Funky Flavors on Gallatin Pike

By Joe Nolan | September 24, 2015
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After Joe Nolan's recent Pikes Project mobile photography essays started appearing on the WPLN, Nashville Public Radio website, we asked Nolan to retrace some of his steps through Nashville's most eclectic and historic neighborhoods to hightlight the tastes along their roadways. Next up: Gallatin Pike.

 
 

Sip Cafe

3939 Gallatin Pike
Nashville, TN 37216

When Sip Cafe moved from Riverside Village in 2014 it left a hole in the village, but it brought a much-needed coffee stop to the heart of the Inglewood neighborhood. Sip has a welcoming staff that always makes you feel at home whether you're grabbing a table or just hitting the drive-through window at their digs in a former bank building. Sip serves Drew's Brews – arguably the best local roaster – and the two have developed an exclusive espresso roast for the cafe. In addition to their great coffee, Sip also offers fresh Provence pastries to munch with your brew. Of course, Sip is owned by Mike's Ice Cream and the cafe offers 32 flavors of ice cream that are handmade right on site. I recommend the Tennessee Fudge on one of their homemade waffle cones.

Fat Mo's

2608 Gallatin Pike
Nashville, TN 37216

Fat Mo's East Nashville location is the best-looking burger spot in the city. This drive-thru/walk-up looks like a cheeseburger castle, and it's worth stopping by just to gander at all the hand-painted signage that decorates the exterior of this oldest existing outpost of the local chain. I like the fact that Mo's offers a classic, fresh, grilled beef sandwich – no exotic meats, no aioli, no deconstructed bun. The real secret of a Mo is a marinade of Mediterranean spices that's employed mid-grilling. Mo's is known for their more-is-more (Mo-is-Mo?) philosophy, and their Little Mo quarter pound sandwich is plenty for most lunch hour cravings. More ambitious diners might want to take on Fat Mo's Super Deluxe – a stack of  three half pound burgers covered in onion, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, mayo, pickles, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and onions, bacon, barbecue sauce and jalapenos. Don't forget the seasoned fries, and wash it all down with a chocolate chip shake.

 

King Solomon's Gyros

716 Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206

King Solomon was known for his wisdom, and wise East Nashville diners craving a taste of the Mediterranean flock to this spot for to-go tastes of grilled meats, warm pita, salty feta and tangy cucumber sauce. Gallatin Pike hosts a number of very good stops for a hummus snack or a packed-full gyro sandwich, but Solomon's is my go-to: they were the first Mediterranean place I tried after moving to the East Side three years ago – their service is always friendly and attentive no matter how many cars might be lining up at their drive-thru window. The combo plate – gyro and chicken – is my favorite, but try the spicy gyro fries after a happy hour at your favorite watering hole.

 

Pepperfire

1000 Gallatin Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206

Nashville hot chicken is a cultural phenomenon at this point and the plethora of places serving the fiery bird means that everybody thinks their favorite spot is the only way to go. Of course, the East Side can claim Prince's – the cradle where Nashville's most famous culinary contribution was born. But when it comes to Gallatin Pike, Pepperfire's the place that's bringing the heat. Pepperfire has recently moved from its funky original location to the much more permanent feeling space next door to Nomzilla. I always liked Pepperfire's old picnic tables, but the new space features craft beers on tap and the climate control of a brick-and-mortar blows the old plastic, zip-up patio windows away. Pepperfire's chicken is consistently delicious and they're not afraid to crank up the heat up. I've become a big fan of their blazing version of a classic chicken sandwich including tenders, lettuce, tomato and blue cheese. When it comes to sides, go for the fried okra, and macaroni and cheese.

Nomzilla

1000 Gallatin Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206

When Nomzilla moved from Edgehill Village to Gallatin Pike they brought much-needed Japanese flavors to the heart of East Nashville. They also took the opportunity to give themselves a total makeover, transforming from a small, casual lunch stop into a pretty swank cocktail bar and full-service restaurant with an expanded menu that includes flavors from Korea and the Philippines in addition to their familiar sushi favorites. The lunch menu features several Bento choices, but the dinner menu offers more entree plates.

The best value here is the sushi menu. The classic, plain tuna roll is my favorite, but try the Fire Breathing Roll or the Devil's Nightmare if you like your maki with a kick.  

Tower Market and Deli

1305 Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206

When I sat down to write this piece, Tower had only been open for a few weeks. The place was pretty disorganized and still finishing-off the market section of their store. I had a good, spicy chorizo breakfast burrito and a cup of medium roast, Honduran Bongo Java coffee, but it was too soon to offer any kind of a definitive review of the place. What's most exciting is the vision you see around you while you're waiting for your sandwich or all-day breakfast order at the deli counter. When it's fully operational the spot will feature the sandwiches and grill items, a full coffee bar and a selection of green and gourmet groceries, products and cleaning supplies. They also have a space for an abundance of local produce and artisinal products. Ultimately, this spot could be like a Turnip Truck-style health food grocery meets an affordable sandwich and coffee stop – all of which are welcome on this middle stretch of the pike. I hope Tower's staff can muster the organization and management it'll take to make all of this a reality for both their neighbors and the harried travelers along the pike.

Barnes Produce

4000 Gallatin Pike
Nashville, TN 37216

Barnes Produce left their digs at the Nashville Farmer's Market when the market switched to local-only producers earlier this year. Not everything at Barnes Produce is locally produced, but a lot of it is. During their first summer in their new storefront they were always brimming with local heirloom tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, berries, beans and even beef, pork and eggs produced by our neighbors. While Barnes sourcing of outside produce through traditional wholesale buying means that they're no longer welcome at the Farmer's Market, for East Siders it means they'll provide a competitive alternative to the Krogers and Walmarts on the pike and that makes them very welcome in Inglewood. Get some fresh tomatoes here while you can, and pick up some local honey to help you get through rag weed season while you're at it.

Madison Inglewood Market

4702 Gallatin Pike
Nashville, TN 37216

The Madison Inglewood Market is known for their fresh produce, but if you haven't seen the piÑatas hanging inside of their storefront windows you might not know that this place is full of south of the border ingredients and products from cilantro to queso fresco. The Inglewood market offers-up several aisles of Mexican brand groceries, and their North Inglewood neighbors know this spot as a convenient corner stop for anything from toilet paper to baby shampoo to over-the-counter medicines, and their fresh produce regularly puts the nearby chain grocery stores to shame. Of course, the real treat here are the fresh ingredients you need for a plethora of Mexican dishes and if you're getting your cilantro, avocados, queso or hot peppers anywhere else you're doing it the hard way. The real secret weapon here is their full-service butchers who regularly prepare homemade chorizo, carnitas and chicharones.

 
Article from Edible Nashville at http://ediblenashville.ediblecommunities.com/eat/funky-flavors-gallatin-pike
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