A trip to Nashville
My family and I are going down to Nashville in two weeks in order to visit Vanderbilt University, (along with a number of other things). I was wondering if anyone knew any good places for Breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Maybe some good dessert places also?
Welcome to Nashville - enjoy your stay. If you are from NY / NJ area, brace yourself from the breakfast perspective. You will in no way find anything remotely close to the diner experience here. I will, though, put in props for Noshville, and the Loveless Cafe.
Noshville is a fairly accurate joint for a standard NY-ish breakfast. They actually have their bagels overnighted from NYC. But long and short, not so bad.
The Loveless enjoys a reputation that is discussed *a lot* down here. You have the biscuit debate, the ownership debate, and the crowd debate.
The biscuits: Folks rave about them. I don't love or hate them. But they are a wildly variable. Some days they are hockey pucks, other days they are the size of a small plum. They're biscuits.
The owners: The place is now owned by a sizable company that specializes in catering movie sets (Tomkat Inc). They seem to have *big* plans for the location in Bellevue, which makes me cynically refer to the place as the "Loveless Cafe and Theme Park" Lets hope not.
The crowds: Jesus, get your ass up early and see the difference! I have NEVER had to wait for breakfast at the Loveless - ever. I get there between 0700 and 0800. No wait period.
On my last visit to the Loveless I decided take a stand, and ordered two over easy with *soft* bacon - please. They aced the order and I will defend them for that one meal alone. The grits are decadent, the potato casserole is also wunnerful. The country ham is for locals who seem to not mind pure sodium intake.
Now back to my eternal dream of a Taylor Ham - Egg and Cheese on a Kaiser Roll from a deli on Lodi.
For breakfast Pancake Pantry is always popular. However, it's a bit of a tourist trap, so don't even think about weekends. Loveless Cafe is great but it's a hike. I ate a lot of breakfast at the Hermitage Cafe but it's really a total dump. For lunch you can't beat Arnolds. Hog Heaven is really good bbq in the middle of centenial park. Baja Burrito is better than any Burrito place in TN has a right to be. For dinner, I like Mambu and Tin Angel which are noth pretty casual. I had a really good experience at Watermark, which is a little more upscale than the other recs, but I was only there once. Have fun.
Breakfast -- I second avoiding Pancake Pantry; who wants to stand in line in 100 degree heat for pancakes (and I promise they are no different from any other pancakes you will ever eat.) On the weekends, Jackson's in Hillsboro Village has a great breakfast/brunch (they open at 9am), Fido, also in the Village, has good breakfast eats as well and they serve it daily. For a bit nicer weekend brunch, I also agree with the Germantown Cafe rec; it is excellent and gives you a nice view of downtown http://www.germantowncafe.com/ Have fun and go 'dores!
I have to defend their pancakes, though I haven't eaten at PP in 15 years -- pancakes and eggs aren't worth standing in line. They supply batter to a few church pancake suppers, and that's where I have tasted them. I have worked with about a dozen pancake recipes over the years, and their batter recipe produces a better pancake than all but the most fussy, specialized and labor-intensive homemade pancakes. Get a to-go order, then compare them to a batch of Aunt Jemina and buy some premade frozen pancakes and I guarantee you'll be able to taste the difference. Still, I wouldn't wait in line for them.
I like the sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry, and I eat them once a quarter or so. While I wouldn't wait in much of a line in the summer for anything, if you're up early and have a small-ish party, there's not much of a wait. We went around 8 AM last week with a party of 2, and we waited about three minutes to be seated (the only delay was for the people in front of us in line to be seated). The large groups of kids looked like they'd been waiting for a little while, though.
No one has mentioned brunch at Germantown Cafe yet. I prefer brunch (Sunday only, 10:30 - 2:00) at Germantown Cafe to dinner there, although you obviously don't get the nightime skyline view in the morning.
And, this may cause you all to disregard my comment above, but I think one of the best places around to get good biscuits reliably is a Hardee's. Shocking, I know, but the one that I visit most regularly (when visiting the in-laws) has a little ole lady who goes in at some ridiculously early hour and makes them from scratch every day.
I've eaten at Noshville for breakfast several times in the past few months, and I think they have excellent pancakes. Better than Pancake Pantry for sure (though their sweet potato pancakes are really good). Noshville makes their pancakes a little crispy, which I prefer. One of Noshville's two locations is right near Vanderbilt on Broadway, and the wait will be shorter than PP.
I think great desserts here are hard to come by. I do not know of one place that stands out in my mind for dessert.
Most of hte places mentioned in the other post are right on. I would not make to Loveless drive unless you were dying to wait hours for eggs and country ham.
Germantown Cafe is nice for dinner and the view is amazing.
There were a lot of visiting Vandy parents back in April and May, and lots of lively discussions on these boards. A search of those discussions would really help you isolate more options. Here are some starting points.
If you're looking for local meat-and-three cuisine, Arnold's and Monell's are probably the best bet and easiest to find. (It takes a real hound to find Carolyn's and Silver Sands, but you can Google Map them.) Rotier's is a greasy spoon near Vandy whose only saving grace is the patty melt. Down the street from that is Elliston Place Soda shop, which offers meat and three as well as soda shop faves. I ate a good meal there about 3 years ago. Both walkable to Vandy. Between the two is Samurai sushi.
Fine dining options abound near VU, including Acorn, TIn Angel, Zola (consistenly considered one of Nashville's finest -- my dad eats there every Wed for date night with his wife), Valentino's (old world Italian, but not my bag).
Bistro style eateries include Cabana, Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe. All good, some pricier than others. I like Sunset because there's a taxi rank there, and I'm usually over-refreshed when I leave there, and can get a cab. I get the hanger steak at Cabana and the lemon artichoke soup at Midtown.
Also some reliable chains. Stony River steakhouse (overpriced, I think), Bricktops, Amerigo, PF Chang's, J Alexander, Ted's Montana Grill. Panera bread Company on 21st near law school.
Dessert -- I never eat dessert, but I love ice cream and there's a Maggie Moo on West End Ave near Vandy.High end -- you'll pay $4 at least for a cone.
Japense steak houses -- Goten and , um, I'm blanking but there's one other.
Brewpubs like Blackstone
Sushi dive bar -- Samurai sushi. Good and cheap and imaginative without being gimmicky. Only about 8 seats in the place. Dive Mexican-- San Antonion Taco Company Across from law school.
Loveless is a long drive on a surface street out of town, but it's lovely,and you can motor along a section of the Natchez Trace parkway while you're out there -- longest, thinnest federal park in the country. The biscuits and preserves are legendary. The fried chicken used to be legendary, but I felt it had slipped. THe ham is country ham, not city ham. so it's salt-cured, cut thin, and fried.
Search each of those places on these boards and see what you think, then you might have some more specific questions. All these except Monell's, Arnold's and Loveless are within 4 blocks of Vandy. If you're more mobile, there are more options.
I would add Monell's Dining & Catering, 1235 6th Avenue North, 615 248 4747 with great enthusiasm. For a price per head you sit at a community table and they bring out copious -- and very good -- Southern Cooking. The atmosphere is very welcoming and it's a nice experience.
A Vanderbilt-area fixture you might also want to check out is Rotier's Restaurant, 2413 Elliston Place, 615 327 37203. Unlike other things, it is walkable to campus.
Regarding Loveless's, I agree it's a Nashville institution, but I learned there that not all hams are equal. If you don't mind yours very salty, you won't be surprised by theirs. I went once a long time ago and that was enough. Their endurance suggests I'm in a minority.
Have a good visit.
the loveless cafe is a n'ville institution, as well as the pancake pantry. the loveless has amazing housemade biscuits served w/ homemade preserves that are so good it's hard not to spoil your appetite. i think i had some ham and egg thing for my main dish and that was just ok, but those biscuits will blow you away. afterwards i stopped in their gift shop and picked up a just baked peach or raspberry bar and it was DELICIOUS. i'm a baked goods lover, and this was so heavenly. the pancake pantry is fun too if you're into pancakes (i had the pecan ones w/ a big ole glass of milk, and it really hit the spot). be prepared for a wait tho, especially on weekends. other than that, just try to walk around a lot cuz there is a lot of heavy food around, but nashville has a ton of new places from what ive read over the past few years, but to me when i'm down south i want good ole fashioned southern food. don't forget to try a meat n 3!
loveless has charm, but the food is not that great unless you only want to eat biscuits and preserves.
pancake pantry has terrible service, rude wait staff, and a line around the corner. it tastes no better than an ihop. and they are consistently bad. i've been there half a dozen times and always wish i had taken my own advice.
fido is my recommendation for breakfast and coffee - great bongo java coffee. if you need an adventure with young kids, the pfunky griddle is great - you make pancakes at the table with your choice of other items. they'll make them for you if you prefer. their sandwiches are great, too. closed on mondays, however. only open b-fast and lunch.
best indian in town is shalimar. they prepare it in the bangladesh style. dinner is pricey. lunch pre-set menu is very reasonable and delicious.
monell's family style dining at the germantown location is fun. be prepared to need 3 days of working out to get over it, though.
las paletas are incredible homemade popsicles on 12th avenue for an afternoon treat. chocolate with hot peppers is a fabulous flavor. they have fruity and creamy flavors.