Jul. 31. 2015
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

When you think of the South, you probably don’t think about a lot of healthy options from food to workouts — well you’re in luck that I’m your tour guide today.

Nashville is known as Music City for a reason, music! But this city is home to much more than that, it’s home to Southern style traditional food, tight-knit community, Southern hospitality, a thriving entrepreneurial community, beautiful sights, and great weather. Let’s dive into Where To Get Healthy Food In Nashville and some wellness spots, too.

Is Nashville A “Healthy” City?

I moved to Nashville in 2012 and have made it my home, I adore this city, the people, our community, and our city’s willingness to try new things when it comes to food, health, and fitness here in the South.

There have been many health-focused shops, cafes, fitness places, and businesses that have come and gone in the short 6 years now that I’ve lived here, but one thing holds true, Nashville always supports those businesses!

Southern hospitality is true and it eats, sleeps, and breathes in the tight-knit Nashville community. Another aspect, just the community. I’ve met some amazing, talented, creatives and small business owners in this city that have truly been inspiring and it’s amazing that everyone is supportive of each other. I hope you enjoy your visit to Nashville and hope this guide is helpful to make your time the best here.

Where to Eat Healthy In Nashville

Think you have to just eat BBQ and meat and threes when you’re in Nashville? Think again! We have an incredible, thriving, and growing food scene here filled with James Beard awarded chefs or nominees, an annual Food and Wine Festival where all the best come to play, and a growing health food scene.

If you’re looking for healthy food spots, here are my top picks for the health foodies out there:

  • WildCow: this is the best place for a healthy lunch or brunch on the weekends – to go orders are just as great!
  • Sunflower Cafe: meat + three’s turned vegan and delicious
  • Avo: if you like raw vegan food, this is the place to go — well, maybe the only place in Nashville that offers raw vegan but it’s delicious! They also recently added cooked foods on the menu to expand
  • Smiling Elephant: delicious Thai place in Nashville with a cute indoor dining scene too
  • Burger Up: when I want a burger, I go here. They offer both gluten-free items and vegetarian burgers as well as a great kale salad
  • Bombay Indian: The best Indian food in Nashville in my opinion, we normally get 5 dishes to last us several days!
  • Italia: the only place in Nashville you can get gluten free AND dairy free pizza, it’s also insanely good
  • True Food Kitchen: one of my new favorite places to go for healthy food, drinks, and great atmosphere. It’s been consistently good every time I go!

If you love healthy food, but also are open to trying some amazing, local food that the best chefs dream up, try these:

  • Catbird Seat: this is a dining experience, I recommend going on a special date for two here!
  • Bastion: what seems like just a bar when you walk in, it’s actually one of the best restaurants in town. Chef calls the shots with the menu so adventurous eaters only!
  • Pinewood Social: bowl while you eat delicious kale salad and amazing cocktails, definitely a day to night situation
  • Rolf & Daughters: this is the place to go for a romantic date night and for the best chicken dish I’ve ever had in my life.
  • Henrietta Red: a beautiful spot for happy hour or date night — light, airy vibes with a raw oyster bar if that’s your jam.

Where To Workout In Nashville

We all know how important it is to keep to a routine while exploring and enjoying the city when you’re on vacation! Squeezing in a workout can be really easy when there are so many great places offered here in Nashville from HIIT classes to yoga.

  • Inner Light Yoga: like dancing it out, doing yoga while listening to Taylor Swift? This is your jam.
  • Shakti Yoga: this place is filled with love and community! They have a donation give-back model when you attend classes and it feels like you’re doing yoga at home with your family
  • Hot Yoga East Nashville: if you need to break a sweat with a traditional hot yoga class, this is the best
  • Swell Pilates: they offer personalized classes, reformer, and mat pilates which is great for both newbies and advanced
  • Barre3: they have two studios offered in Nashville and a thriving community devoted to it
  • Other franchises offered in other cities: Barry’s Bootcamp, Orange Theory, and Sweat House.

Where To Get Coffee In Nashville

If you’re jonesing for an almond milk latte, matcha tea, or some type of turmeric milk steamer that you’d likely find in L.A. — you’ll find them here too in Nashville!


All of these coffee places have almond milk or coconut milk to serve along with your latte

  • Barista Parlor East
  • Steadfast
  • Crema
  • Pinewood Social (which also serves Crema coffee) this place is a must-have! Pinewood has a bowling alley, they serve drinks, coffee, food, pool outside, the whole shebang.
  • Cafe Roze: if you’re looking for Turmeric Milk, Matcha, Black Sesame lattes, this is the place for you. They also have an incredible lunch and dinner menu too

Juice and Smoothies:

  • Franklin Juice Co they have an adorable juice truck they drive around as well as their storefront in 12th South which also serves up acai bowls, smoothies, and the best atmosphere to work from on your laptop.
  • JuiceBar is a great spot that has delicious juices!
  • High Garden Tea in East Nashville hands down the best tea spot in the city. You walk into a magical place filled with herbs, teas, sage sticks, and more in jars lining what feels like a little forest inside the city. They recently added a back part with kombucha on tap!

Where To Eat Healthy Dessert In Nashville

  • Las Paletas popsicles! Located in 12th South. It’s the perfect place to get a cold popsicle and then walk around the park right across the street or go shopping down the line on that main street.
  • Olive and Sinclair is also a favorite of mine since they make the best local chocolate.
  • Rolf and Daughter cashew ice cream (yes, dairy-free)
  • KoKo’s Ice Cream: Plant-based, dairy-free, nut-free ice cream is served at this cute little shop. It’s locally made and delicious!

Where To Work Remotely In Nashville

If you’re here on business and need to find the best place to work quietly or if you need a place with buzzing energy, I got you covered!

I started my company, Nutrition Stripped, on a laptop bouncing around from coffee shop to coffee shop in Nashville so I’ve picked the best of the best for you.

Quiet place to work:

  • Steadfast in Germantown
  • Red Bicycle in Germantown
  • Public Library downtown
  • WeWork in East Nashville or downtown
  • Franklin Juice in 12th South
  • Portland Brew in 12th South or East Nashville
  • Ugly Mugs in East Nashville

Buzzing with energy place to work:

  • Any of the three Barista Parlors (East, Germantown, Gulch) always playing very loud music from Ozzy Ozborne to Copeland
  • Pinewood Social
  • Thompson Hotel lobby (if you’re staying there)
  • Bobby Hotel lobby (if you’re staying there)

Explore Nashville Arts and Nature

You’re in Tennesse! Tennessee is lush with parks, nature, trees, fresh air and depending on the month you visit, the weather could be perfect! If you’re here during the winter, our winters are very mild, but if you’re not cut out for heat, then you may want to skip summer visits. Our summers can be very hot 95 degrees F+ with humidity.

If you still want to explore check out these great spots in Nashville:

  • Shelby Bottoms on the East side, it’s quiet and you always see so many animals and nature. It’s completely relaxing and always somewhere I go for peace and connecting with nature
  • Hiking is best at Radnor Lake, which actually has some height and hiking trails to keep you active and busy for hours
  • Centennial Park
  • Public Library
  • State Museum
  • Farmers Market between Germantown and Downtown
  • Frist Art Museum
  • OZ Arts: check out their schedule of galleries and performances
  • Nashville Ballet
  • Nashville Symphony
  • Arrington Vineyard: the best place for a romantic picnic in a mini “wine country”
  • Sounds Stadium: for a great baseball game — the Band Box offers quinoa salad, not your typical baseball food

Where To Shop For Wellness

With food, the farmers market here in Nashville is still growing and evolving, but we have multiple locations depending on what part of the city you’re in — from downtown to 12th South.

Also, Tennesse is known for their amazing local farmers, so if you have the chance, get to know them at the farmers market! Bloomsbury Farm is my favorite in town or shopping at the local Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

In addition to shopping for food, check out these local boutique shops that you’ll love!

Where To Have A Cocktail In Nashville

First up, as a visitor, you kinda have to go to Broadway. Whether it’s during the day bouncing around Broadway or at night, the music city strip with doors wide open blaring country and honky tonk music. Here are my other favorite spots:

  • The Patterson House: the best cocktail lounge in the city, very sexy vibe, amazing cocktails
  • Old Glory: a fun spot, dark, moody and some dancing towards the end of the night
  • Pinewood Social: buzzing with energy at night, bowling lanes, bar, and booths to sit down and chill, great cocktails
  • Play, Tribe, and Canvas: all three are on the same side of the street towards the Gulch, LGBT friendly spots full of amazing community, dancing, and a fun atmosphere
  • LA Jackson rooftop bar: the vibe of the city is alive here, lots of tourists but fun!
  • Green Hills Movie Theatre: to see current movies that are out in theaters
  • Live on the Green in August- September free concerts in the heart of downtown and it’s amazing!
  • Karaoke…because it’s Nashville and everyone can sing.

Instagrams to follow

Accounts and/or resources that are 100% Nashville-based and are great to check out! Nashville Lifestyles | Native Magazine | N Focus | Nashville Scene | @nashvillefoodfan @nashvillethebeautiful @nashvilleexplorersclub @nashvilletn @styleblueprintnville @experiencenash and yours truly @nutritionstripped.

I hope you enjoy Nashville! Please DM me or comment on Instagram when you check out any of these spots recommended on this list.