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May 10, 2007 06:05 PM

Favorite Nashville Dives?

What are everyone's current favorite Nashville dives? You know, the places where the atmosphere, the quirkiness, the funk and the food all combine to make something just right?

Here's what made me think of it: had dinner at Koto on the corner of 7th and Commerce last Saturday and completely enjoyed it. 5 gallon bucket propping the front door open, a non-categorizable mix of patrons in the front and the back. I had a nice bowl of wakame salad, and some cold soba yamakake (topped with grated mountain potato and fresh wedges of tuna) which I embellished with liberal amounts of kim chee, and washed down with cold sake. It was a happy-making experience.

Is it the best Japanese I ever had? Nope. (There is a place in Chicago, Katsu's on Peterson, where the sushi is so fresh there's a flavor like drinking fresh spring water when you eat it - phenomenal. The testure is a sensual experience in its own right. The chef won't open the restaurant that night if he failed to find fish fresh enough to meet his standards that morning. But I digress...)

But best or not, I'll be glad to go back to Koto the next time because the the waitstaff is friendly without making a fuss, the food is good workman Korean/Japanese fare, and the overall experience is as comfortable as broken-in boots.

Other Nashville dive recs, anyone?

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  1. You've been to Rotier's and Elliston Place Soda shop, right? Both near Vandy, right down the street from one another.

    How about International Market on Belmont Blvd? Thai cafeteria-style, with lots and lots of options. The owner sold it a couple of years back to a possibly Korean couple and the food, which was great in years past, isn't quite as good now, but it's more than passable, and otherwise meets your criteria.

    Not a dive yet, but otherwise fun, funky, foodworthy and fairly atmospheric is Back to Cuba cafe on Trousdale Lane in a little strip mall. Mamacita came from Cuba to do the cooking and it's really good (or ws the last time I went 18 months ago).

    Athens Family Restaurant on 8th Avenue is an inexpensive place with superb food. It's in an old, redecorated Captain D's. The fish and Greek specialties are just great, and you can't possibly spend more than $15.

    I love Fattoush Cafe on Charlotte -- if you can get there early enough for lunch, get the special of the day, which is always really special. It sells out fast, whatever it is. Minimal atmosphere, though. Proprietor is a Hendersonville-grown Lebanese guy and he's charming.

    I've never actually eaten in Hot Kebabs on White Bridge Road -- we always get takeout. But it's traditional Persian food, and very good. Also a bargain -- the lamb chops are about $10 with all the trimmings.

    Sir Pizza on Charlotte. Biggest dive in town. Mediocre pizza. Crumbling decor. Rednecks swatting at their kids.

    Silver Sands, a soul food joint behind US Tobacco. Turn on Monroe (I think is the name of the street) next to US Tobacco, then right on whatever street that is -- could be 9th. Silver Sands is about a block on the right. Good soul food, lunch only. It was formerly the hangout for the local drug dealers, but the crowd has gentrified considerably. Not the decor, though. Strictly 1972 melamine.

    Dandegure's on Lafayette is definitely a great dive. Meat-and-three. Good the last time I ate there about 3 years ago. The parking is in back, across a street, and everyone used to walk in the back door and come in through the kitchen -- they finally had to hang a sign stopping that. They also had a sign "Please, no smoking in serving line." Now THAT is a dive.

    Fletcher's Pizza near the Muysic City Star railroad depot in Donelson is another, but it's not worth the drive. Always crowded, though, because Donelsonians feel it's their homegrown place.

    Carolyn's in the National Baptist Sunday School Board Building. It's downtown on Charlotte at about 4th. Entrance at street level on Charlotte. The building is regal, and the lunchroom is that marble you always see in old schools and hotels. Fried chicken, fried fish, greens, cornbread, pie. A classic.

    Hey, sorry to go on and on. I love 'houndin! Good chow to you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: fluffernutter

      Hey, this is fantastic! Very generous of you. Got my work cut out for me. So first I think I'll try Silver Sands, and also see if I can snag one of those Fattoush's specials.