Whenever friends come to town, Nashville newcomers Chad Newton and Gracie Nguyen of East Side Banh Mi bring them around to visit fellow industry pals at Nashville restaurants—sometimes with their dogs in tow.
We moved out here from California literally a week after the East Nashville tornado, about two weeks before everything shut down for Covid-19. It was a really crazy time. Our goal when we got here, besides getting our food in front of folks in the community, was to do these family-meal drop-offs. We started reaching out to chefs and restaurateurs that we looked up to and just said, “Hey, we’d love to cook for you and your team,” and brought them all staff meals. Now, it’s a joke because we get, like, three or four requests for family meal each week—they just keep coming in. So, we say East Side Banh Mi is the “official, unofficial” staff meal provider of Nashville restaurants.
Top of the Town
We think Phil [Krajeck] is the best chef in Nashville—that’s hard to say, because there are so many good ones, but Phil is amazing. Both of his restaurants, Rolf & Daughters and Folk, are so good. We always say you could pick up either of those restaurants and put them down in any major city in the country and they’d be at the top.
We do miss seafood [being from California], especially Dungeness crab and we’ll go to Charleston to get our seafood fix. But you can get great seafood here, too. We like to go to Henrietta Red—they’re friends of vegetables and we can get a lot of good seafood there.
Image by Victoria Quirk
For coffee, we love Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop. They’re right by us and kept us caffeinated throughout the whole opening process. It’s just a great little program with awesome pastries. And [Chad’s] favorite is Crema—it was the first coffee shop we ever went into when we visited Nashville, and they’re such great people.
Veg Out—Or Not
We feel like now that we’re getting older, we can’t eat like we used to. Now, we’re more focused on our health and exercising more—and drinking less. But we love our friends at Lou—they like to do a lot of vegetables which is great, plus they have some great wine and really fun food. But we also love Redheaded Stranger for Bryan Weaver’s food. It’s fun to sit on the patio there and he has a really, really good cheeseburger.
Funky Nashville Restaurants with Broad Appeal
Dinner and a Pop-Up
Hathorne is one of our other favorites for dinner. And we have to give a shout out to Michael Hanna who is over at St. Vito Focacciaria, which is a pop-up inside Hathorne on Sundays. We ate there last weekend and brought [Gracie’s] parents. His food is really approachable because it’s pizza—but it’s also so much deeper than that. The rest of the dishes on the menu are just so unique and interesting. We don’t think anyone is doing flavors like him right now. And, we like to go to Smith & Lentz, which is also some of the best pizza in all of Nashville. They’re crushing it right now.
Do Some Dumplings
What Trevor Moran is doing at Locust is just so unique—it’s dumplings and a small menu but everything is great. And they’re always blasting metal and having fun when you walk in. Trevor has always done a little bit out-there food but it’s always really interesting.
We find ourselves taking a lot of people over to Sylvan Supply, which is now open on the west side of town. We’ll go to Red Perch for fish and chips, then get frozen yogurt at Radish Kitchen, and drop into Woodland Wine Merchant. And we love to take people to the Made in TN store [inside the L&L Market] in West Nashville, too. They have some cool local stuff that’s not as cheesy as what you’d get at the airport.
You know who has a great patio for dogs is Superica. Our dogs love crispy, warm, salty tortilla chips, so we can have margaritas and they can have some chips and we can sit out on the patio there. It’s great for all of us.
This winter, we’re opening East Side Pho in a micro food hall called the Wash. It’s basically a soup stall, so we really focus on noodles and broth. We’ll do traditional beef pho and we’ll do a chicken one, plus a spicy lemongrass soup with thicker noodles. There’s also a steamed rice chicken dish that [Gracie] grew up eating. So, it’s really focused, which we think makes it that much more special.
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