Vanderbilt Local Restaurant Guide
by Annell St. Charles and Constantine Tsinakis

There are a wide variety of restaurants in the vicinity of the Vanderbilt campus. Nearly all are near West End Avenue or 21st Avenue. The following are a few of our favorites, listed in order of their map tags. (Click on the map to get a zoomable Mapquest map.)

[BA] Basante's, 1800 West End Avenue, 320-0534, moderate to moderately high prices. Tucked away inside the Days Inn Hotel, there is more to this restaurant than meets the eye from the outside. The décor is a little short on atmosphere, relying mostly on candlelight and white tablecloths to set the mood, but the room tends to draw such an eclectic crowd of diners that they create their own atmosphere. Good italian and italian-inspired food. Fresh pastas and excellent fresh fish specials are the best bets. The house salad could be better. Go for the soup or another salad instead.

[BD] Bound'ry, 911 20th Ave S., 321-3043, moderate to moderately expensive. An attractive, active spot whether you're looking for a light Tapas meal, wood grilled pizza, or full course dinner.There's an outdoor patio, a tree-top deck, cozy fireplace seating, and a bar scene that always provides visual entertainment. Go early or call ahead for reservations to avoid a long wait.

[HO] Houston's, 3000 West End Ave, 269-3481, moderate prices. This restaurant is always packed when the students are in town. The décor is what used to be called "fern bar" minus the presence of ferns. The warm dark wood of the booths and tables and moderately dim lighting create a cozy atmosphere. However, the noise level can get quite high at peak serving times. The menu ranges from your basic burger, tasty steaks, and chicken dishes, to some interesting salads and side items. Reservations are not accepted and your entire party must be present before they will seat you, but this restaurant is well worth a try.

[MC] Midtown Café, 102 19th Avenue S., 320-7176, moderate to moderately high prices. A small restaurant with an even smaller bar, but big on quality. The daily specials are always a good bet, but regular menu items hold up almost as well. Pork, beef, chicken, and pasta are accompanied by a decent caesar or house salad, vegetables, and starch. Reservations are recommended.

[PB] Provence Breads and Café, 1705 21st Avenue, 386-0363, moderate prices. In Hillsboro Village on the main stretch. A french inspired bakery featuring pastries, breads, and coffees, with a generous selection sandwiches, soups, and salads for lunch-time dining. Best to visit here at off- hours since it can get crowded.

[PP] Pancake Pantry, 1796 21st Avenue, 383-9333, low to moderate prices. A Nashville tradition and considered by most to be the best breakfast spot in town. Waitresses with "Southern Attitude." Open for breakfast and lunch, but whenever you go, don't pass up the pancakes!

[PZ] Pizza Perfect, 1602 21st Avenue, 329-2757, low to moderate prices. Good pizza, pasta, calzones, salads, and beer. Some non-traditional pizza ingredients. Beats out the pizza chains for freshness.

[RO] Rotier's, 2413 Elliston Place, 327-9892, low to moderate prices. The Rotier family has been dishing up burgers on french bread, homemade shakes, and meat n' 3 plates for a few decades now. The restaurant regularly rates accolades for their burgers and shakes. The décor is reminiscent of a shabby college diner. Most menu items are tasty, but health is not an emphasis here. Beer is the only alcoholic beverage served. Can get smoky at times.

[RU] Ruth's Chris Steak House, 2100 W. End Avenue, 320-0163, moderately high to high. This is part of a national chain, and it will definitely empty your billfold of quite a bit of change. Subtle lighting, a large bar area, buttery tender steaks, huge portions designed to share, and good service are its hallmarks. Reservations recommended, but it can be fun to wait at the bar for a while and people watch. Everything is served and sold ala carte. Share!

[SG] Sunset Grill, 2001 Belcourt Avenue, 386-3663, moderate to high prices. In the Hillsboro Village area off 21st Avenue. Upscale yet casual dining; a favorite among members of the music industry; designed more for "see and be seen" dining rather than atmosphere; a consistently good menu specializing in creatively designed choices. Reservations are a must.

[TA] Tin Angel, 3201 West End Avenue, 298-3444, moderate to moderately high prices. On the corner of 32nd Avenue and West End, this restaurant has gone through many transitions before settling on its present incarnation. A little bit of New York in the midst of Music City. Cozy bar with a fireplace. Varied menu including pastas, fish, salads, sandwiches; some vegetarian items; all with unique twists in preparation methods. Check out their Salad Med! Reservations recommended at peak dinner times on the weekend

[ZO] Zola, 3001 West End Ave, 320-7778, moderately high prices. Listed on West End, but it's actually on a side road around the corner from Ham 'N Goody's. Features the foods of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Morroco. The décor emits a warm feeling and the smells that greet you upon arrival tantalize the senses. Excellent service. Foods prepared with interesting combinations of spices and sauces. Ala carte salads. The foods can be little uneven in how they turn out, but this restaurant is well worth a try. Reservations are recommended.

These four restaurants are located in the vicinity of Border's Bookstore [**], on West End between 25th Avenue and Natchez Trace, across the street from Centennial Park.

Bread & Company, inexpensive to moderate. A great spot to pick up to-go items or eat at one of the tables located inside. Open for breakfast and lunch. Design-your-own salads and sandwiches; a couple of soups of the day; deli case offerings of hot and cold items, such as, quesadillas, orzo salad, greek vegetables, chicken salad, fresh fruit with yogurt, potato or pasta salad, etc; a tempting array of baked goods; and ready made salads and sandwiches. Grab a coffee or tea at Starbucks nearby before you arrive, or order a beverage here.

P.F. Chang's, moderate to moderately expensive. Part of a chain and not really authentic Chinese but good items nonetheless. It can get busy after 6pm, but you can always grab a spot at the bar.

Fleming's, moderately expensive to expensive. Steaks are the main draw here, and appetizers that are big enough to share. If you opt to dine here, stop at the bar first for a view of the Parthenon while you sip.

Latitude, moderate to moderately expensive. We haven't actually tried this spot yet, but the reviews say it has good fish and seafood items. The restaurant is on the second floor of the Marriott, overlooking Centennial Park.

Also new and on our "haven't tried but want to list":

[??] Grins, inexpensive to moderate. Pronounced "Greens", this one's on the Vanderbilt campus (in the Schulman Center, at the corner of 25th Avenue and Vanderbilt Place) ...ask a VU person how to find, vegetarian that's been gathering rave reviews. A lunch spot.

And lastly for a very special treat...

[$$] Wild Boar, expensive. Located on the corner where 21st avenue splits in two, across from the Law School. You'll need "deep pockets" to try this one, but if you're looking for an extra-special-occasion spot this is it. The outside doesn't suggest what you'll find inside, which is, class, sophistication, coziness, incredible service, and consistently excellent cuisine. There's an ala carte menu, as well as a, five course menu paired with wines. Little sample appetizers and dessert tidbits are both provided compliments of the chef. Reservations are a must and leave the jeans and t-shirts at home.

version of 18 Feb 2003