The Nashville restaurant scene’s seemingly continual explosion can make it difficult to keep up. What’s open? What’s new? Where can we find our favorite chefs around town? We’re here to keep you in the loop. A handful of our favorite women and men in the biz have recently opened up new concepts, so we stopped in to check them all out. Each new joint offers a unique step away from their sister restaurants while maintaining the quality and creativity we have come to expect from their chefs. These three restaurants bring international flavors to Nashville in their own unique ways — with a common thread of delicious execution.
3 New Restaurants We Tried & Loved
4001 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209 • (615) 383-1303
Hours: Dinner, Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Brunch, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“Just like the streets of India, Chaatable is a bold and vibrant journey for the senses,” Maneet Chauhan tells us. The latest addition to her impressive lineup of restaurants in Nashville, Chaatable is one that is especially personal for her. The Indian street food restaurant pays homage to her and her husband Vivek’s memories of growing up in India with each item, both on the menu and the walls, holding significance for the two of them. Maneet and Vivek recognized that Nashville needed to know about “chaats” – the Indian word for “to lick” and a flavorful, popular category of Indian food – so they brought it to us.
The popular and unique bangle wall is adorned with more than 40,000 vintage bangles (they had to place a second order to fill it out!), the bar area features colorful kites and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, and the walls are decorated with vintage Bollywood posters and punchy paintings. “We really wanted it to feel like stepping into the streets of India,” Maneet explains. “Our partner in design, Lonon Parfitt, did a wonderful job envisioning how this place came alive based on mine and Vivek’s memories and recollections of our childhoods.” And beyond that, the bold design and thorough execution — much of which was done by Maneet and Vivek themselves — creates a warm atmosphere that was absolutely bustling on a Monday night visit. Stepping into the Chaatable doors on Charlotte transports you to a new place — perhaps, the streets of India — that is all new to Nashville.
The sensory overload doesn’t end with the decor. In fact, it’s merely the beginning. The Chaatable menu is full of flavors and spices that will surprise and satisfy in each bite. Our wonderful waiter thoughtfully guided us through the menu, and thanks to him we walked out ready to schedule our next visit. Starting with the Puff Puff Pass in the Thand Rakh section (or, cold apps) is a no-brainer. Cool moong daal (a type of split bean), potatoes and sweet and sour yogurt are stuffed inside warm, crunchy semolina puffs and topped with pomegranate seeds. The combination of flavors and textures is unlike anything I’ve had (unless, of course, you consider the Gol Guppa shots at sister restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House), and it’s no surprise these are one of the most popular items on the menu.
The Hand It Over! hand pie samosa chaat, my personal favorite, had a little bit of spice, crunch and creaminess that seemed to incorporate many of the delicious Indian flavors we tasted over the course of the evening. The Legalize Wheat layered wheat bread with mouth-wateringly flavored butter is perfect for dipping in all things, and the side dishes shouldn’t be missed either (we couldn’t choose a favorite between the Brussels sprouts and okra at my table).
And while Maneet recommends everything on the menu, of course, she specifically calls out the Build a Bhel for its unique and fun interactive experience. For this dish, traditionally enjoyed at the start of the meal, guests choose their own combo of ingredients – fruits, veggies, puffed rice and spices – and it’s all shaken together tableside!
As of this weekend, you can also get a taste of Chaatable’s flavorful food at Saturday and Sunday brunch with cheeky chaats like You’ve Been Chopped ;), the Avoca-dough and Always Being Eggstra in addition to the ones we already love. No doubt it will take more than one visit to get a taste of all the delicious dishes Chaatable has to offer, so we guess we’ll see you on Sunday!
505 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 454-3946
Hours: Everyday, 4 p.m. to midnight
The closing of Nashville’s beloved Little Octopus left us little to no time to mourn, but owner and chef Sarah Gavigan knew what we needed before we did. Bar Otaku brings izakaya to the Gulch, and with it, another staple of Japanese food and culture to Nashville. The comfortable space serves as a convivial restaurant and late-night stop in the spirit of a traditional Japanese izakaya – where gathering and unwinding are the ultimate goals!
The Bar Otaku interior received a facelift that tangibly altered the atmosphere. Sarah tells us, “We wanted to take the sub-culture around the word ‘Otaku’ a step further. Otaku has come to represent an entire sub-culture of art and animation wrapped up with delicious food in Japanese culture. So, we approached eight of the top graffiti artists in Nashville and asked them to paint some of Otaku culture’s most famous characters such as Godzilla and Todaro for the restaurant. Since our days at POP, we have always loved bringing local art into our projects.”
Dark walls and cozier booths invite visitors to linger over shared plates. Cheeky wall art and illustrations complement the cool and casual vibe. A chef’s counter and bar seating provide space for imbibing and tasting with a friend. Conversation and community reign, but food is by no means an afterthought.
The menu, ideal for sharing plates amongst groups, is approachably priced and (more than) fairly portioned. Our group of three ordered 10 items, sake and dessert and each paid about $30 – with plenty leftover! As each small plate arrived, we sampled, discussed and went back in for our favorites. The table as a whole agreed that the okonomiyaki, a cabbage pancake, is a must-order. Crunchy and savory and saucy, it’s also one of the larger plates on the menu. Hamachi sashimi came highly recommended by our delightful waitress Jenna, and we fought over that fourth piece (sadly, not to my avail!). Vegetable curry with carrots and potatoes was soul-satisfying, and the grilled broccoli with furikake and sesame was packed with flavor.
Sarah dished on one of the off-menu items: “The salmon belly is always a big hit. We marinate it in soy, sake and mirin and then cook it under the broiler at high heat for a short period that results in the silkiest piece of salmon you have ever tasted.” I can vouch for this — the “silkiest piece of salmon I’ve ever tasted” is, no doubt, how I’d describe it.
Sarah continues, “The concept of Bar Otaku was to extend the brand into a classic izakaya setting. The dishes we serve are classics … with a few winks.” We’d add that those winks make the dishes stellar, and we can’t wait to go back for more.
215 1st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201 • (615) 205-5400
Hours: Dinner, Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Lunch, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
From the team behind the Eastside’s Two Ten Jack, The Green Pheasant arrived downtown, across from Ascend Amphitheater, to a crowd of hungry people ready for a taste of what the talented duo had to offer. Since then, the place has been hoppin’ with dates, private events, girls’ nights and more.
The space is expansive and sleek with different corners boasting different vibes. You’ll find intimate red velvet booths, a private room with patterned floral wallpaper and an upstairs space that overlooks the entire restaurant. The cool atmosphere is anchored by the central bar, and above it floats a unique origami installation inspired by The Green Pheasant’s namesake bird, which created by the local New Hat team.
Opening up downtown has given co-chefs Jess Benefield and Trey Burnette the opportunity to play with ingredients like fresh seaweeds, artisanal soys and decades-old miso in more refined dishes. This creativity and excitement for their craft show up on the menu and in the creations.
Our mouths watered as we scanned through the menu in an attempt to choose what to try, so we, again, leaned on the help of our waiter. Over a gin, vermouth and ginger cocktail (my favorite of the night), we listened as he shared his favorites as well as the most popular items on the menu.
Tuna tartare served atop crispy rice kicked off our meal, and the dishes came quickly from there. The wedges were served on skewers and topped with hibachi dressing and crispy onions, the shumai lobster and shrimp gyoza in clover ponzo and the flavorful broccolini topped with cornbread and rock shrimp. Kinoko, a variety of mushrooms cooked with barley miso and topped with parmesan dashi, was creamy and savory and delectable — a table favorite. And reminiscent of its sister restaurant’s similar dish, the spicy crab noodles stole the show.
The food and space are dignified yet fit for any occasion — be it a beer and bowl of noodles at the bar or a celebratory evening out. The ambiance can shift depending on your spot in the restaurant (I’d recommend one of the cozier booths!), and the menu can be simple and comforting or over-the-top and special. Either way guarantees an experience you’ll return for.
For more of the best of the Nashville restaurant scene, click here!