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Diner Nashville Takes the Night Shift

The Diner Nashville brings multiple dining experiences to downtown—and it’s open 24 hours a day.

Written By:  Chris Chamberlain

Photographers:  Nick Bumgardener

Hyped as an upscale eatery, The Diner Nashville stands out for being a six-story restaurant—which is tall, despite being dwarfed by the high-rises and construction cranes surrounding its location at Third Avenue South and Demonbreun—as well as a 24-hour joint.

Co-owner Steve Smith, who is also involved in other downtown properties, including Honky Tonk Central, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, and Rippy’s, knows what it takes to attract both locals and tourists. With The Diner Nashville, he’s created a variety of experiences for every time of day.

The ground floor shows off a traditional diner vibe, including black-and-white tile work, a glass case full of pastries, a gourmet coffee bar, and thoughtful touches, like phone charging outlets that pop up from the middle of the tables. There’s a laidback sports-bar vibe on the second story, where almost the entire floor is occupied by a long bar with multiple televisions hanging above it. The top floor will likely become its most popular, since there are large garage door-style windows that can be rolled up, offering all the benefits of a rooftop bar without the worry of weather. These convertible doors are on every level, but the views up here are the best.

As for the food, the menu goes well beyond diner fare. Yes, there are fried and filling dishes, including poutine and Boom Boom shrimp, but they can be balanced out with creative salads. The Nashville Fire Burger is made from a prime blend of brisket, short rib, and ground chuck and is dressed with a spicy chow-chow relish, pimento cheese, lettuce, and tomato. There’s also an open-faced, roast-beef sandwich served with mashed potatoes, a comforting slab of meatloaf, and homemade pot roast.

One notable element is an alliance with Prince’s Hot Chicken—The Diner uses the classic chicken shack’s authentic sauce recipe in several menu items, albeit at a mercifully lower spice level than the hottest of Prince’s fiery fowl. You can find chicken tenders brushed with Prince’s seasoning tucked in to a biscuit or a wrap—and they are offered for free every day during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. (That’s not a misprint. Gratis. No charge.)

On the top floor, you’ll find a raw bar and a sushi bar; sit at either to watch the chefs prepare your food. Raw oysters on the half shell are a specialty, but they are also available grilled or Rockefeller-style. And, although the sushi menu is fairly short, it contains the usual suspects, such as California rolls, Philly rolls, and a specialty Nashville roll stuffed, of course, with hot chicken. 

For something sweet, take a look inside the first-floor pastry case, which usually showcases the restaurant’s chocolate lava cake and a sticky toffee pudding. With so many dining and drinking options, you could easily spend all day here—or save your visit for the nighttime. While those lights are fading over on Lower Broad, The Diner will be waiting to fuel you up for the ride home.

200 3rd Ave S, 615-782-7150; thediner.com

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