Few restaurants without a rodent for a mascot and a phalanx of ski-ball machines put on a better face for families with kids than Pie in the Sky Pizza, where owners Kelly and Caroline Black have looked at pizza from the point of view of a kid as well as an adult and come up with a recipe for creative spins on pizzeria classics, as well as a few low-tech distractions to pass the time until the food arrives on the table. Come later after the kids are asleep and enjoy the beer and bar selections.
A casual, come-as-you-are kind of place, Jackson’s pulls a youngish crowd attracted to its comfortable outdoor seating corral, moderately priced food, small but well-selected wine list, boutique beers and fancy cocktails. The extensive menu offers something for everyone: salads, pastas, burgers, spinach wraps, paninis and bistro dinner plates such as chipotle pork chops and steak frites. Signature appetizers include superb fried green tomatoes, andouille pups and buffalo feathers (pulled white chicken meat flash-fried in hot sauce).
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.
Of all the restaurants and bars that have opened within gawking distance of the cavorting nudes in the Music Row Roundabout, Dan McGuinness Pub feels the most substantial. “Hearty” describes the food at this Irish-themed bar/restaurant, which does nothing to disprove the theory that the Irish national cuisine serves primarily as a base for extended alcohol consumption. The menu offers plenty of suitable examples of pub fare, and from happy hour on, the place is packed butt to butt with youthful and rowdy denizens of Music Row. Best of show goes to the corned beef sandwich, a generous heap of spicy and admirably non-fatty sliced meat, topped with melted Swiss on thick slices of toasted marbled rye.
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.
Three Crow Bar covers one corner of East Nashville’s Five Points, with an exuberant clientele that reflects the diversity of the neighborhood. Catch a game on one of the televisions, join in on the weekly and highly competitive team trivia contests, shoot a game of darts, or just shoot the breeze at the bar. Steamed sandwiches on the limited menu.