It’s no secret that the city has come a long way from simple steakhouse and country cooking roots, but the latest attractions really serve as unexpected entertainment dining debuts for both locals and visitors alike.
The historic Melrose Theater is now home to one of Nashville's most popular dining spots: Sinema — Photo courtesy of Sinema
The once funky, junky 8th Avenue stretch – better known to residents as Melrose – wasn’t on any real food radar until just a few months ago. What was once the Melrose Theatre has been restored to its heyday charm, and then some.
Celebrity interior designer Kathy Anderson went above and beyond in every corner of the two-story space that is now Sinema. Ambiance bonuses include vivid candid photographs of musicians and actors from every era. They rest above banquettes, wrap-around booths and cozy sofas in the chic second-story bar.
While the space alone is reason to drop by, the real buzz is about the presentation and flavors of the food. Expect American fare with regional influences, with each dish being a work of art.
Now serving up inventive small plates and impressive multi-course presentations each evening and stellar weekend brunch, Chef Dale Levitski (Top Chef finalist and James Beard nominee) puts just as much attention into the playful bar menu. The bites and craft cocktails are likely why the happy hour is one of the area’s best.
On Sundays, they specialize in "bubble service" for brunch. It’s a celebration not to miss.
Just a few feet outside of Sinema’s grand marquee entrance, another Nashville institution has been born again. The Sutler opened in fall of 2014 after months of anticipation by former patrons and nostalgia enthusiasts. It shares Sinema’s building and devoted local developers, but it's got a completely different vibe.
Lively describes both the food and the music. Enjoy revved-up Southern fare while watching incredible acts rev up the audience in this listening-room-meets-saloon. You’ll find more locals than tourists and more talent (in the kitchen and on the stage) every night than most spots can hope for in a year.
Order craft beers or cocktails, and bring your rowdy-but-refined friends that won’t mind party-crowd favorites like the Yes Dammit Burger. It’s far from a dusty honky-tonk, but there’s a definite whiskey undercurrent to this foodie stop.
While The Sutler connects patrons to the city’s past, another repurposed spot off of 8th Avenue’s roundabout offers a distinctive experience to please diners and concert fans, particularly those with a nose for wine.
City Winery hails from Chicago, New York and Napa, with a unique design perfect for an authentic dinner-and-a-show experience. There’s even a club for regulars, or "Vinofiles," as the artist calendar is as popular as it is dynamic. And, as the name implies, thirsts here are quenched with the grape variety.
This is Nashville’s first fully operational winery, and plans are to produce 14 new varietals in the venue in 2015. The juice is available on tap here, with famous performers often raising a glass from the stage.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House
And finally, the opening of Chef Maneet Chauhan’s anticipated Indian gastropub offers something you can’t find anywhere else. The veteran Chopped judge, author and television personality has partners involved in Anthem, the club and venue space next door to Chauhan Ale & Masala House.
This gastropub is certainly spicing up The Gulch's dining in an exotic, delicious way, establishing a truly unique Indian concept in the Nashville market. Plus, fun events like Bollywood music and dancing have added to the buzz around the concept and culture Chauhan is bringing to the scene. The food is amazing, the atmosphere intoxicating and the beer’s flowing freely every night.