Nashville restaurants: 8 super soups for when the weather in Music City gets 'chili'

Cole Villena
Nashville Tennessean

Feeling chilly on a crisp fall day? Ordering a warm bowl of soup is a no-brainer.

Deciding where to order — or even what kind of soup to try — presents a great challenge. As Nashville's culinary scene expands, new soups pour in from around the country and the world.

Here are eight spots to try great soup in Music City.

Chili: Varallo's

A bowl of chili is seen at Varallo's Chile Parlor & Restaurant Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

It's been chili weather for over a century at Varallo's, which stakes a claim as the oldest restaurant in Tennessee. The restaurant is nestled into a downtown spot near The Arcade and serves the same chili recipe that founder Frank Varallo Sr. first sold from a "chile cart" starting in 1907.

239 4th Ave. N.; 615-256-1907; varallosrestaurants.com

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Tortilla: Mas Tacos Por Favor

Are you craving fewer tacos, please? Of course not, but it's still worth switching up your order at East Nashville's favorite taco joint to include their tortilla soup. Ours was served in a humble Styrofoam cup and paired perfectly with the shop's street-style tacos.

732 Mcferrin Ave.; 615-543-6271; facebook.com/mastacos

Rare beef pho topped with zestly herbs at Love, Peace and Pho.

Pho: Love Peace & Phở

Phở is a rice noodle soup loaded with herbs and protein (usually beef or chicken). Nashville has several great Vietnamese spots with their own take on the beloved national dish, but we especially loved Love Peace and Phở's rare beef phở. The broth here is cooked overnight and slightly sweet, so ask for chili paste and slowly mix in if you want some added heat.

2112 8th Ave. S.; 615-942-0045; lovepeaceandpho.net

A Miso ramen is ready to be served at Otaku Ramen.

Ramen: Otaku Ramen

Ramen is beloved as a quick, inexpensive meal that fuels America's college kids, but good luck replicating Otaku Ramen's noodles in your dorm room kitchen. The bowls here are pricey —we paid $18 for our meal in October 2021 — but are packed with delicious ingredients such as Korean barbecue pork, fresh vegetables and miso.

Gulch location: 1104 Division St.; 615-942-8281; otakuramen.com

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Lemon artichoke: Midtown Cafe

Midtown Cafe's lemon artichoke soup has been one of the signature flavors of downtown dining in Nashville since the 19th Avenue eatery opened in 1987. The soup is tasty and full of citrusy flavor, but it's light enough that you'll have plenty of room for a full meal during your next business lunch or date night.

102 19th Ave S.; 615-320-7176; midtowncafe.com

Super spicy ramen: Shokku Ramen

Sometimes you want to warm your bones with a bowl of piping hot noodles. Other times, you want a blazing hot bowl that's so hot, you need to sign a waiver before eating it. If the latter is your speed, try Shokku Ramen's Shinigami Challenge. Challengers have eight minutes to down 24 ounces of broth and three pounds of noodles, with finishers receiving a free meal and a photo on the shop's "wall of warriors."

2127 Belcourt Ave.; 615-913-3922; shokkuramen.com

Matzo ball: Shep's Delicatessen

One of Nashville's new kids on the block, Shep's aims to bring the flavors of a New York-style Jewish deli to East Nashville. The store's matzo ball soup is loaded with big white dumplings that add some heft to the warm, comforting broth.

1000 Main St.; 615-252-5700; shepsdeli.com

The Gumbo Bros.

The Gumbo Bros. first opened in the Big Apple but serves food from the Big Easy. Their location in the Gulch is a haven for soup lovers, especially if you order a three-bowl "gumbo flight" to try all three of their seafood (our favorite), chicken and sausage, and vegetarian gumbo.

505 12th Ave. S.; 615-679-9063; thegumbobros.com

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Cole Villena covers business at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network — Tennessee. Reach Cole at cvillena@tennessean.com or 615-925-0493. Follow Cole on Twitter at @ColeVillena and on Instagram at @CVinTennessee.