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Jan 24, 2008 11:56 PM

Nashville Rec's

I am young professional New Orleans native visiting Nashville for a couple of days. I went to college near there and have experienced the college side of the looking for a little bit more than Rock Bottom and other chains and college bars.
I have 4 meals and looking to make them all good and different:

Brunch? Not too dressy.
Best Italian Food?
Best Nashville eatery both casual and more dressy (not stuffy, looking for fun but dressy...if that makes sense).
Dessert place or truly local coffee shop/bakery?
Wouldn't mind an ethnic meal if there happens to be great Thai/Vietnamese/etc/?
Also, is there a great place to get a mint julep by any chance?

I have plans to be in Midtown/Downtown (or any neighborhood y'all would reccomend) one day and Opryland the other...would love to be reccomended to other cool neighborhoods in the city as well...I love history.

I know its touristy food but I am stuck in Opryland/Opry Mills for one meal...any recs?

I read a little about Madhatters and Germantown Cafe...any good?

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  1. In the Germantown area Germantown Cafe, City House and Monell's are my personal picks. Madhatter gets good reviews I just haven't made it there yet.

    Try either Margot Cafe (East Nashville) or Chappy's (West End) for brunch. Margot is better but there is usually a wait

    Sole Mio (Downtown) is the best Italian I have found in Nashville. Tangredi's Italian Kitchen (West End) is pretty good too.

    For a coffee shop I like Bongo Java and Fido. Good coffee and cake by the slice.

    Hillsboro Village has a few casual/dressy places to try I like The Trace best but Sunset Grill is good to and Cabana is usually fun. You can also head to the area called the Gulch closer to downtown with a cluster of good dinner spots.

    While you are in town you should try some of the local fare: Hog Heaven BBQ for lunch; Arnold's, Sylvan Park, Monell's for a Meat and 3 also a great lunch option but Monell's does dinner too.

    I don't know the Opryland area very well. The places in the hotel are usually average at best with the exception of the Steak House. And the places in the Mall are, well, mall food.

    1. The best upscale Italian food I've eaten in Nashville is at Cafe Nonna (City House, which recently opened, has gotten great reviews for its modern Italian food, but I haven't been there yet); the best mom&pop kind of place (that wouldn't disgrace NYC) is Savarino's Cucina. Sweet 16 makes great desserts, and both Portland Brew (best coffee in town) and Fido/Bongo Java are good local coffee and a meal or dessert places that roast their own beans. The steak house at Opryland has gotten a couple of absolutely rave reviews on this board. I think you will need to search for them by 'Opry' rather than by name because no one ever remembers the name. Everything else out there is chain/concept and not worth bothering with. I'm going to suggest Zola for your dressy and fun place, but some folks prefer Cafe Margot or Ombi.

      1. Sweet 16th in East Nashville for breakfast / dessert. You'll not find a better scone anywhere. Give the Einsteins my regards.

        Try the bar at the Hermitage hotel for that julep.

        You old enough to have your own waiter at Galatoire's? When I lived in the city (93-99), my Galatoire's dining companions always were served by Bryant. I didn't have the bloodlines to have my own waiter.


        4 Replies
        1. re: LPM

          I second Portland Brew for great coffee, although the one on 12th South is a little dreary in decor, as much as I love it, so don't go there for bright and cheery....also Sweet 16th in East Nashvillle for desserts. The Little Elvis cupcakes are delicious (banana cake with peanut butter filling and cream cheese icing) the quiche is also amazing. If you'll be here for Sunday brunch, Germantown Cafe has a great one. I almost enjoy their brunch more than lunch or dinner, although all are great. Mad PLATTER is the other place in the area you mentioned. It is one of the "older" establishments in Nashville. I think it's probably still good but there are so many other options now that I rarely hear of anyone I know going there.

          As for Italian, I agree that Cafe Nonna is wonderful, as is Savarino's but they are completely different. If you want sit down service with a good glass of wine, Nonna is the place -- very cozy atmosphere. Savarino's is an order at the counter casual place. I don't think they serve alcohol but can't remember for sure since I usually do takeout. If you go there try the stuffed red peppers. They are one of his specialites and delicious.

          Radius 10 in the gulch ( is great for upscale or casual. If you'd like to check it out for some appetizers, they have a great happy hour in the bar from 5-7....apps are discounted and the portions and choices are big enough to make a meal (the app. menu online is not shown in full) Jason Brumm also makes some of the best grits you'll ever taste; the grits/shrimp/scallops are amazing. If you've ever spent any time in the Seaside area, he was chef at both Cafe 30A and Fish Out of Water before landing in Nashville.

          Check the boards for reviews for Ombi; still haven't been there but it's getting great reviews lately.

          Definitely don't have very high hopes for the Opryland area -- the steakhouse is great (check the boards for a review by Bill Hunt on the Old Hickory Steakhouse, he left out nothing) but that's about it on the grounds. Opry Mills is all typical mall food.

          1. re: LPM

            I thank you for all these reccomendations...I am really looking forward to getting back to my college days, Nashville consisted of finding the best bar and the best frat house party at Vandy...I really want to experience more of the cultural/historical side.

            The Germantown neighborhood has stuff to do?? or is it pretty to drive around and have lunch?
            Steakhouses do little for I guess I will cheap out a meal while in Opryland and hit one of these nice places listed here for dinner.

            Galatoire's is my favorite understand Galatoire's is to understand the the upper social strata of New Orleans...very wealthy but not the least bit pretentious..which the restaurant mirrors in style and charm. Friday lunch there is more of THE weekly social event than it is a meal (there is more seersucker, bowties and ladies with hats than anywhere I have ever been).
            FX has been my waiter, my parents waiter and my grandparents waiter...and he is the man if you ever find yourself there...and by asking for him you will immediately feel like you are a part of Galatoire's. The menu there is literally a dictionary of creole food and navigating what sauces to place on what and what is the best fish this time of year is something that your waiter directs you to...and is one reason a trusting bond is forged with waiters there.

            1. re: bbares81

              I work near Opryland, and it's true the pickins are slim but you have a couple of options. One is the Thai place down Music Vally Drive. It shares a building with, like, an outdoor mini car course, which makes it both easier and harder to find. Has a completely forgettable name, something like Suhko, which I've forgotten although I've eaten there several times including last Monday. The food is good, not world class but better than your average Thai. The Chinese-style stir-fries like cashew chicken are so-so, but the Thai dishes are good.

              There was a Mexican place in Opry Mills mall with a name like Tio Juan or Tia Josefina and a little Salvadoran lady was hand-patting the tortillas as of this time last year. It was a fresh-Mex concept where you go through the line and they build a burrito to your specifications. We loved it, and it was exceptional for Opry Mills.

              Other people have disagreed, but I like the Texas-style barbecue place in the food court at Opry Mills. I think it's pretty good for mall food.

              Finally, there's Ellendale's/Phat Bites. It's not that close to Opryland, maybe four exits/5 miles away on Donelson Pike but it's the best food in the area.

              Good eatin' to you!

              1. re: fluffernutter

                Dickey's Barbecue Pit. Yes, it's in the mall, but damn, their smoked sausage is good - some of the best in the city (both the regular and the hot).

          2. If I had only four meals in Nashville, they would be:

            -Brunch at Margot in East Nashville (Sundays only)
            -Lunch at Arnold's Country Kitchen downtown
            -Dinner at Watermark in the Gulch
            -Dinner/Drinks at the Capitol Grille/Oak Bar downtown at the Hermitage Hotel