The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Nashville’s best restaurants for a night out

Looking for a nice place to take your parents, friends or significant other? We’ve compiled a list of the best restaurants in town for dinner.
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Zarrin Zahid
A graphic depicting two groups of people sitting around dinner tables, surrounded by string lights and plants. (Hustler Multimedia/Zarrin Zahid)

Ranked as one of the top five best up-and-coming cities by the Milken Institute in 2023, Nashville has become home to people from all over the world. The city’s multicultural identity offers an abundance of different flavors, making the selection of a restaurant rather challenging. Choosing a place for dinner can be a constant struggle for friend groups with different appetites or when trying to find a place to impress a visitor. I’ve compiled a list of nice restaurants in Nashville for a perfect Saturday dinner, serving as a guide to help you pick depending on your budget, favorite cuisine and desired ambiance. This concise yet comprehensive overview will definitely help you find a satisfying spot for your palate.

5th and Taylor

Price: $$$

5th and Taylor will not leave you disappointed. Located in Germantown, the restaurant has replaced the site of an old warehouse with a contemporary interior. Inside, you’ll find a spacious area with a high ceiling and a prominent statue of General Francis Nash in the center. If the weather allows for it, the restaurant also extends to an enclosed patio with an enormous diamond-shaped fountain that matches the exterior bar. The dim lighting in both spaces sets the perfect atmosphere for a night out. As a farm-to-table restaurant, it presents a wide selection of dishes inspired by Southern cuisine that are cooked with fresh and local ingredients. While all the options are exceptional, I particularly recommend the beef cheek pot roast and the crispy Brussels sprouts.

Lyra 

Price: $$

In the heart of East Nashville rests Lyra, a restaurant that fuses original Middle Eastern flavors with modern cooking techniques. The indoor dining area of the restaurant features light blue and turquoise colors, evoking feelings of calmness and relaxation, which contrasts with the explosive flavors of the food. On a sunny day, dining under the shade of the trees that hug the patio offers a unique culinary experience. The minimalist decorations along with the subtle background music create an ambiance that is suitable for a nice dinner with friends or a date. Make sure to try their famous hummus, delicious pistachio-whipped feta and homemade pita baked in their wood-burning oven. Lyra also provides a wide selection of vegetarian dishes such as Imam Bayildi and Smoked Mushroom Borek. For those who like a meal rich in protein, I would recommend the Sumac fried chicken. People from around Nashville want to experience Lyra’s gastronomy, making the restaurant high in demand. Thus, consider making a reservation a few days in advance.  

Xiao Bao

Price: $$

East Nashville undoubtedly hosts the top-rated restaurants in Nashville, and Xiao Bao is not an exception to the rule. Finding a restaurant on a weekend in Nashville without reservations is comparable to trying to purchase Taylor Swift tickets: impossible. Maybe restaurants keep rejecting you because they require a reservation and you are losing hope; if you’re thinking that Rothschild is the only remaining option, think again, because Xiao Bao has a “first come, first serve” policy. Although Xiao Bao is an ideal date night spot, going with friends can be equally fun, especially when reserving their private karaoke room for groups of more than six people. The staff is extremely friendly, and if you pay them frequent visits, they will recognize you and welcome you with an even more cheerful smile. I recommend indulging in their homemade bao buns, available with either lamb or pork belly fillings, and their renowned noodles made of a unique hand-pulled variety, requiring scissors for cutting. Xiao Bao has a constantly changing menu, meaning that revisiting to sample their latest creations will be a fulfilling experience.

Once Upon a Time in France

Price: $$-$$$

If you have a dream of taking pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background and getting dinner at a romantic restaurant in Paris, the restaurant Once Upon a Time in France will transport you to the City of Lights. The petite restaurant’s interior design, skillfully chosen from the intricately detailed ceiling to the floor tiles, evokes the essence of an Auguste Renoir painting. The family that owns the restaurant is fluent in both French and English, so brush up on your French skills and impress your date. As a person who likes well-done steak, I was scared of tartare, but le steak tartare changed my mind. I would also recommend the boeuf bourguignon, which is slow-cooked beef in red wine and vegetables. To have a true French experience, finish your meal with a crème brulée.   

The Smiling Elephant 

Price: $$

If you love Satay, you should give The Smiling Elephant a try. The Thai restaurant is only a seven-minute drive from campus. Surrounded by plants to establish a tropical atmosphere, the restaurant has a laid-back vibe, making it ideal for a dinner with friends. Every day is dedicated to a unique curry at the restaurant, with my top pick being Panang, served on Saturdays. If you are a curry lover, you can refer to their website for a list of available types. The dishes are prepared by being fried and cooked lightly in either olive or grape seed oil, ensuring a healthy and easily digestible meal. No matter what entree you select, make sure to keep some space for dessert, which should be nothing other than their sticky rice with mango.

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About the Contributors
Olga Konstantara, Staff Writer
Olga Konstantara (‘25) is from Posidi, Greece, and studies medicine, health and society and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys going on hikes, buying jewelry and listening to Belinda Carlisle. She can be reached at [email protected].
Zarrin Zahid, Staff Writer and Graphics Staffer
Zarrin Zahid (‘26) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in law, history and society and minoring in Islamic studies. Besides The Hustler, she enjoys writing stories, cooking and watching bad horror movies unironically. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (4)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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V
VU25
2 months ago

What about PF Chang’s?

J
2 months ago

Great article.

G
George Albu
2 months ago

Boujee but in the best way. Great job! 🙂