Nashville Restaurants and Food
201 Third Avenue South
There’s an upscale taco boom in downtown Nashville. The latest entrant, Bakersfield Tacos, is a chain restaurant, offering quality Southwest fare in an energetic and casual setting. We usually don’t do much with chain restaurants on this blog, but Bakersfield is a small chain thus far, and they’re providing a quality meal at reasonable prices downtown. That isn’t the case at many places downtown, so we think it’s worth a mention.
The room is packed on a Friday night visit. Bakersfield has the obligatory roll up garage door windows and yet it’s a loud room and with dim bar lighting. Nothing wrong with that, especially when cocktails come around. They have several margarita versions, a full bar with a decent beer selection, and even mimosas for weekend brunch.
Start with the queso- it’s a real star. Dark and husky queso is covered up with melting cheese and then popped in the oven. The baked top comes out bubbling hot. The taco options are limited, but interesting. Chicken mole tacos are a highlight- pickled peppers, cotija cheese and a great smoky flavor. The short rib tacos are a bit more laid back with tender beef and the traditional taco toppings of radish and cilantro. The tacos have house made corn tortillas and freshness is noticeable. It’s nice to see a chain restaurant featuring tortas. The milanesa version is a large, tender chicken patty lightly fried and then topped with lemon mayo and avocado. The flat, pressed, torta roll allows the chicken to do the talking.
Veggie Eater: First time around, our visit was on a Sunday for brunch. They’ve got 2 veggie taco options, Rajas and Huitlacoche, and since tacos are single serve, I opted for both. Both have an earthiness imparted by the various roasted items (including whole green beans/elote corn in the rajas), though the huitlacoche is has perhaps more depth from the subtle flavor of the featured corn smut. Two tacos with an app is more than ample fare. On our second venture, I had the papas tostada. The corn tortillas are fresh and I was a bit unnerved by the layers of 2 corn tortillas for a tostada. It made a 7 inch high stack. I thought I could remove the bottom tortilla, but discovered that this tortilla housed the promised black beans. So with my dish reassembled, I began to tackle it in earnest. On the top tortilla, chunky bits of avocado were sprinkled amongst diced fried potatoes and queso fresco and then topped with romaine, radish, and scallions doused in a sprightly buttermilk dressing. One is definitely enough (perhaps the reason for the second tortilla). I opted for the pickled peppers on both trips, which impart both a bit of astringency and heat without overwhelming the dishes.
Meat Eater: This is a good option for Southwest fare downtown. We paid $58 with tax, tip and two drinks on one visit and $47 for the same on another visit.