1. Downtown: Broadway, 2nd Avenue, and surrounding areas
Demos' Steak & Spaghetti House. An extensive menu, friendly staff and affordable prices make this a mainstay for locals and tourists, adults and children, alike. The steak's good, and so's the pasta. Demos' is busy all the time, so there may be a wait. Inexpensive lunches served promptly 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
300 Commerce St. (615-256-4655)
Mon-Fri.; Open 11-a.m.-11 p.m. Sun-Thurs and until midnight Fri-Sat.
Old Spaghetti Factory. In the heart of the downtown District, this long-time Nashville favorite is family friendly and offers familiar Italian fare without breaking the bank. Walk past the sidewalk troubadours and enter the elegant entrance past the trolley car inside to enjoy the fun environment of this chain. 160 2nd Ave. N.
Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon-Thurs 5-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 5-11 p.m.; Sun 4-10 p.m.
Hard Rock Cafe For pure tourist value as well as the awesome burgers, just do it-go the Hard Rock Cafe and get your Nashville cap and t-shirt, and when you're finished, take a stroll to walk off the meal at Riverfront Park. LP Field, home to the Titans, is in full view across the Cumberland River.
100 Broadway. (615-742-9900).
Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-midnight
Radius 10. The contemporary menu ranges from modern updates on comfort food (white cheddar and country ham macaroni and cheese) and Carolina low-country style cuisine (shrimp and scallop grits with black truffles) to Kobe beef short ribs and sashimi-grade tuna. Housed within a modern, industrial-style building in the Gulch, the restaurant has a variety of seating options, including a patio. Reservations recommended.
1103 McGavock St. (615-259-2105)
Hours of Operation - Monday-Saturday (Phone ahead for specific seating times)
Jack's Bar-B-Que. When you see pigs fly, you know you're in for something special. They take flight on the neon sign heralding Jack's, written up in Southern Living, USA Today and the New York Times. When my company was looking for a good barbecue vendor to feed 800 people at a picnic, we sampled some of the best in town. Jack's won, hands down. The slaw is tasty, the pork shoulder, beef brisket and ribs are flavorful, and the iced tea cold. You get the picture. You can't miss at Jack's, and it's spitting distance from the Sommet Center.
Mon-Wed 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thurs-Sat 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (615-254-5715)
Hilton Sportsgrille. The Hilton is right across from the amazing Schermerhorn Symphony Center on one side and the Sommet Center on the other side. Eddie George, famed former Titan running back, established a lively pub of sorts where sports fans love the food and the large screens. Traditional American food and kid-friendly. You can park underground, enjoy the food and drink and walk over to the Sommet Center afterwards.
121 Fourth Ave. S. (615-620-1000)
11 a.m.-midnight daily.
Ichiban Voted Best Sushi in Nashville in 2006, Ichiban has been serving up raw fish for years, and it's fresh, all the time. My Japanese friends buy the fish here to roll their own favorites at home. Variety is the spice of life, so be adventurous! There are more than 20 special rolls; and if you don't like raw fish, there are plenty of other dishes to choose from. It's good food at a great price.
109 N Second Ave. (615-244-7900)
Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5-10 p.m.; Sat-Sun 5-10 p.m.
The Melting Pot. This chain makes the list because it's fondue and it's different. It's pricey, but you and your honey or a bunch of friends will have a memorable time. There are healthy salads as well as seafood. The Melting Pot recommends reservations.
166 Second Ave. N. (615-742-4970)
Mon-Thu: 4:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 3 - 11 p.m.; Sun: 3-10 p.m.
Andrew Chadwick's on Rutledge Hill.. This ultra high-end restaurant specializes in haute cuisine, where you can enjoy tastes not previously associated with fine dining in Nashville. Located in a beautiful Victorian house the owner/chef carefully restored just south of downtown, this restaurant provides diners with the service and the flavors one would expect from a world-class dining experience. However, beware as this comes at a price and expect to spend $100 a person including drinks and desserts. Reservations are necessary.
37 Rutledge St. (615-254-8585)
5:30 PM - 10 PM Tues-Sat.
Arnold's Country Kitchen. This meat-and-three, located on 8th Avenue South near downtown, is a Nashville classic meat-and-three. ". ("Meat and three" means a plate one meat and three vegetables cooked southern style, or for a restaurant that specializes in serving them.) Arnold's clientele is a cross-section of Nashville, and during lunch, you're as likely to see a Lexus as a pickup truck in the parking lot. The southern-style food is served in a cafeteria line, and the servings are generous.
605 8th Ave. S (615-256-4455)
Mon-Fri 6 am-2:30 pm
2. Germantown area. From Broadway, turn onto 8th Avenue to find this area behind the Bicentennial Mall and Farmer's Market area off James Roberson Pkwy).
Germantown Cafe. "Germantown" is an older neighborhood near downtown that's been undergoing a revival in the past decade or two. Germantown Cafe is a small, bistro-style restaurant with a great view of downtown. Nice enough atmosphere for a date, and with an interesting and eclectic menu. Save room for dessert!
1200 Fifth Ave North (615-242-3226)
Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-close; Sat 5 p.m.-close, Sun 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-close
Monell's. Also located in Germantown, Monell's offers real, old-fashioned Southern food. With the food, the decor, and a little imagination, you might feel like you're sitting in Great Aunt Bea's dining room. Other guests may join you at your table. There are no menu decisions; big bowls and platters of salads, vegetables, meats, and bread are brought to the table and passed around family-style. The dishes vary from day to day, but skillet fried chicken is served at all meals, including breakfast.
1235 6th Ave. North (615-248-4747)
Mon 10:30 am-2 pm; Tue-Fri 10:30am-2pm, 5-8:30 pm; Sat 8:30 am-1 pm, 5 pm-8:30 pm; Sun 8:30 am-11 pm, 11 am-4 pm
3. Vanderbilt-Hillsboro Village. Take Broadway from downtown. When Broadway splits at 16th Avenue, go left until Broadway merges with 21st Avenue.
Longhorn Steakhouse. Even though it's part of the national chain, it feels local. Music Row is only a few blocks away, and it's popular with folks in the music biz, including an occasional country music star. Even if you don't actually see one, it feels like a place where you might see one. Even if you don't recognize the faces, you'll probably see some of the people who make the music happen.
110 Lyle Ave. (615-329-9195)
Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-11 p.m.: Sat noon-11 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Noshville. Noshing in Nashville? Just around the corner from Longhorn, this is the ultimate deli experience with everything from beef tongue to pickled herring to corned beef to chopped liver and matzo-ball soup. Portions are huge! If you don't want one of the hefty sandwiches, try breakfast, served all day. Or splurge with ice cream shakes or authentic Noshville New York cheesecake.
1918 Broadway. (615-329-6674)
Tues-Thurs 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
SATCO. It's real name is the "San Antonio Taco Company," but everybody calls it "SATCO." You order food from a line, specifying exactly what ingredients you want for your tacos (soft or hard), then take your food and maybe a bucket of beer out to the big front deck which overlooks 21st Avenue. It isn't fancy cuisine, but it's a great place to hang out when the weather''s nice.
416 21st Ave South (615-327-4322)
Sun-Thurs 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-midnight
Sportsman's Grille in Hillsboro Village. Located on the north side of Hillsboro Village, this restaurant and bar caters to a wide range of clientele including Vanderbilt students and employees. The menu includes typical pub-fare of burgers, barbeque, and steak and biscuits, all served in hunting lodge-style atmosphere. While they specialize in fried catfish and cold beer downstairs, the younger crowd usually meanders upstairs to the speakeasy-style pool hall that typically remains busy until the early hours for those looking for a laid-back time in the usual hip confines of the Village.
1601 21st Ave. South (615-320-1633)
Daily 11 AM - 10 PM Downstairrs; Daily 11 AM - 3 AM Upstairs
Pancake Pantry. Located in the Hillsboro Village area near the corner of 21st Avenue South and Blakemore, it's a local institution. Waiting outside in line is a Nashville tradition, so don't go there when you're in a hurry unless it's very early or very late. They're famous for pancakes, but the scrumptious French toast and the hash browns are favorites, too. It's a good place to look for country stars, too.
1796 21st Ave South (615-383-9333) Mon-Fri 6 am-3 pm; Sat-Sun 6 am-4 pm
Sam's Place Sports Bar and Grill. Located in Hillsboro Village, Sam's is a favorite hangout for Vanderbilt students and fans to gather to watch the games on TV. Menu is typical sports bar fare -- burgers, sandwiches, pizza -- but they do a good job with it. Added plus is that they're open till 2 am, so you can even watch the late games there.
1803 21st Ave. South (615-383-3601)
11 am-2 am daily
Bosco's. This brewpub serves up upscale pub fare with a definite Italian flair. Enjoy Ahi tuna tacos, or an order of smoked duck spring rolls with a delicious pint of their Famous Flaming Stone beer. Bosco's is a perfect fit for families and their children, who should have no trouble finding something satisfying without sacrificing the adults' need for something different. The wood-fired oven pizzas are VERY hard to resist when swilling down a pint of their Isle of Skye Scottish Ale.
1805 21st Ave. South 615-385-0050)
Hours of Operation - Open Daily at 11 PM - 2 PM on the weekends
The Cabana. Cabana is a chameleon of sorts. In the early evening you can enjoy a wide-range of Southern Comfort food offered in both, shareable tastings and the usual larger entree portions, At night it transforms into a cool and hip, LA-style lounge, where people watching can be half the fun. If privacy is a concern, the booth-style, set-up allows diners to enclose their table by simply sliding a curtain - your own private "Cabana."
1910 Belcourt Ave. - (615-577-2262)
Open daily for dinner and late night menu
Sunset Grill. Also located in Hillsboro Village, it's a great place for a really nice dinner or lunch. Upscale, a little pricey, with trendy, exceptionally good, eclectic food that covers the spectrum. Nice wine list, too. Sunset Grill recommends reservations. There's a parking lot across street behind the restaurant.
2001 Belcourt Ave. (615-386-3663)
Mon 4:45 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Tue-Fri 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m; Sat 4:45 p.m.-1:30 p.m.; Sun 4:45 p.m.-11:00 p.m. (Late night menu after midnight)
Fido. This Hillsboro cafe gets its unusual name from the previous tenant of the building, Jones' Pet Shop. The old sign still hangs over the sidewalk. The baristas have tattoos and piercings, but the clientele ranges from students to young professionals to aging hippies. Besides a variety of coffee drinks, Fido provides good solid food and free wireless internet for customers.
1812 21st Ave South (615-777-3436)
Mon-Thurs 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri 7 a.m.-midnight; Sat 8 a.m.-midnight; Sun 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Brown's Diner. Located less than two miles from campus just off 21st Avenue South, Brown's is a favorite neighborhood "greasy spoon." In "Best of" contests, Brown's is often in head-to-head contention with Rotier's (see below) for "Best Burger." Burgers are the main attraction, and they promise "same day service." It's a favorite spot for softball teams to gather to drink beer after games, and every once in a while, you might spot a country music star in there, too.
2102 Blair Blvd. (615-269-5509)
Mon-Fri 10:45 am-11: pm; Sun 11 am-10 pm (kitchen closes about an hour before closing time)
4. Vanderbilt-West End. Take Broadway from downtown. When Broadway splits at 16th Avenue, go right on West End.
Chappy's on Church. Brought to Nashville via Hurricane Katrina, Chef Chappy re-established his popular New Orleans restaurant in Nashville, home to more than 9,000 storm refugees at one point. The seafood and Creole menu will make you think you're back in the Big Easy. Try Chappy's Champagne Brunch on Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Service is somewhat iffy, so leave yourselves plenty of time to make your game. (Church runs parallel to West End two streets over.)
1721 Church St. (615-322-9932)
Daily lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner 5-10 p.m.
Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery. This micro-brewery and restaurant is located on West End just up from the Broadway exit on I-40. Besides excellent beer (try the Nut Brown Ale or the Chaser Pale), the food's very good. In addition to "pub fare" includes Shepherd's Pie and Steak and Biscuits, Blackstone has great burgers and dinner entrees including steak and seafood.
1918 West End Ave (615-327-9969)
Mon-Thurs 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-12 am; Sun noon-10 pm
Cafe CoCo. Cafe Coco is a combination coffee house, bar, and restaurant in an old house on Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. It's one of the few places that serves food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including breakfast most of the time. Food includes burgers, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, salads, pasta, quesadillas, and desserts. An added attraction is free wireless Internet for customers.
210 Louise Ave. (615-321-2626)
24 hours a day, seven days a week
Elliston Place Soda Shop. When you walk into this diner on Elliston Place, you'll feel like you've stepped fifty years back in time. This isn't a retro diner, trying to look like a 50s diner. It's the real thing. It's a meat-and-three, open for breakfast and lunch. It's also known for burgers and old-fashioned milk shakes.
2111 Elliston Place (615-327-1090)
7 am-7pm, Mon-Fri; 7 am-5 pm, Sat; closed Sunday.
Rotier's. Location on Elliston Place just a stone's throw away from Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym, Rotier's looks like a dive, but it's famous for their burgers and milkshakes. They're also a "meat and three". ("Meat and three" is the local phrase for a plate with one meat and three vegetables cooked southern style, or for a restaurant that specializes in serving them.)
2413 Elliston Place (615-327-9892)
Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Calypso. Right across from Rotier's, this inexpensive, healthy little diner offers vegetarians plenty of options with the popular black beans, coconut-topped muffins, veggie burgers and spicy Caribbean salads. Rotisserie "jerk" chicken is the preferred Calypso choice, but try the loaded nachos, too!
2424 Elliston Place. (615-321-3878)
Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat-Sun 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
McCabe Pub. A little further out West End, turn right on Murphy road. McCabe Pub a real neighborhood pub in Sylvan Park, with pine paneling and sports memorabilia on the walls. McCabe is a nice, comfy place, almost entirely filled with locals. Food includes burgers, sandwiches, comfort food, pasta, and salads. They also have a very tasty sour cream coconut cake and a delicious Hershey Syrup Cake.
4410 Murphy Road (615-269-9406)
Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.); closed Sunday
Park Cafe. With a black awning and in the curve across from McCabe's this cozy restaurant in an artsy ambience is a little easy to miss when trying to find it. But once you arrive, you will want to linger as the varied wine selection and fancy American cuisine will dazzle you. With romantic nooks and large private dining spaces, Park Café is great for quiet evenings and casual social dining. The price is upscale, but the service and menu is exceptional and worth the extra dollars.
4403 Murphy Road. (615-383-4409)
Mon-Thurs: 5 -10 p.m.; Fri and Sat: 5-11 p.m.
Loveless Cafe. The Loveless Cafe is about 15 miles from campus out Highway 100, the extension of West End Avenue. At rush hour, the traffic's awful, but in the morning, it's an interesting drive with pleasant scenery. Food is strictly Southern, specializing in country ham and southern biscuits. The new owners have spiffed up the property, but it's still looks like the old country motel cafe that it's been for more than 50 years.
8400 Highway 100 (615-646-9700)
7 am - 9 pm daily
Honky-tonkin' on Lower Broadway. Starting at 5th Avenue and Broad, storied saloons lie in the giant shadow of the historic Ryman Auditorium and have been a testing ground playing host to making or breaking dreams for decades.
The oldest is world famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge (422 Broadway, 615-726-0463) with its purple storefront where Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and even Roger Miller used to be regulars. Hank Williams, Sr. used to sneak from backstage at the Opry for a quick drink before returning to perform on the Grand Ole Opry radio show. More recently, three regular performing artists went on to be contestants on the "Nashville Star" television show.
If the crowds are too much, mosey a few doors down to Robert's Western World (416-B Broadway, 615-244-9552), where the retro-country band BR5-49 got their start. Here, you can drink PBR in a can and dance the two-step, all the while shopping for that perfect pair of cowboy boots that adorn the walls.
Further down Broadway, The Stage (412 Broadway, 615-726-0504) caters to a younger, neo-country crowd where the scene is as important as the music. Don't be surprised when shots of tequila get passed your way.
Bar hopping on Lower Broad is easy as joints rarely have a cover charge as bands are paid in tips. If quality bluegrass music is more your thing, be sure to venture to the world-renowned Station Inn (402 12th Ave. South, 615-255-3307)) located in The Gulch. Every night of the week, spectacular performances (Jim Lauderdale, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch) are found here in this storied cinder-block roadhouse.
Singer songwriter fans should stop by either the Douglas Corner Cafe (2106-A 8th Ave. South, 615-298-1688) or the well-known Bluebird Cafe (4104 Hillsboro Rd., 615-383-1461) in Green Hills, where Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and many others got their start.
For national touring rock bands, the Mercy Lounge (One Cannery Row, 615-251-3020) downtown, and The Exit/In (2208 Elliston Pl., 615-321-3340) are pretty much can't miss venues, so be sure to check their calendars.