A Chef’s Guide to Music City
Chef Tandy Wilson is known for his Southern riffs on classic, rustic Italian fare at Nashville’s acclaimed City House in the Germantown neighborhood. Before opening City House in 2007, Wilson went to culinary school in Arizona, cooked at Tra Vigne in Napa and worked with Nashville legend Margot McCormack at Margot Café & Bar. Since debuting his unique Southern-Italian mashup menu, Wilson has been consecutively nominated for the Best Chef Southeast award from the James Beard Foundation. Below, Wilson shares his favorite places in Nashville, from Southeast Asian markets and Memphis-style barbecue to the best places to buy and hear music.
I go to Robert’s Western World for a fried bologna sandwich and some good music. This is something I’m a fan of in the early afternoon as much as late night, because the band is always good. The fried bologna might be Oscar Meyer and not house made, but the love and care are there for sure.
416 Broadway, Nashville, TN; 615.244.9552; robertswesternworld.com
King Market is Nashville’s best taste of Southeast Asia. I love the sausage and crispy intestine, as well as the larb. Go with a group so you can dig deep into the menu, and don’t forget to check out the market.
1801 Antioch Pike, Antioch, TN 37013; 615.333.3103
Order a rack of ribs at Peg Leg Porker. Memphis ribs in Nashville and they are so damn good! His pepper jelly and cream cheese is also damn good.
903 Gleaves Street, Nashville, TN; 615.829.6023; peglegporker.com
All of the food here is excellent. In my opinion this is the epitome of a new Nashville restaurant. Mexican food through the eyes and sole of a Nashvillian. Don’t miss the grits and chicken in a corn husk, she calls this a tamale.
732 Mcferrin Avenue, Nashville, TN; 615.543.6271; facebook.com/mastacos
Get a burger and the meat-and-three is good too, but you have made a bad mistake if you leave without a fried pie.
306 E Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN; 615.833.7362; dairykingnashville.com
Go record shopping at Grimey’s. This is Nashville, they are going to have something awesome that you must have. Come back later on and catch a show at the basement.
1604 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN; 615-254-4801; grimeys.com
A great counter lunch. I love the burger and the catfish, and the atmosphere.
1828 4th Avenue North, Nashville, TN; 615.242.8118; bigbigalsdeli.com
Visit Fairgrounds Speedway for a night of racing. Don’t forget earplugs and don’t forget the funnel cake.
625 Smith Avenue, Nashville, TN; 615.254.1986; fairgroundsspeedwaynashville.com
There are so many choices and the burger is great, but for me it’s a dipped cone or vanilla malt.
5301 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN; 615.463.8088; facebook.com/bobbiesdairydipcharlotteave
About Tandy Wilson
Tandy Wilson opened City House in Nashville’s historic Germantown district in December 2007 in space that had formerly housed the working space for artist and sculptor Alan LeQuire.
City House’s menu offers dishes that feature quality, local ingredients cooked with great care and purpose. City House also allows Tandy to hone his expertise at cured meats, which hold a prominent place on the menu, revolving between his various salamis and, more recently, hand-cured hams.
Seating 124, and featuring a chef’s bar where diners can watch as Tandy and his team prepare the meal, City House has emerged as one of the bright stars in Nashville’s local restaurant scene.
Tandy opened City House after spending two years as sous chef for Margot McCormack at Margot Café, in Nashville. Working with local resources and a menu that changed daily, Tandy sharpened his skills and perfected his vision of his own restaurant.
It was his mother and grandmothers who instilled in him this enthusiasm and love of food early on, and it was during his first restaurant job at The Orangery while attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville that he discovered his talent. After quickly moving up from his position as a dishwasher to a role in the kitchen, Tandy realized he wanted to make a career out of cooking. In 2000, after graduating with a degree in hotel restaurant administration, he left Tennessee for Arizona, where he graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute.
After a year of culinary training, Tandy was placed at the world-famous Tra Vigne restaurant in St. Helena, Calif., in October of 2001. Tra Vigne’s executive sous chef at the time was Nate Appleman. Tandy and Nate continue to work closely together at events like Nate’s Kawasaki Disease Foundation Event each year.
Following his time in California, Tandy traveled to Italy to explore the cuisine and learn more about regional Italian cooking Returning from Italy in 2005, Tandy came home to his roots.
Tandy’s passion for food extends beyond cooking for his customers. He is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance where he is frequently involved with local and regional culinary activities. Tandy has also enjoyed participating in Food & Wine Festival throughout the region and many other wonderful events every year.
Since the first full year of opening City House, Tandy has greatly appreciated being one of the James Beard Foundation nominees for Best Chef of the Southeast. Tandy has also been a James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast in 2013 and 2014.
Feature image Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation.