Whether you approach from the all-American angle of burgers and shakes or look through a beery lens of sausage and suds, Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden is the latest success in a thoroughly modern trend of hyper-focused menus offering very short rosters of extremely good items. At this sister restaurant to Holland House, the short list includes burgers, sodas, shakes and sausages crafted in house, largely from locally sourced products.
Rosepepper features fresh cooked and grilled entrées, as well as traditional Mexican dishes prepared with a light hand. Owner Ernest Chaires calls it Sonoran-style, which incorporates classic ingredients of old Mexico with more international influences that seeped into the northwestern region of the country. While the food lacks some of the heat typically associated with Mexican cuisine, it doesn’t skimp on flavor. Three types of homemade salsa, guacamole made daily, one of the best margaritas in town, 30-plus brands of tequila, moderate prices, an outdoor dining deck and a casual, fun room add up to a successful concept.
Holland House is first and foremost an “epicurean cocktail lounge,” with more than 50 classic and contemporary cocktails for the quaffing. From a rye Manhattan with house-made maraschino cherries to a “Village Reserve” bourbon infused with bacon and Olive & Sinclair chocolate from nearby Riverside Village, the choices can be overwhelming. But there’s plenty of reason to seek refuge in this East Side watering hole, even if you’re on the wagon. Edible enticements lean toward sophisticated bar snacks, such as house-made potato chips drizzled with truffle oil; sliced radishes with butter and salts; and “lamb wings,” a.k.a. flour-dusted and pan-fried chops, served with charred corn-and-soybean succotash, creamed kale and tangy hot sauce reminiscent of Buffalo chicken.
Like the original Bongo Java location, Bongo East delivers a reliable cup of great coffee as well as innovative espresso drinks, fresh salads, panini and breakfast all day long.
With live local music nightly ranging from old-time country to punk and indie rock, The 5 Spot provides a laid-back atmosphere to catch a show. Emphasis is on local, but the occasional touring act can jump on the bill.
East Nashville booster Matt Charette has done a swell job transforming what was a Laundromat and a barbershop into a pub with family-friendly dining that balances the deep-fried bounty of B&F with the fresh school of thought delivered by Wave sushi bar.
An art gallery that shares its space with an architecture firm, Zeitgeist is well-known locally for hosting exhibits of some of the city’s finest visual artists. Director Lain York was a founding member of Nashville’s Fugitive Artists community, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Nashville’s contemporary art history.
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).
A coffee shop for all ages, Fido blends gritty atmosphereexposed brick walls, local art, study hall tableswith sneakily refined dining. Along with a menu of bagels, organic muffins and breakfast dishes, a rotating roster of local and seasonally influenced entrées elevates the cozy coffee shop to an unexpectedly food-focused restaurant. Caffeinated college kids can cram next to families enjoying seared shrimp with white bean cake and mâche, fennel-orange and avocado salad, and peanut butter and jelly. A Hillsboro Village landmark, this former pet shop is a diners best friend any time of day. — Carrington Fox
This is the little Belmont coffeehouse that spawned the Bongo Java empire; it's a great neighborhood coffee joint that serves up some really innovative coffee drinks along with the traditional espresso menu. The Madame de Trois is orange extract, rosewater and coconut milk; the FE is an ice Americano with lemongrass-kaffir lime leaf simple syrup. (Specialty drinks rotate seasonally so check their website for updates.) They serve breakfast all day, as well as a variety of sandwiches and scrambles, and their menu also includes the BYOB option, aka Build Your Own Bomb, where you can craft your perfect bagel sandwich.
A near-perfect metaphor for the local culinary evolution from one generation
to the next is Arnold Myint, son of International Market owners Patti and Win Myint. Having worked in New York with culinary luminary Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Arnold returned to unleash his skills at PM, the Asian-fusion spin-off of his parents' original Thai restaurant. The ambiance is lowbrow, college casual, but the food is plenty grown upseared tuna loin, rice bowl with duck curry and an array of sushis. At lunch, it's Thai wraps, bento boxes and salads -- all delicious, all a bargain. Don't miss the creative cocktails and Arnold's playful tempura donut bites.