The InterNASHional Food Crawl: 75 Dishes by 30 Immigrant-Owned Restaurants in 5 Miles

By William Harwood | July 07, 2017
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Ankit Patel. Taj Indian Restaurant and Patel Bros. Grocery

From hot chicken to hunan tofu, from pulled pork to pancit, from biscuits to baba ganoush, recent immigration has added some serious cultural vibrancy to our Music City menus. The percentage of folks in Nashville born outside the U.S. now stands at about 12%—that’s some 80,000 people or 10,000 more than would even fit in Nissan Stadium.

Starting a new life in a place where one may not even speak English can be daunting. The Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) addresses this issue, assisting immigrants with a challenging transition while advocating policies on their behalf. As part of their work, TIRRC also oversees the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (WTI), a project to increase public understanding of immigrant families to the Volunteer State.

Five years ago, to help fund WTI, TIRRC came up with an idea that combines their immigrant-welcoming mission with Nashville’s burgeoning world food scene. The InterNASHional Food Crawl. It consists of a five-mile food crawl along Nolensville Road—epicenter of Nashville’s immigrant restaurant community—featuring some seventy-five dishes from thirty, immigrant-owned restaurants and stores. This year Plaza Mariachi will be serving as the hub with a festive atmosphere full of music and dancing and sponsors’ booths.

Ankit Patel, who operates the Taj Indian Restaurant and the Patel Bros. Grocery Store, has already been on board for three InterNASHional Food Crawls. This year, Ankit is excited about participating in his fourth. “I think it’s really helped our business,” he comments. “People come in who didn’t know we were here, try our food, and then come back again and again thereafter. It gives us a tremendous sense of satisfaction.”

But despite the worthy cause the event supports, the InterNASHional Food Crawl is more than just a fundraiser. “Food is such an integral part of a people’s culture,” says Lindsey Harris, TIRRC’s co-executive director. “To experience a people’s culture, you have to taste it.” She then adds with a grin: “If this were just a fundraiser then we have picked the most complicated model. But because it has soul and impact, we keep doing it.” The event is a wonderful way to learn about new places, develop new tastes, and—perhaps—meet some new friends.

The 5th Annual InterNASHional Food Crawl is September 2 from Noon-4 p.m.

Buy your tickets during the month of July with our special Edible Nashville promo code Welcome for a 10% discount.

Mexican dancers at Plaza Mariachi
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