Two scoops and a waffle cone triangle from Jenis. Photo by Emily Gonçalves
Two scoops and a waffle cone triangle from Jeni’s. Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Five restaurants to try on this year’s updated Taste of Nashville

Whether it’s a burger topped with mac n’ cheese or a scoop of gourmet ice cream, the newest additions to Taste of Nashville have you covered

This year, Vanderbilt’s Taste of Nashville program has added five new restaurants where students can use their meal money. As someone who burns through her meal money within the first couple weeks of school, I’m basically an expert in off-campus dining, and can share my expertise on where to spend that precious Commodore Cash. 


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Poke Bros

Poke is essentially sushi in a bowl. At Poke Bros, you can choose between a variety of raw fish or cooked chicken with a large assortment of veggies and sauces served over rice or greens. This is a delicious, healthy dinner or lunch option. As a self proclaimed poke-addict, I probably visit this restaurant the most out of all the options on Taste of Nashville because it is conveniently located right off West End, close to Branscomb and Towers, and is super quick if you are in a rush.

Recommendations: Out of their signature bowls, the DaKaine and the Hula are the most popular options. However, you also have the option to customize your own bowl with any combination of fish, toppings, sauces and grains that you would like. My go-to order is a make your own bowl with half brown rice and half greens, salmon, edamame, carrots, avocado, pineapple, seaweed salad and sweet soy sauce. 


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One of my goals this semester is to visit Jeni’s at least once a week. In my humble opinion, everyone needs this goal. As an ice cream connoisseur, I immediately texted all my friends with excitement when I found out Jeni’s would be on the card this year. Jeni’s is a gourmet ice cream shop located in Hillsboro Village (by Commons, on 21st Ave.) with both unique and traditional ice cream flavors available. Don’t you worry, they let you sample flavors if you can’t choose.

Recommendations: Fan favorite flavors include their gooey butter cake, frosé, cream puff, brambleberry crisp, salted peanut butter and darkest chocolate. They also have lots of great dairy-free options available. When I go, I order the darkest chocolate and salted peanut butter in a waffle cone (pro tip: their waffle cones are homemade, and sometimes they’ll give you pieces as you’re waiting in line!)


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The Ainsworth

The Ainsworth is a relatively new restaurant in Nashville that offers southern and American cuisine. Its broad menu options makes it great for when you go out to eat with your picky friends. With an aesthetic interior and a more expensive menu, it is also perfect for date night, birthday dinners or a more upscale dinner with friends. They also offer a yummy brunch menu.

Recommendations: Their mac and cheese burger and gold encrusted chicken wings are two unique must-try menu items. Who doesn’t love their burger loaded with cheesy goodness and their wings plated in gold? If you like mixing sweet and savory for brunch, I have heard their chicken and waffles are to die for.  


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Taco Mama

If you are looking for some classic, good ol’ Mexican food, Taco Mama never disappoints. Taco Mama is basically a higher quality version of Chipotle, offering customizable tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas and nachos. With inexpensive options and large portion sizes, Taco Mama is a great option if you (like me) are running low on your meal money and enjoy a leftover cheese quesadilla for lunch. 

Recommendations: My go-to order is either the chicken quesadilla or shrimp tacos. Their chips, perfectly salted, with either guac or queso are also a killer side option. However, if you are looking for a healthier meal, their burrito bowls are also very good and can be customized with as many free toppings you would like.


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Meet Noodles

If you are looking for some quality noodle soup beyond the halls of EBI, this is the way to go. Although it is less talked about, Meet Noodles offers some high quality options, making it one of the hidden gems on Taste of Nashville. Although they specialize in noodle soup, they also have many other fun Chinese options including steamed buns, dumplings and bubble tea. 

Recommendations: Meet Noodles is the place to go if you are feeling adventurous. They have a fun variety of noodles including Chong Quin noodles, sweet potato noodles, rice noodles and instant noodles. You can also try out their pig intestine or pickled fish noodle soup. However, they also have more mainstream soup options with chicken, fish, beef or veggies for the pickier eater.  

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About the Contributor
Christine Moser, Former Staff Writer
Christine Moser ('22) double majored in medicine, health and society and human and organizational development in Peabody College.
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