Nashville Restaurants and Food
210 Louise Ave.
Sometimes you have to lean back on the classics. We usually try and review the new spots in Nashville. But considering the many people out there who might be new to the area, we feel some responsibility to remind everyone of the legendary joints in town. Café Coco is a 24 hour a day staple for college students, hospital workers and anyone who enjoys good food. That makes a Café Coco a good stop after the bars, while studying or during that long double shift.
Coffee plays a starring role in this vibe. The place looks and feels like a coffee house. They serve up a variety of traditional coffee styles and a number of decadent lattes dressed up with flavors like mocha, tiramisu and white chocolate. Coffee comes in big mugs or to-go cups.
The menu runs wild, from sandwiches and salads to pasta and pizza. Breakfast gives many options for making your scrambled eggs a little fancy: black olives, avocado, pesto, sausage, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, turkey, ham, feta, jalapenos, to name just a few.
One late night visit prompts a Gold Rush: a thick, juicy chicken breast on a croissant. The Coco signature grill marks point to the press used to make the chicken, Swiss and mozzarella cheeses, mushrooms and onions all become gooey friends. The Americano is a BLT with turkey, spinach and focaccia bread. Once again the grilling brings it all together in a cheesey goodness. Feel homesick? Consider the peanut butter and jelly.
Pasta is also a good bet at Café Coco. The noodles are cooked al dente and the tasty sauces include pesto, Alfredo and a tomato cream. The French fries may not look very different at first. They’re the crinkle cut version, but cooked extremely crisp and served nicely seasoned. For the brave diner consider adding mozzarella cheese and hot beef gravy in the Coco version of the classic Canadian dish poutine.
Vegan and vegetarian items are clearly marked on the menu and there are many to from which to choose. Fresh greens and inventive ingredients make the salads stand out.
Veggie Eater: On one trip, I opted for the Formaggio sandwich; essentially a dressed up Italian grilled cheese Panini. It is stuffed full of Swiss, cheddar, and mozz cheese with tomato and pesto. The thick slice focaccia is a bit overwhelming and I would prefer more actual Italian cheeses (provolone or fontina anyone?), but this is not an Italian deli and the sandwich if not great, was good.
What I really like at Café Coco are the salads. The most recent visit found me intrigued by the California Sunshine. It’s a great mix of textures and flavors; baby greens, mandarin oranges, praline pecans, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and gorgonzola cheese. The menu states you get a choice of raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette, but really they offer you any of their dressings. Better yet, the dressings are actually homemade, so this visit found me adorning my salad with blue cheese dressing. This dressing is not the gloppy hydrogenated oil mess you get from a bottle, but zippy and light with real chunks of cheese. I love a really good salad (far more important than dessert in my book) and the salads at Café Coco never disappoint. They are large in portion and generous with the various ingredients.
Meat Eater: You have your choice of scenery at Café Coco. Stay inside to get cozy with your neighbors. You’ll hear interesting conversations, many of which involve hook-ups or attempted hook-ups (want to hear my band?). Outside the patio is one of the best, leafy lunch spots in the city. Just watch out late night for drunken country stars.
One of the best things about Coco is the consistency. We’ve eaten there many times over the years and have yet to have a bad experience. Recently we paid $25 with tax and tip for one visit and $20 on another. We were well stuffed on both occasions.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Nashville Restaurants and Food