Pack your Knives. Nashville Steakhouses are a Cut Above

Nashville is not Chicago. Not when it comes to weather and not when it comes to steak either. But just because Music City isn't famous for steakhouses (or stockyards, for that matter), it doesn't mean you can't find some of the most delicious, perfectly prepared piece of meat at a number of specialty restaurants. In many cities steakhouses are formal affairs, reserved for an old-school atmosphere, where coats and ties are required. Nashville has those, and those are great for a night out on the town, but Music City likes to do things different. So, that means there are some places were boots and hats are welcome, and you can dine casually as you enjoy that rib eye. Nashville's got the classic, like Fleming's; the modern, like Union Common; and even one that owns its own herd of cattle. That would be Capitol Grille. Save up and splurge at one of these steakhouses.


Bob's Steak and Chop House
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This carnivore headquarters, located in the heart of SoBro, in the Omni hotel, serves up mega-sized portions to the scores of visitors to the Music City Convention Center and other nearby properties. A Texas-based chain with a reputation for consistent, if not creative dishes, be ready to order bone-in classic cuts and more. Cross your fingers that your hotel room has a fridge, because you'll definitely have leftovers for lunch the next day. Thanks to an impressive wine list, you can sip glass of red along with you fantastic ribeye. Plan to have a solid meal, with a check to match, and plan on a leisurely evening. You want to savor the service and food.

Nestled inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort, Old Hickory is the ideal special occasion dinner reservation for travelers. The Opryland staff grows herbs for use in the restaurant in the gardens inside the atrium, and touches like that help this restaurant–named after President Andrew Jackson–more than just a hotel eatery. In fact, the restaurant itself looks like an house that just happens to be inside the resort, not a hotel conference room. Service is impeccable and the wait staff will bring you well-prepared steaks, lobster bisque and other standard steakhouse fare. Opryland is a resort, so expect resort pricing. This is not where you go for a bargain meal.

Sperry's Restaurant
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For a bit of nostalgia, this dimly lit Belle Meade original is the place to order a perfect steak with twice-stuffed baked potatoes (and salad bar that locals love). It has been so popular over the years that an exact replica outpost was opened in the suburban Cool Springs shopping district. While it may look like a tavern and be more casual than the traditional steakhouse, the menu is pure classic, with sides served a la carte and a staff (including the kitchen) who knows how to give you exactly what you want. If you're a martini person, don't hesitate to order one here.


Yes, this upscale steakhouse is a chain. But is a chain that specializes in the finest USDA Prime beef selections paired with an extensive by-the-glass wine list (100 different wines). Conveniently located by the Vanderbilt campus, it is a great stop for an evening out when you want a reliable menu, a great view of the Parthenon, and easy valet parking. Seafood dishes include tuna mignon, Australian lobster tales, and Alaskan King crab legs. "Discovery Dinners" provide the option for groups of six or more to taste courses paired with different wines, and "Discovery Flights" offer six different wine flights to enjoy.

Cherokee Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Cherokee Steakhouse

The steakhouse of choice among many locals is Cherokee Steakhouse in nearby Lebanon. The recipe for success is quite simple here: no frills. Really. This is a comfortable and homey atmosphere at a marina, so people frequently come in by boat. The prices are reasonable prices, the teaks are delicious and, as a result, the waits are long. Don't expect a power lunch or dinner at this establishment. This is for a casual dinner with friends and family, all the better if said friends have a boat. Go early, bring a book, and soak up the sunset while you wait for your table.

The Palm

Yes, The Palm is part of a national chain, but this outpost is considered a city icon. Its location, right across from Bridgestone and off of Broadway, is an oasis among the downtown chaos and excitement. The result is a lively environment at both lunch and dinner, but never so live and lively that you can't hear your dinner companions. As a chain, quality control and consistency are job one. The service is among the best in the city. Traditional Italian dishes and lobster round out the menu, but the appeal is the steak. Sides are served family-style and ala carte, in the steakhouse tradition.

It is all in the name: The Southern Steak and Oyster. That's what's on the menu here and that's what you should order. There's even a daily steak special (the Nudie Suit), which can top $100 for an entrée (although it is huge and delicious). Owner Tom Morales has been a long-time favorite restaurateur in Nashville, and the Southern is no exception. The interior is crowded, but comfortable, and elegantly designed. This isn't a quiet, clubby steakhouse; this is a see-and-be-seen type of place for locals and visitors alike. Prepare to wait for a table during peak hours. The wait will be worth it.

The Gulch
Kayne Prime
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When UNC basketball coach Dean Smith left $200 to any player who had ever lettered with him in his will, several planned a trip to Nashville to spend their windfall at Kayne Prime. That's how well-known (and well-loved) this restaurant is. This is a classic, if modern, steakhouse owned and operated by M Street, one of the most popular restaurant companies in town. You can feast on bone marrow, oysters, the ultimate steakhouse salad–the wedge–wagyu, rib eye and more from a room with killer city views. The bacon cotton candy appetizer (yes, you read that right) is a particular favorite. Kayne Prime's prices fit its reputation, so it is primarily a special occasion spot, and folks are expected to dress the part. No flip flops or tank tops here.

Union Common
Photo courtesy of Rob Guimaraes

Union Common is a decidedly uncommon steakhouse. Yes, the chefs know how to prepare a piece of meat just right, to order, exactly as you like (pink or no in the center). But the Great Gatsby-esque vibe, the windows on Midtown, and the intimate, modern ambiance, combined with a menu that takes things to the next level, Union Common is a cut above. Both the steak frites and the burger (yes, a great burger may sound low brow at a steakhouse, but this is worth it), are served with duck fat fries. Locals the affordable happy hour and Sunday jazz nights, as well as the location, which is walking distance from the Vanderbilt University campus, Music Row, and Hillsboro Village.

Capitol Grille
Photo courtesy of Capitol Grille

Hidden in the lower level of the gorgeous Hermitage Hotel, this is one of the best dining rooms in the city, and has been for decades. Capitol Grille takes that whole farm-to-fork thing to whole new level. The restaurant runs Double H Farms, about four miles from downtown. And, the farm has its own herd of Red Poll cattle. Yes, the restaurant has its own cows! These are some seriously sustainable steaks. Most of the vegetables that accompany those steaks are from the chef's garden. So, even though the restaurant is in a hotel, it does not cater just to tourists. In fact, this is one of the most popular spots for locals in the city. You're sure to see power brokers and music stars rubbing elbows. The service is worthy of the folks who dine here.


Meet Margaret Littman

Journalist Margaret Littman is a both a relative newcomer to Nashville as well as an old-timer, having returned to what once was her college town as an adult. 

She is the author of many...  More About Margaret