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Must eats in Nashville?

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I will be traveling from Chicago with my husband to Nashville in March for the weekend. I think we are styaing at either Lowes or Hermitage. What are must eats around there? We love all food, but prefer no chains, smaller restaurants, i.e. fewer tables, that are cozy, local favorites with great food...nothing fancy but will pay up for great food. Any ideas are appreciated!

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  1. In a quick review of other posts and some websites, I am considering: Margot Cafe (quaint, outdoor patio, exposed brick, candles on tables, good menu, but like many at home), Watermark (outdoor seating, great view of Nashville, which would be fun for a night), Zola (unsure of menu), Radius 10 (too modern). Leaning towards Margo Cafe (better for brunch or dinner) and Watermark (sit outside). Are these the best choices for great food, Nashville atmosphere in upscale, but informal way?

    1. I like Margot Cafe; I think you'd have a nice dinner there (I haven't had brunch there). However, if I were the one eating, I would pass up Watermark for Germantown Cafe, if you're looking for a view of Nashville. I I know there have been a number of reports of people having good meals at Watermark, but the first time I ate there after moving to Nashville, I was completely underwhelmed (so much so that I haven't been back in the nine months I've lived in Nashville). A few other places that aren't often mentioned here but at which I've had several very good meals are tayst, Mambu, and Cafe Nonna, though they all have quite different atmospheres.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ginger

        what are the different atmospheres like at the places you mentioned and food? what about mambu? there is no website...thanks so much!

      2. For a combination of great food and cozy, you can't beat Mambu. Margot has great food, too, but is very loud unless you manage to get seated upstairs. I think Restaurant Zola has the best food in town and it isn't noisy, but I don't get the intimate feel there that I do at Mambu. If you're staying at the Hermitage Hotel and like steakhouses, the Capitol Grille there is reputed to be the best in town. I've never eaten there, but I know they dry age their own beef.

        1. also, is it worthwhile to do that general river boat dinner/show? Need some great bars for country/honky tonk and great beers..little hole in the walls with some charm, too!

          1. Avoid the General Jackson at all costs! The food takes a back seat to the "Hey I'm on a riverboat!" novelty of the experience, and neither of them are even worth mentioning or paying for. As far as hole-in-the-walls are concerned, Sylvan Park Restaurant just off West End is a great meat-and-three choice. It has absolutely no charm, but the food is amazing. Not a big bar guy, but head downtown and follow the mob of cowboy hats and you should be fine.

            1. For honkytonk, the Bluegrass Inn, Robert's Western World, and Tootsie's (all on lower Broadway) are your best bets. Check out who's playing upstairs at Tootsie's -- it's often someone famous doing a little slumming. None of them is particularly adventurous in terms of beverages served. Avoid Rippy's at all costs, for both music and food. It's right there on Broadway with all the others, but it's no fun. For bluegrass, the Station Inn on 12th Ave. South is THE place. Again, it's your standard beers and stuff. For great local beer, go to Yazoo, for extensive selection there's the Mojo Grill or the Family Wash in East Nashville.

              1. Try Arnold's Country Kitchen at 605 Eighth Avenue South for lunch. It's a tiny meat and three, very popular. You will probably have to share tables, but the food is good and authentically nonfussy Southern food. Also good, for a more chic experience, is Sunset Grill in Hillsboro Village. Late at night I think the food is half-price, too. Both of these are centrally located but not close enough to your hotels that you'd want to walk.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nashville2ny

                  By the way, Arnold's is kind of a dive, FYI, and often crowded.

                2. Robert's Western World is my favorite Honky Tonk, but the great thing is you can go to all of them. They are all free and right next door to each other. Robert's house band is Brazil Billy, which is a Johnny Cash style Rockabilly type band. They also serve PBR in a can and have great burgers. You can even buy cowboy boots there.

                  I would also recommend Patrick's if you like New Orleans style food (not sure if it is Cajun or Creole). It is small and not to pricey, but usually it is damn good. I say usually, because I once had a Jambalaya that I wasn't crazy about, but next I went back it was great.

                  For a fun family style breakfast, go to Monell's in Germantown. You will end up sharing a table with strangers, but the southern style breakfast with fried chicken, biscuits, pancakes, sausage, bacon, grits, and anything else you can imagine is fantastic.

                  Have fun!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: BiggieD

                    The honkytonks on Broadway are free in the sense that they have no cover charge (the Station Inn does charge a cover). But if you don't put the money you would have spent on the cover charge into the tip jar, you are stiffing the musicians. Musicians gotta live, you know.

                    And as Suebro pointed out, Patrick's is closed.

                    1. re: nm1

                      That's too bad, I liked it. I haven't lived there in a couple years though, it must have gone downhill.

                  2. I believe that Patrick's has been closed for some time now.

                    1. My absolute favorite in Nashville is MotherShip BBQ - which is located in Berry Hill.... We drive up from Atlanta just to get some of this (it's really that good!)

                      1. MotherShip is pretty new and gets good press around town, but I would still probably go with Jack's for Nashville's best Q' (not the downtown location). Sunset Grill seems to have hung the moon around here according to most people you ask, but I have eaten there on more than one occasion (and worked there) and feel that the service and atmosphere are both a bit disengaging and the food falls behind that of places like Margot, Zola on West End, and the Acorn.