Germantown’s the Jam
For every incoming restaurant and all of the ongoing talk of a booming food scene, Nashville’s locals both cheer and squirm. Yes, Music City has exploded with new cuisines and concepts—from inventive Chinese dim sum to wine bars and oyster programs—but with that, can authenticity and charm still stand? In Germantown, a historic district near the heart of downtown, the answer is becoming clear as locally owned restaurants both new and old thrive, and neighbors from across town find the big city’s small-town vibe firmly in place—from the year-round farmers market to a hip-hop inspired pizza joint.
Fuel up with a Moto biscuit sandwich and a high-quality brew made with small-batch beans at Barista Parlor Germantown, where each single-origin selection is brewed using a different technique. Moving into the midday, you can go light at the fast-casual Lulu with a salad or Pico bowl made with fried rice, sweet potato, and sesame dressing—but don’t miss the free DIY soft-serve samples available by the door. For something heartier, head a short ways into town where Tansuo chef Maneet Chauhan (of Chopped and Chauhan Ale & Masala House) and her partner, chef Chris Cheung, serve up handmade noodles in beef chow fun and open-faced pork dumplings. On the other side of the neighborhood, there’s a new pizza joint, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria. Here, you can top your own thin-crusted pie and pair it with a local brew on tap. For dinner, start with oysters and a cauliflower steak at Henrietta Red—plus an upscale Jell-O shot made with craft cocktail ingredients. It’s down the street from City House, an institution known for its Southern-inflected Italian fare, like ham belly pizzas. Nearby, the city’s first sausage and beer joint Von Elrod’s recently started serving smoked meats and steins of craft beers. But you could also get closer to downtown (no visit is complete without a few tunes at Robert’s Western World) with a peek into Gray & Dudley, set inside the new 21c Museum Hotel. Chef Levon Wallace blends Southern and global flavors in dishes like lumpia and Bayou La Batre shrimp over charred corn. Nearby, another of Chauhan’s concepts, the Mockingbird, is a fun stop for a nightcap, like the Punching Bag, served in a pouch. If beer is more your style, Bearded Iris is one of the city’s best new breweries. Grab an Entangled, a dry-hopped saison, before making your way to the Back Corner, a sultry music and cocktail room where you might find someone spinning vinyl or throwing a disco party.
The Nashville Farmers Market offers fresh produce year round, as well as a stellar international food court where you’ll find a local vineyard’s wine bar, artisan pizzas, Jeni’s ice cream, and curried goat. A walk among Germantown’s row houses—some old, some new—will lead you to Wilder, a contemporary arts-based home goods store that showcases ceramics, serving bowls, furniture, and art made by locals. Deeper into the neighborhood, Lazzaroli Pasta has long been a regular stop for locals in search of Italian sauces, olive oils, and peppers, plus handmade pastas made by owner Tom Lazzaro.
New this fall, Noelle opened with 224 rooms and a stable of Nashville creatives at its helm. Don’t miss the well-curated retail space Keep Shop, and look out for the restaurant Makeready Libations & Liberations, which opens this winter. For a more B&B experience, Germantown Inn is set in a renovated, two-story, Federal-style home that offers a rooftop terrace where you can keep an eye on Nashville’s ever-growing skyline.