With as much time as we spend in/exploring East Nashville, we should probably be able to give an elevator-pitch review of every restaurant and bar in the neighborhood. But with the rate this side of Nashville is growing, that’d be a tall order, even for people whose stoves haven’t seen regular action since transmissions were being installed where Barista Parlor’s fancy coffee now pours.
Our favorite annual option for catching up with old restaurant friends and greeting new East Nashville neighbors: the Yum!East Festival, a tasting party that shows off what East Nashville has to offer, Main Street up through Inglewood, popcorn to pasta, chocolate to fried chicken, old friends to new faces.
This year’s festival runs 6 to 9 p.m. on June 2 at Pavilion East (1006 Fatherland), and once again, your ticket gives you access to tastes from some of the neighborhood’s best food establishments, plus live music, an open bar and a souvenir glass to take home and toast to the increasingly, wonderfully difficult task of keeping on top of the East Nashville food scene.
A bunch of established East Nashville favorites are on the participant list again, including expert ice cream slingers Pied Piper Creamery; makers of fantastic margaritas and jokes Rosepepper Cantina; and one of our team’s favorite places in the city, Lockeland Table.
But while we’re excited to see what the upperclassmen are dishing up at Yum!East, we always really look forward to checking out the freshmen. Feels like it was barely a minute ago that we were getting introduced to East Nashville Izakaya Two Ten Jack at Yum!East, then going under the name Lucky Belly, and now it’s a place we’d hate to live without.
Here’s a peek at some of the fresh faces among the 30 restaurants contributing this year:
Nomzilla! Sushi Et Cetera
1000 Gallatin Ave., Ste A
Nomzilla joined the small number of East Nashville sushi restaurants last July — their sushi menu is fittingly creative and unique, and the Et Cetera includes a mix of Asian fusion items, from ramen to sandwiches.
Nicoletto’s Pasta Co.
2905A Gallatin Pike
So Nicoletto’s pasta has been around for a minute, for sale in shops and at the Farmers Market across the river. But this February, the Nicolettos opened Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen on the East Side (where they were making their pasta anyway), serving fresh-made pasta and sauces, hand-rolled meatballs, sausages and more.
726 McFerrin Ave.
There’s been no shortage of places to get good fried chicken around here, but Korean fried chicken? Less simple. The Birdhouse opened in March aiming to change that, with a Korean/Southern menu that also includes Korean BBQ, bibimbap and more.
1888 Eastland Ave.
We were really sad to see longtime favorite The Silly Goose close. But good news for Nashville vegetarians came from the Goose’s ashes, as the folks behind The Wild Cow around the corner created Graze, a “plant-based bistro and bar,” that opened in late April.
Dose Coffee & Tea
1400 McGavock Pike
This one’s so new it’s not even in East Nashville yet. But it’s coming. The guys behind West Nashville specialty coffee house Dose are taking over the former Watanabe space in Inglewood, and it’s definitely good news for caffeine aficionados on the East Side. The West shop set the stage with a serious (but not snooty) approach to coffee and a simple but tasty menu of baked goods. The Riverside Village space is bigger and gives them more space to expand the food menu, so there’s a lot to look forward to — both at Yum!East, and when opening day comes (last we heard, it was looking like this summer).
Thinking about exploring the East Side flavors at Yum!East? Better move quickly — tickets ($45) are on sale now, and as of this posting, there were fewer than 75 left.
An added (and great) East Nashville side note: Proceeds from this event go to support the Fannie Battle Day Home for Children, which provides quality child care to families in need. So your three-hour food tour will taste good, and do good. Hope to see you there!