With Nashville’s growth comes a steady stream of amazing new dining options, both locally owned and not. In fact, we’re seeing notable chefs and restaurant owners acknowledge Music City’s growth by opening second and third locations of their restaurants here — and not just in the heart of downtown. This year has brought a Charleston-based sushi restaurant to Germantown, a Scottsdale-based Italian spot to Green Hills and an Atlanta-based Tex-Mex joint to the Gulch, and all of them are worth a visit. Check out these three new Nashville restaurants: O-Ku, Superica and North Italia.
81 Van Buren St, Nashville, TN 37208 • (629) 900-0021
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
It was a long-awaited arrival and one that has certainly been worth the anticipation. O-Ku opened in Germantown this summer and brought with it an inventive menu of Asian cuisine. The restaurant was originally conceptualized by Charleston’s Steve Palmer, founder of Indigo Road Restaurant Group, making it the second of the group to open here (the other is Oak Steakhouse).
O-Ku’s seafood comes from some of the finest fish markets in Hawaii and Tokyo and is paired with locally sourced ingredients. More than just sushi, the menu ranges from traditional sashimi and specialty rolls to hot dishes like the braised short rib and their Japanese mushroom farro risotto, which comes highly recommended. Chef Eric Hill and General Manager Gabriel Raven agree that it’s one of the dishes they are most excited for guests to try, Eric noting, “It is certainly a unique dish that you won’t find on many other Japanese menus. It is a wonderful blend of Italian and Japanese flavors that goes great with white wine and dry sake.”
The sushi rolls at O-Ku are unlike anything you’ve had in Nashville, each bringing its own flavor profile and combination. The innovative menu promises a distinctly different bite in each dish — you won’t walk away unable to remember which dish was which. We love the Rising Sun roll topped with salmon and lemon slices. The acid and fat blend, combined with a dash of sourness and new texture from the lemon, offers a complex and refreshing bite. Don’t leave without trying at least a piece of the nigiri (though we’d recommend more), and the “Nashville hot style” of their O-Ku Rock Shrimp, which gives a nod to the restaurant’s new home.
The design, too, complements the neighborhood in which it’s located. Gabriel tells us, “The feel of the restaurant is clean and simplistic with lots of wood tones, but it also pulls a touch of industrial features highlighting the Germantown neighborhood.”
Indeed, the atmosphere is buzzy yet moody, making it ideal for almost any type of meal. “It is a great haven for those looking for a delicious and special meal but also for those looking to have a fantastic time,” Gabriel adds. “We have many groups come here in celebration, whether they are looking for our half-price sushi during happy hour or looking to enjoy our seven-course omakase … or anything in between.”
605 Overton St, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 709-3148
Hours: Dinner — Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Lunch — Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Brunch: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
From the moment we heard that Ford Fry’s Superica was opening an outpost in Nashville, we were on the lookout for signs and sounds and rumors of fresh tortillas around town. We had visited the original location in Atlanta a handful of times and, while Nashville is hardly hurting for Mexican restaurants, we knew that Superica was exactly the Tex-Mex void we needed filled. Superica is located on Overton Street in the Gulch, tucked behind Barista Parlor Golden Sound and alongside the new Patagonia. Boasting a large patio and tons of indoor seating, it seems they found a spot in the heart of Nashville that stays relatively quiet. That was intentional, too, according to Ford Fry and Kevin Maxey, the masterminds behind the establishment.
“We open restaurants in locations where we like to spend time, and we love Nashville,” Kevin explains. “The backside of the Gulch is such a great location because it’s in the heart of the action, but it’s also tucked in the corner, away from a lot of the noise.” Yes, it is absolutely in the perfect little corner for queso and margaritas. Inside, you’ll find an impeccably branded and designed interior by Smith Hanes. Outside, the iconic neon Superica sign hangs proudly.
The menu at Superica is expansive, ranging from “puffy tacos” to fajitas to a new kind of nacho — 10 chips, each topped with every single nacho topping so you won’t find those disappointing bottom chips with just a shred of cheese or dot of sour cream. The yellow queso might surprise you, but we guarantee you won’t leave a drop behind. For Kevin and Ford, though, it’s all about the beef fajitas. “We cook our skirt steak over a wood fire, a mixture of oak and mesquite,” Ford explains. “We make flour tortillas in-house daily to wrap the steak in. Served with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, rice and beans, it’s tough to beat!” After tasting the veggie fajitas, with a more varied vegetable lineup than you’d expect, we can understand why they recommend the fiery, build-your-own dish.
The secret we almost don’t want to let you in on, and even deleted a few times as we drafted, is that Superica is Nashville’s most under-the-radar brunch with the most stellar food. For a restaurant in the Gulch, it’s surprisingly quiet during the morning hours — and it’s only because it hasn’t yet made the brunch recommendation lists. The entire menu is available during brunch, with the addition of Tex-Mex classics like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and huevos Mexicanos. The one thing more surprising than the chillness of this spot on a Saturday? The hotcakes. Fans of other Superica restaurants know that these are some of the fluffiest, tastiest pancakes you’ve ever tried. Kevin and Ford recommend ordering one for the table at brunch, but send along the warning, “Expect to add a new ‘craving’ to your food life!”
2159 Green Hills Village Dr, Nashville, TN 37215 • (615) 622-7423
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The newest of our three recommendations, North Italia, hails from Scottsdale, Arizona, and opened its doors in Green Hills at the end of August. Its reputation of handmade pastas and pizzas preceded it, as we heard from so many that this one would be a must-try. We popped in on a Thursday night and were delighted to see a packed house. Families, couples, girlfriends and groups filled the large restaurant, giving it a low hum and big city vibe … right in the heart of Green Hills.
DJ Duporte, Senior Marketing Manager at North Italia, guides visitors toward one of his favorites on the menu to start their meal. “There are so many great options, but the White Truffle Garlic Bread is a crowd-pleaser every time. It’s a dish that is not just delicious and a great way to start your meal, but it is something everyone at the table needs to get a photo of. If you’re going to bring someone to North Italia for the first time, you should definitely order one.”
It seems this message rings true at the Nashville location as it was the first recommendation from our wonderful server’s mouth. The decadent starter is rich — we can understand why it’s such a hit.
The menu offers options for all diners, much like the space itself invites diners of all types. DJ explains, “One of the best things about North Italia is that every occasion is a great reason to visit — whether it’s a casual work lunch or an intimate get together.” For a casual lunch, we have to recommend the seasonal vegetable salad. In fact, we always recommend ordering this one as it was the dish that we were still talking about the next day. The fall iteration mixes Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, kale and more, with a light and delicious white balsamic vinaigrette. It was the ideal dish for pairing with the squid ink mafaldine and the bianca pizza, both of which were flavor-filled and satisfying. You can also sub gluten-free or vegetable noodles for your pasta if you need them. We love when restaurants offer accommodating options.
To round out your meal, if you can, we have to recommend the hazelnut torta with Nutella cream, hazelnut toffee and salted caramel gelato. We thought we couldn’t eat another bite and then this arrived. Then, we couldn’t drop our spoons.
We expect consistency, reliability and good food from this new Nashville restaurant, and we’ll surely be back soon.
And … just opened one week ago, Big Bad Breakfast brings an outpost to Nashville on Charlotte Avenue. SB’ers have already enjoyed heavenly breakfasts and brunches at John Currence’s Oxford-originated restaurant, and the reviews are glowing. Expect a wait, but grab a cup of free coffee and know that it’s totally worth it!
For more Nashville restaurants we love, click here.