When chef Maneet Chauhan picked Nashville to open her own restaurant, post-TV stardom from Food Network’s Iron Chef, she picked Nashville because, in her view, all of the food pioneers there were women.
With that in mind, here is a rundown on the 10 essential women-led restaurants in Music City. This list includes a cross-section of types of cuisine, Nashville neighborhoods, longevity, and price points.
The Green Pheasant
In less than six months this SoBro Japanese restaurant has become a critical darling. Expect seasonal Japanese cuisine, with fish flown from Japan and produce grow in Tennessee.
Chauhan and husband Vivek Deora built this informal eatery to share their memories of the Indian street food of their youth. The couple hand-decorated some of the space themselves, hanging bangle bracelets and coloring faux stained glass windows.
The saying at Husk is, “If it doesn’t come from the South, it doesn’t come through the door.” But that doesn’t mean this is your grandma’s fried chicken. Come for inventive daily menus based on what ingredients are available.
Japan meets the South in this Izakya spot in The Gulch neighborhood, which is loud, scene-y, and a place to talk to your neighbors, thanks to lots of communal seating. Sarah Gavigan’s Otaku Ramen, which was Nashville’s first Ramen shop, is just two blocks away.
A dinner-only spot in a refined space that used to be a meat market, Miel serves European-inspired dishes. Owner Seema Prasad is one of the city’s loudest advocates for sustainable food practices.
The Grilled Cheeserie
Crystal De Luna-Bogan, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, and her husband Joseph Bogan took Nashville by storm when they rolled out their grilled cheese food truck in 2010. In 2017 (after expanding to two trucks), they opened a restaurant in Hillsboro Village, with option including a Buffalo chicken pepper jack grilled cheese.
With a downtown location that makes it popular for business lunches and pre-symphony dinners, Etch service duck tart, venison, and other upscale dishes created by one of the city’s culinary matriarchs.
Nashville native Julia Sullivan and business partner Allie Poindexter ended the city’s oyster drought when they opened this critically lauded spot in Germantown in 2017. Sullivan’s seasonal seafood is artfully paired with wine chosen by sommelier Poindexter.
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack
André Prince Jeffries has been the entrepreneur behind her family’s 80-year-old famous Nashville hot chicken—a recipe that now has been copied by everyone from Chicago’s Leghorn Chicken to Kentucky Fried Chicken—since 1980. This is where the Nashville hot chicken craze began.
Margot Cafe and Bar
East Nashville fine-dining started at the now-hip Five Points intersection with this then-groundbreaking restaurant. The menu at small this French-inspired eatery changes daily, based on fresh ingredients.