Opening Act: Notable New Downtown and Midtown Restaurants to Check Out

Written by Chris Chamberlain
Opening Act: Notable New Downtown and Midtown Restaurants to Check Out
Photo courtesy of Central BBQ

It’s been a great couple of months for Nashville diners with a handful of exciting new restaurants opening over the course of the fall. Just in Midtown and Downtown alone, four eateries worth your attention have started service since the beginning of October. Clear your calendar and make plans to check these out!

Photo courtesy of Central BBQ
Photo courtesy of Central BBQ

Central BBQ

The Memphis-based smoked meat masters at Central BBQ recently fired up the pits at their first outpost outside of Bluff City. The latest location is in the nifty new Capitol View complex at 11th Ave and Charlotte with free parking available in the garage that adjoins the new Publix store. In a town filled with great ‘cue and from a town with even more legendary smoke kings, Central BBQ manages to still stand out. Their smoked chicken wings feature the full wing, so you don’t have to choose between winglets and flats. Kissed with smoke and drizzled with their tangy white sauce, these wings are the things!

Other smoked meats are uniformly excellent, from pulled pork to tender ribs to some of the best brisket outside of Texas. Pick from your choice of four different barbecue sauces or just enjoy them with dry rub seasoning. Central encourages you to let the smoke be the sauce.

The Dogwood; Photo credit: Quinn Ballard
The Dogwood; Photo credit: Quinn Ballard

The Dogwood Nashville

Former The Bachelor star Brad Womack along with Chad Womack and Jason Carrier have opened what should be a new Midtown hotspot in the former home of Soulshine Pizza at 1907 Division St. Joining three other Dogwoods in Texas, this outpost will feature the same sort of electric vibe and elevated gastropub fare that has made them so popular in the Lone Star State.

Boasting two stories of fun with outdoor patios on both levels, The Dogwood will serve their specialty cocktails which includes the Texas-sized Mimosa, the Winter Warmer, the Dogwood Flower, the Violet Rose and more. They will also feature live music and DJs that should fit right in on that strip of Division that’s home to Winners, Losers and ReBar.

Helen’s Hot Chicken

If you think Nashville already has enough hot chicken joints, the folks at Helen’s don’t agree with you, because they’ve opened yet another link in their chain of piquant poultry restaurants at 2010 Scarritt Place. From their humble beginnings frying chickens in a trailer on the side of the road, Helen’s has expanded into a real powerhouse in the hot chicken universe.

Offering multiple spice levels from plain to hella hot, Helen’s specializes in wings as well as quarter chickens. They also offer a nod to Nashville’s second most famous spicy dish, hot fish sandwiches, with darned tasty catfish or whiting sandwiches. While it’s pretty brave to open within walking distance of the original location of Hattie B’s, Helen’s is up to the challenge.

Fat Kat Slim's; Photo credit: Sabrina Canup
Fat Kat Slim’s; Photo credit: Sabrina Canup

Fat Kat Slim’s

The culinary team behind the popular Wedgewood-Houston restaurant Earnest Bar & Hideaway recently opened their second concept at the corner of 8th Ave. South and Division St. Fat Kat Slim’s is a modern take on the classic 1950’s diner, but with lots more bells and whistles than those simple eateries.

The decor is somehow futuristic and retro at the same time, with bold colors, lots of chrome and neon. The attractive bar offers a full complement of cocktails, but special focus is paid to six house martinis made with exotic ingredients. The kitchen focuses on well-executed versions of classic comfort food like burgers, fried chicken and meatloaf. A small stage features live music, and the party keeps pumping until 1:00 am and two hours later on Fridays and Saturdays.