When In Rome: Nashville

Nashville is a great city to visit!  It is easy to get around, traffic is no where near as bad as other large cities and there are loads of great eats all around the city.  My list below has one caveat, it is primarily centered around the Vanderbilt campus.  I did venture to a highly recommended restaurant called City House and was really excited about the food, but alas the bloody place was closed on Tuesday– who the heck closes on Tuesdays!!!! I will visit it the next time I am in the city, just not on a Tuesday.  So below are my primarily Vandy centered eateries.  I hope you enjoy!

Bongo Java/Fido– Bongo Java/Fido is a great college-town coffee shop and restaurant.  It carries a huge variety of organic and fair trade coffee and tea.  The entire shop, which has more than an adequate amount of seating, has a busy but warm ambiance that is very inviting.  It’s time-worn, dark wooden walls, great coffee and inviting staff make this Nashville coffee house a must for all of your caffeine needs.

South Street Crab Shack– Despite the name, this Nashville eatery has much more than a bucket of legs and a side of pulled butter.  South Street is a full on BBQ joint as well, and they have no problems combining the two.  South Street has a fun and festive tree-house-meets-animal-house atmosphere.  When I was there I had the BBQ plate, which my waiter recommended. It was piled high with pulled BBQ stacked on top of a a couple of really tasty corn cakes. This meal was way more than I could eat and was very satisfying.  For my side, I got their “homemade Tater Tots.”  First off let me say that these are not tater tots in any traditional sense; this, however, does not mean that they were not delicious.  They are more like loaded mashed potatoes, balled, battered and fried to a golden crisp.  Do not go to south street unless you want your belly extremely full of heavy and rich food.  If however that idea makes you very happy, then South Street Crab Shack is the place for you!

SATCo San Antonio Taco Company–  SATCo is a Vanderbilt tradition.  With their large front porch (which is perfect for grabbing a cold beverage on a warm night), their write-your-own-order menu system, and awesome Tex-Mex, SATCo is a perfect destination for a light dinner or late night party snack.  They are also open for lunch if you want to avoid some pretty massive lines.  I am not a huge fan of mexican food but absolutely love SATCo!  I always get 3 steak fajita soft tacos topped with guacamole with a side of chips and cheese.  They have the perfect amount of perfectly seasoned steak served in their HOMEMADE soft warm flour tortilla. GOOD GOOD GOOD, FUN FUN FUN.

Noshville–  In the mood for an authentic New York delicatessen in the heart of central Tennessee?  Well if not you should be, because Noshville is as good as they come!  Noshville is known for their amazingly fresh breakfast but are equally as good for dinner!  The entire menu, full of beautifully prepared kosher dishes, is not only good but pretty good for you.  Noshville has a few unique items that you just have to try while you are there.  You have to start savory with either their Potato cakes or their Potato Knish, both excellent appetizers or sides.  Secondly, if you have a little more of a sweet tooth, check out their homemade Cheese Blintzes.  After these tasty treats it is on to the big guns: the meats!  They have a great deal where you can select 2 or 3 of their meats together for one sandwich.  I highly recommend any combination of their corned beef, pastrami or rare roast beef.  If you are not in the mood for a sandwich, their corned beef plate with onions and carrots is incredible!  After all of this, do not forget to save room for one of their many pieces of cheesecake or pie, mmmmm.

Sunset Grill– So working off of a recommendation by a friend (thanks Renie!), I found myself at Sunset Grill in Nashville.  Holy Cow!  I cannot tell you what a great decision that was!  When I first sat down and browsed the menu, I was immediately struck by how imaginative, deep and complex the dishes are.  This is one of those restaurants where the waiter has to come back 3-5 times because you cannot decide on an appetizer, much less choose an entree, due to the wonderful selection and quality of the menu.  We chose the hummus appetizer to begin with.  The hummus is great on it’s own, but that is not the extent of the appetizer; the dish also provides you with 6 toppings for your hummus, which is both ingenious and incredible.  The toppings are Pesto, Olive Tapenade, Marcona almonds, peppered TN feta cheese, and fig compote, giving this appetizer a fun variety of flavor and texture contrasts. When I encounter a menu that is too good to choose just one item, I then resort to finding my favorite main ingredient in a dish and go with that.  This night it was duck, the Duck Menage to be more specific.  Let me give you their exact description: Pan-seared duck breast, confit leg and duck liver mousse over homemade sourdough bread with soft semolina polenta, apple cider braised brussels sprouts and dried cherry demi glaze. Let me break this down for you.  Duck breast, perfectly cooked under the cherry demi glaze, perfect amount of sweet and savory.  Confit Leg, so tender, moist and full of flavor.  Duck liver moose on sourdough, which added a very earthy gamey contrast to the rich breast and leg.  The brussels sprouts were tender and very flavorful.  Finally, what it my opinion was the unexpected star of the show, the polenta.  I have had good polenta.  This was perfect polenta.  Massive amounts of creamy butteriness and cooked to the exact right consistency.  Unbelievably good.  To top it all off I had a Butterscotch Habanero Bread Pudding.  Great texture and exciting depth of flavor with the sweet smokey butterscotch intro and the subtle warming bite of the habanero. Excellent meal, excellent restaurant.

Pancake Pantry–  Have you ever been to Gatlinburg?  Then you know about the Pancake Pantry.  Well you do not have to endure endless haunted houses or Ripley’s museums to have that delicious breakfast.  Nashville has it’s own Pancake Pantry with the exact same menu, hospitality and tasty goodness.  Actually, the Nashville location was the original location. Everyone has their favorites, here are mine: Water Ground Cornmeal Pancakes, Blintzes and Swedish Pancakes.  Deeeelicious.

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