When Nashvillians are in the mood for a hearty deli sandwich, they head to Noshville (1918 Broadway, 615/329-6674, Mon. 6:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 6:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri. 6:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sat. 7:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sun. 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m., $7–12), which is as close to a genuine New York delicatessen as you’ll find in this town. Lox and bagels, oatmeal, and a variety of egg dishes are popular at breakfast. At lunch and supper choose from a variety of sandwiches, all served double-stacked, which means it’s really more than any one person should eat. To find Noshville, look for the miniature statue of Lady Liberty on the roof. There is a second location in Green Hills at 4014 Hillsboro Circle, 615/269-3535.
The hype surrounding Nashville’s favorite breakfast restaurant, the Pancake Pantry (1796 21st Ave. S., 615/383-9333, Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 6 a.m.–4 p.m., $6–14) is deserved. Founded in 1961 and still family-owned, the Pantry serves the best pancakes in the city, and probably the state. Owner David Baldwin says that the secret is in the ingredients, which are fresh and homemade. Many of the flours come from Tennessee, and the syrup is made right at the restaurant. The Pantry proves that a pancake can be much more than plain. The menu offers no less than 21 varieties, and that doesn’t include the waffles. Try the fluffy buckwheat cakes, savory cornmeal cakes, sweet blintzes, or the old standby buttermilk pancakes. And if you decide to order eggs instead, the good news is that most of the other breakfast platters on offer come with a short stack of pancakes too. To its credit, the Pantry offers no-yolk omelets for the health-conscious, and it’s very kid-friendly as well.
The Pantry also serves lunch, which is limited to sandwiches, salads, and soups. Beware that on many weekend mornings, and some weekdays, the line for a seat at the Pantry goes out the door.
In today’s retro-happy world, it isn’t too hard to find an old-fashioned soda shop. But how many of them are the real thing? Elliston Place Soda Shop (2111 Elliston Pl., 615/327-1090, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–5 p.m., $5–9), near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt, is one of these rare holdovers from the past, and it’s proud of it. The black-and-white tile floors, lunch counter, and Purity Milk advertisements may have been here for decades, but the food is consistently fresh and good. Choose between a sandwich or a plate lunch, but be sure to save room for a classic milkshake or slice of hot pie with ice cream on top. Yum!
Nashville’s original coffee shop, Bongo Java (2007 Belmont Blvd., 615/385-5282, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–11 p.m.) is just as popular as ever. Located near Belmont University, Bongo, as its frequent patrons call it, is regularly full of students chatting, texting, and surfing the Internet thanks to free wireless Internet. Set in an old house with a huge front porch, Bongo feels homey and welcoming, and a bit more on the hippie side than other Nashville coffee shops. Nonetheless, expect the latest in coffee drinks, premium salads, and sandwiches. Breakfast, including Bongo French toast, is served all day. There is a bulletin board, a good place to find and seek roommates or apartments.
Voted Nashville’s favorite coffee shop, Fido (1812 21st Ave. S., 615/777-3436, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–midnight, Sun. 8 a.m.–11 p.m.) near Vanderbilt is a place to see and be seen. Take a seat along the front plate-glass windows to watch the pretty people as they stroll between the Sunset Grill and Posh, one of Nashville’s most upscale clothing boutiques. Fido’s is a tad dark, with sleek furnishings and rock music playing. It is not unfriendly, but has a harder edge than Bongo Java. In addition to coffee, sandwiches, salads, and baked goods are also on the menu.
Said to have the best burger in Nashville, Rotier’s (2413 Elliston Pl., 615/327-9892, Mon.–Fri. 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–10 p.m., $5–12) is also a respected meat-and-three diner. Choose from classic sandwiches or comfort-food dinners. The Saturday breakfast will fuel you all day long. Ask about the milkshake, a city favorite that appears nowhere on the menu.
Dessert takes center stage at Bobbie’s Dairy Dip (5301 Charlotte Ave., 615/292-2112, Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. noon–9 p.m., $4–7). The cheeseburgers and chili dogs are the comfort food you’ve dreamed of, and you can finish off with soft-serve ice cream, dipped cones, sundaes, and banana splits. Bobbie’s closes during the winter months; call ahead to confirm they’re open.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition