Owner Tom Sheffer describes the food at his hot and hopping new West End restaurant as “equatorial cuisine,” with influences from the Caribbean, South Pacific, Latin America, Indonesia and Spain. An extensive menu of fruity, colorful, exotic drinks will start the evening on a festive note. Satay is a Southeast Asian mainstay of skewered, marinated grilled meat, served here with spicy peanut, West Indies barbecue and Argentinean chimichurri dipping sauces. The rest of the food menu spins the eyeballs with unfamiliar words like chivitos (Uruguayan mini-cheeseburgers), salada palmitas (hearts of palm salad) and churrasco (sirloin steak with chorizo sausage). One could make a meal of the appetizers, which isn’t such a bad idea.
The past meets the present in this quaint little ice cream shop, where soda jerks using old-school shake mixers collide with kids surfing on free Wi-Fi. The shop features a large array of ice creamshomemade in Mike's East Nashville outpost behind Sip Café. If the weather's too cold for ice cream, duck into Just Java coffee bar next door, which is also owned by Mike Duguay.
There is nothing little about Maggiano’s, a 15,000-square-foot, 470-seat behemoth that looms over West End Avenue, the largest chain so far to claim a section of that corridor. Owned by Dallas-based Brinker International—the folks who have somehow managed to make a success of the innocuous Chili’s restaurants—Maggiano’s Little Italy feeds big crowds and big appetites from a big, corporate-controlled menu of pastas, chicken, veal and chops, seafood and house specialties, all à la carte. Family-style service is also available for groups, and a private banquet hall seating 152 can fit your entire mob.
Ancient lore indicates that Mongolian barbecue originates from Mongol warriors who cooked dinner on their shields out on the battlefield; the modern concept replaces shields with a large round grill heated to 500 degrees, and warriors with grill cooks. Here is the way it works at Khan’s, a quick, affordable and tasty self-service lunch spot: Customers take a bowl, then choose one of four meats. Bins of freshly sliced or chopped veggies are next, including sprouts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, celery, cabbage and water chestnuts, along with tofu. Pile them on, then proceed to the spice/sauce/oil section. Carry your bowl to the counter, where the clerk will take your beverage order and ask if you prefer noodles or white or brown rice. Your bowl is dumped on the grill, cooked, thrown on the requested starch and handed back to you. Though the small store was consistently busy during our visit, the salad bar was kept filled and cleaned, tables were wiped down between diners, and the harried counter staff was pleasant and helpful.
Housed in the renovated former baggage building of Union Station, this Texas import has plenty to choose from, proudly boasting about 75 beers on tap and an additional 130 bottled selections from around the world. An enclosed large porch offers a comfy ambiance, and the huge main dining room is reminiscent of a Texas hill country beer hall, with vaguely Germanic leanings on the menu: sausage and cheese platters, thick beer cheese soup and a selection of brats.
A 24-hour coffeehouse and café with an outdoor patio, Café Coco is like a childhood teddy bear, a bit worn for the wear, but it’s still a favorite haunt of youthful local musicians and their support teams, as well as caffeine-fueled students on an all-night cram. Vegetarian-friendly.
Founded in 1992, this locally owned bakery has become a landmark on the chicken-salad-sandwich circuit, serving a consistently reliable roster of sandwiches, salads, pastas, pastries and coffees from a growing chain of architecturally arresting stores. Not only is B&C a go-to provider of box lunches and pastry platters, it's the keeper of the beloved Perrin's salad dressing recipe.
With the huge stainless steel vats in the floor-to-ceiling front windows, Blackstone announces its main focus as a brewery. The big bar and its adjoining lounge, outfitted like an English men’s club, are always packed with regulars devoted to the home-brew considered by many to be Nashville’s best. The menu is designed to complement, not compete with, the suds: hot soft pretzels with a selection of zesty mustards, haystack onion rings with fiery jalapeño mayo dip, and wood-burning brick oven pizzas.
This restaurant and brewery started on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga; the Cumberland River outpost has outlasted many of its neighboring eateries downtown by offering a product -- good, reasonably priced pub food and tasty brews -- that does not rely on the fleeting attention span of trend-seekers. California-style pizzas are offered with a selection of unique toppings.