NCAA Nashville visitors guide

Photo by Whitney D.

On March 18 and 20 Vanderbilt will host first and second round games in the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. If you're one of the fans who will make the trip to Nashville to cheer for your team, sooner or later you'll ask, "Where's a good place to eat?" VandyMania's Whitney D answers that question.

Note from Whitney: I love road trips. One of the fun things about traveling to support your team is that you get to visit new places. When I'm on the road looking for restaurants, I'm not only looking for good food, but also for restaurants with a local flavor. Whether it's the cuisine, the location, or the decor, those are the places that I try to find.

This list is for fans like me, the ones who have traveled to support their team and are interested in getting a taste of Nashville while they're here. Nashville has dozens of good restaurants, so this isn't a comprehensive list by any means. I didn't even touch downtown (a fun place to go!) , Green Hills, or the Opryland Area. Rather, it's a list of a wide variety of places relatively near the Vanderbilt campus that I'd recommend to a friend, all assembled in one convenient place, just the kind of a list that I'd like to have on a road trip.

I hope you have a great time here in Music City, USA and wish the best of luck to your team -- unless they're playing the 'Dores!



Immediate Vanderbilt area

Sam's Place Sports Bar and Grill. Located in Hillsboro Village, Sam's is a favorite hangout for Vanderbilt students and fans to gather to watch the games on TV. Menu is typical sports bar fare -- burgers, sandwiches, pizza -- but they do a good job with it. Added plus is that they're open till 2 am, so you can even watch the late games there.
1803 21st Ave. South (615-383-3601)
11 am-2 am daily

Pancake Pantry. Located in the Hillsboro Village area near the corner of 21st Avenue South and Blakemore, it's a local institution. Waiting outside in line is a Nashville tradition, so don't go there when you're in a hurry unless it's very early or very late. They're famous for pancakes, but the scrumptious French toast and the hash browns are favorites, too. It's a good place to look for country stars, too.
1796 21st Ave South (615-383-9333)
Mon-Fri 6 am-3 pm; Sat-Sun 6 am-4 pm


Sunset Grill. Also located in Hillsboro Village, it's a great place for a really nice dinner or lunch. Upscale, a little pricey, with trendy, exceptionally good, eclectic food that covers the spectrum. Nice wine list, too. Reservations recommended. There's a parking lot across street behind the restaurant.
2001 Belcourt Ave. (615-386-3663)
Mon 4:45 pm-1:30 am; Tue-Fri 11 am-1:30 am; Sat 4:45 pm-1:30 pm; Sun 4:45 pm-11:00 pm. (Late night menu after midnight)


Fido. This Hillsboro cafe gets it's unusual name from the previous tenant of the building, Jones' Pet Shop. The old sign still hangs over the side walk. The baristas have tattoos and piercings, but the clientele ranges from students to young professionals to aging hippies. Besides a variety of coffee drinks (it's a second location of the Bongo Java Brewing Company), there's good solid food and free wireless internet for customers.
1812 21st Ave South (615-777-3436)
Mon-Thurs 7 am-11 pm; Fri 7 am-midnight; Sat 8 am-midnight; Sun 8 am-11 pm


SATCO. It's real name is the "San Antonio Taco Company," but everybody calls it "SATCO." You order food from a line, specifying exactly what ingredients you want for your tacos (soft or hard), then take your food and maybe a bucket of beer out to the big front deck which overlooks 21st Avenue. It isn't fancy cuisine, but it's a great place to hang out when the weather''s nice.
416 21st Ave South (615-327-4322)
Sun-Thurs 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-midnight


Rotier's. Location on Elliston Place just a stone's throw away from Memorial Gym, Rotier's looks like a dive, but it's famous for their burgers and milkshakes. They're also a "meat and three". ("Meat and three" is the local phrase for a plate with one meat and three vegetables cooked southern style, or for a restaurant that specializes in serving them.)
2413 Elliston Place (615-327-9892)
Mon-Sat 10:30 am-9:30; closed Sunday.


Bread & Company. This bakery and restaurant is a great place for lunch. It's located in the Borders plaza on West End directly behind Memorial Gym. Go there for the salads, soups and incredibly delicious sandwiches. They also have a variety of pastries, cookies and desserts. For breakfast, omlettes are a specialty. Free wireless internet is available to customers.
2525 West End Ave. (615-329-1400)
Mon-Fri 6:30 am- 8 pm; Sat-Sun 8 am-8 pm


Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery. This micro-brewery and restaurant is located on West End about five blocks from Memorial Gym. Besides excellent beer (try the Nut Brown Ale or the Chaser Pale), the food's very good. In addition to "pub fare" includes Shepherd's Pie and Steak and Biscuits, they've got good burgers and dinner entrees including steak and seafood.
1918 West End Ave (615-327-9969)
Mon-Thurs 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-12 am; Sun noon-10 pm


Cafe CoCo: Cafe Coco is a combination coffee house, bar, and restaurant in an old house on Louise Avenue, just off Elliston Place. It's one of the few places that serves food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including breakfast most of the time. Food includes burgers, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, salads, pasta, quesadillas, and desserts. An added attraction is free wireless Internet for customers.
210 Louise Ave. (615-321-2626)
24 hours a day, seven days a week


Tin Angel. Located on West End near 31st Avenue, this "American bistro" is another place that's nice enough for a date, but still has a neighborhood feeling. Interesting menu with salads, pasta, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes with an emphasis on fresh foods. It's got a great Sunday brunch, too.
3201 West End Ave (615-298-3444)
Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm; Sun 11am-3pm


Longhorn Steakhouse. Even though it's part of the national chain, it feels local. Music Row is only a few blocks away, and it's popular with folks in the music biz, including an occasional country music star. Even if you don't actually see one, it feels like a place where you might see one.
110 Lyle Ave. (615-329-9195)
Mon-Thurs 11 am-10:30 pm; Fri 11 am-11 pm: Sat noon-11 pm; Sun 11 am-10:30 pm


Elliston Place Soda Shop. When you walk into this diner on Elliston Place, you'll feel like you've stepped fifty years back in time. This isn't a retro diner, trying to look like a 50s diner. It's the real thing. It's a meat-and-three, open for breakfast and lunch. It's also known for burgers and old-fashioned milk shakes.
2111 Elliston Place (615-327-1090)
7 am-7pm, Mon-Fri; 7 am-5 pm, Sat; closed Sunday.




Further afield

Germantown Cafe. "Germantown" is an older neighborhood near downtown that's been undergoing a revival in the past decade or two. The Germantown Cafe is a small, bistro-style restaurant. Nice enough atmosphere for a date, and with an interesting and eclectic menu. Sunday brunch includes French toast made with the homemade bread of the day, often peach bread. Yum!
1200 Fifth Ave North (615-242-3226)
Mon-Fri 11 am-2 pm, 5pm-close; Sat 5 pm-close, Sun 10:30 am-2 pm, 5 pm-close


Monell's. Also located in Germantown, Monell's offers real, old-fashioned Southern food. With the food, the decor, and a little imagination, you might feel like you're sitting in Great Aunt Bea's dining room. Other guests may join you at your table. There are no menu decisions; big bowls and platters of salads, vegetables, meats, and bread are brought to the table and passed around family-style. The dishes vary from day to day, but skillet fried chicken is served at all meals, including breakfast.
1235 6th Ave. North (615-248-4747)
Mon 10:30 am-2 pm; Tue-Fri 10:30am-2pm, 5-8:30 pm; Sat 8:30 am-1 pm, 5 pm-8:30 pm; Sun 8:30 am-11 pm, 11 am-4 pm


Arnold's Country Kitchen. This meat-and-three, located on 8th Avenue South near downtown, is a Nashville classic. The clientele is a cross-section of Nashville, and during lunch, you're as likely to see a Lexus as a pickup truck in the parking lot. The southern-style food is served in a cafeteria line, and the servings are generous.
605 8th Ave. S (615-256-4455)
Mon-Fri 6 am-2:30 pm


White Trash Cafe. Located near the Fairgrounds about 3 miles from Memorial Gym, the decor of this meat-and-three leaves you wondering whether they're serious, whether it's a joke, or both. It's a fun place to go to lunch with friends, especially if they've never been before. If you want to get dessert, go early, because once they sell out of something, it's gone. You're also at risk of being called "Honey," so if that bothers you, don't go there!
1914 Bransford Avenue (615-383-0109)
10 am-3 pm Mon-Sat


McCabe Pub. It's a real neighborhood pub, with pine paneling and sports memorabilia on the walls, located a couple of miles from campus. A nice, comfy place, almost entirely filled with locals. Food includes burgers, sandwiches, comfort food, pasta, and salads. They also have a very tasty sour cream coconut cake and a delicious Hersey Syrup Cake.
4410 Murphy Road (615-269-9406)
Mon-Sat 11 am-11 pm (kitchen closes at 10 pm); closed Sunday


Brown's Diner. Located less than two miles from campus just off 21st Avenue South, Brown's is a favorite neighborhood "greasy spoon." In "Best of" contests, Brown's is often in head-to-head contention with Rotier's for "Best Burger." Burgers are the main attraction, and they promise "same day service." It's a favorite spot for softball teams to gather to drink beer after games, and every once in a while, you might spot a country music star in there, too.
2102 Blair Blvd. (615-269-5509)
Mon-Fri 10:45 am-11: pm; Sun 11 am-10 pm (kitchen closes about an hour before closing time)


Loveless Cafe. The Loveless Cafe is about 15 miles from campus out Highway 100, the extension of West End Avenue. At rush hour, the traffic's awful, but in the morning, it's an interesting drive with pleasant scenery. Food is strictly Southern, specializing in country ham and southern biscuits. The new owners have spiffed up the property, but it's still looks like the old country motel cafe that it's been for more than 50 years.
8400 Highway 100 (615-646-9700)
7 am - 9 pm daily




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