You searched for:

Start over

Narrow Search

  • Year

  • Section

  • Category

    • Food & Drink Writers' Choice

Food & Drink Writers' Choice 

Best of Nashville 2012

click to enlarge foodmag.jpg

BEST COCKTAIL: BACON OLD-FASHIONED, PATTERSON HOUSE
Music City pseudo-speakeasy Patterson House's life-changingly delicious Bacon Old Fashioned is expensive, but it ain't overpriced. As a cardinal culinary rule, anything edible is better with bacon, and whiskey is no exception. A smooth, smoky mouthful of divine vice, this concoction of maple syrup, Four Roses Bourbon infused with Benton's bacon, and coffee-pecan bitters is as much a meal as it is a libation. —ADAM GOLD

BEST RESTAURANT: THE CATBIRD SEAT
Imagine a minimalist white-cube art gallery where all the exquisite creations — from sculptural still-lifes to vibrant abstract canvases — are edible. That's my memory of the $100 dozen-course meal at the Goldberg Brothers' aerie eatery above Patterson House, a laudable example of bold risk begetting big payoffs in acclaim and popularity. Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson serve only 30 guests at a time around the open kitchen, but their artistic menu — coupled with Jane Lopes' drink repertoire — has a national culinary audience salivating all at once, and reservations backed up for months. —CARRINGTON FOX

click to enlarge Best Cocktail: Bacon Old-Fashioned, Patterson House - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST KITCHEN TEAM: CAPITOL GRILLE
With James Beard-nominated executive chef Tyler Brown at the helm, you know there's some talent in the kitchen at the Hermitage Hotel's illustrious dining room. With Brown flanked by chef de cuisine Cole Ellis and sous chef Richard Neal, you have pretty much a dream team. Not only do they prepare fantastically creative food, but the kitchen brigade also actually works the farm at Glen Leven where they grow and harvest much of the produce they serve in the restaurant — as well as the honey from their own hives and beef from a small herd of heritage cattle. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

BEST FLYTE OF CHEFS: FLYTE WORLD DINING & WINE
When it comes to the front of the house, Flyte boasts one of the most solid staffs in town, many on board since the restaurant opened in 2006. The back of the house has been a bit more flighty. Frequent Flyters hope that owners Scott Sears and Scott Atkinson keep the current trio of top-notch talent — executive chef Matthew Lackey, sous Matt Bolus and pastry chef Tony Galzin — happily grounded in the kitchen at 718 Division St. —KAY WEST

click to enlarge Best New Restaurant (East Side): Lockeland Table - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best New Restaurant (East Side): Lockeland Table

BEST NEW RESTAURANT (EAST SIDE): LOCKELAND TABLE
If the current birth rate continues, by 2015 every resident of 37206 will have a restaurant within a block's walk. After five years building their fan base at Eastland Cafe, partners Hal Holden-Bache and Cara Graham staked a claim on the corner of 16th and Woodland in Lockeland Springs, assuming their familiar positions as chef and general manager. Bonus points for the gleaming wood topping the bar, recycled from the late Melrose Lanes. —KAY WEST

BEST NEW RESTAURANT (WEST SIDE): SILO
After a brief recession-driven lull, Germantown is in the midst of a population boom. Sitting pretty on the ground level of 242 luxury apartments in Vista Germantown is Silo, a stunning wooden cocoon of aesthetic sophistication, culinary artistry and Southern comfort. Partners Clay Greenberg (Virago/Lime) and Paul Cercone (Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery, Charleston, S.C.) and executive chef Larry Carlile (Virago) are ringing the supper bell on their ingenious interpretation of farm-to-fork dining. —KAY WEST

BEST RESTAURANT IN ANTIOCH: KING MARKET
As great as it is to have sparkling-jewel destination restaurants like The Catbird Seat and Capitol Grille luring food tourists to Nashville, we cash-strapped locals are just as happy — or happier — with the panorama of superb cheap eats now filling our lunch plans, from the Vietnamese joints out on Charlotte to the taco trucks down Nolensville. None pleases us more than Sunnee Saysack's marvelous combination Asian grocery and Lao-Thai eatery, where you can down chicken dishes flavored with long peppercorn branches, robust curries or fish-stomach soup with quail eggs bobbing in homemade broth and still get change from a $10. Pick up a 40-pound sack of jasmine rice on your way out. —JIM RIDLEY

click to enlarge Best Restaurant in Antioch: King Market - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST RESTAURANT IN BELLEVUE: CORNER PUB IN THE WOODS
Keep your tapenades, your dishes swimming in balsamic reductions, your organic greens harvested with virgin titanium arugula snippers (left-handed, natch). Just gimme some nachos, some fried pickles, some mini-Reuben steamers, some steak biscuits, some of Murff's crisp-fried chicken tenders — and if it's Smokin' Monday, toss in a platter heaped with smoked wings, ribs and pork tenderloin. Factor in a helpfully broad menu of $4 kids' meals, and you've got a friendly hideaway that reminds you of the undeniable comforts of fresh-made, first-rate pub grub. —JIM RIDLEY

BEST RESTAURANT RECOVERY: BOB WAGGONER, WATERMARK
Chef Bob not only stopped the spin on a revolving door of culinary captains, but since taking the big wheel in January, he has steered the buzz from "What's happened to Watermark?" to "What's happening at Watermark? I had an amazing meal there!" Waggoner — a big personality with huge talent — has brought new buoyancy to the Gulch staple, restoring its once-sinking reputation as one of Nashville's best restaurants. It's smooth sailing on this luxury liner once again. —KAY WEST

BEST ALTERNATIVE TO ARNOLD'S: AT THE TABLE
We love ya, Arnold's Country Kitchen, especially with the mind-blowing addition of Friday gourmet dishes to the regulation chow line. (The City Paper's Steve Cavendish almost has to be carried out on a gurney when he recalls my expression at seeing asparagus on the menu board.) But on days when the line's out the door and every table is elbow to elbow, you can take out-of-towners to Robert Hudson's endearing soul-food joint just a few blocks away at 907 12th Ave. S. Not to be missed: the greens, the meatloaf, the fried chicken, and dense hot-water corncakes that make me miss lunches with my mama at Murfreesboro's Kleer-Vu. Oh, and you'll have to ask about the fried fish — it's made to order, but man alive, is it worth the wait. —JIM RIDLEY

BEST POP-UP RESTAURANT: RIFFS FINE STREET FOOD
Riffs has already earned the deserved reputation as one of the best food trucks in town, and that's a crowded field to excel in. (Chef/owners B.J. Lofback and Carlos Davis have also taken the lead in helping to organize the burgeoning food truck fleet.) And this year, with two sit-down dinners served at pop-up locations at Chestnut Street Crossing and Corsair Craft Distillers, the Riffs team proved they have cooking chops that don't suffer from lack of mobility. These guys are ready for a brick-and-mortar location, and their legions of fans would certainly welcome a fixed address to enjoy their eclectic food. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

BEST (SATURDAY) BRUNCH ITEM: DUCK CONFIT HASH, CAFÉ FUNDAMENTAL
This brand-new French-inspired bistro and patisserie across from The Family Wash serves up some of the best croissants and pastries in town, a pretty mean steak frites and a heavenly quiche lorraine. But the duck confit hash — generous chunks of wonderfully rich duck confit under hash browns and two poached eggs — practically had me moaning in ecstasy. Now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, chef Jamie Watson and business partner Sandra Westerman hope to open for Sunday brunch in November. —JACK SILVERMAN

click to enlarge Best Food Truck: Deg Thai - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST FOOD TRUCK: DEG THAI
Other than the ongoing boom in restaurant openings, the proliferation of food trucks remains perhaps the most encouraging local food trend going. Seeing Deg Thai's yellow-green wagon parked outside the Jackalope brewpub on Friday afternoons has caused us to swerve across Eighth Avenue South more than once on our way home. Fresh ingredients and light, bright flavors make this a winner, but it's the unusual menu that sets Deg Thai apart not only from other trucks, but from Nashville's many good-to-excellent Thai restaurants. Try the lip-tingling Sassy Wings, the award-winning Massaman curry grilled-chicken flatbread wrap, or our favorite, the Toasted Sweet Chili Stir Fry, then wash it down with a Day-Glo colored Thai iced tea. —JIM RIDLEY

BEST SANDWICH SHOP: SLOCO
In the old days, classically trained chefs who earned attention from the sages at the James Beard House didn't open sandwich shops cranking out lunch on an oval bun. But Jeremy Barlow is the new model chef — the kind who scoffs at boundaries and brazenly declares a desire to change the world. (Chefs Can Change the World is the title of Barlow's recent book, based on his experiences making his flagship Tayst a green restaurant.) Barlow's sandwich spot Sloco is an eco-friendly venture: He uses fresh local ingredients and prepares most things in house, baking the buns and curing the meats. That's a good message, but the food is better: Barlow's luscious Reuben is the finest $7 message delivery system you'll ever find. —DANA KOPP FRANKLIN

BEST BURGER: INTERNATIONAL FAMOUS TWIN KEGS
Hot chicken may get all the love (and who's complaining?), but Nashville deserves just as much fame for its plethora of first-rate burgers — not just city institutions such as Rotier's and Brown's Diner, but comparatively recent upstarts like Burger Up, The Pharmacy, Hoss' Loaded Burgers and Gabby's. If it's late night after a show, our favorite is Joey and Gavin DeGraw's terrific downtown National Underground at First and Broadway, a salty, zestily seasoned patty that's worth the $11 price and more. Our favorite, though, is the bacon-topped behemoth at this gloriously eccentric Thompson Lane dive bar, oozing mayo and condiments and juice and piled so high with toppings it can seriously unhinge your jaw. The poker-playing, UT-worshiping regulars will kill us for giving away the secret, to which we say: tough (as we run for it). —JIM RIDLEY

click to enlarge Best Butcher: Porter Road Butcher - ERIC ENGLAND

BEST BUTCHER: PORTER ROAD BUTCHER
The East Nashville food scene just keeps getting better, and the opening of Porter Road Butcher was arguably the neighborhood's dining highlight of the year. Proprietors James Peisker and Chris Carter's hand-cut steaks and house-made sausages, bacon and ham — all available in several varieties — are astoundingly good. And they've literally gone whole hog, using as much of their locally sourced pigs, cows and chickens as possible to create stocks, fats, soups, pot pies and rillettes that are for sale in the cooler. Bonus points: They share their space with Nashville's premier cheese shop, Kathleen Cotter's The Bloomy Rind. —JACK SILVERMAN

BEST AL FRESCO BEER AND BURGER: THE PHARMACY
It's hard not to like a beer garden — snacking and sipping al fresco when the weather's nice is pretty blissful. But The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden goes the extra length, flipping over-the-top burgers (the egg-, ham- and bacon-topped Farm, for one) and serving house-made Würstchen, old-school phosphates and a well-curated crop of German and craft beers in a cozy indoor and capacious outdoor space. —NICOLE KEIPER

BEST DEEP-FRIED SANDWICH: FRIED PEPPERCHEESE, PEPPERFIRE
For a mere $3, the fried peppercheese is both the perfect hot chicken complement and a piece of battered poetry. Although not yet a trend, Pepperfire's ingeniously simple combination of pepper jack cheese and white bread is well on its way to inciting the Nashville deep-fried revolution we all secretly desire. —MATT FOX

BEST NOLENSVILLE ROAD LUNCH DISCOVERY: PIDE, EPHESUS BAKERY AND CAFE The Turkish specialty pide is sorta like a pizza, sorta like a sandwich and all kinds of delicious — it's our new favorite lunch food. With a thin layer of ground lamb, tomato and herbs spread across a divinely crispy crust, how could it not be? The only complaint we have about the version made at this Radnor-area Mediterranean bakery on Nolensville Road is how little room it leaves for their excellent baklava. —SEAN L. MALONEY

BEST TACOS (EAST SIDE): TAQUERIA EL JALICIENSE
You won't be reading about this little Inglewood hole-in-the-strip-mall in GQ any time soon, but don't let the humble exterior or jumbled convenience-store decor fool you: These are the tacos you're looking for. Served up hot and delicious — not to mention very friendly on the wallet — these meat, onion and cilantro-laden tortillas get even better with a touch of the tangy-hot house special sauce, which adds a singular zip to every bite. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST TACOS (SOUTH SIDE): TACOS Y MARISCOS EL AMIGO
We love this Nolensville Road taqueria in a former gas station near the Elysian Fields Kroger at all hours of the day, but they're our mejor amigo after last call. Whether we're in the dining room chowing down on the chorizo tacos or grabbing some tortas to eat at home on our couch, El Amigo is an essential part of our many late-night excursions. Bonus points for those hot but candy-sweet caramelized onions. —SEAN L. MALONEY

BEST PUPUSA: LA PUPUSERIA SALVADOREÑA
A giant red thumbtack on anybody's map of Nashville's best cheap eats, this gem tucked away down a side street beside the Harding Place Walmart makes an art form of the pupusa, a large corn cake patted by hand and stuffed with anything from cheese to chopped pork. The deal-sealers are the chicharrónes, those addictive fried puffs of crunchy pork skin that make Nolensville Road an adventurous diner's paradise (and a cardiologist's hell). Their chicharrón is only to be outdone by their curtido — a sublime, spicy cabbage slaw. —SEAN L. MALONEY

BEST GYRO: SAM'S KABAB GYRO
With the usual tzatziki, feta and tabbouleh toppings on offer, it's Sam's attention to detail that makes theirs a one-of-a-kind gyro. Starting with a warmed-up pita pocket, Sam's builds their sandwich with careful layers of meat, veggies, toppings and sauce that demonstrate a sense of mission rarely witnessed in the sandwich trade. It's a treasure for $5.99 with a side and a drink. —JOE NOLAN

click to enlarge Best “New York-Style” Pizza: Five Points Pizza - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best “New York-Style” Pizza: Five Points Pizza

BEST "NEW YORK-STYLE" PIZZA: FIVE POINTS PIZZA
You can almost hear facepalms resound throughout the city with each new "New York-style pizza" claim. (Our track record: eesh.) Thus plenty of Nashvillians had to swallow their smirks when Five Points Pizza opened in September 2011, slinging an eerily accurate approximation of that delicacy, replete with satisfyingly tangy sauce, crisp crust and the requisite cheese-aloft pools of amber-colored oil. —NICOLE KEIPER

BEST UNORTHODOX PIZZA: HUMMUS PIE, BELLA NASHVILLE
If you think pizza has to be made with tomatoes and cheese, stop by Emma Berkey and Dave Cuomo's flame-fired pizzeria at the Nashville Farmers' Market, where the supple naan-like texture of the char-pocked crust inspired a Middle East-flavored 'za slathered with za'tar and hummus and topped with toasted pecans, almonds, fresh mint and chili oil. While you're there, treat yourself to a house-made lemon or orange soda. It's just like Coke and pizza — but, y'know, totally different. —CARRINGTON FOX

BEST PIZZA BY THE SLICE: JOEY'S HOUSE OF PIZZA
It's called the Doctore. (For some reason, all the slices at the new Elm Hill Pike home of Joey Macca's beloved pizza joint are named after gladiators — the Crixus, the Spartacus, etc.) Behind the counter, staffer Stephanie was heaping baseball-sized fistfuls of what looked like dough onto a slice. What's that? we asked. "Fresh mozzarella," Stephanie replied — then proceeded to assemble a teetering tower of ricotta, still more shaved cheeses, spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil, and sliced fresh tomato. A dunk in the steamer reduced it to six-inch thickness; by the time it came out of the oven, it was a sizzling, gooey, molten puddle of flavors and textures — and miraculously, underneath it all, the thin crust was still crunchy to the bite. Alas, the place is only open for lunch, but still: Hail Stephanie! Hail Joey! We who are destined to dine salute you. —JIM RIDLEY

click to enlarge Best Unorthodox Pizza: Hummus Pie, Bella Nashville - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best Unorthodox Pizza: Hummus Pie, Bella Nashville

BEST HOT CHICKEN VARIATION: THE PRINCESS, BISCUIT LOVE
Unofficial culinary motto of the South: "Everything's better on a biscuit!" Certainly Sarah and Karl Worley, the drivers behind the wheel and in the kitchen of the Biscuit Love food truck, think so. Paying homage to the Prince of hot chicken is The Princess — boneless dark thigh meat, spicy-battered and crispy-fried, topped with a drizzle of local honey, mustard and tart house-made pickles between two halves of plump puffy biscuit. Poultry royalty. —KAY WEST

BEST SEAFOOD: GULF PRIDE SEAFOOD
Watermark serves some outstanding seafood dishes, and Lockeland Table's Carolina Mountain trout with maple bourbon glaze recently knocked my socks off. But when I want a no-frills seafood experience, I make the drive to Gulf Pride Seafood at The Factory at Franklin. After digging into a shrimp or crawfish boil and a great oyster po' boy, you half expect to walk out and find yourself overlooking the gulf from a Louisiana seafood shack. The laid-back atmosphere and reasonable prices make it a terrific family destination, and they have a fresh fish market to boot. —JACK SILVERMAN

BEST PLACE TO EAT OYSTERS: THE SOUTHERN STEAK & OYSTER
The Southern has a way with oysters: fried in a po' boy, arranged in a basket, or perched atop a mash of roasted root vegetables. But purists know that the oyster's pleasure is in its truest nature, and The Southern hits the sweet spot — shucked to order, a squeeze of lemon, a dash of Tabasco, slurped off the shell for a heady encounter with the tongue before a sensuous slide down the throat. Happy ending, indeed. —KAY WEST

click to enlarge Best New Sushi: Nomzilla Sushi Et Cetera - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST NEW SUSHI: NOMZILLA SUSHI ET CETERA
Oh, Nomzilla. How I nom you. Opened over the summer, Nomzilla has become a happy indulgence for those who've discovered the slightly obscure storefront in Edgehill Village. While it's not a full-service sushi bar — yet ... we hear owner Thet Tint, a Myanmar native and Vanderbilt grad, hopes to eventually expand — Nomzilla offers sushi bowls that are pure genius. You can get your rolls tubular, but go for the bowls, like the spicy tuna bowl studded with cucumber strips, slivers of mango and a generous dusting of sesame seeds that is so much more than the sum of its parts. —DANA KOPP FRANKLIN

BEST KOREAN: KOREA HOUSE
Whatever it may lack in ambience (Seoul Garden is brighter and bigger) or focus (So Gong Dong specializes in soondubu stew) or crossover appeal (Gloria's branches out to Korean tacos), Charlotte Avenue staple Korea House more tha makes up for in flavor and homespun charm. Given their sure hand with hearty grilled meats like bulgogi and kalbi, flavorful noodle and soup entrées, and a varied assortment of banchan to accompany every meal, it's hard to go wrong when you take it to the House. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST BARBECUE EXPANSION: MARTIN'S BAR-B-QUE JOINT, MT. JULIET
If you search on Yelp for "barbecue in Mt. Juliet," the response is "a rocky place where your seed can find no purchase." (Well, actually it says "Whitt's," but that's the same thing to me.) Fortunately, that's all about to change with the impending opening of the second outpost of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in the Providence Marketplace. Martin's whole-hog barbecue, ribs, brisket and incredible smoked chicken wings should do wonders to raise property values in Wilson County. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

click to enlarge Best Appetizer: Andouille Sausage With Creole Mustard, Urban Grub - MICHAEL W. BUNCH
  • Michael W. Bunch
  • Best Appetizer: Andouille Sausage With Creole Mustard, Urban Grub

BEST APPETIZER: ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE WITH CREOLE MUSTARD, URBAN GRUB
A handsome cocktail deserves the companionship of a well-crafted appetizer, the best of which are simple in concept but expansive in flavor. Urban Grub's house-made andouille sausage starter defines the genre.  A cast-iron plate dotted with hot little discs of meaty spicy goodness, a mini-ramekin of excellent mustard on the side, and nothing else — just sausage, mustard and bliss. Fork optional. —BRUCE BARRY

BEST CHEAP ENTRÉE: FRIED CHICKEN LIVERS, McCABE PUB
For one-quarter the price of a puny slice of foie gras — and none of the guilt or moral indignation — McCabe Pub's crispy deep-fried orbs of fowl fat come smothered in grilled onions and with a Mexican-spiced corn cake to sop up the grease. At just $4.95, this cholesterol bomb has enjoyed a cult following for almost 30 years. Leave the chicken fingers to the kiddies. —KAY WEST

BEST DESSERT: LELAND RIGGAN'S SOUR CREAM CARAMEL BUNDT CAKE, DESSERT DESIGNS
If the apocalypse really is happening this year, I am lining my bunker with Dessert Designs' Sour Cream Caramel Bundt Cake. I don't know what Leland Riggan puts in her desserts, but even those who lack a sweet tooth will fall in love with her sinfully rich pound cake. The cake is drenched in the most incredible sweet yet slightly salty caramel frosting, which defies physics by existing in the stage between liquid and solid. It's magic, and worth every calorie. —ABBY WHITE

BEST DESSERT CHEF: REBEKAH TURSHEN, CITY HOUSE
I rarely order dessert when I eat out — except at City House, where I order dessert nearly 100 percent of the time. Pastry chef Rebekah Turshen never disappoints, and when possible takes full advantage of the best seasonal local produce. Recent highlights include peach shortcake, lemon-almond-ricotta poundcake and oatmeal cream pie with chocolate ganache and mascarpone crema. And many of her delicacies are served with her house-made sorbets, sherbets and gelatos. (The lemon-ricotta gelato and buttermilk sherbet are to die for.) —JACK SILVERMAN

BEST CONFECTION: OLIVE AND SINCLAIR BRITTLE
Do you mean the smoked nib brittle, featuring cacao nibs bathed in the sweet fog issuing from Allan Benton's wood-stove smokehouse? Or would that be the bourbon brittle, giving off the caramelly tang and hardwood finish of the bourbon barrels that housed the cacao beans? Unless you want a replay of the gourd-vs.-sandal schism from Monty Python's Life of Brian, you'd be wise to let the matter drop. At $12.99 per handsomely printed cigar-box-sized package, it's definitely an indulgence — not to mention a substantial gift. But when the first bite shatters like a pane of brown-sugared glass on your tongue, you'll understand all the glowing reports. —JIM RIDLEY

click to enlarge Best Place to Eat Sweets: The Bang Candy Company - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best Place to Eat Sweets: The Bang Candy Company

BEST PLACE TO EAT SWEETS: THE BANG CANDY COMPANY
Willy Wonka is alive and well in Nashville.  When I saw Bang Candy owner Sarah Souther in her marching-band vest, whipping up rose cardamom marshmallows in her little lab (visible through the glass in her candy shop), I knew it to be true.  She's way more attractive than Gene Wilder, and she makes eating sweets a much simpler process. No facing personal demons at Bang Candy — just a jukebox and some 'mallow-based euphoria.  —VERONICA KAVASS

BEST GELATO: LEGATO GELATO
As if we needed more reasons to love Italy's version of ice cream — or for that matter, Edgehill Village — Terri-Ann Nicholls has created a roster of artisanal gelatos such as stracciatella, lavender and goat cheese, and peanut butter and local honey, all housed in a tiny parlor that brings beauty and warmth to the decadent frozen flavors. —CARRINGTON FOX

BEST COFFEEHOUSE: (TIE) BARISTA PARLOR/CREMA
Since opening in May, Andy Mumma's Barista Parlor in East Nashville has stirred up quite a buzz, so to speak, even landing a piece in The New York Times' T Magazine. And for good reason: Mumma and his baristas serve up exquisite handcrafted by-the-cup coffee and fabulous espresso drinks in a wonderful setting, not to mention specialty food items from Porter Road Butcher and great pastries from Dozen and Foxy Baking Co. Though it opened in 2008 with less fanfare, Rutledge Hill coffeehouse Crema has been making single-pour coffee and espresso that's every bit as fabulous, and proprietor Rachel Lehman & Co. roast the best beans in town. Crema also offers a wider variety of drinks, including a great Cuban coffee and occasional specialty sodas. This summer's Kenya Karinga soda, a carbonated iced coffee with demerara sugar and expressed orange peel, was one the 2012's finest taste sensations. —JACK SILVERMAN

click to enlarge Best Latte: The Punjabi, The Jam Coffeehouse - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST LATTE: THE PUNJABI, THE JAM COFFEEHOUSE
Nashville abounds with worthy entries in this category, but The Jam has no fewer than three absurdly delectable caffeine vehicles, the Nutella-infused San Fran, the sweetly summery Strawberry Dream, and the champion of them all, the Punjabi. With a kiss of condensed milk and the earthy spice of cardamom, this is a latte — especially good iced — that gets even the sleepiest morning on the good foot. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST HAPPY HOUR: VILLAGE PUB & BEER GARDEN
Sure, you can hit any old bar after work for a discounted brew, but East Nashville's Village Pub kicks it up a notch by offering twofers first thing in the morning all weekend. That's right: It's Saturday- and Sunday-Funday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., when all of their draft beers — and they have a considerable selection, including regional favorites from Jackalope, Yazoo, Calfkiller and Fat Bottom Brewing — are two-for-one. Village Pub also has a full bar, food, multiple TVs, and a shelf full of games that are really fun to play when you're buzzed. —ABBY WHITE

BEST COCKTAIL APP: POURTASTE
Jon Yeager is known as one of the top mixologists in Music City, which is appropriate since he came to Nashville in the first place to make it in the music bidness. Not only can Yeager mix a mean cocktail, but he can also suggest the best places to enjoy one, locally or all over the country. Together with his wife Lindsay, Yeager has developed an app for iOS called PourTaste that will recommend the best in cocktail culture no matter where you are. It's like having Don Draper in your pocket. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

BEST MARGARITA: ROSEPEPPER CANTINA
For a city with so many Mexican restaurants, the margaritas in Nashville show very little variety. At one local cantina, the bartender demonstrated why I should always order the top shelf instead of the regular happy-hour margarita by pouring me the cheap one — out of a 5-gallon plastic bucket. At Rosepepper in East Nashville, they serve several different incarnations, but their basic margarita made with 100 percent agave tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice and a secret ingredient (cough Sprite cough) offers a sweet and tart effervescence that raises it above the ordinary to the level of the sublime. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

BEST NEW DINING ENCLAVE: EDGEHILL VILLAGE
After Taco Mamacita took over the space that had been vacated by a forgettable Mexican restaurant at the corner of Villa Place and Edgehill, the dining scene at Edgehill Village took off. Between the spacious deck at Mamacita and the inviting courtyard at Bella Napoli, EV offers some of Nashville's best outdoor dining. With this year's additions of Nomzilla Sushi and Legato Gelato, diners can expect a great meal no matter which they choose. Add in Dulce Desserts and Edgehill Cafe across the street, and there you go — breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, covered. —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN

BEST DINNER AT HOME: (TIE) LAZZAROLI PASTA SHOP/THE CORNER MARKET CATERING
Lazzaroli and Corner Market are the two best options for homemade better than you can make yourself. Lazzaroli has everything you need for an Italian feast — bread from Silke's, owner Tommy Noodles' handmade pastas (fresh or frozen) and sauces, and a variety of desserts and specialty groceries. Get the freshly made mozzarella on Saturday mornings. At Corner Market, you can find Southern specialties that aren't meat-and-three, but not just ladyfood, either. Corner Market dishes are a staple in many fine homes. The tomato pie and meatloaf are legendary. —LESLEY LASSITER

BEST RESTORED MENU ITEM: BOOT CAMP MENU, SUNSET GRILL
When he opened Sunset Grill in 1990, Randy Rayburn found that even in the Biscuit Belt, customers were becoming more weight-conscious. So he added some heart-healthy items to the menu, with a tally of calorie, fat and sodium counts.  For those who can't even bear to see the words "Lamb Bolognese," he now presents the entirely separate 2012 Boot Camp Menu, which adds carb, sugar and fiber to the rundown, and more choices for choosy people. —KAY WEST

BEST FOOD MECCA: NASHVILLE FARMERS' MARKET
Where else in Nashville can you attend a festival of Southern artisan cheeses, have your choice of everything from pulled pork and jalapeño grits to a slice of watermelon-blue-cheese-balsamic-basil pizza, and buy everything to make a killer curry — possibly in the same day? The answer, of course, is nowhere, and the crowds flocking to the Nashville Farmers' Market know it's become one of the city's defining food destinations. —STEVE HARUCH

BEST WEEKLY FOOD EVENT: THE BE HIVE
Taking place most Tuesdays at The Wild Cow, the BE Hive is a $12 ($10 takeout) buffet and fundraiser with a rotating culinary theme: sometimes Mexican, sometimes Indian, sometimes Thai, sometimes picnic food ... you get the idea. The food is fresh and delicious, it's all you can eat, and each week a portion of the proceeds goes to some progressive or socially conscious cause. (Recipients have included Greenpeace Nashville, Community Food Advocates, Good Food for Good People and Urban Green Lab.) Rarely has giving been so healthy, tasty and affordable. —JACK SILVERMAN

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE: CITY HOUSE
Dating is risky. For a first date, you have to make a good impression, but you don't want to shoot too high or too low for fear of sending the wrong impression. Germantown's City House is the perfect in-between: Chef Tandy Wilson offers a creative menu that will impress your soon-to-be other half on a Goldilocks-perfect level. The ambiance is perfect, too, with a lively, open main room and flattering dim lighting that makes you look even more attractive than usual. Order the famous belly-ham pizza, but avoid that pasta ... we all know that's terrible first date food! —ABBY WHITE

click to enlarge Best Place to Impress an Out-of-Town Guest: Corsair Artisan Distillery - MICHAEL W. BUNCH
  • Michael W. Bunch
  • Best Place to Impress an Out-of-Town Guest: Corsair Artisan Distillery

BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS AN OUT-OF-TOWN GUEST: CORSAIR ARTISAN DISTILLERY
Wine tastings? So yesterday. At Corsair, reserve a spot in advance and take your crew through the production plant, where you'll learn about the delicious libations you're about to blame your bad decisions on. Sample everything from vanilla bean vodka to seasonal gems like pumpkin spice moonshine. Not into liquor? Well, we're not sure what's wrong with you, but their taproom has a rotating selection of draft beers. In the hypothetical scenario in which you're only allowed one type of liquor on a desert island, it should be the Corsair Triple Smoke Single Malt Whiskey. —ABBY WHITE

BEST PLACE YOU FOUGHT TO KEEP OPEN BUT STILL HAVEN'T VISITED: ELLISTON PLACE SODA SHOP
In July 2011, the Nashville foodie community was all lathered up over the sudden announcement that Elliston Place Soda Shop planned to close after more than 70 years of slinging sodas, malts, burgers and breakfast to generations of Vandy students and broke musicians. Fortunately, a last-minute clemency call from the landlord extended the lease for at least five more years, to the delight of teeth-gnashing patrons who had lined up for one last supper. But be honest: Have you been there since last summer? —CHRIS CHAMBERLAIN



More Writers' Choice:
Food & Drink
Home, Goods & Services
People & Places
Kids
Media & Politics
Arts, Music & Culture

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment


All contents © 1995-2014 City Press LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of City Press LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Powered by Foundation