Opening a new dining destination is complicated enough without the addition of having to navigate a pandemic. Thankfully, we are a city that unwaveringly supports our restaurant scene. Here are five new eateries that recently opened or soon will — and here’s why they deserve every bit of our attention.
5 New Nashville Restaurants to Put on Your Radar
1000 Gallatin Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Husband and wife duo Grace Nguyen and Chad Newton have been doing pop-ups for the last few months to gear up for the official August 13 opening of their sandwich shop and restaurant, East Side Banh Mi. The menu is based on simple, authentic Asian classics made with locally sourced ingredients. As the name suggests, they’re serving up Vietnamese-style bánh mi sandwiches, including The No. 1 (ham hock terrine, pate and smoked bologna) and Impossible (“Xiu Mai” impossible meatballs that are roasted and smashed). Other specialties include the Fresh Peach & Cucumber Salad with fried shallots, roasted peanuts, mint and spicy fish sauce, and the Broken Rice Bowl with your choice of protein, jasmine rice, pickles, herbs, fried shallots, roasted peanuts and spicy fish sauce. Top it all off with a traditional Vietnamese Toasted Peanut Rice Milk, and you’re well on your way to not only satisfying your tastebuds but getting hooked on East Nashville’s newest fast-casual go-to.
901 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206 • (615) 922-4934
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
By now, it’s a given that any restaurant experience created by James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock is not to be missed. A throwback to the nostalgic fast food restaurants of the past, Joyland is essentially an old-school burger joint with modern pizazz. Chock full of melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken, burgers and shakes (not to mention, boozy shakes!), the menu delivers simplicity with a dash of sophistication. There are even ‘Impossible’ burgers to satisfy the non-meat eaters in the bunch, and Peach Truck handpies to satisfy … well, everyone. We recommend the house specialty, “Joy Sticks,” which are a cross between Japanese yakitori and Mississippi’s tradition of fried chicken-on-a-stick. Pair that with a rum-spiked coffee shake, and you’re good to go!
1400 Adams St, Nashville, TN 37208 • (615) 709-3156
Hours: Monday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
If you’re looking to be wowed, The Optimist is the place to go. From the exceptional staff to the in-depth flavor profiles, Ford Fry and Ryder Zetts have taken their seaside “fish camp” concept to the next level, completely reimagining the historic space (a former hammer handle factory) in Germantown, and delivering seafood dishes that will change your perception of food.
Dishes frequently change to reflect seasonal offerings and new inspiration. Favorites include red snapper en papillote (wrapped in parchment), crispy Spanish octopus and a charred calamari salad. Even the heirloom tomato salad, which initially sounds simple and straightforward, is something to write home about, with its garlic chips and creamy whipped parmesan. The cocktails are on point (our favorite is the Pleasure Cruise), and dessert is a must. The coconut pie, for example, is “a slice of cloud on a plate,” as server McKenzie so aptly described it.
Ford Fry and Ryder Zetts’ highly anticipated upstairs bar, Le Loup, is in its final stages of completion, and they’re also well on their way to opening Star Rover Sound, a recording studio-inspired space where diners can feast on Mexican street tacos and fresh ceviche. Foodies, rejoice!
3826 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209 • (615) 730-3088
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; closed Monday
PennePazze is a pasta lover’s dream. With gorgeous fresh pasta and Pinsa (a sort of old-world, fresh-baked pizza), chef and owner Rony Stark is making his mark in Nashville. From ravioli to tagliatelle, and even a gluten-free pasta option, we’re drooling over traditional sauces and ingredients that beam us to Italy in one bite.
The PennePazze menu also offers a build-your-own pasta option, giving us a choice of protein, sauce style, and classic additions such as pine nuts, garlic confit, fresh basil and porcini mushrooms. Chef Rony tells us he was born into an Italian family and began cooking with his grandmother when he was a wee tot. He fell in love with it, followed his passion, and wound up pursuing the American dream here in Nashville. Boy, did we luck out!
5133 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
Hours: Not yet released
Thanks to Julia Jaksic’s new brasserie, Roze Pony, Belle Meade is about to gain a neighborhood gathering place that redefines the classics — with the Julia twist we love. Slated to open sometime in August, the restaurant will not only serve up all-day dining, but it will feature a take-away case, allowing patrons to grab sandwiches, pastries and pantry items to-go. Unlike her East Nashville restaurant, Café Roze, Roze Pony’s menu and design are steeped in Tennessee tradition and Belle Meade’s history. In fact, she was inspired by Steeplechase, enamored with the event since a friend took her to it years ago.
Ultimately, horses are what set the stage for Roze Pony, in both name and aesthetic. While the restaurant’s interior will maintain Julia’s modern sensibilities, the design elements hail from architecture found in old stables around the world, which she has researched in depth. Roze Pony’s interior features an old-school custom-tiled floor, dark navy blue accents, and a wood ceiling. “I think it’ll be fun,” Julia says of her newest endeavor. “It’s exciting to go into a completely different neighborhood and get to know a different part of Nashville.” We’re excited about it, too, Julia!
Nicky’s Bagel Shop at Nicky’s Coal Fired
5026 Centennial Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209 • (615) 678-4289
Hours: Thursday and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; closed Monday through Wednesday
Nicky’s Coal Fired has been an Italian staple in The Nations since the end of 2016, and it’s known for having the only coal-burning oven in Tennessee. Since it’s been around for a while, it technically doesn’t qualify as a new Nashville restaurant. However, Nicky’s recently re-opened for fast-casual dining and … wait for it … it now has a bagel shop, too.
Featuring coal-fired bagels crafted by former Bare Naked Bagel Shop owner Rob Kane, Nicky’s bagels are made from scratch daily, using their sourdough starter. From a simple bagel with lox to the heartier roast beef bagel with roast beef, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and horseradish cream, Chef Tony Galzin has managed to make Nicky’s even better!
Enjoy your dining adventures!
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