Out to Lunch: A Nashville Primer
Mike Wolf breaks down the best lunch spots across the city by neighborhood
Whether it started with the Spanish tradition of having a slice of ham in the middle of the day (lonja) or a small, mid-day drink in Britain (nunch or noonshine if you’re into Jane Austen), the American institution of lunch grew like the smokestacks of the early Industrial Revolution and is still going strong over a hundred years later. As you’ve noticed in this space, Nashville has no shortage of incredible lunch spots. What follows are some midday gems, broken down by neighborhood.
Big Al’s Deli, located at the North end of 4th Avenue (closed Mondays), offers a wide array of meat and three fare along with perfectly crusted catfish, pillowy biscuits, and some of the best beans in town.
Monell’s, off 6th Avenue in the heart of Germantown, offers a fun family-style service where you’ll be rubbing elbows with locals, tourists, lawyers and politicians (sounds like a Warren Zevon song). One of the best places to get fried chicken in the city.
Ed’s Fish House, located at 1801 Dr. DB Todd Jr. Blvd, specializes in hot fish sandwiches, a North Nashville specialty, along with a side of spaghetti. Try the whiting sandwich with mustard and onions.
Riddim n Spice, off Mehary Boulevard, specializes in Jamaican-style jerk chicken, braised oxtail, peas and rice, and other Caribbean sides like mango-cucumber slaw. There’s also a vibey dining room and dancing area when happy hour hits.
Five Points/East Nashville
I Dream of Weenie, a five-points neighborhood staple offering creative hot dogs served out of a converted VW bus off 11th Street, is set to move further down the road in the Edgefield neighborhood later this summer.
Cheap Charlie’s Taco Shop, located in a converted trailer in the parking lot of the Marathon gas station in the center of the Five Points, offers incredible street tacos and hearty burritos. Try the lengua tacos if you’re feeling frisky.
Shake Shack, in the 5th and Main monstrosity, and a nationwide chain at this point, still offers some of the most delicious burgers, milkshakes and fries in town. There can be a lot of uncertainty dining downtown, but this place rarely makes a false move.
Roberts Western World, the Broadway honky-tonk to end them all, not only has some of the greatest musicians playing in town on a regular basis, they also boast one of the best lunch deals in Nashville, the recession special: a fried bologna sandwich, moonpie, bag of chips and a PBR, all for $6.
Hoang Tofu, located off Charlotte Avenue west of Briley parkway, has a wide variety of tasty Vietnamese sandwiches, along with amazing noodle dishes and takeaway options.
Bobby’s Dairy Dip, a mile or so east of Hoang and still off Charlotte, is an all-time summer stop in Nashville. The ice cream is insanely delicious and the burger is one of the sneaky bests in the region.
Shotgun Willie’s BBQ, located off Galatin and Ardee, is one of the only places in Middle Tennessee to get truly authentic Texas-style brisket. Get there early, the food is so good they usually run out before 2pm. What better endorsement do you need than that.
Mitchell’s Deli, in the Riverside Village area, is known for reliably delicious sandwiches, an old-school salad bar and soup station, and a great beer selection to get you through the day.
Pinky Ring Pizza, located a few doors west of Gallatin in the heart of Madison, offers legit New York-style pizza with locally-sourced toppings and thoughtful gluten-free options. Madison-ites are rejoicing since this spot opened.
Tacos y Mariscos Linda, off Gallatin and Webster, has an array of amazing Mexican food, a lovely bakery attached to it, and a constantly rotating supply of smoked chicken that you can’t miss from the parking lot.
There are so many options as you trek down Nolensville road into the International food haven of South Nashville. Frida’s Oaxacan food ranks with the best, with homemade tortillas, fried grasshoppers and a great ice cream shop to boot.
Prince’s Hot Chicken needs no introduction in the Nashville food scene. Go get the hottest hot chicken you’ll find and see what all the euphoric, hallucinogenic fuss is about. You’ll be a hot chicken convert in no time.