Chengdu beef and smash burgers
Throw a stone anywhere in the Nashville area and you’ll hit a knockout local restaurant serving delicious food you can’t get anywhere else. I troll restaurants like these not only to support local businesses but to score one-of-a-kind meals.
Two of my recent favorites.
Corner Asian Bistro, which has locations both in Nashville and Brentwood, is the real deal. You can go the Chinese American route, but I recommend heading directly for the traditional Chinese menu. I haven’t been able to work up the courage to try spicy beef tendon or chicken feet with hot pepper yet (I’ll get there) but there are lots of approachable dishes including the green onion pancakes, cumin lamb and my newest favorite boyfriend, Chengdu beef. It’s spiced just right and ultra tender. I totally believe in sharing dishes with your dining partners. You might rethink that strategy on this one.
Hugh Baby’s, with outlets on Charlotte and West End avenues, is local barbecue guru Pat Martin’s ode to old-time burger shops. The menu is spare but, as the cliche goes, what’s there is choice. At the center is the cheeseburger, an in-house ground patty with American cheese, pickle, lettuce, onion, tomato and Comeback Sauce (a variation on Thousand Island dressing invented in Mississippi long ago). It’s griddled smash-burger style to create all those crispy beefy bits around the circumference. And do not sneer at the American cheese. Most chefs demand it for burgers because of its creamy melting quality.
You can also get Martin’s signature pulled pork and a dandy fried bologna sandwich but do not pass up the fries no matter what. You know those fries with an interior creaminess and exterior crunch? Yea, those are these. Hugh Baby’s gets extra points for offering Duke’s mayonnaise packets for go orders.
Keeping it local. Next up: the best taco truck in Nashville (or at least so far).