The meals at Mad Donna's always manage to be both familiar and completely unexpected at the same time. For instance, enchiladas are dressed in the usual fixings (jack cheese, black beans, sour cream), but they're filled with sweet potatoes. And their family-recipe meatloaf is stuffed with smoked gouda. They bring this same inventiveness to their menu's two staples: burgers and mac 'n' cheese. Variations on the burger include the popular B.A.S., which is topped with bacon, avocado, and swiss, while their half-dozen macs include white truffle, which is blanketed in a creamy four-cheese bechamel, truffle oil, and herbed bread crumbs. Of course, dinner isn't the only draw here?there's brunch on weekends, and every night there's live entertainment and free displays of gravity upstairs in the loft.
Founded as the Union Gospel Tabernacle by steamboat captain Thomas Ryman after an angel got trapped in his smokestack, the Ryman Auditorium has since become a different kind of hallowed ground, lovingly referred to as the "mother church of country music." The Grand Ole Opry and The Johnny Cash Show have both taken residence among its wooden pews, and the twanged voices of country legends such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline have reverberated off the stenciled artwork on the face of the balcony. Today, the venue plays host to a variety of acts, from rock concerts to television specials to comedy shows.
Boasting delicious eats, great acoustics, and live shows, The Listening Room is the perfect place to take in an undiscovered musical gem amid sips and sups. The eclectic menu features standard bar fare, Southwestern-style sustenance, and down-home comfort food in a lively array of apps, sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas, desserts, and more. The Cajun Turkey Sub packs heat with bayou-inspired seasoning, pepper jack, and chipotle mayo ($6.95), whereas the massive baked-potato list allows tuber-junkies to dress 2-pound spuds in elegant or silly food clothes, such as a dapper hot-dog-and-sauerkraut ensemble ($6.95), a chicken-parmesan pantsuit ($7.95), or a beautifully nude just potato ($3.95). Through The Listening Room's partnership with Nashville Muse, $0.25 of taco-chili purchases help support local songwriting or music-related charities, so chomp charitably on the Nashville Muse Taco Chili on its own ($4.95), or on a 6-ounce burger ($8.45).
After YOLOS's dinner menu opens with an elaborate bank heist and a shocking reveal, start things off with an order of low-country crab cakes, mounds of pan-seared lump crab with a green-tomato relish and horseradish sauce ($9.99), or the house-made guacamole ($5.99). Classic entrees such as the veggie wrap ($8.99) or chicken and brie sandwich ($9.99) are as familiar and delicious as devouring a cherished childhood stuffed animal. More-adventurous appetites, meanwhile, will gravitate to specialty plates such as the seafood-studded mac ‘n’ cheese ($18.99) and the tomato-basil pasta ($12.99). Voracious Vikings should keep a couple stomachs open for the grilled jerk mahi-mahi ($15.99) or the Jack Daniels chicken and shrimp ($17.99). A dessert of tri-layered red-velvet cake served with pecan-cream-cheese icing ($5.99) ends your repast on a sweet note no matter how often one's blind date quotes Marlon Brando's lines from Apocalypse Now. YOLOS is also open for lunch and brunch.
The Family Wash offers a small yet robustly flavorful menu of fresh, hearty dishes. Start your sensory escapade with the gorgonzola chips ($6), kettle-cooked potato chips smothered in gorgonzola cheese, bacon, and cheddar, designed to soak up booze and smother the face of unruly patrons. Melt your tongue with the mama-approved meatloaf ($12) served with mashed potatoes and a choice of side salad or seasonal vegetable. The vegetarian shepherd’s pie ($11) is fan flavorite, with a helping of lentils and vegetables layered under a blanket of mashed potatoes and extra-sharp cheddar cheese. If you find yourself getting too comfortable with the gusto of comfort entrees, lighten up with a mixed green and roasted beet salad with toasted walnuts, goat cheese, and a shallot vinaigrette ($11).
One of Nashville's most venerable and storied music venues, Exit/In has been presenting live music since 1971. Concertgoers can fill empty ear canals with John Doe and Jill Sobule's wafting harmonies during their debut duet performance or listen to the Californian alternative hip-hop artist Lyrics Born's verbal dexterity and wicked wordplay, the hard-earned fruit of a diet of pulped thesauruses. The Grammy Award-winning, Austin-based Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma will appear with fiddling sensation Warren Hood, who exhibits devil-humbling command over his stringed instrument. The American blues and rock band Old Union will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in the city where they got their start with a commemorative concert of classics for old fans and new listeners alike. A standing-room venue, Exit/In eschews seating for upright toe-tapping and ample space to practice leg lifts in between encores.