The entrées at this rare vegetarian-only Indian spot are divided into five main categories: dosa, uthappam, curries, pullavs (rice dishes) and specialties. If you’re a first-timer and overwhelmed by the choices, head straight to the specialties such as malabar adai, a mixed-lentil pancake with vegetables and cilantro on top, and pesarat uppma, a lentil-flour pancake filled with cream of wheat seasoned with onions and chilies. Among the appetizers, the samosa chat adds a twist to the traditional Indian potato turnover, chopping it up and covering it with onions, a sweet-and-sour sauce and fried noodles. Try iddly Manchurian, fried rice patties in a ginger-garlic-soy sauce, or potato bonda, similar to a knish, which provides a great vehicle for sampling Woodlands' assorted chutneys and addictive tamarind sauce. An ever-changing lunch buffet ($6.95) is a great way to sample the expansive menu. The minimal interior design might benefit from a little more investment, but any shortcomings in Woodlands’ decor are far outweighed by the exquisite and varied flavors that abound.
This family-run tradition is the longtime love of bluebloods and blue collars alike, serving standard meat-and-three fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The tiny Indian buffet in the evolving Farmers' Market lives up to its name, Swagruha, which means "our home." The friendly owner, Siva Pabuluri, tends the counter, where she dishes up generous portions of Southern Indian delights, such as butter chicken, goat curry and samosas. Seven bucks ($6.49 pre-tax) buys all the food Siva can pile onto your plate and a drink. As expected, the heat index on the buffet hovers near the least common denominator, with the exception of the lentil soup, which is exceptionally delicious and worth a trip to the market on a cold day. — Carrington Fox
One of the more popular dishes here is the pineapple fried rice, which is prepared by cooking the rice inside the hollowed tropical fruit.
Four generations of Nashvillians have settled into the cozy booths of this family-owned, diner-style restaurant opened in 1945 by John and Evelyn Rotier. Not many places offer American cheese and crackers as an appetizer anymore, but Rotier’s does. Meat-and-three “Night Plates,” short orders from the fryer, and head lettuce salads are staples, but the most popular item remains the patty melt: a cheeseburger served either grilled or on French bread. Special mention goes to the best milkshake in Nashville. It’s the real deal, delivered icy-cold in the classic aluminum milkshake cup.
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.
One of Nashville’s most enduring meat-and-threes, the Pie Wagon originally opened in 1922 in a trolley wagon behind what was then the main post office (now home to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts). In 1979, it moved to 12th Avenue South. Carol Babb bought the business in 1990 and has since built a loyal clientele, recently relocating around the corner to Division Street, where the restaurant continues to serve meat-and-three classics, along with hot chicken on Tuesdays and low-carb selections for the health-conscious.
Nightlife impresario Ben Goldbergs speakeasy is an unexpected legacy for Governor Malcolm R. Patterson, who pledged to support the temperance movement but ultimately vetoed restrictions to sell alcohol in the state in 1909. By elevating cocktails to the level of cuisineputting Demon Rum on a pedestalPatterson House encourages the slow sipping and appreciation of well-mixed drinks. With at least three vest-clad bartenders serving 30 guests at the bar, the staff appears to have limitless attention for every patron. That's important, because you'll want to ask a lot of questions. For example: What is in all those tiny apothecary-style brown bottles with the eyedroppers? (House-made bitters.) Why are you cracking an egg into my drink? (To make it frothy.) And what, in the name of all that is salt-cured, is a bacon Old Fashioned? All that sipping needs some sop, and Patterson House delivers a sturdy, playful roster of snacks, along the lines of deep-fried sweetbreads, fig-and-prosciutto flatbread and The Elvisa sandwich of peanut butter, bananas and bacon.
Take one step inside the gleaming burrito bar at Five Points and it's clear the owners have thought about the enterprise from a lot of angles. The signage is professional and polished and the combinations of flavors in the burritos and so-called "ques-ideas" are inventive--with fresh mash-ups such as the Heart of Dixie (sweet potatoes with caramelized Vidalia onion, coleslaw, sweet corn relish, black beans, Monterey Jack cheese and bacon) and the Plymouth (ground turkey, dried cranberries, black beans, spinach, brown rice, cheddar and a subtle sweet poppyseed dressing). With chic stained concrete floors, biocompostable flatware, sleek blond wood finishes and jewel-toned walls and seat coverings, Nuvo Burrito is a well-packaged, casual spot to fritter a way a lunch hour. Especially if you like burritos.
Corned beef on rye. Whitefish. Latkes. Knishes. Chopped liver. Noodle pudding. Food just like mama used to make, if your mama was Mrs. Lowenstein, or Mrs. Seinfeld. Noshville isn’t just a clever play on words—“nosh” is Yiddish for “eat”—it’s a genuine New York-style delicatessen featuring 6-inch-high sandwiches and classic Jewish comfort food in a casual, cosmopolitan diner setup. Two locations.
This ambience-free—but delicious—Vietnamese eatery is nestled in the shadow of a bygone Kroger, with a newer location in Cool Springs. Our favorite dishes include pho (traditional rice noodle soup), banh xeo (egg pancakes), goi cuon (vegetables, pork, shrimp and vermicelli wrapped in rice paper) and various noodle and rice dishes with a startling list of unusual proteins, including soft tendon and tripe. Vietnamese cuisine places a premium on fresh flavors of lime, mint, cilantro and basil, which accompany many dishes in bountiful green bunches. Try the fresh-squeezed lemonades and sweet, creamy coffees.
Margot McCormack of Margot Café renown strikes another chord with Marché Artisan Foods, a gorgeous lunch-and-grocery spot that could have been plucked from the high-rent sidewalks of New York or London and set down in the alley behind Margot Café. Floor-to-ceiling windows douse the dining room with sun, which gently bounces from marble tabletops to potted palms, to glasses of Perrier, flutes of champagne and bottles of Orangina. In this light, a palette of edible colors—salmon pink, beet purple, arugula green—splashes across the canvases of oversized white plates. With regional products and French- and Italian-inspired flavors consistent with the big-sister restaurant next door, Marché offers a lighter opportunity to explore McCormack’s creative and vegetarian-friendly style—during the day. A simple breakfast roster includes breads, pastries, cheeses, cereals and French toast, while lunch revolves around soups, salads, omelets and sandwiches, with an occasional quiche or crêpe thrown in. Like at Margot, the menu changes with the chef’s whim and the availability of seasonal products.
A decade ago, native Mexican Carlos Yepez opened a Hispanic market with a small grill to serve the growing south-of-the-border population. Soon word got out about his soft tacos served with chopped meat, fresh cilantro, a slice of avocado and a wedge of lime. Gringos flocked, La Hacienda expanded, then expanded again. Now it is a full-service restaurant, and though it has made concessions to its American clientele, it has the best seafood cocktail in town.
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).
The Gold Rush is not only legendary, it is notoriously so. A landmark on Elliston Place, a.k.a. Rock Block, this bar-restaurant is where generations have come to drink, play pool, hang-out then sober up with the equally legendary Gold Rush Bean Roll, a ten-inch tortilla filled with refried beans, cheese, tomato and onion, topped with a bucket of red sauce, cheese, sour cream and a big, fat jalapeño. There are variations, but the original remains the most popular. An extensive menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers and entrées is popular at lunch, dinner and late-night.