Ask a metro cop about late-night eats 

Who's going to know the late-night dining scene better than the officers out there keeping the streets in order and us wayward fools safe? Not us, that's for sure. So when we happened upon a couple of Metro's finest in CSI insignia at MafiaOza's around 2 a.m. last week, we just had to ask what they consider the best after-hours grub Nashville has to offer.

Without hesitation, the recommendations started flowing. First up was Café Coco (210 Louise Ave., cafecoco.net, 321-2626) just off the Rock Block, one of Nashville's few non-chain 24-hour round-the-clock establishments. "We always get the sandwiches," said a burly crew-cut officer, though the menu features everything from soups and salads to the Canadian cheese-fries variation known as poutine.

According to his partner (tall, broad-shouldered, gray-flecked hair) and strongly seconded, the downtown Riverfront Tavern (101 Church St., riverfronttavern.com, 252-4849), open nightly 'til 3 a.m., is one of the city's best-kept late-night secrets. "Get the prime rib sandwich," he said, adding that's what the sergeants go for. "But really, I've never had a bad meal there." Along with the $8.95 prime rib and a dozen other sandwiches, the menu also includes an unusual local item: French-bread pizzas starting at $5.95.

On this point Metro's finest and Vanderbilt frat kids agree: the egg quesadillas and burritos at the West End Qdoba (2019 West End Ave., qdoba.com, 340-9039) make for a swell 4 a.m. breakfast on weekends, when the joint stays open round the clock from Thursday morning to Sunday night. They also made sure we knew about Jackson's Bar & Bistro (1800 21st Ave. S., 385-9968), open 'til 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and Caesar's Ristorante Italiano (72 White Bridge Road, 352-3661)—but the latter stays open after hours basically for police only. (Woe betide the idiot crook who's casing Caesar's.) Thanks for the tips, fellas.

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