Chapel Hill hound needs Nashville Advice
Can anyone help me plan a trip to Nashville? I'm looking for fine eats in downtown Nashville, ideally within walking distance of the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel (623 Union Street). We'd happily drive, of course, for something special. I have no particularly cuisine preference. Whatever's best or most memorable.
I'm also looking for a place to bring several colleagues for dinner. I'm looking for a place in the $20-$40 per person range that won't object to the presence of babies (we'll have two in tow I believe). Again, any cuisine will do.
Thanks in advance for your help.
As for downtown, I would recommend the Palm, I have eaten there and the food is excellent and the service is excellent. The Palm is mainly known for it's steaks, but they do have other choices besides steak. The Palm is a great place for a memorable meal and their desserts are memorable as well. The Palm is across from the Gaylord Center. It is sort of hidden but they do have a small sign out front. As for the other meal I would recommend Rotier's for excellent cheeseburgers and The Elliston Place Soda Shop for excellent milkshakes. I'm not shure about Rotier's, but The Soda Shop would welcome the babies. I have eaten at both places and they are both excellent. I would not recommend the Hard Rock, too loud and overpriced. If you would like to see pictures and reviews for both Rotier's and The Elliston Place Soda Shop, GOOGLE choppedonion.com No pictures of the Palm, but they do have a website.
There are many wonderful restaurants in Nashville within a walk or short drive of where you will be staying, however I do not think that Rotiers or Elliston Place Soda Shop is what you are looking for. Although thy are both great for what they serve (Rotiers--burgers, Eliiston Place- shakes and meat and three) they are not where I'd take colleagues. And Palm is a chain. If you are looking for something different, try some of these listed below.
I am way past the baby stage, so I would recommend checking with the restaurant you decide to go to in advance. When mine were little, I just took them along, but they were fairly quite as infants.
Great places to eat downtown:
Parco Cafe (our favorite!)
This is downtown in Printers Alley where there are lots of honky tonks and Karaoke Bars but it is unbelieveably fabulous. It is owned by an Asian couple and the husband/chef was classically French trained. The meals are great, expecially the (seafood soup en croute as a starter) and the desert counter is to die for. They are very friendly and I am sure thwy would have not problem with babies.
Also good downtown:
There is a website of Nashville Original Restaurants (locally owned, not chains) and most of them are fabulous:
I'd recommend almost any of these and would be happy to comment on questions.
Parco Cafe is the only place I can think of downtown too. However, I've never been thrilled with their new location. We used to eat lunch at their Farmer's Market location every Sunday. They no longer serve lunch at the new location, and I think the servers aren't very good. The quality of food has remained the same (excellent), but I enjoy them for lunch much more than dinner.
I would drive a few minutes to East Nashville to Margot Cafe. My husband and I think Margot is the best food in town. Plus the atmosphere and servers are wonderful. The menu changes every day features a few starters, 6 first courses, and 6 main courses plus desserts. There are a few tables on the outside porch which is tented and heated in the winter. I think sitting at one of those tables with 2 babies won't be a problem. When I've dined outside, I've seen other young kids. We recently went to brunch there on a Sunday, and there were lots of babies and toddlers. We had an 18 month old with us, and no one batted an eye.
Parco serves excellent food, but I agree about the location. The inside of the restaurant is underwhelming -- it's a former bar / dance hall below street level. A little dingy. The couple that own the place are very gracious, and probably would not mind kids.
Margot (French / Mediterranean) is definitely the best show in town, and not far at all from downtown. She just opened a new place, Marche, a more casual cafe serving breakfast and lunch only. It's always packed.
Closer to the Sheraton is Radius 10, which will give Margot a run for her money. Refined American cuisine, elegant presentation, modern glass-and-steel dining room. It's in the "gulch," across from the Union St. Hotel and the train tracks. You will still need to get in your car.
Watermark (haute Southern) is the other haute cuisine place near downtown, in the 12 South neighborhood. Very ambitious, but can be inconsistent.
I wouldn't take kids to Margot, Radius 10, or Watermark, unless you are certain they will behave. You, and the people around you, will be spending too much money for disruption.
If you're going to cross the river, you may want to try Eastland Cafe, a new and popular spot that is a branch of another restaurant on the west side called Park Cafe. Park Cafe is solid, though the Earth doesn't move. I mention Eastland because, as a neighborhood spot, it may be more child-friendly.
Hot Diggity Dogs is a long walk from the Sheraton, 4 or 5 blocks past the Country Music Hall of Fame, but fun for dogs and atmosphere. Lunch only.
We had a two great meals a couple of years ago at Zola:
The French Laundry salad was outstanding, and my friend stated that his steak was the best he had ever had (and he's had quite a few ;-) Interesting decor, too.
Here is a Chowhound search for "zola":
I went to Nashville for the Music City Bowl some years ago and one of the most memorable meals was at a funky little BBQ joint near the Ryman Auditorium. I did a quick look-up and it was likely Jack's BBQ on Broadway
Great fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Next door is a great little honky-tonk that plays live music in the daytime (a great thing for us older folks that can't stay up all night anymore). It has a back door to the Ryman Auditorium back stage and supposedly the likes of Hank Williams would slip into the bar for a nip while waiting their turn on stage.
Frankly I'm shocked that no one yet has mentioned Demos' Steak and Spaghetti. I worked for Jim Demos years ago. He runs a very tight ship. The food is good. The service WILL be good or Doris (Jim's wife) will dismiss the server and take the table herself. All the pasta has a greek bent (one dish includes nutmeg in the pasta sauce, unique and delicious), the salads are decent but the accompanying bread will make you beg for more. It's right downtown, ask anybody at your hotel and I'm sure they will be familiar with it.
I don't think that Demos' is anything like in the class of Zola, Margot, or Watermark. It's more like Rotiers--good at what it does, but not where you're going to get a meal you'll tell people about. On the other hand, it's closer to the hotel than they are and more likely to be family-friendly and in your price range.
That was my main reason for recommending it. It's on the same street as the Sheraton, I think. And kids? It's atmoshere is welcoming and very family friendly. I've never had a bad meal there. However the OP did mention "memorable", and I'm having a hard time applying that to Demos. . .
My kids just went to Demos with a group (teenagers) and they all thought it was not especially good. I've never been there, so I can not comment personally.
If you haven't made your trip yet, I have a few ideas. I'm actually sitting and planning our trip we're taking with another couple next weekend. I lived in Nashville for 4 years and love the options they have.
If you want to give your colleagues a different southern experience, try the famous Monell's restaurant which is a family friendly environment and food is served family-style. There is the original location downtown on 6th avenue. Try to plan an early arrival as the wait can be long during rush times. You and your colleagues must be in the mood for socializing, because the restaurant will fill the 12-seated table with people you do not know if your party does not fill it. But that's the fun part! And, the food is bottomless!
Want entertainment during your meal and an activity to enjoy before, during, or after? Then maybe you'd like to try Wildhorse Saloon, right in heart of downtown on 2nd avenue. They offer free line dancing lessons, a house band, pool tables, and great food. It's also family friendly, however, under 21 is not allowed after a certain time. www.wildhorsesaloon.com
Other options besides eating... Stroll around the Opryland Hotel, visit some shops in the Hillsboro Village, Berry Hill District, and East End Nashville. The Factory in Franklin, TN (just south of Nashville) is also a favorite. Station Inn has free blue grass music Sunday nights.
I'll make a list of other great eats for you to explore...but won't go into much detail for lack of time. Some of my favorites:
Mafiaoza's, Sunset Grill, Ru Sans (sushi), Mellow Mushroom, Rotier's, Baja Burrito (magnificent!), Jacksons, Fido.
I also would not recommend Demos.
Monell's is a good suggestion. I enjoy some of those places, but I don't think you can get a fine meal at any of them. Sunset Grill has better than average, imaginative American food, but it's overpriced for what it offers. The others are college and post-college kid hangouts, with food to match. None of them is near your hotel.
Thanks to everybody for their great suggestions. I'll report back next week, following my visit. I'm looking forward to it.
Sinophile, since your profile mentions that you love pizza, if all else fails think of PizzaReal in East Nashville. It's definitely Nashville's best pizza, and they are infant, child, and family friendly.