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Neighborhood Watch: Green Hills

Where do you go in Green Hills?

Written by Chris Chamberlain
Neighborhood Watch: Green Hills
Crows Nest; photo courtesy of Crows Nest

The Green Hills neighborhood south of downtown has rarely been considered a hotbed of dining in the past. Instead, it was a primarily residential area with lots of retail shopping opportunities, but not a lot of great places to eat. But, like much of the rest of Nashville, it has recently blossomed into a fine destination for fine dining as well as some really good casual eats.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the best spots in the ‘burbs.

A big part of the improvement in the Green Hills dining scene arrived in the form of the massive Vertis luxury apartments development which looms over Hillsboro Rd. Along with those fancy digs came a quartet of great restaurants on the lower level, with the bonus of some free available parking in the basement garage, a rare find in the crowded neighborhood.

Char; photo courtesy of Char

Char brought a much-needed steakhouse to Green Hills. While the food is upscale, it’s got a nice casual vibe with live music in the lounge to enjoy while you wait for your table in the popular restaurant. Once you’re seated, you can choose from a menu of classic beef preparations and some excellent seafood options as well.

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Ancient Grains Bowl, photo courtesy of True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen was the second restaurant to open in the Vertis. The food offerings concentrate on healthy dishes designed by a renowned doctor of integrative medicine, who believes that delicious dining and conscious nutrition can go hand in hand, without sacrificing flavor. We’d have to say he hit the nail on the head with his menu of delicious and nutritious options.

Santo is another healthy option in the Vertis. Owned by the same team as Kalamata’s and Epice, Santo concentrates on the same sort of Mediterranean cuisine as at their sister restaurants, just a little bit fancier. You might have to depend on the knowledgeable servers to explain some of the more exotic Middle Eastern dishes, but just trust them!

Like their name (sorta) implies, Brixx is known for their wood-fired brick oven pizzas. Their classic pies come topped with tasty ingredients that range from traditional pepperoni to more exotic ones such as Sweet Thai Chicken and black bean spread on the Mexican pizza. They’ll even substitute vegan “cheese,” if that’s your thing.

Other interesting options in the neighborhood around Vertis include Green Hills Grille, an institution that was revived after being closed for a few years. Fans welcomed them back thanks to their casual California-revival style of food and comfortable ambiance.

A morning favorite is Noshville Delicatessen, the closest thing to an old school deli in town. In addition to traditional favorites like bagels and lox, Noshville also serves a great Southern breakfast all day long, and the menu adds delicious sandwich options at lunchtime.

etc. Restaurant; photo by Ashley Hylbert

etc. Restaurant may use small letters in its name, but the flavors are big, thanks to the talents of Deb Paquette in the kitchen. Like at her downtown favorite Etch, Chef Deb layers exotic flavors as part of some of the most artfully-plated dishes in town. It’s a little hard to find tucked back in a strip of hotels and offices, but etc. is well worth the search.

The Mall at Green Hills offers some surprisingly excellent dining options. Y’know, besides The Cheesecake Factory with its encyclopedic menu and enormous plate sizes. RH Café is located inside the gigantic Restoration Hardware Store in the mall, and it’s more than just a place for the store to show off their dinnerware and dining furniture. The restaurant offers a decidedly refined menu of brunch and dinner items that is perfect for taking a little break from your retail therapy.

North Italia Nashville; photo by Mandy Reid

North Italia is a new addition to the Green Hills dining scene, offering classic pasta dishes and pizzas along with some nice small plates to nibble on while you enjoy a craft cocktail or a glass of wine in between shopping stops. The wine list does feature some rare Italian options, so maybe you can discover a new favorite.

Shake Shack; photo by Jessica Giesey

Green Hills does offer some more casual options, ranging from the addictive burgers at Shake Shack to Mexican food at El Palenque and Freebirds World Burritos. Sports fans know they can catch their favorite teams playing on the multiple screens at Green Hills stalwarts like Corner Pub or The Crow’s Nest, and both of those spots offer some of the absolute best wings in town.

For years The Food Company has been a favorite spot to pick up catered food for big events or casual meals at home, but they also serve some of Green Hills best sandwiches and salads if you’re looking for a quick lunch with friends.

Emmy Squared 'Hot Chicken Pizza'; Photo credit: Emily Bolles
Emmy Squared ‘Hot Chicken Pizza’; Photo credit: Emily Bolles

While Green Hills residents miss the French bistro vibe of the recently-shuttered Table 3, they’re sure pleased with its replacement. The ovens had barely cooled down when Emmy Squared opened their second Nashville outpost next to the movie theater in Green Hills, serving up the same Detroit-style pizzas as their original location in the Gulch. The crispy cheesy crust of these rectangular pies is truly a delight, and Emmy Squared also offers one of the most decadent burgers in town. Called “Le Big Matt” after one of the restaurant’s owners, this monster is made with double-stacked Bear Creek Farms grass fed beef patties, American cheese, greens, pickles and their signature “Sammy Sauce.” It’s served with a side of waffle fries, and at almost twenty bucks, it really is a special treat.