First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for smelling like meat at almost all times. Specifically, meat cooked over low heat for hours on end. That could be my favorite scent in the whole olfactory spectrum, and nothing says “we’re home” to my wife and me after a long trip like the whiffs of barbacoa and al pastor that waft into the car once we get off the highway on the way back to nuestra casa. Not that the smell of charcoal-fueled cooking is confined to the main drag — most weekends you’d think our little neighborhood was on a mission to keep Kingsford in business forever. As a person inherently suspicious of gas grills and propane tanks, this is about as comforting as it comes, like a security blanket made of smoke.
And of course there’s the actual food, rather than just the smell, that’s really the selling point. See, we used to live in, um, a fancier area that had all sorts of trendy eateries with contemporary design and all the bells and whistles that are supposed to scream “Good Food!” But really, the food wasn’t that good — middling at best on most days, more expensive than it ought to be on all days. Oh, but now that we’ve traded in our 500-square-foot yuppie cage for five rooms on the South Side, we’re eating like champs for half the cost. And the options! Even if we’re being super-duper lazy and don’t want to go past the end of our street, we’ve still got a globe’s worth of options: Ghanian over at Musaake, the best chicharron de queso papusas in town at La Papuseria Salvodoreana, grocery stores featuring the fare of at least four continents!
It’s like we’ve died and gone to foodie heaven! Except we’re not dead, and there’s still money left in our bank account. But the best thing about living right next to Nolensville Road, at least for this record critic, food lover and full-time nightclub denizen, is that El Amigo — the convenience store-cum-taqueria on the corner of Elysian Fields — is open after the bars close. In terms of late-night dining, Nashville doesn’t have a ton of options and the South Side even less, but do you even need other options when there are tacos to be had at 3 in the morning? No, you don’t need other options, just tacos. Or maybe tortas, if you’re really hungry. Which is all to say: Thank you, Nolensville Road, for keeping us fed, keeping us happy and keeping the lights on at the legit taco shop so we don’t have to go to Taco Bell after last call. There is nothing worse than a Taco Bell-flavored hangover, so thank you for being you.