Tucked in among the handful of eateries that line Belcourt Avenue just off 21st is a recent addition to Nashville’s thriving and ever-evolving culinary scene: Lucky Belly. Subtly sliding in where Zumi once operated, Lucky Belly is another Seed Hospitality offering (they also launched Zumi and Two Ten Jack), and it’s a standout in more ways than one. The exterior façade welcomes guests with large, lit-up letters, which actually foreshadow the bold, bright interior.
Once inside, guests enjoy a taste of authentic urban Tokyo, with Lucky Belly’s colorful graffiti, skater aesthetic and all-around cool vibe. Having experienced the nightlife in Kobe, Japan, firsthand, I can vouch for the authenticity and accuracy. It’s pretty spot on and fun!
The Japanese influence imparts its flavors as well, with a menu of gourmet burgers and spiked shakes, which are complemented by sushi rolls, some of which have an American twist. (Dining democracy at its finest!)
Culinary director Jason McConnell sources local ground beef from Greene Cattle Company in Bon Aqua, TN, which is then used to create a selection of unusual and mouthwatering burgers. The jalapeño burger stole my heart, with its thick patty topped with pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions and fried jalapeños, and dressed with cilantro mustard and jalapeño aioli. It’s the show-stealer, definitely, with an equally tasty batch of fries on the side. (Seriously, these may be the best fries in town. No offense, J. Alexander’s!)
Additional standout burger options include the Japanese fried chicken sandwich (with kimchi, fried egg and blue cheese), the ahi tuna burger and, for vegetarians, the black bean, quinoa and beet burger. The menu also features eight colorful sushi rolls and six classic options. Small plates, such as Korean-style chicken wings, chile and peanut calamari, and tuna deviled eggs are great starters, or opt for one of three sizable salads.
Now that we’ve gotten the food options out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff: the spiked shakes. Every option features alcohol blended with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The options pay homage to Southern culture, with names like Chocolate Elvis (fresh banana, peanut butter cups, chocolate ice cream and bourbon), Gambler (bourbon, malt and chocolate ice cream) and strawberry pie (Tuaca, strawberry preserves, graham cracker crumbs, vanilla ice cream and vodka) to name a few. And if you prefer a virgin version, that’s an option as well.
SB tip: There are quite a few gluten-free menu options available for those with dietary restrictions.
A well-stocked bar is primed to create any of the myriad options on the drink menu, including wine, beer, draft beer, cocktails and, of course, sake.
When you’ve had just enough spiked shakes, head upstairs to 2F, Lucky Belly’s Japanese-style karaoke room with the option for private dining and a full bar. After all, what Japanese-inspired night out would be complete without the country’s number one social activity?
And last, but not least, if you happen to be in the family way, Lucky Belly, while not a true family-friendly option complete with kids’ menu, is definitely a fine option for dining out with kids. We do, however, recommend getting there on the earlier side to ensure you get a seat.
Lucky Belly is located at 2119 Belcourt Ave., Nashville. Hours are 11 a.m. to late. View the menu and learn more at (615) 383-5770 or eatatluckybelly.com.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for the fabulous photos! See more of her work at ashleyhylbert.com.