What’s new on Taste of Nashville?

With staffing and supply chain shortages bringing long lines to the dining halls, Campus Dining has encouraged students to explore off-campus dining options—including five new restaurants.

%28Campus+Dining%29

(Campus Dining)

Jorie Fawcett

If you find yourself tired of eating the same salad from Commons every night, consider exploring the Taste of Nashville program. Each year, Vanderbilt Campus Dining adds new restaurants to this program, which allows students to use their dining funds (Meal Money or Commodore Cash) at one of 46 participating off-campus restaurants. For the Fall 2021 semester, five new restaurants joined Taste of Nashville, all of which are sure to be crowd pleasers.

To combat the long dining hall lines caused by staff shortages, students received $50 per day in dining funds from Aug. 24 through Aug. 29. This was convenient, as it gave my friends and I the opportunity to try out Taste of Nashville’s newest offerings and bring you the lowdown. Spoiler alert: you’re going to run out of Commodore Cash fast.

 

Flatiron’s Southwest Salad is a hearty, healthy summer meal. (@flatironnashville on Instagram)

Flatiron

Flatiron is a high-energy restaurant about a ten-minute walk away from main campus. The menu truly has something for everyone, ranging from American classics to brunch to modern fare. If you’re looking for a night out, a nice lunch after a morning of classes or a place to watch the game, Flatiron has you covered.

Recommendation: The Southwest Salad was the perfect summer food. A thick pile of lettuce topped with chicken, avocado, black beans, cheddar cheese, corn, tortilla strips and chipotle ranch offers a refreshing meal with a punch of protein. 

 

Central BBQ brings award-winning Memphis barbecue to Nashville. (@centralbbq on Instagram)

Central BBQ

Central BBQ is for sure my favorite spot on this list. Since it opened in 2002, Central has been ranked as the number one spot for barbecue in Memphis. Founders Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp met on the barbecue circuit in the mid-80s, and after competing in the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and many other local and regional competitions, they founded Central BBQ in Memphis. Nashville has two locations to choose from, so the next time you find yourself in Hillsboro (the Taste of Nashville location) or on 11th Ave, be sure to check out Central BBQ for a delicious but messy meal.

Recommendation: The pulled pork plate with mac and cheese and barbecue beans is a meal I could probably eat every day (just ask my mom). Each plate comes with an entree, a roll and two sides, and the slow-smoked pulled pork is hard to pass up. And who doesn’t love mac and cheese?

 

A new champion for açai and smoothie bowls, Grain & Berry is located near Hillsboro Village. (@grainandberry on Instagram)

Grain & Berry Café

Voted No. 1 by the Tampa Bay Times for best bowl, Grain & Berry has quickly become one of my favorite spots in Nashville. All items are made-to-order and free of additives, and their menu includes everything from delicious açai bowls and fresh pressed juices to hearty avocado toasts and international coffees. With 12 locations spanning from Nashville to South Florida, Grain & Berry happily shares that they cater to individual dietary restrictions including vegetarian, paleo, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Recommendation: The Relax, Eat, Repeat bowl has nutella, banana and strawberry, and it is definitely one of my favorite dishes in Nashville. Since starting at Vanderbilt, açai bowls have become something I eat regularly and Grain & Berry is one of my top contenders.

 

On the ground floor of Elliston Place, I Love Sushi couldn’t be more convenient for students. (@ilovesushinashville on Instagram)

I Love Sushi

I Love Sushi is a welcoming restaurant with a diverse menu and fresh ingredients. Located on Elliston Place, the restaurant has fast service and a passion for Japanese cuisine. If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to make a reservation because they fill up fast (and deservingly so). Each menu item is handcrafted by talented and dedicated chefs. I Love Sushi is the perfect place for sushi aficionados and sushi newcomers alike to unwind and enjoy some amazing food. 

Recommendation: I have to be honest: sushi is not my favorite. Thankfully, my roommate recently ordered from I Love Sushi and she recommended the spicy salmon roll. This roll has a Japanese-style mayonnaise mixed with chili sauce and is wrapped up with fresh salmon and sticky rice. Be sure to save room for mochi ice cream!

 

Don’t be intimidated by Shokku Ramen’s Shinigami Challenge—a normal-sized bowl is perfectly acceptable. (@shokkuramen on Instagram).

Shokku Ramen 

If you want to earn a spot on the Wall of Warriors, Shokku Ramen is the place for you. Founded in Las Vegas and later brought to Nashville, the Shinigami Challenge is Sin City’s spiciest ramen challenge! Anyone brave enough to attempt this challenge has 8 minutes to finish more than 24 ounces of tonkotsu broth, loaded with more than three pounds of noodles. All challengers are required to sign a waiver, and winners will receive their meal for free and get their picture stamped on the Wall of Warriors forever.

If that’s a little too extreme for your taste buds, don’t worry. Shokku Ramen has a wide variety of menu items available for takeout or patio dining. This lively restaurant is a great addition to Taste of Nashville and a fun option for students looking to expand their palate.

Recommendation: Once again, ramen is not my jam. However, the drowning gyoza has been a crowd favorite among first-year students. It consists of five grilled dumplings drenched in ponzu sauce and green onions. The flavors offer a nice balance of savory and tangy, and it’s a very filling meal.