Jan 15, 2017

Tenn Sixteen brings Big Easy bites to East Nashville

With Carnival season already underway in 2017, I figured I’d look back in my travel archives for a blog-worthy place where they decorate for Mardi Gras year-round.  It also happens to have excellent food and drink, along with a pretty cool name.  It’s the Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co. in Nashville, Tenn. 

Located among a group of popular night spots on Woodland Street in East Nashville and named for its address, Tenn Sixteen has been bringing a New Orleans-style vibe to Nashville since 2013, and that’s exactly what put it on my radar when I was working in Nashville last winter. 

Once inside, you can easily see the connection.  They’re certainly not subtle with their decorating. The two main side walls are primarily a vibrant red. 

The artwork on the walls is fun, bright and eclectic (and given my complete lack of expertise as an art critic, that’s about all I can say). 

The chandeliers are weighed down with Mardi Gras beads. 

And the U-shaped bar, which is the centerpiece of Tenn Sixteen’s open floor design, is seemingly always busy – at least that was the case the couple of times I visited.  The edge of the bar, which is reportedly made from African bubinga wood (whatever that is), is lined with bark – another quirky touch that really doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the New Orleans vibe, but it’s sure a good conversation piece.  The exposed wood ceiling and air ducts help make the place feel even more spacious even when crowded.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to feel right at home at the bar, especially with more than 80 beer choices to select from.  As fate would have it, I lucked into a two-for-one happy hour, which prompted me to be a tad adventurous with my selections.  The chill in the air seemingly called for an Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, followed by some fuzzy selfie taking and a Yazoo Pale Ale – locally made in Nashville – to go with dinner. 

Before too long, I was discussing menu favorites with several regulars seated around me.  With all the Southern-inspired appetizers and happy hour until 7 p.m. I was tempted to eat light and sample more off the beer menu.     

It was a tough decision, but in the end I went with a full dinner selection from their list of “large plates” – the classic blackened catfish.  Resting on beds of red cabbage slaw and jalapeno cheese grits surrounded by a Creole puree, this dish was an ideal combination of spicy, sweet and sour.  The sides made an excellent complement to the flaky yet meaty catfish, which was perfectly seasoned.  As a first-timer, the meal accomplished something very important – it made me want to come back for more, which I did.  (The fried green tomato BLT and gumbo at Tenn Sixteen are pretty darn tasty, too).

For food or drink, Tenn Sixteen is a good choice for a night in East Nashville.  The service can get bogged down at its busiest times, but it’s also a statement to this place’s popularity.  If you’re looking to enjoy some Nashville nightlife but avoid downtown, I recommend putting Tenn Sixteen Food & Drink Co. on your to-do list.

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