Downtown Nashville dinner
need recommendations downtown for a Sat nite. staying at the doubletree and want to be walking distance. seafood would be great or any really good regional. we don't have a set budget and want an excellent meal. will be there first weekend of May.
In general what restaurants are not to be missed?
"What's not to be missed" and "walking distance" of your hotel are almost nearly mutually exclusive.
Close to your hotel is Puckett's - casual, ok but not terrific Southern. The best thing on that side of Broadway - and one of the best in the city - is the Capitol Grill in The Hermitage Hotel. It's a nationally-known restaurant that is big on farm-to-table, to the point of having its own farm.
South of Broadway, a bit of a hike, is Etch -- one of the best restaurants in town. Next door to that is The Southern, which I think is OK but overpriced. But it's popular.
A very short ride away are other stellar restaurants, some with national reputations and James Beard nominations: City House, Lockeland Table, Rolf & Daughters, Margot, Eastland Cafe, Kayne Prime, Watermark, Silo. Any of these would be worth your while. Depending on when you are going to be here, Mason's in the Loewe's may be open. Another casual option would be Monell's.
If you want to experience something unique, you could look at The Catbird Seat. You have to book a month (EXACTLY a month, starting at midnight) in advance, though.
Catbird Seat reservations are 30 days in advance, which, depending on the month, could differ from one month (my wife and I made that mistake once).
Etch will be excellent. I would agree with TLF that your best bet, as long as there's no specific budget, is Capitol Grille (and note that it is not the same as the chain steakhouse, but rather a well-respected local restaurant). Sean Brock used to cook there, and Tyler Brown, the current exec chef, has been a James Beard semifinalist the past 2 years. I would say that those are the only two restaurants in your immediate vicinity that I would classify as "not to be missed" right now.
Merchants had my absolute favorite bite of food at the Taste of Nashville at the Cannery Ballroom in 2011, but I must admit that the only time I've actually eaten there was at the bar in the downstairs restaurant, and that was just appetizers/fried food.
Germantown is probably outside the "walking distance" range, but it's still pretty close, so if you're able to get up there, TLF's recommendations in that neighborhood (Rolf & Daughters, City House, and Silo) are all excellent. City House has been my favorite restaurant in town since I moved here 3 years ago, and their chef just received a well-deserved and overdue nomination as a James Beard Award finalist. Rolf & Daughters is pretty new, but is already being considered as one of the city's best. Both are generally classified as "Italian", though Rolf & Daughters is more overtly so in my mind (a southern cousin to the Cal-Ital places in San Francisco, though, rather than a generic pasta with red sauce place).