Airport food? By choice? Sounds crazy but you can get legit Nashville-centric grub and local brews from a number of local proprietors.
Break the habit of the chains and get some local chow and beer at one of these homegrown on-site operations that defy the standards of airport restaurants.
Berry Field Bistro near Gate C-2 specializes in locally sourced foods and natural ingredients when available.
Blue Coast Burrito near Gate C-14 offers a pared-down menu from the much-loved Baja Burrito. Recommendations: fish tacos, grilled chicken on a spinach tortilla.
Gibson Cafe’ near Gate C-20. Not exactly the most indigenous menu but they do serve hot chicken and the memorabilia is cool. They get extra points for sourcing from Provence Breads and Kijiji Coffee.
Fat Bottom Brewery near Gate C-14. East Nashville’s first brewery has spread its wings by opening an airport kiosk (and relocating to a larger facility in The Nations). Make your selection from a quartet of standard ales or try something seasonal like their Icebreaker coffee porter. Four-packs of 16 oz. cans are ready to become carry-on luggage.
La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant near Gate A-3. Why settle for a Starbucks muffin for breakfast when you can have huevos rancheros from one of Nashville’s most revered Mexican institutions? Offerings change as the day rolls on. They also offer an eclectic assortment of frozen cocktails.
Neely’s Bar-B-Que near Gate B-4. When my brother-in-law, the New Yorker, visited, he insisted that we include a trip to Neely’s now-closed full-service restaurant in MetroCenter. Now he just chows down at the airport. Hailing from Memphis, these folks offer killer BBQ nachos, mac’n’cheese and other soul-food favorites. Open for breakfast too.
Noshville Deli located at the Concourse A/B Rotunda delivers a taste of the Big Apple to Music City. It’s a favorite of the Music Row crowd (although the location near Midtown closed). For breakfast, I recommend the massive griddle cakes, French toast and omelets. Later in the day, maybe go with the Reuben, matzah ball soup or Tennessee Club.
O’Charley’s past Gate C-9. I hesitate to include it since it’s a big (though Nashville-born) chain with a mostly innocuous menu. It’s a good call if you’re trying to please diverse appetites ranging from salad-lovers to chicken-tender-eating kiddos.
Swett’s (pictured above) near C-6 offers a scaled-down menu from one of Nashville’s most beloved meat-and-three restaurants. Had a fine country breakfast there one morning and the soul food selections will bless your heart. As with Provence, the link takes you to the mothership restaurant; expect a scaled-down version of its surprisingly broad selections. Save room for dessert.
Tennessee Tavern makes the cut by getting its barbecue from Neely’s but other offerings are more generic. I have to deduct a few points from what sounds like a hearty breakfast entree’ because “Tator Tot Hash” should be spelled Tater.
Tennessee Brewworks near the Concourses A/B rotunda. I happened to pass through the day they were celebrating its arrival. Somewhere I still have the souvenir guitar pick. Nice selection of beers and–I might add–their brewery mothership south of downtown at 809 Ewing is a good hang.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge near Gate C-7 joined its bar service with Swett’s and Whitt’s food to create a complete eating-and-drinking establishment. Live music almost all the time. Interesting artifacts along the walls.
Whitt’s Barbecue shares Swett’s space so you can double-down on downhome. Although truthfully not my favorite barbecue, it has about a dozen locations around town so lots of people love ’em. I’ve included a link to their expansive menu but they’re only providing the barbecue in this little operation.
Yazoo Beer near Gate C-23. The granddaddy of local breweries, Yazoo was founded way back in 2003 and struck gold with its Dos Perros and Pale Ale (admittedly, not the most zippy name). Also popular are its Hefeweizen and Sly Rye Porter. And they’re always experimenting so there’s always something new. Get a cold draft for the airport and take a six-pack home as a souvenir.
Check out a few of my other food-centric posts:
And here’s a little friendly advice about our airport.