The venerable International Market and Restaurant (2010 Belmont Blvd., 615/297-4453, daily 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m., $4–10) near Belmont University and Hillsboro Village may well be the best choice for a cheap lunch in Nashville. The cafeteria serves lots of vegetable, noodle, and rice dishes, many of them Thai in origin, at prices that seem not to have risen much since the restaurant was established in 1975. If you want to splurge, order a “from the kitchen” special of pad thai or another dish, which will be made from scratch just for you.
For the best Italian food in Nashville, head west to the neighborhood of Sylvan Park, where you’ll find Caffe Nonna (4427 Murphy Rd., 615/463-0133, Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Mon.–Thurs. 5–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5–10 p.m., $12–21). Inspired by chef Daniel Maggipinto’s own Nonna (grandmother), the café serves rustic Italian fare. Appetizers include salads and bruschetta and entrées include the divine Lasagne Nonna, made with butternut squash, ricotta cheese, spinach, and sage. One of the best deals is the mix-and-match pasta; choose your own pasta and sauce for $10 at lunch and $12 at dinner. The lunch menu offers a dozen different sandwiches, including basil chicken salad and Italian-fried tilapia, for under $10. The service at Caffe Nonna is friendly and attentive, and the atmosphere is cozy.
Located just west of the Kroger food store and on the opposite side of the street, K&S World Market on Charlotte Avenue, the second in a chain whose original location is on Nolensville Pike, will keep any foodie happy for hours with its obscure and unusual food items. In the same shopping center you’ll find Nashvillians’ favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Kien Giang (5825 Charlotte Ave., 615/353-1250, Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., $4–12).
Drive a bit farther out to find La Hispana Panaderia (6208 Charlotte Pike, 615/352-3798, daily 6 a.m.–9 p.m.), whose bread and pastries are as good as the finest European bakery but at a fraction of the cost.
One of Nashville’s oldest Indian restaurants, Shalimar (3711 Hillsboro Rd., 615/269-8577, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., $11–17) offers fine food and efficient service. The $11 lunch combo of entrée, rice, naan, salad, and a drink is popular, along with the Saturday lunch buffet. At dinner, Shalimar takes on a slightly more elegant cast with vegetarian, chicken, lamb, and seafood entrées in popular preparations including masala, biryani, tikka, saag, or korma. Shalimar is a few blocks away from the Green Hills Mall.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition