Owners Jason and Libby Sheer have gotten all the elements right for a happenin’ joint: cold beer, a full bar with 50 kinds of tequila, an easygoing vibe, a cool, roadhouse-decorated interior and lots of outdoor seating. Of note on the menu of snacks and sandwiches are the white cheese and jalapeño dip; the deep-fried hot dogs, which come buried under a pile of slaw; and the six quesadillas.
Entrepreneur Ted Turner has staked a claim on West End with this eatery designed to replicate an authentic Montana bar and grill. This qualifies as a—shudder—chain, but its quality design, warm ambience and commitment to fresh food distinguish it from its corporate brethren. The core of the menu—bison or beef burgers and boneless chicken breasts done 20 different ways—remains the same at lunch and dinner. (Bison is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than beef, and the flavor is meatier and gamier.) There is no freezer in the kitchen, which means that everything is fresh and the meat is ground daily on the premises. Daily-changing blue plate specials present hearty versions of all-American classics, and steakhouse offerings include bison prime rib and a 9-ounce filet of beef. Entirely nonsmoking.
For years, Sole Mio was named “Best Restaurant With a View,” thanks to the panoramic vista of downtown Nashville offered from its perch atop the hill at First Avenue South and Peabody Avenue. That accolade might have lured new customers, but it’s the food that brings people back to the table again and again, in spite of massive construction projects in the neighborhood. In 2004, Sole Mio reopened in a brand-new, larger location closer to downtown Nashville. Diners’ point of view can now be directed inside, to the small bar/lounge area (the perfect place for cocktails or solo diners), the charming dining room, a thoughtful wine list and the same menu of classic and perfectly executed Northern Italian dishes.
Consistently voted Best Indian in the Best of Nashville Readers' Poll, Sitar offers a lunch buffet seven days a week.
This upscale supper club with Texas ties (the brother-sister owners opened the first Sambuca in Dallas) gussies up the gritty Gulch with live music seven nights a week and fine dining created by globe-trotting chef Stephen Shires. His extensive travel and experience in international kitchens of renown packs his menu with worldly influence and discovery. The nightly entertainment is built into the dining costs, which puts entrées in the $20-$30 range.
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.
It's a drinkin' thing at the original midtown Red Door and its East Nashville sibling, Red Door East. These anti-fancy joints pay homage to PBR, Harleys, cigarettes, Polish sausage and Jaegermeister -- get with the program or get yer butt out. Serving lunch daily: customers can chow down on seven different types of steamed sandwiches, including a Reuben, a turkey Reuben, Red Door sub and veggie sub.
On the one hand, there's no pretense at Paradise, which serves fried Spam sandwiches and MoonPies 24 hours
a day in an atmosphere somewhere between NASCAR and Sanford &
Son. On the other hand, it's all pretense, from the duct-taped screen doors, which are self-consciously falling apart, to the menu, which facetiously touts a lobster Thermidor that is never actually available. Like country cutup Minnie Pearl, who
was really a genteel Southern lady in costume, Paradise's menu of burgers and fries is fresh, high-quality grub in trash-food clothing. The sweet potato fries, feather-light with a nearly candied crunch, rival any in town. Meanwhile, the single-wide with cheese, a juicy third-of-a-pound burger swaddled in a fresh sesame seed bun, slides down like a fast-food grease patty -- in a good way -- but without the scary consistency of moist cardboard. The Shady Acre club sandwich piles on generous layers of Boar's Head meats.
In this hyper-designed environment adorned with exotic hardwoods,
mosaic tile, glass brick, supple leather banquettes and glass garage doors that
open onto patios, owner Chris Hyndman does to Hispanic food what he does to Asian food at his nearby Virago: houses it in an architectural showplace and makes it the focus of a creative
After two decades in Green Hills, the Nashville outpost of the Atlanta chain moved its Mexican-inspired menu to Elliston Place, where it serves a roster of fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas and the like, a few steps above standard-issue Tex-Mex. Among the fresh and creative offerings are fish tacos served with mango salsa; grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp with colorful calabacitas of zucchini, red pepper and corn; and sizzling fajitas plentiful enough to feed a family. With a kid-friendly menu, a margarita happy hour and a chic sidewalk café atmosphere, La Paz makes for a versatile dining option near Midtown.
More than a decade ago, serious sushi lovers flocked to Koto, a little hole-in-the-wall south of downtown, to partake of the artistry of chef-owner Hajima Keruma. Sometimes he rewarded their loyalty by creating special rolls just for them. One menu staple is the Wayne Roll, consisting of eel, crabstick, burdock, avocado and a special secret sauce; it’s named for DreamWorks Records exec Wayne Halper. The current Koto is in larger, fancier digs downtown, but each and every piece of sushi and sashimi created under Haji’s flying fingers is still given the same studious, workmanlike attention.
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.
Named for a play on the word flight, a grouping of wines poured for tasting, the restaurant focuses on pairing seasonal organic and humanely raised foods with reasonably priced, interesting wines that people might not have tried before. The theme of flights carries through the menu, with salads, cheeses, soups, vegan offerings and desserts available in threes. Artisitcally composed plates carry enough flavors to intrigue, without the redundant mounds of starch and super-sized hunks of meat that so often lead to food fatigue.
Serving traditional Mexican-American dishes for lunch and dinner, as well as a few stabs at more authentic cuisine; the sopa marina, a seafood soup, sounds divine. The drink menu includes sangria and “monster margaritas.”
The lovingly renovated purple house, a former crack den, now traffics in an inexpensive and harmless addiction: cupcakes. With 10 flavors inspired by owner Mignon Francois kids, Cupcake Collection boasts a line of preservative-free snacks--including vanilla butter cake, red velvet and carrot. Mignon says their "family affair" is about more than just cupcakes. It's about helping her children find financial independence through something they love. The kids man the cash register after school, and, if they clean up, they get to split the spoils of the tip jar (hint, hint). — Carrington Fox