Nashvillians are always fascinated by whatever is new and shiny, and the constant stream of restaurant openings gives them plenty of things to focus on. But don’t forget about some of those old reliables that built the restaurant scene in Nashville and continue to offer up fantastic food. Many of these are members of the Nashville Originals, a coalition of independent restaurants that have banded together to shine a spotlight on some of the city’s old school favorites. Here are some that still shine.
Although the name of blvd nashville is all lowercase, the food is still capital at this Belmont Boulevard favorite. Run by former Top Chef contestant Arnold Myint, blvd. offers an eclectic combination of Asian dishes along with all-American favorites and the occasional French bistro classic. They also feature one of the most generous happy hours in town from 2:00 until 6:00 Monday-Friday.
Cafe Nonna is tucked into a little strip of restaurants and stores at the end of Murphy Road, but the unpretentious Italian eatery is worth hunting for. Once you find it you’ll discover an intimate atmosphere with tables tucked close enough together that you could catch a meatball before it hits the floor if it rolled off of your neighbor’s plate. The tight kitchen serves out bountiful plates of pastas that you can top with your choice of sauces and meats, or you can enjoy the lasagna that Guy Fieri raved about during his visit for “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Pair your meal with a glass of fine Italian wine for a perfect romantic dining experience.
Open since 1939, Elliston Place Soda Shop is the oldest Nashville restaurant still operating in its original location. A classic soda fountain serving delicious milkshakes, Elliston is a frequent locale for music videos, commercial shoots and television shows. You can eat in the same booth where Kelly Clarkson introduced her new baby to the public as part of a People Magazine photo shoot and enjoy the same fried chicken dishes that a young singer/songwriter named Jimmy Buffett loved so much that he thanked the restaurant for being his “nutritional consultant” in the liner notes of his first three albums recorded in Nashville. Be sure to save room for a slice of pie piled impossibly high with whipped meringue,
Flyte World Dining & Wine Bar has been somewhat of a cradle for some of Nashville’s most talented chefs for more than a decade. Known for its interesting and approachable wine list and for an internationally-inspired dinner menu of elegantly plated entrees, Flyte works with local farmers to provide fresh and seasonal ingredients for their kitchen. The menu changes frequently, so make sure to visit often if you don’t want to miss out on the latest treats.
Germantown Cafe was cool long before the neighborhood around it turned into a culinary hotbed. Offering a commanding view of the back side of downtown and the State Capitol, Germantown Cafe has been a popular lunch spot for politicians and business executives seeking a quiet place to talk over a great midday meal. Discounted appetizers and drinks also make it an excellent happy hour destination before settling down for a dinner of classic American and continental cuisine.
Midtown Cafe is another wise choice for a proper power lunch thanks to experienced service staff who understand hospitality, an elegant yet casual dining ambiance and a menu of plates that feature a fun combination of Southern food with classic European cooking techniques and preparations. Midtown is open for breakfast during the week and dinner every night except Sunday. They also offer a really convenient shuttle service to and from performances at downtown venues like the Bridgestone Arena, Ryman Auditorium, TPAC and Schermerhorn Symphony Hall so you can park once, eat dinner and enjoy the ride back to your car after the show.
The Yellow Porch in Berry Hill is so solid and dependable that some diners forget about it when making their choice of where to eat out, but ignore this neighborhood stalwart at your peril. Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, The Yellow Porch offers affordable and delicious fare with a menu that takes patrons on an international journey from appetizers through dessert. Some old reliable dishes have been on the menu for years, (regular diners just won’t let the kitchen remove them) but there are also new items added based on seasonality. A warm and bright interior makes the Yellow Porch a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch to catch up with friends.