Cheap Plates: Nashville Farmers' Market
If you and your coworkers can’t agree on lunch (again), head to the newly renovated Market House at the Nashville Farmers’ Market for an edible United Nations beneath one roof. Enjoy the down-home comforts of smoked pork barbecue and creamy grits side-by-side with the exotic spices of tikka masala, the sweet heat of jerk chicken, and the cooling quench of Tennessee craft beers (maybe it’s Friday?).
From soups to scoops, there’s a bounty of appealing and affordable dishes. You could dine here each of the 362 days the market is open, and never repeat a meal. Here’s our round-the-world tour of the local Market House eats.
The folks at B&C Market BBQ pile on the pulled pork, cooked slow and low—but they prepare other good things (brisket, chicken, ribs) in their smoker. They make a mean batch of grits, too. Regulars know that Wednesday is Smoked Salmon day, and Thursdays are for Jalapeno Grits.
Hoo-wee, the chicken-sausage gumbo is good at Original Nooley’s Authentic Cajun fare. And if you’re not in the mood for the roux-enriched stew, try jambalaya, red beans and rice, étouffée, po-boys (love the fried shrimp) or a muffaleta. Don’t forget to grab a bag of Zapp’s chips.
The Farmer’s Deli and Grill serves up American classics: hot dogs, hamburgers, Philly cheesesteaks, and those retro crinkle-cut fries. Don’t overlook their sandwich wraps. Open at 7am, they serve breakfast too. How about a made-to-order omelet?
At Bella Nashville, the slogan is “Old World for the New South.” The crew crafts luscious wood-fired pizzas in the tradition of Neapolitan pizzaiolos. But they also employ creative toppings using seasonal ingredients sourced at the market. The Margherita is simple perfection.
Author-activist chef Jeremy Barlow’s rockin’ Sloco sammies are big on taste, but leave a small eco-footprint. Local, seasonal, sustainable—that’s the Sloco way. Fifteen sandwiches are on the roster, from the meaty Redneck Reuben to vegan Shaven Seitan with garbanzos—there’s something for every diet on our small planet.
Travel South-of-the-Border. El Burrito Mexicano claims their burritos are big as your head. That’s not far from the truth. Rolls are plumped with juicy meats, beans, veggies and rice. Word: the breakfast burritos are the best.
Cruise the Caribbean: Ouida Bradshaw and family have long been drawing crowds with their island fare at Jamaicaway. Jerk chicken, curried goat, johnny cakes, callallo, rice-and-peas, pineapple sweet potatoes: distinctively seasoned meat, fish, and vegetarian options abound.
For a taste of the Orient, try Green Asia. One side of the corner eatery offers a fresh buffet of Chinese fare; the other has made-to-order Japanese sushi. Entrees such as vegetable lo mein, cremini mushrooms in black bean sauce, and stir-fried vegetables with tofu are all well-prepared and served in generous portions.
Ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin: the spice combinations of South Indian cuisine are vibrant and unique. Whether it’s chicken biryani, vegetable korma, chickpeas masala or fat samosas filled with curried potatoes and peas, the dishes at Swagruha will spark your palate.
Flavors of the Mediterranean highlight Chicago Gyro. Indulge in creamy hummus, parsley-rich tabouleh, crunchy falafel, marinated grilled chicken, and the namesake gyro on pita. Weekdays, their well-laden salad bar is a good bet.
The craft beer movement has exploded in Tennessee, and now you can sample some of the finest at The Picnic Tap. Owner/curator Eric Woodard has assembled 15 local and regional ales, ciders, pilsners and lagers for your pleasure. Check the blackboard. Brews from Little Harpeth’s High Water, Black Abbey’s Champion, and Turtle Anarchy’s Portly Stout await. Sit a spell and sip or get a growler to go.
Need something sweet? At Butter Cake Babe Coffee Café, you can get your sugar fix with Julie Granda’s butter cake, the ooey-gooey St. Louisconfection akin to a chess bar. She makes seasonal varieties of the signature dessert. The Elvis (peanut butter and banana) is over-the-top.
Maybe you’d rather have a cupcake. Head over to The Sweet Stash. With beguiling swirls of blackberry streusel, lemon blueberry and chocolate peanut butter truffle, baker Whitney May’s offerings make it hard to choose. We’re also fans of her cookie sandwiches, especially the oatmeal filled with cinnamon-kissed cream cheese.
Nationally acclaimed ice cream maker Jeni Britton Bauer makes her ice creams using premium, locally-sourced ingredients in cunning combinations. Goat cheese and red cherries, wildberry lavender, Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, Whiskey and Pecans –- the churns are creamy-dreamy at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
And, on the horizon: Music City Crepes and Bowl and Roll, offering Parisian style pancakes and sizzling Korean rice bowls respectively, started in the Market House business incubator, Grow Local Kitchen. Both successes, each is in process of build-out, and are slated to open this spring. Juice Nashville got its start at the market four years ago, and is coming back, in a permanent way, later this summer.
Finally, Village Bakery and Provisions makes its debut. Chef Sam Tucker brings his considerable talents to the market. From the baking side, you’ll find his artisan breads made with heirloom flours and sprouted grains, along with assorted pastries. Pickled and preserved fruit and vegetables, take-home whole diet dinners are among his dedicated provisions.