The best breakfast in Nashville

Brunch gets the bulk of the glory, but Nashville restaurants are grinding out grade-A breakfast every morning, too, in every corner of the Music City. Biscuits, breakfast tacos, bagels and everything in between — picking the best breakfast in Nashville isn’t easy. Which is why we’ve made a long list.

Below, we’ve broken down our best Nashville breakfast restaurants by fast-casual and full-service joints, so whether you need to grab something to go or are looking for somewhere to settle in for a breakfast meeting, you’re covered.

Fast Casual & To-Go: 

One to Go at Sweet 16th // photo: Kate Burnier

One to Go at Sweet 16th // photo: Kate Burnier

Sweet 16th 

As “New Nashville” sweeps through our neighborhoods — with hotels, mixed-use developments and short-term rentals popping up all over town — it can feel like parts of Old Nashville are slowly leaving in favor of the new. Sweet 16th is one spot that reminds us of the best of Old Nashville. The convivial atmosphere of East Nashville neighbors descending on the corner bakery hasn’t changed since Sweet 16th opened in 2004, and owners Dan and Ellen Einstein greet the regulars by name. The single breakfast sandwich on the menu, One to Go (which was named among the best breakfast sandwiches in America by Food & Wine magazine), is a cheese- and chile-laden slice of egg casserole served on a cheddar cheese scone. It’s also one of the best Nashville breakfast deals on this list, only setting you back $2.95 — the same price of One to Go when it debuted on the menu 12 years ago, too. Some things, turns out, are perfect just the way they are. 


Yeast Nashville

The Texans among us know and love kolaches, a Czech pastry that has birthed several American variations over the last century. Traditionally sweet and filled with prunes, poppy seeds, or cream cheese, these pastries are just as delightful in savory iterations. Some are stuffed with sausage, jalapenos and cheese; others are topped with cinnamon apples, blueberries or cream cheese. Both versions are made with the same semi-sweet yeast dough, but purists will likely remind you that a kolache (pronounced “ko-LAH-chee”) technically describes only the sweet pastries, while the popular sausage-stuffed Tex-Czech hybrid creations are known as a klobasnek (the plural is klobasniky). East Nashville’s Yeast Nashville isn’t one to get hung up on technicalities, offering stellar versions of both the sweet and savory pastries, and minting the sausage and cheese concoctions as “Tex-Czech kolaches.” If pronunciation worries you, the tried-and-true “point to order” method works here, thanks to a large glass pastry display at the register stocked with kolaches (along with an array of other Nashville breakfast options, from muffins and cinnamon rolls to bread pudding). 


D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe

D’Andrews calls itself a modern bakery with a Southern sensibility, so in addition to fresh-baked pastries, the downtown Nashville spot also offers a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and other scrumptious bites. D’Andrews serves all of its Nashville breakfast sandwiches on a heavenly, house-made focaccia bun, and adds on the freshest ingredients (free-range eggs, Berkshire bacon, and homemade roasted tomato mayonnaise included). Executive chef and owner David Andrews honed his craft in New York for more than a decade before returning home to Nashville to open his own bakery, filling a void in the Downtown market. The bacon, egg and cheese — a classic beloved by many a New Yorker — doesn’t disappoint, but for the healthy-minded among us, egg whites can be substituted on any sandwich. Try that route with the Veggie Egg, a delightful combination of roasted tomatoes, avocado, white cheddar and eggs with roasted tomato mayo. 


Loading Dock 

With locations in growing Wedgewood-Houston (closed Sunday) and in East Nashville (at the Porter East complex), the Loading Dock is a minimal-chic, casual cafe. Community drives everything there (including the decor — work from local artisans carries throughout the space), and the menu is small and approachable, offering breakfast classics at an approachable price point. The burrito (a knockout) only sets you back $6, but if you’re feeling creative, opt for the build-your-own breakfast sandwich, and choose from a number of different cheeses, breads and breakfast meats to concoct the Nashville breakfast of your dreams. 


Red Headed Stranger 

While not explicitly a breakfast joint, exactly half the tacos on the menu at this Tex-Mex eatery contain eggs — and that’s enough to secure a spot on this list. Led by executive chef Bryan Lee Weaver of Butcher & Bee, the restaurant opened in July in the McFerrin Park section of East Nashville, and has steadily been luring patrons with fresh tortillas and queso, eight inventive tacos, and a permanent home for the beloved Green Chile Cheeseburger (once only available from the Chef’s Bar at the Bee). Don’t sleep on the RHS Burrito, stuffed with chorizo, green chile sauce, scrambled eggs, pepperjack cheese and crispy hashbrowns. For a truly unique breakfast taco, go for the #4: a fresh tortilla with a base of refried beans, topped with melty mushrooms and jack cheese, plus a sunny side up egg. Don’t be afraid to break the yolk, a roll of paper towels sits on every table at this ultra Instagrammable yet still casual spot. If scrambled is more your style, opt for the #1, #2 or #7. Can’t decide? They’re only $3.50 each, so you can test out all four breakfast tacos for under $15.


Proper Bagel 

Proper Bagel opened on Belmont Boulevard in 2016, filling a bagel- and bialy-sized hole in Nashville’s breakfast lineup. The crisp, black and white space feels modern, while everything happening behind the counter is decidedly old school. All the bagels and bialys are mixed from scratch, kettle boiled then baked in a stone-lined oven daily. In the cases, you’ll find an incredible assortment of cream cheeses (ranging from strawberry shortcake to bacon jalapeño) and a selection of fresh, smoked fish, flown in from Brooklyn. The menu includes a number of Breakfast Bagel Sandwiches, in addition to an entire section dedicated to toast served on house-baked challah bread. Through a partnership with fellow locals Barista Parlor, Proper Bagel offers locally roasted coffee, made even better with an array of house-made syrups, like Lavender Honey and Salted Caramel. 



Full Service:

Fruit Tartine at Marche // photo: Kate Burnier

Fruit Tartine at Marche // photo: Kate Burnier

Marche

The breakfast-and-lunch sister restaurant to chef Margot McCormack’s Margot Cafe & Bar, Marche opened its East Nashville doors in 2006, and quickly became—and has remained—a favorite with locals. Its fresh, ever-changing menu typically skews a bit more breakfast than lunch, but all of its offerings highlight seasonal produce in familiar forms, like an omelette or a frittata, or sweet and savory crepes. Perennial standouts include the Croissant French Toast (a half order is just $5.50, but if you’re planning to share, order the full) and the Croque Madame. 


Kitchen Notes

Kitchen Notes may be best known for its Sunday brunch buffet, but don’t sleep on breakfast, served daily from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Conveniently located in the Omni Hotel, which offers free valet parking for dining guests, the restaurant is a perfect spot for a breakfast meeting or grabbing a bite before exploring the connected Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. A slew of biscuit sandwiches start off the menu, and we love Kitchen Notes’ buttermilk biscuits, but venture a bit further down the page and you’ll also find divine Avocado Toast: whole grain bread topped with avocado, a mild local goat cheese from Noble Springs Dairy, pickled fresno chiles, power greens, and a sunny up egg. For those who want a true taste of the South, order the Nashville Hot Chicken and Waffles, served with a sunny up egg and whiskey-infused maple syrup made with Tennessee’s own George Dickel No. 8.. 


Midtown Cafe 

Another great spot for an early breakfast: Midtown Cafe, open Monday through Friday at 7 a.m., and proudly serving the Nashville community for over 30 years. A standard in both consistency and quality, the Midtown Cafe breakfast menu features a variety of classic, creative dishes. Look for standouts like the Challah French Toast topped with Jack Daniels peach compote and whipped cream, or the Fried Chicken Biscuit served with two eggs your style, country-style sausage gravy and Alabama White Sauce. Extra picky? The build-your-own omelette option allows guests to choose between six cheeses, seven vegetables, and six different meats.


Monell’s 

Germantown spot Monell’s serves a justifiably storied country breakfast, beginning at 8 a.m. daily. For $16 a person, guests are privy to some of the best Southern meats and sides, all presented at a tantalizing (if almost relentless) pace. Food is served family-style and passed around the table clockwise (to your left), allowing guests to select from plates as they pass. Smoked sausage, bacon, country ham, biscuits and gravy, fried apples, pancakes, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, cheese grits, corn pudding and Monell’s famous skillet-fried chicken will all circle by. Even if your table manages to finish off one of the generous plates, simply ask, and your server will happily replenish.


The Southern Steak & Oyster 

A mainstay Downtown Nashville dining option for lunch and dinner, The Southern offers a breakfast worth waking up early for, Monday through Friday, starting at 7:30 a.m. The menu starts with three dishes: Your Way, My Way and The Highway. Your Way comes with two eggs, cooked to order, and a choice of breakfast meat served with a choice of potatoes or stone-ground grits, and toast or biscuits. My Way deftly combines brown butter linguine, bacon lardons, goat cheese and pine nuts, all topped with two sunny side up eggs. Simply divine. The Highway features the delectable combination of fried chicken and waffles, drizzled with Vermont maple syrup. The rest of the menu rounds out a solid selection of breakfast classics, including buttermilk pancakes, breakfast tacos, a couple omelettes, and house-made granola. On spring/fall days, make sure to snag a spot on The Southern’s patio — it’s a surprisingly secluded break from downtown’s bustle. 


Bonus Entry: if you’re in search of an al fresco breakfast option in Nashville, look to Liberty Common, serving brunch every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The downtown restaurant’s sidewalk patio extends Southern-brasserie charm to the exterior, with crisp whites and blues throughout the furniture and finishes. It’s worth a trip alone for the cinnamon roll, which has earned itself an almost cult-like following, and usually sells out before noon.


Looking for a way to explore the best food in Nashville? Walk Eat Nashville walking food tours make it easy — covering East Nashville, Midtown and SoBro/Downtown, each tour includes tastings at multiple restaurants/shops and behind-the-scenes interactions with chefs and owners. Learn more about Walk Eat Nashville food tours.

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