We’ve been astonished by our city’s nonstop growth and spate of newcomers to our dining scene. Moreover, we’ve been blown away by the irrepressible spirit of our long-standing chefs and restaurateurs who have dug in, gotten creative, and adapted so they can continue to serve delicious food and drink to us hungry diners. For this year’s Restaurant Issue, there are no bests. For anyone still in the business and doing the work, that’s a best, in and of itself. Salud!
We’ve looked back over the past year or two and assembled some favorites, including these neighborhood gems!
Seema Prasad transformed the old Johnson’s Meat Market in Sylvan Park into an intimate restaurant and wine bar and opened in September 2008, amid a global recession. No matter: folks were ready for her brand of hospitality. The restaurant has grown to include edible landscaping, a lush outdoor dining patio, and The Barn—a separate event space for classes, wine dinners, and community gatherings. (343 53rd Ave. N., 615-298-3663; mielrestaurant.com)
The building has the look and charm of a Lebanese taverna—and the cuisine to match. You’ll love the mezze, the aromatic grilled fish, and pistachio grilled lamb. While feasting on the exotic, you’ll also savor the familiar. Families and friends gather at this 12 South neighborhood landmark where Maher Fawaz and his staff make you feel at home. (2902 12th Ave. S., 833-936-3873; epicenashville.com)
In 2007, Chef Tandy Wilson brought new creativity to a sculptor’s former home and studio in Germantown, serving his own art in the form of soulful Southern-meets-Italian fare. Pastry chef Rebekah Turshen’s stellar desserts make worthy complements. Seasonality and sustainability are at the heart of City House. You feel Wilson’s sense of community on Sunday evenings when the menu shifts to the shareable Sunday Suppers. (1222 4th Ave. N., 615-736-5838; cityhousenashville.com)
Beloved chef and mentor, urban pioneer, and champion of farmers, Margot McCormack led the way, inspiring a creative entrepreneurial Renaissance in East Nashville. For over 20 years, her café has become more than a place known for delicious French-informed, seasonally- driven dishes and hospitable service: it is a cornerstone of the community. (107 Woodland St., 615-227-4668; margotcafe.com)