Regular contributor Veronica Williams (pictured) loves ethnic food, not because it’s tasty, but often a lot healthier than traditional American dishes. Here she reviews 10 Ethnic restaurants worth trying in Nashville.
Some people are really nervous to try ethnic food. They don’t know if it’s going to be too spicy, too sweet, or just too different. For me though, I love ethnic food! I grew up with parents who had a taste for adventure when it comes to food. So I’ve spent my past five years in Nashville trying any ethnic restaurant I could. After five years of experience, I want you to come with me as I show you the best ethnic food in Nashville. Don’t worry I’ll hold your hand as we go on this journey. So check out the best of the best from around the world that all ended up here in Nashville.
GoJo Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant
Neighborhood: 100 Oaks
Enjera flatbread, a sourdough-like pancake, covered by Yebeg Tips was what really turned me on to this place. The rosemary, onion, and jalapeño swirl together in a spicy marriage. GoJo serves traditional Ethiopian dishes that would be hard to find anywhere else. Enjoy a delicious sambussa or the Doro We’t dish. It’s hard to go wrong here.
Neighborhood: West End
If you love curry, you need to go here! The traditional white table clothes and a lunch buffet make this a classic Indian favorite. Not only can you enjoy Indian food every day of the week but heir daily lunch buffets are one that you don’t want to miss. With dishes like creamy tikka masala and chicken vindaloo, you will not miss out on any of your favorites.
Neighborhood: 12 South
This family owned and operated Lebanese restaurant throws modern spins on classic Lebanese dishes to introduce it to the Nashville audience. Lebanese if the marriage of french and middle eastern cuisines and you can certainly see both influences here. Their hummus and shawarma are Lebanese classics.Owner of Kalmatas Maher Fawaz had his eye on this little spot in 12 South for a while. He knew Nashville was lacking an authentic Lebanese restaurant and couldn’t wait to bring the spices, fresh vegetables, and amazing recipes to Nashville.
Although many people never venture in due to its lack of curb appeal Istanbul is one of the best places in Nashville to get traditional home-style Turkish food. Offering traditional dishes like tabouleh, baba ganoush, hummus, and my personal favorite their traditional Turkish lentil soups. They have captured flavors and dishes that nowhere else in Nashville really has. On top of that the casual environment, friendly staff, and on-par services should make this spot climb to the top of your lunch favorites.
The Smiling Elephant
Known as the best pad thai in Nashville it does not fail to meet your expectations. The cozy white building on the 8th avenue stands alone and when you walk in you’ll feel as you walked into a restaurant in Thailand instead of Nashville with the natural wood walls and traditional decoration you know you are in for a treat. The food is always fresh with no MSG ever! To keep you on your toes they offer a new curry every day so make sure to stop in soon to see what the special of the day is.
Neighborhood: South Nashville
An important part of a good pupuseria is a language barrier, you know it’s real then. Pupusas are deliciously stuffed tortillas often stuffed with cheese, beans, and meat then topped with shredded cabbage and a vinegar sauce. This Salvadoran restaurant stays true and offers all your favorites including a sweet horchata perfect for any fall day.
Selling Jamaican food is hard in Nashville says, Ouida Bradshaw. “People are always shocked at how good it is.” Don’t be like those people, drop everything you are doing and go to one of JamaicaWay’s two locations (one in the Nashville Farmers Market and one in Midtown). Their homestyle cooking is better than anything you could imagine. Pair delicious chicken curries with collard greens and plantains for a true taste of Jamaica and let the food speak for itself.
So Gong Dong Tofu House
Specializing in sundubu jjigae, or tofu soup this Korean restaurant will introduce you to all of the Korean dishes you are dying to try! The menu is in half English, half Korean making it feel even more authentic. But don’t worry tofu soup isn’t the only dish here. They serve Korean bbq as well, cook your food and enjoy the full experience.
Kien Giang Restaurant
Neighborhood: West Nashville
Are you looking for traditional pho with a traditional feel? This small restaurant is tucked away off of Charlotte Pike and has the best pho in town, but no one talks about it! Forget the frilly pho places you are used to. Opened by a local Vietnamese family over 30 years ago this is truly a Nashville classic. It’s an affordable spot too with many Vietnamese favorites under $8!
Cuisine: Asian Dim-Sum
Neighborhood: West Nashville
I grew up on the west coast with an influx of delicious dim-sum restaurants, but moving to Nashville it was hard to find a good one. Lucky Bamboo offers a combination of dim-sum and Asian favorites. This huge restaurant brings me back to my favorite dim-sum spots in San Diego. Check out their lotus wrapped rice and xiao long bao.
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