Get Fresh With Nashville's Best Seafood Restaurants
By Hollie Deese
Yes, Nashville has long been masters at making perfectly-crispy fried catfish and bowls of hearty shrimp and grits, but there are so many new flavors and preparations to be had these days. For instance, The Original Giant King Fish sandwich from East Side Fish is so "crunk" it was featured in the Road Food column of Gourmet Magazine before they ceased publication. For something a little more upscale and a little less messy, Cascades in the Opryland Resort is just right, thanks to the luxe resort gardens that surround you while you eat. Of course, the people watching there can't be beat either. So whether you prefer your seafood with a side of hush puppies and a glass of sweet tea - and you can't do wrong with the version found at Batter'd and Fried - or with a fine wine and some ambient lighting, Nashville's seafood scene has something delicious to offer. You can even find a an authentic Cajun place in Bro's bringing gumbo and crawfish straight from NOLA to Music City. Sure, many restaurants in town have an outstanding seafood dish or two, but for this list of Top 10 spots, it's their specialty.
Gulf Pride Seafood
Part seafood wholesaler, part casual po' boy and fish taco takeaway, Gulf Pride has been serving meals and filets to happy customers for years. Highlights at lunch include any of the New Orleans-style sandwiches, especially the roast beef , soft shell crab or oyster. Fish tacos, gumbo and bisque in a bread bowl are pure seafood comfort. Catering party trays are available too. But if you know your way around a kitchen, after lunch you can pick up fresh fish whole or cut to order, shrimp by the pound - heads on or off - clams, mussels, scallops, oysters in the shell or shucked, lobster alive or cooked, king crab and snow crab clusters. (615-599-4923)
Bro's Cajun Cuisine
This cajun establishment, owned by a family from Lafayette, Louisiana, has been in business at different locations for over 30 years. Known for it's cajun delights with soul, Bro's is one of Nashville's premier hot spots for authentic southern fare. The short menu includes succulent dishes like crawfish etoufee and steaming hot gumbo. The small size of the building and the primary focus on lunch emphasize how popular the catering part of the business is. Watch for special events and parties, like Mardi Gras parties and the crawfish boils! (615-329-2626)
Blue Moon Waterfront Grille
Fans of waterside dining have been rejoicing since Blue Moon reopened in April 2013 after it was crippled by the May 2010 flood. One of only a few spots in the area you can get to by boat, the atmosphere is most definitely flip-flop casual. Service and food has been up and down in the past, but hopes are high for the new iteration. The fried lobster tail with mango salsa is a delicious way to start your meal when you exit the dock. Fish tacos are a favorite at lunch while steak medallions and pan-fried catfish with sesame seeds, lemon zest and a hot mustard and plum sauce shine at dinner. Brunch on Sunday adds omelets, pancakes and shrimp and grits with a roasted tomato sauce. (615-356-6666)
If you are looking for a romantic experience with some intricately prepared dishes, look somewhere else. If you are looking for big plates of fresh, buttery seafood, this is your spot. Steamed mussels, crab legs, crab cakes, lobster all make the menu, but so does chicken and steak sandwiches. Originally from Philadelphia, the owners came to Nashville with their style of cooking and very own in-house seasoning mix. A second location is located in the food court at Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch, open seven days a week. (615-678-1070)
One of the local outposts of the Florida-based chain - the other is in Murfreesboro - Bonefish is obviously all about... fish. Diners first choose their fish from grilled, sauteed or baked options like flaky Mahi Mahi or melt-in-your-mouth sea bass. Then, it's time to top with a sauce, maybe a classic lemon butter or spicy Chimichurri. It may be a chain, but it does know it's way around seafood. Not that you can't find something to enjoy if you are craving red meat with your meal. The Fontina Chop features a boneless pork chop with Fontina cheese, garlic, prosciutto and mushroom marsala wine sauce -delicious. (615-771-1025)
Batter'd and Fried Boston Seafood House
The casual, pub-like confines of the Batter'd and Fried Boston Seafood House offers good seafood at inexpensive prices. The menu focuses on different-size baskets of fried seafood, though there are a few pasta and nonfried entrees. The Wave Sushi Bar is also located in the restaurant, providing traditional favs like the California roll alongside more creative choices like the Crazy Calvin roll with fried soft shell crab, unagi, avocado, cucumber, radish sprouts an spicy barbecue sauce. Don't leave without dessert - the fried dessert sampler with its delicious bites of bananas foster, cheesecake and chocolate brownies is one of the most decadent on the East Side. (615-226-9283)
Cascades Seafood Restaurant
Cascades Restaurant is surrounded by gardens and waterfalls, which lend a tropical note to Music City's scene. Fresh seafood is key, and Australian lobster tails crown an impressive menu that also includes pan-seared Atlantic cod, diver scallops, swordfish with bacon-rosemary aioli, and halibut with lobster stuffing. Inside the restaurant, Wasabi's offers traditional sushi, sake cocktails, and Japanese beers. From Low Country crab cakes or creamy shrimp and grits and sustainable entrees, such as Gulf triggerfish or beef bistro filet, served with Southern hospitality under the sunny atrium. (615-871-6848)
Puckett's Boat House
This killer seafood restaurant serves up southern fare and features live music in the evening Wednesday through Saturday. Whether it's our open mic night, blues night or Cajun dances, Puckett's Boat House is more than just seafood - but the menu can hold its own. Surf and turf kebobs, seafood mac and cheese, and barbecue shrimp and grits are a few top choices. You can't do better than their fresh Apalachicola raw oysters, Gulf Coast grouper and shrimp, along with wild caught catﬁsh and salmon. Finish it off with one of their famous Puckett's fried pies. (1 (615) 790-2309)
South Street Crab Shack
South Street looks like an old 'Dukes of Hazard" set, so don't expect to find any fancy linen tablecloths! This is the type of place tourists usually eschew because its looks aren't too enticing. In the warmer months, locals jockey for one of the tables close to huge retractable glass doors. In the winter, the preferred tables are situated around the cozy fireplace. South Street serves up Gulf-style cuisine that includes down-home red crawfish boils and oyster po' boys, fried pickle spears, fried catfish and, of course, delicious Nashville-style ribs. (615-320-5555)
About Hollie Deese
Hollie Deese is a Nashville-based writer who has spent the past 10 years falling in love with the sights, sounds and flavors of Music City. Hollie has 15 years experience as a writer and editor for regional and national publications, including The Tennessean, USA Today, Nashville Interiors, and the Nashville Ledger.
Read more about Hollie Deese here.