Belle Meade Hosiery Mill. Don’t miss chef Tony Galzin’s house-made charcuterie and pastas, and specialties such as roasted quail.