According to Nashville’s NewsChannel 5, “The burger scene in Middle Tennessee is booming” in 2018, with local, national and regional chains — from Shake Shack to Hugh-Baby’s — planting new restaurants with speed and precision.
It’s hard to argue with the premise: If you follow Nashville restaurant news, it sure does feel like six new restaurants open every week, and three of ‘em are burger joints.
The network thinks this particular trend is indicative of something broader, too — that “development isn’t slowing down any time soon” here in Nashville.
Whether that’s true or not (and we tend to think Nashville still has the room and momentum to grow), we can at least agree that Nashville is a bona fide burger destination, whether you’re looking for greasy-spoon simplicity or artisan creativity.
For burger aficionados, that brings its share of fun and challenges — with so many places in Nashville to grab something on two buns, what’s really worth the time and cash?
Burger beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re looking for direction from some longtime Nashvillians who eagerly explore new additions, here are five Nashville burgers that we steadfastly stand behind, some newer, some more seasoned:
A newer addition to Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, upscale restaurant Geist is housed in an old horseshoeing shop, and full of industrial design touches — exposed brick, old wood and the like. The menu, meanwhile, includes a host of fine-dining options (braised octopus, fresh maltagliati pasta), but we swear by their burger, drowning in melted cheddar on a potato bun. It’s simple, affordable ($13) and perfect.
311 Jefferson St., Nashville
Hugh-Baby’s BBQ & Burger Shop
A growing hometown chain, Hugh-Baby’s is the burger-centric concept from g Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint’s Pat Martin, built on fresh ingredients, simple recipes and Southern hospitality. The burgers, dogs, BBQ and more are all good, but the cool thing you can really only grab at Hugh-Baby’s locally: classic Mississippi Slug Burgers, made with pork and soy meal, and deep fried. They’re a hearty, home-y treat, only available on Fridays, and totally worth the trip to either location, in Midtown or West Nashville. (Word on the street is they’ll have an East Nashville one before too long, too.)
3001 West End Ave., Nashville; 4816 Charlotte Ave., Nashville
Gabby’s Burgers & Fries
Owner Doug Havron named his Nashville burger place after his daughter, Gabriella, and the family vibes are ever-present in his Wedgewood-Houston restaurant, full of smiling staff in “Living the Dream” T-shirts. Since 2009, they’ve been delivering unfussy but high-quality burgers made with grass-fed beef, cooked medium, from classic patties with American cheese to burgers smothered with homemade chili. Really feeling like doing it up? Their house-made milkshakes aren’t too shabby either.
493 Humphreys St., Nashville
The name isn’t meant to be new-Nashville cute: This local burger joint, serving since 2013, is in a tiny shack along Riverside Drive in East Nashville, with a “Luxurious Dining Area” (a screened-in, unattached deck) right off the road. Easier not to get all fancy when you’re eating Grillshack burgers anyhow — they’re so well-made and juicy, it’s almost advisable to bring a lobster bib along. Their fresh fries are among the best in the Nashville biz, too.
1000 Riverside Dr., Nashville
You don’t tend to go to dive bars for their cuisine, but not all dive bars are Dino’s — an East Nashville institution that’ll never let anyone in need of a late-night cheeseburger fix down. The bar offers all kinds of diner-y food, from Frito Pies to fried fish sandwiches. But folks come from around the city for the burgers, flat top-cooked to perfection, sat inside a classic plastic red basket, served with crispy fries and, if you like, alongside a cold domestic beer.
411 Gallatin Ave., Nashville
People have passionate, passionate feelings about this topic, so feel free to call us wrong — what are your go-to Nashville burgers?
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