Brunch...a sport all its own here in this hyped honky-tonk heaven that I call home -- Nashville, Tennessee. And lucky for local and visiting brunch aficionados, there are more downhome Southern-style biscuit destinations, pancake places, and fancy schmancy new spots serving unique spins on Benedicts or chicken and waffles than you can shake a stick at.
Whether you're looking for a spot to break bread, post-church (please tip well, there's a reputation if ya' don't know) or after a late night spent taking down too many vodka sodas on Lower Broadway or a swanky rooftop hotel bar, it's the way to hang in daylight hours (I'm looking at you, darkness at 4:45pm) or just become a functioning human again (alongside a bag of IV fluids -- shout out to Intravenous Solutions for having me covered all those years).
If you're new to my 15-year-old restaurant cheerleading blog, something you should know (because my mama definitely would have told you this) was that I was an 8 time spelling bee champion in my home state of Alabama. I'm also not organized at all, but one thing that brings me joy in alphabetizing things. My closet and bathroom counter may be a mess but one thing you can count on is my kitchen spices (and DVDs in that era) would be perfectly alphabetized. Growing up as an "only child" with much older siblings, I entertained myself on road trips and vacations by playing "alphabet games" and writing lists upon lists of categorized things in alphabetical order. Fast forward to the surplus of alone time during the pandemic. During my 8+ mile daily walks around downtown Nashville, I'd play a very on brand version of the alphabet game, where I'd walk until I'd find a restaurant or bar beginning with each letter of the alphabet, in order. (with cheats allowed of course for letters like Q and Z because there's only so many Quiznos or Zaxby's to be found).
All this today I'm rolling out a whole A-Z series focused on all things restaurants, in Nashville and beyond. But let's begin with basic brunch, shall we?
The souffle-style omelet starring as this story's cover photo alone really should have been reason enough to lure you to make a reservation - but in case your brunch picker is broken, I'll reemphasize this dish I've never seen before on another menu in the United States (and no, this is not hype food influencer choice of words - just the truth). Its made in the legendary style of Anne Boutiaut "Mother" Poulard, who is said to have created the recipe for her restaurant in Mont Saint-Michel France in the 19th century. This smoky and creamy brunch perfection on a plate is
whipped for 30 minutes then cooked in the fire with lots of butter. It comes served with endive salad and KY rose cheese, and if you're lucky, will visit you in your dreams as it has mine.
B: The Butter Milk Ranch
If you're looking for the best pastries in Nashville, step right on up to the counter case at The Butter Milk Ranch and prepare to be impressed, both in taste and appearance. Alyssa Gangeri is a pastry wizard, and everything she touches here shows her passion for all things pastry -- whether sweet of savory. Grab some counter goodies to go, or have a seat in the dining room for a proper brunch experience in 12 South.
C: Cafe Roze
Lest not we forget Julia Jaksic's adorably cozy East Nashville cafe when brunch hours come a knockin'. The world feels all sorts of heavy right now, but somehow just feels lighter in the bright, airy cafe while feasting on country ham toast, coconut yogurt, and stout waffles with lemon mascarpone.
Dive bar but make it brunch. Dino's is the answer for anyone looking to rage against the machine that is shiny Nashville brunches packed with bachelorette parties.
E: Elliston place soda shop
A Nashville icon with a recent glowup, the vibe might be flashier but the flavors are just the same, reminding me of post-church lunches at my Mama Jo's in Alabama for most of my childhood. *Don't miss the biscuits, they're some of the best in town; and I've vote for any of Miss Linda's pies for president.
F: Frankie J’s
I've not heard another soul speak of this new spot in Germantown yet - but strong pup-friendly patio vibes and inclusivity (alongside some Mexican brunch offerings) are all I need to know.
Pouring one out for my vegan and gluten-free friends seeking a brunch spot all their own, with a whole slew of plant-based options. Expect gluten-free blueberry pancakes, breakfast burritos and tostadas, and even a vegan take on the hot chik'n biscuit on both Saturdays and Sundays.
H: Hathorne, Hearts, and Husk
Why choose just 1 when I can choose a trio of solid spots for a proper brunch? You truly can't go wrong with anything at either of these spots.
I: InterAsian Market & Deli
Not feeling like seeing the brunch crowds or paying Nashville brunch prices? Let me invite you to cruise down Nolensville Pike. You can also shop the Southeast Asian market after stopping for a badass banh mi at the deli that absolutely won't break the bank like most other brunch options.
J: Jane’s Hideaway
Once a beacon of live music and good food just steps from Lower Broadway, Jane's Hideaway slid into new digs in East Nashville and it sort of feels like they've always been there.
We can all expect a wait most any time of day or day of the week to dine at highly acclaimed Kisser, but if you come prepared for that, it's well worth the wait. Available only on Saturday and Sunday for brunch: "Japanese Breakfast" which is miso sake marinated cobia served with three vegetable sides, tamagoyaki, miso soup, and furikake rice.
L: Lipstick Lounge
At brunch, sip on one of their "liquid hangover cures" or shots while stuffing your face with an assortment of gussies of french fries, standard bar snacks, French toast or breakfast burritos.
The gold standard if you're looking for picture perfect decor and elevated diner-inspired brunch dishes with fun names to boot - Mikey and Brian draw the masses with both food and hospitality. Feast on starters like bagel bombs stuffed with cream cheese and scallions, fresh zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, and classic avocado toast before diving in to heftier main courses from a zesty chicken biscuit to their own take on the Kentucky hot brown swimming in cheese sauce. The burger here is also a fan favorite, as are their boozy drinks served Capri Sun style in a bag for full out childhood nostalgia.
Certainly one of the most exciting openings of the last couple of years, East Nashville's Noko cranks out consistently solid food -- and brunch that's true of their weekend brunch offerings too. You can enjoy some of the dinner shareable standouts like hamachi crudo or salmon carpaccio or Caesar salad with incredible kimchi dressing , then dip your toes into their not-so-basic Nashville brunch entrees like "Noko Moko Fries", Japanese chicken and waffles, or their namesake all star breakfast with Filipino sweet sausage and hash browns. Feeling fancy? The "Baller Brunch" has got your table covered with a juicy 42-oz tomahawk ribeye, plus waffles, eggs, and hashbrowns to complete the meal.
"Oh, Ophelia". I claim the right to quote that song as someone who has been greeted with "Hey there Delilah" 4134314 times in her life. Ophelia's snuck up and surprised me during my impromptu pizza crawl this summer, cranking out one of the very best of 41 different pizzas I consumed in a 3 week timeframe. Brunch at Ophelia's is another sleeper hit, with over-the-top brunch boards, meatball sandwiches, and breakfast pizzas and calzones for the downtown crowds looking to sop up their Saturday night spent on Broadway.
P: Pancake Pantry
I had to throw in one "traditional" Nashville spot known for some long lines for good measure. Of coure you kow Biscuit Love and Loveless Cafe, but did you know there's a new Pancake Pantry downtown too?
Q: Queen of Queso.
Q is always a tough one. Since I'm not going to send you to Qdoba or Quizno's for brunch - I'm clinging to Queen of Queso crown for this one. Sopapilla's in Franklin and Satco are two of my favorite stops!
R: Rosepepper Cantina
One of my fondest memories and a shining spot in the hardest year of my life: an impromptu Easter "brunch" spent solo on the patio at Rosepepper. Is it a traditional "brunch spot" - no. But with a solid queso offering with housemade flour tortilla chips for dipping and some solid spicy chile verde pork, it's absolutely a #queenofquesoapproved brunch destination. Plus, l'm sure you can top almost anything with an egg if you really can't survive a brunch without an egg dish.
S: Skull’s Rainbow Room
Take one of the city's best downtown dinner experiences with incredible live jazz and/or burlesque show -- but make it brunch-y. Icon Hospitality did us all a favor adding brunch to the lineup at this historic Printers Alley spot. Only served on Sundays from 10am until 2pm. the menu here is classic but fun, with beignets and avocado toast alongside a "breakfast charcuterie board" to start, plus mains like Shaved Prime Rib Benedict, Shrimp & Grits, and Bananas Foster French Toast for the sweet tooth at your brunch table.
T: Two Hands
Nashville scored an outpost of the community-focused all-day Australian restaurant. From coffee to cocktails and sweet treats like delightful pavlova and banana walnut bread to savory snacks like tomato toast, steak and eggs, and a seasonally-focused scramble, Two Hands offers a tasty menu that's rooted in local sourcing and sustainable practices.
U: Urban Grub
Loved long time among locals as a favorite for brunch and for dinner, 12 South's Urban Grub is maybe the only recognizable part left of the popular stretch of street. Please please please don't take it away. Find housemade sticky buns and pop tarts alongside savory craqb beignets with Alabama-style white sauce for the table plus mains like Benedicts and omelets plus an impressive pastrami melt and standout steak and eggs with bone marrow gravy.
V: Velvet Taco
Did you think I’d make a list without a couple of “queso for brunch options” I think you know me better than that. Dallas-born Velvet Taco has more than one location in Music City where you can load up on not just one but TWO kinds of solid queso: red curry coconut or queso blanco - because in my opinion of course queso is an acceptable brunch entree. If you wanna foray into their spread of creative tacos, you really can't go wrong, but brunch-ish choices include cripsy tots crowned with a local egg, or tacos adorned with hot chicken and waffles.
W: Waffle House.
I said what I said. You can reserve the fanciest rooftop brunch, but sometimes there's nothing better than a proper Waffle House spread.
X: Xiao Bao
Thanks to XB for finally answering my years-long call to bring my favorite Charleston spot to Nashville (and for answering the call of "X" in the alphabet game). For brunch, don't miss their smash burger served on a bao bun - it's absolutely one of the best in the city. For weekend brunch, they also serve up an egg and cheese bao bun and a chicken fried steak with Japanese curry and rice. And the beef fat fries with "fry sauce" are good any hour of the day.
Do you also have two ex-husbands in Texas but still have mad love for the Lone Star state, its people and its food, and the fact that you launched a food blog there? No? Just me? Well, anyway, Yeast made me so happy when I moved (back) to Nashville and discovered they're one of few places cranking out breakfast foods I'd grown accustomed to in Texas, like kolaches (fresh baked here every morning) and breakfast tacos.
A second letter I've decided to choose a dish a dwell on. Let's talk about zeppole, the simple little Italian doughnuts rolled in sugar. And since Nashville is having an Italian restaurant MOMENT (read more on that in my story for City Lifestyle here) - a few great places open during weekend brunch that serve zeppole: Slice of Italy, and Sal's Family Pizza (Franklin),