With something of a sports bar feel, Rivertowne attracts people to its four locations across Pittsburgh with an assortment of its own craft beers and apps that fill up the numerous Pittsburgh fans while rooting for their favorite Black and Yellow teams. The high-traffic locations where you find this spot often leave long lines, especially on game day, but I wasn’t attracted by the charm that brought others in the doors. The food is sloppy and the beers are forgettable.
As Shadyside has rapidly developed in east Pittsburgh, its new restaurant concepts have thrived with the advent of many new concepts springing up. Harris Grill does burgers, sandwiches, and other contemporary cuisine like few others. But where this spot really thrives, though, is in a very favorite meal where it faces stiff competition in this city: brunch. But in spite of the great well-known national brunch corners of Steel City, this spot holds its own handsomely.
Barbecue: anywhere you go in Nashville, you’re almost certain to find some great options for smoked meats. Drifters BBQ, just east of the city, is a nightlife spot that offers live music, good craft beers, ample patios for games and a great menu of affordable barbecue dishes. I would primarily call the spot a good nightlife option and place for music near downtown, with the added plus of good food that is served late into the night.
The District in downtown Nashville; it’s got some of the best character in the city, and this historic nightlife spot features many music bars, dives and venues where some of the most legendary Music City expatriates got their starts. In this environment rests Wild Horse Saloon, a converted warehouse which opened in 1994 to capitalize on the craze of line dancing, then expanding into a music venue. This three-story attraction gets busy early in the night, but for all it has to offer, I might say you’ll want to avoid the dinner menu.
For over 25 years, Merchants Restaurant has served downtown Nashville, Tennessee. This beautiful bar and nightlife spot exudes class; the ample bar hosts space for mixed drinks and the interior alludes to the namesake of this restaurant, Merchant’s Hotel, which opened in 1892. The spot holds much of the historic marble and some of the decor that brought that hotel to life, with a much more modern American cuisine menu. The food to be tried here has a great allure to it as a lunch spot or cocktail shop.
A local Nashville chain with a pretty simple focus, Sicilian Pizza and Pasta is a neighborhood Italian food joint with a niche in the take-out pizza and sandwiches world. Keyed into the suburbs here with several locations and price points focused on convenience, Sicilian Pizza & Pasta serves up calzones, stromboli, sandwiches, and heaping tons of spaghetti, manicotti, ziti and more. But it’s the pizzas that will most likely bring people back to this spot.
Opened last year in the Germantown area just north of downtown Nashville, 312 Pizza Co. is a little bite of the Windy City brought to the heart of the south. Everything about the dive—from its list of Chicago-centric beers to its short and sweet menu—brings the great culture of one top-notch city to another. The food of Chi-town has an allure to it that always means Chicago-themed spots thrive in other cities. Here we have another example of a love for Chicago staying strong, no matter the distance.
Bibibop has rocketed out of the central suburbs into an all-Ohio chain of eight restaurants, and now both Cincinnati and Columbus eaters can enjoy the fast casual Korean food concept. One spot opened yesterday off Sawmill Road in Northwest Columbus at virtually the same time as another opened in Liberty Center near Cincinnati. So what does this chain have to offer? Owner Joe Holbrook invited Another Food Critic out to give it a try. The result was fantastic.
This walk-up pizza joint just east of downtown Nashville sits amid a bustling nightlife scene of bars open late and crowds even later in the East End. It’s a small place with a pretty simple concept; you order from a slew of New York-style huge pizza pies, then you find a spot to eat or go walking with the pie. It definitely reminds me of the crowded late-night food joints that propagate in the middle of big cities.
Simple as it is, Five Points Pizza succeeds in bringing a very familiar New York concept to an entirely different city, and still being enjoyable.
Capitalizing on the meteoric resurgence of the East Nashville neighborhood, Kahn’s Desserts opened its doors in 2011 as a vegan bakery with inspiration that came from the nearby Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant. And Kahn’s has the concept covered; selling products with no dairy, eggs, refined sugar, bleached flour, or animal products. It’s a very difficult thing to make — baking with an entirely different set of staples, and yet still coming up with something sweet and delicious. But this spot shows just how advanced, and how delicious, vegan baking has become. This spot is fantastic.