Tag Archives: Restaurants

Listeria – Nashville Eats

9 Apr

The latest issue of Nashville Lifestyles lists the 50 best restaurants in Nashville, and it is an impressive grouping. In the past couple of years, the city’s food scene has exploded.

This is the city - the Nashville city.

This is the city – the Nashville city.

People may think that this area is all about Cracker Barrel and collard greens, but some of the nation’s top chefs work their craft around here. I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I like food. That means that I have been to several on the list.

The magazine ranks the Top 10 and offers the next 40 in alphabetical order. For the purposes of this post, I will write a few sentences about my experiences at the Top 10 and give a three word synopsis for the rest.

2. The Catbird Seat – I wrote and entire post about my experience at The Catbird Seat, so I will just go ahead and link it. This is a place that everyone should experience at least once.

4. F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar – An ex-girlfriend and I had an interesting experience at F. Scott’s. There was an appetizer that I liked, but she didn’t. It’s a story that needs a post all its own. I promise that it will be coming next.

5. City House – This is a great restaurant with an industrial atmosphere. I have been once and want to go back as soon as I can.

6. Capitol Grille – Located in the historic Hermitage Hotel, this restaurant is a classic dining experience. The food is great, and you are surrounded by history. When the Tennessee legislature approved the 19th Amendment, women got the right to vote. This is where the politicians met to work out that decision.

7. Margot Cafe & Bar – Great food. However, the best part is dessert that is served on dishes that belonged to the owner’s grandmother.

10. Kayne Prime – I am a fan of the M Street experience. Whiskey Kitchen is great. Virago is great. I am even a member of Citizen, the private club in the area. However, Kayne Prime is not my favorite steak place.

And now, the rest of the restaurants.

Eastland Cafe – my favorite one.

Firefly Grille – small but great.

Germantown Cafe – I’ve had better.

Loveless Cafe – overrated country food.

The Mad Platter – books for decor.

Merchants – duck fried tots.

Midtown Cafe – small but good.

The Palm – the steak place.

Park Cafe – just like Eastland.

Prime 108 – company ruined it.

Red Pony – cool little place.

Sunset Grill – Henley’s song better.

Tin Angel – fantastic Angel Wings.

Virago – best sushi place.

Watermark – not so good.

If you are ever in Nashville, then you should check out a few of these places. There are other great restaurants not on the list, so you can’t go wrong. Just stay away from the chains. Like all cities, Nashville has some great locally owned restaurants. As I said, I am not a foodie, but one of my co-workers is. For great reading about food, click on her blog at Nashville Fork. Be warned, it will make you hungry.

Picture This – Bobcat Bite

27 Feb

Each May, myself and a few other professors (Dave, Fred and Pete) take students on a field trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over a span of two weeks, we explore the surrounding area and provide the students with information in our fields of study. Dave, a business professor, talks about the economy of the region and how it changed during the centuries. Fred, an anthropologist, specializes in Native American cultures and oversees the trip. Pete, a biologist, tells us about the land, plants and animals of the area. I, as the historian, attempt to bring all of this together and tell the story of the region and its people.

However, eating is the highlight of the trip for all of us. We hit some of the best restaurants in Santa Fe and Albuquerque in an attempt to introduce the students to fine New Mexican cuisine. They think good Mexican food can be found at Taco Bell and the millions of locally owned Mexican restaurants in our area. I am convinced they are all owned by the same person because they all have the Speedy Gonzales special. At any rate, when they get back to Tennessee their taste buds have been spoiled with real peppers, sauces, tamales, burritos…the list goes on and on.

With that being said, one of our favorite places doesn’t serve Mexican food, from New or Old Mexico. In business since the 1950s, Bobcat Bite is a small, pink building on the outskirts of Santa Fe that hides heaven within its walls. In the picture, that’s me and Dave salivating before we go in. And, what’s waiting for us inside? Green chile cheeseburgers. These are 10 ounces of ground beef covered with cheese and drowned in green chile sauce. I don’t even have the words to describe how delicious it is. All I know is that it is so good that we go more than once on our trips.

The restaurant has been featured in GQ, Bon Appetit, and Travel and Leisure. But, I don’t have to read those articles to know what to do after I write my name on the chalkboard (being small there is usually a wait). With a little luck, I will get a seat at the lunch counter with a view at the surrounding mountains. From here, there is also a view of the kitchen and the wonderful things happening back there. Then, I order the cheeseburger that I described and an order of fries. They also have steaks, but that really isn’t the point. When the goodness is placed in front of me, I dig in and enter hamburger, cheese, green chile and grease paradise.

If you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, then do yourself a favor and head to Bobcat Bite. Get a cool t-shirt while you are there.

A Sunday in Nashville

14 Feb

I must start out by bragging a little. Nashville is a great place to live. It has the feel of a small southern town combined with an eclectic culture. Sure, Nashville has country music, but there is much more – art galleries, dining, parks, interesting places to browse. The list goes on and on. I wrote earlier about some of Nashville’s coolness, and this past Sunday I immersed myself into some of it. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how interesting Nashville is.

Sunday was not warm by anyone’s standards, but it was nice day nonetheless. Having spent most of the weekend around the house, my girlfriend and I decided to make our way into the big city and see what was going on. After some discussion about where to begin, I made an executive decision to head toward Marathon Village. This is an abandoned car factory from the early 20th Century that is being redefined as one of Nashville’s hip locations.

Marathon Village

I went to Marathon Village for a couple of reasons. First, we are going to a concert there in a few weeks, and I felt that some reconnaissance was in order. Second, this is the location of Antique Archaeology, a store that opened not too long ago. If you have ever seen American Pickers, then you know that this store is filled with stuff found by Mike and Frank. The store was filled with people and, to our surprise, had live music. After some browsing and listening, we crossed the street to a really cool art gallery.

By this time, we both needed to eat and have a few drinks. There are a variety of good restaurants to choose from in Nashville, but we went with an old standby. J. Alexander’s. The chain is based in Nashville and has several locations, but our favorite is on West End. I must admit that the food wasn’t great, but we had good drinks, good conversation and a good view because many of the tables, including ours, overlook Centennial Park.

Yes, we have a Parthenon. There is even a statue of Athena inside.

Centennial Park was created for an exposition to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. At the time, it was covered with buildings and exhibitions from throughout the world. The Parthenon is the only remaining building. And, why does Nashville have a replica of the ancient Greek structure? Before being known as “Music City”, Nashville was known as the “Athens of the South” because of the numerous universities in the area.

Speaking of higher education, our next stop was the bookstore at Vanderbilt University. It used to be a Borders, and my favorite bookstore in Nashville, but, as most book lovers know, Borders was killed by Kindle users. Barnes and Noble took its place with a hybrid public/university bookstore. It is a great place to browse the shelves, but, as a University of Tennessee fan, the black and gold memorabilia gives me the creeps.

After buying a few books, we found ourselves not wanting to go home. Instead, we headed to Whiskey Kitchen, one of the happening places in Nashville. It is packed most nights, but Sunday afternoon gave it a laid back atmosphere with people wanting have a few drinks and some comfort food. We drank the drinks but skipped the food.

As the name entails, they serve whiskey.

After watching the red carpet part of the Grammy’s, which made me drink more, we left the Whiskey and hit Midtown. This is an area behind Vanderbilt (Honestly, we did not make a complete circle around the campus.) that has a collection of small bars and restaurants. This is one of my favorite places to hang out, and a good time is always had in the area. Well, almost always. Loser’s, one of the bars, was one of the last places Steve McNair was seen alive. If you don’t who he is, then I suggest you Google it. The story captured our city for a long time. We didn’t go bar-hopping to Loser’s or many of the other places. We hit the Blue Bar.

I have no idea why they call it blue when it's really red.

Our Blue Bar experience is what makes Nashville special and different from other cities. There are parks, restaurants and bars everywhere. However, only in Nashville can you hear people sing and think they may be famous one day. Obviously, Nashville is full of people wanting to be stars. But, it is hard to imagine how many. There are bartenders and waitresses all over town who have more talent than many superstars. They just haven’t caught the break that everyone looks for. Talented people sing in small bars and venues throughout the city just hoping they will be seen. I have heard a bunch that never made it but a few that did. I saw Jewel open a show once and didn’t think she had a chance. So, my eye for talent may not be very keen. But, we saw a band on Sunday that may have a shot. In fact, it’s the only unknown band I have heard that hit me in that way. They were called Peter Terry and the City Profits, and I urge you to Google them. They have an album on iTunes that I have already bought. If they make it, then my girlfriend and I can always say that we saw them at the Blue Bar along with 15 other people.

After all this drinking, I needed some more food before driving home. This time we skipped the quaint bistros and went straight for the king of all Mexican food chains, Chuy’s.

Not real Mexican food, but it's good anyway.

The food is great, and half of the stuff on the menu is an homage to Elvis. How can you beat a combination of Mexican food and Elvis? Here’s a hint – you can’t.

That was our Sunday on the Nashville scene. If you ever get a chance to visit, then be sure to make it happen. You’ll have a great time.

The Problem With Sonic

17 Nov

I love Sonic. It is, by far, my favorite fast food joint because it caters to my taste buds. Corn dogs. Chili pies. Milkshakes. Jalapeno cheeseburgers. Now that I think about it, I like just about everything on their menu. It’s big yellow sign is a beacon that draws me to the breading, to the grease, and, most of all, to the convenience. No matter how much I like the food, it is really the convenience that attracts me. I can pull up, sit in my car and not have to deal with anyone else. This system works well for an introvert because I can’t, for the life of me, make myself walk into a restaurant and eat by myself. I feel like a loser and imagine myself eating alone until I am 80 years old. For me, Sonic is perfect. Wait, it used to be perfect because there is something currently about Sonic that I don’t understand.

Why does Sonic have a drive-thru window?

It makes not sense whatsoever. The entire Sonic concept is designed around the convenience of customers not getting out of their cars. The nostalgia of years past comes to life as smiling waitresses, sometimes on roller skates, bring your food to you. This is after you push a button and order food from your own personal glowing menu. So, what gives? Why does a drive-in restaurant need a drive-thru window? My initial conclusions are:

1. People are too lazy to put their vehicle in reverse. As far as I can tell, that is the only difference between pulling into a parking spot to order and ordering in a car line. It is the same menu. It is the same person on the intercom. It is the same waiting time. Actually, I think the car line waiting time is longer. I have seen Sonic’s with people waiting in a huge line while parking spaces sat empty.

2. People do not want someone bringing food to them. This is not an original idea because a man I work with brought it to my attention. While contemplating the mystery of the Sonic drive-thru, I mentioned my confusion to him. He said that he always uses the drive-thru because he didn’t want anyone hovering around his car. It invaded his comfort bubble or some nonsense. Is this really the mindset? People don’t want a cute girl on roller skates to bring food because it’s uncomfortable? The person in the drive-thru window has to reach toward your car. And, what about waiters in restaurants? They are hanging around the table all of the time.

3. People are too cheap to tip. I always tip the girl who brings my food. In fact, one of my former students who worked at Sonic said that they made better tips than any restaurant in town. Maybe people use the drive-thru because it is against their religion to tip a fast food worker, and this is their way out of an uncomfortable situation.

I have to admit that this mystery is totally beyond me. I can’t figure out why Sonic’s have drive-thru windows. Apparently, there is a reason because Sonic is spending money putting them in. Obviously, customers have asked for them. If you have any ideas about why this is, then please let me know.