It was 2 o’clock on a weekday afternoon when I stepped through the door of Mitchell Deli. What amazed me most, given the time of day, was the energy level inside – the place was filled with customers, bustling with workers with knives choppin and griddles cracklin’.
Until I visited Mitchell Deli, I wouldn’t have included a hard core, authentic deli in my top 10 personal picks for “Best of Nashville” restaurants. Yes, we do have a couple of nice delis around town, but none offer the creativity and farm-to-table commitment that Mitchell does.
Mitchell Deli was voted into the “best of sandwich category” by the Nashville Scene their first year in business and is a perfect example of what a real deli is all about. And, not only are they doing it right, they’re doing it 7 days a week.
The brainchild of David Mitchell, chef/owner operator, formerly of Wild Oats and Whole Foods, this place has been run with passion and a commitment to the neighborhood since the doors opened in 2008.
Mitchell takes the deli business seriously, with made-to-order sandwiches that’ll knock your socks off. And you can see why, with offerings like turkey with apple and brie, BBQ Asian Tofu, Bahn Mi (Vietnamese hoagi) and traditional fare, like their reuben, pastrami and more.
But the real secret is that they serve as the food anchor for the Riverside neighborhood, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and take home groceries. In fact, their breakfast bar with eggs, grits and Nashville favorite, Benton’s bacon, is considered one of the best deals in town. Several even say a bowl of their oatmeal is fuel from the Gods.
I asked owner, David Mitchell, about their recent inclusion in Adam Richman’s “Best Sandwich in America” segment on the Travel Channel. (It aired last month with a nod to the deli’s Asian Flank Steak Sandwich.) “It’s kind of funny, because they picked a specialty sandwich that’s only offered on Mondays, but people love it.” Guess what, ever since their appearance on television, their business on Monday’s has been through the roof.
Mitchell gets high marks when it comes to their ingredients. Their bread is from Silke’s Old World Breads in Clarksville, Benton’s bacon is used, as well as local cheeses and veggies from the Farmer’s Market.
And, where some delis get a “ho-hum” rating on say, pimento cheese, Mitchell’s reviews are off the charts.
Mitchell Deli offers a wonderful case of food to go if you want to pop in to pick up cheese, breads, eggs or veggies to take home. Once again, the commitment to support local purveyors is tantamount here, as is the case n so many East Nashville eateries. The owners know each other, they share their resources and support up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
With all my field research in East Nashville for our posts this month, I’m discovering that the dog-eat-dog mentality isn’t a problem across the river. Maybe it’s because for so long, it was hard to get quality ingredients, so they applaud every newcomer with open arms. Maybe it’s the more reasonable rent. Whatever the case, the vibe goes something like this: when one wins, everyone wins.
Sounds like a pretty great way to live, doesn’t it?
So all of you out there in pastrami land, put Mitchell Deli on your radar screen or better yet, head across the river as soon as you can. When you do, you need to be intentional because it’s located somewhat off the beaten track. It’s not as easy to find as Margot or Bongo Java in 5 Points, but it’s worth the time getting there. So, set your GPS, head to McGavock Pike and bring your appetite. To see their menu and for more information, visit their website: www.mitchelldeli.com.