10 new restaurants added to Taste of Nashville this Fall

With pushback from students regarding on-campus dining availability, Vanderbilt has added a swath of new, local restaurants to the Taste of Nashville program.

August 27, 2020

In light of COVID-19 regulations regarding on-campus dining options, Vanderbilt has gone above and beyond in 2020 to upgrade its Taste of Nashville program. On a weekly basis, Vandy Dining brings food from one of these vendors to a campus dining hall for a meal swipe alternative. Their Instagram account also announced that students can now use Commodore Cash to order food through the Grubhub app, something that’s been a long time coming for students (like myself) who prefer to stay stationary.


‘za Wood Fired Pizza

Karl and Sarah Worley, the same team behind the beloved Biscuit Love (also “on the Card”), take on a whole new side of the culinary spectrum with this new pizza spot in Hillsboro. Their menu features quirky pies like “That Hipster Place In Brooklyn,” which packs a punch with soppressata, mozzarella and hot honey. If you like your pizza extra saucy, the dinner spot offers a variety of housemade “dip dips” like ranch, pesto and herby olive oil. ‘Za’s patio is open from 4-7 p.m. daily, and they continue to follow state-recommended safety guidelines. The managing duo prides themselves on using locally sourced ingredients, and let’s be honest, if you’ve ever been to Biscuit Love, you know anything they make will be delicious. 

Recommendations: Do yourself a favor, and start with the Ricotta Dip with Honey and Wood-fired Pizza dough appetizer. Top it off with the “Thoroughbred Hillbilly” pie that is made with white sauce, prosciutto and arugula for freshness. Wash your Italian food coma down with a clean Mexi-Coke and call it a night. 


Fable Lounge

This lounge opened just off of West End Ave in January and has been delivering a vintage, opulent experience to its patrons ever since. Fable Lounge is definitely one of the ritzier Taste of Nashville locations we’ve seen yet, and they pride themselves on curating craft cocktails that tell a story. For Vandy students who aren’t 21, the unique restaurant offers indulgent “Nibbles,” “Bites” and “Delights” like Black Garlic Short Ribs and, of course, artisanal charcuterie boards. If you take the leap and test out Fable Lounge, it promises to be worth the Meal Money. 

Recommendations: If you’re 21 or older, you can’t miss the staple in-house concoctions of the lounge. Their “Emotional Intelligence” drink,  made with Fidencio Clasico Mezcal tequila, crème de cacao, allspice dram, lime, orange bitters and nutmeg, might just give you the IQ you need to complete your upcoming assignments. Pick on some BBQ Pork Belly & House Kimchi for the table and try out the Fable American Kobe Burger. You might be full, but I promise your evening won’t be complete without trying the Bourbon Banana Bread Pudding. 


Helen’s Hot Chicken

Hot chicken is a Nashville must-have that far too many Vanderbilt students miss out on before graduation. With Helen’s Hot Chicken on Taste of Nashville, there’s no longer any excuse. The casual eatery on 21st Ave S. is currently only open for pick-up and delivery, but where better to enjoy your spicy wings than in the comfort of your dorm? Like Chicken Coop, the restaurant offers a slew of chicken platters and “Wingettes Meals,” but they also whip up southern seafood staples like catfish and lobster tails. 

Recommendations: Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t go for the “gizzards” right off the bat at Helen’s Hot Chicken. Get yourself the Chicken and Waffles with your choice of tenders or wings and lather on that syrup and butter (P.S., you can also get waffles as a side with any of your menu picks for $3). Wash her down with some Mango Tea, and that’s a heck of a meal. 


Inchin’s Bamboo Garden

When I first saw this addition to Taste of Nashville, I was hesitant. We already have a lot of Asian restaurant favorites, like Thai Satay and Poke Bros, why add another to the list? But then I took a look at this menu and, oh boy, was I wrong. This West End eatery is a chain across the country and offers a number of Pan-Asian staples. Their lunch special, offered Monday through Friday until 2:30 p.m., makes it just the place to get the meal you’re craving at any hour of the day. The restaurant’s interior is clean, spacious and platters are served family-style, so it’s the perfect spot to hit with a larger group. 

Recommendations: If you can handle spice, try the Crispy Chili Potatoes appetizer and Paneer Tacos. Dilute that heat with some naan and leave room for the star of the show: the Volcano Shrimp and Chicken Butter Masala. For vegetarians, noodle dishes like the Street Side Chow Mein or Burnt Garlic Chili Fried Rice are your friends. 


Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen

A big bowl of pasta is a solid cure to homesickness and Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen can write your prescription. This affordable Italian eatery in Hillsboro has a unique ordering strategy: patrons take their pick of 9 fresh-made pasta noodles and tailor the dish with their favorite proteins and veggies. Basically, it’s like an elevated Tortellini Tuesday. To add insult to injury, Nicoletto’s makes sure to include a thick slice of steamy garlic bread with your order. 

Recommendations: I trust you to pick your own custom pasta bowl, so I’ll throw in my favorite pre-made offerings at Nicoletto’s. The Gnocchi Bolognese is to die for; you won’t be able to take a deep breath for a week, but it’s 100 percent worth it. You’ve also got to leave room for a slice of Tennessee Cheesecake which is baked into a honey-pecan crust—it speaks for itself. 


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Oscar’s Taco Shop

This Mexican restaurant is like a moderately classier Taco Bell with flavor that might make Taco Mama run for cover. Located on Elliston Place, Oscar’s Taco Shop also has branches nationwide and serves up a vast menu of tacos, tortas, quesadillas and burritos. But why pick Oscar’s Taco Shop over the seemingly infinite other Mexican options in Nashville, you may ask? The answer is simple: Oscar’s has breakfast. Their breakfast burritos are served all day, and let’s be honest, a burrito with egg and cheese is objectively better than one without. 

Recommendations: I already raved about the breakfast burrito, so I’ll switch it up. Help yourself to a California burrito stuffed with french fries (yes, french fries), marinated steak strips, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. An authentic Jarrito should help you get it down, and hopefully you’ll have room left for their bomb chips and queso. 


Rock n Roll Sushi

Perhaps the worst surprise of coming back to Nashville was the closing of Nama, a long-time favorite sushi stop. Rock n Roll Sushi definitely is benefitting from their absence, and they’ve got big shoes to fill. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and has a quirky, rock-themed menu filled with dozens of specialty rolls, like the “Stones Roll” that combines spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber topped with crab stick, spicy mayo, sweet chili and eel sauce. That’ll be a mouthful. In addition, Rock n Roll Sushi offers a host of unique appetizers like “T.N.T Shrimp” and desserts that pack a punch. 

Recommendations: Get some Crispy Wontons to share with your friends, filled with crabmeat, jalapeño and cream cheese served with their classic “headbanger” dip swirled with eel sauce. For the main event, I like to go for the “San Quentin Roll,” with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, jalapeño and cucumber inside, nori seaweed outside topped with sriracha and sweet chili. At this point, my mouth is usually on fire, so I kill the heat with a couple bites of my friends’ Hibachi-style fried rice. 


Chicken Coop

This restaurant is the perfect place for when you’re craving a casual, fried-food pigout. The dinner spot offers everything from fish and shrimp to chicken wings, seasoned to the nines and never without a nice crunch.  The Chicken Coop doubles as a lounge, making it ideal for late-night munchies. 

Recommendations: Go big, or go home. Order the Coop Sampler and get ready for a full platter of everything the joint has to offer, from crispy chicken tenders to fried shrimp. Feel free to take your fair share of dipping sauces, but you might not even need them. Save room for the tasty peanut butter pudding.


Frutta Bowls

Located right by Taste of Nashville favorites Poke Bros and Thai Satay, Frutta Bowls is ideal for a healthy breakfast or lunch option that’s not too far from campus. The superfood cafe offers menu items ranging from hot oatmeal to Açaí and Kale bowls. They have soy, gluten and dairy-free meals that simplify eating out for anyone on a restricted diet. So next time you’re finishing up a run in Centennial and are feeling extra fit, stop by Frutta Bowls and keep that energy going for your meal.

Recommendations: In the mornings, a pick-me-up is a necessity, so I opt for an organic Cold Brew. The Fiji Bowl is made with a pitaya, banana, pineapple and almond milk base that gives it its vibrant pink coloring. On top, granola, banana slices, honey, peanut butter, coconut flakes and chia seeds practically spill out of the plastic container. If I’m still hungry, I’d take home the Bravocado Toast, topped with avocado, sun-dried tomato pesto, egg, red pepper flakes and sea salt.   



If you’re pretty picky about your wings like I am, Wingstop is the place for you. They offer a whopping 11 different flavors to toss on your classic wings, boneless wings or crispy tenders. These range from Garlic Parmesan, a savory and buttery dry rub, to Hickory Smoked Barbeque, to Louisiana Rub, to Cajun and Mango Habanero—need I go on? Wingstop is open until midnight on Elliston Place and offers both carryout and delivery. 

Recommendations: If you’re eating for one, get the Medium eight-piece Wing Combo with 8 wings (I opt for boneless), two flavors (Cajun and BBQ for me), a side of fries and a nice, big cup of Diet Coke. You really can’t go wrong, especially if you throw in some jalapeño cheese sauce.