Hemingway’s Bar and Hideaway
A new bar and restaurant in Wedgewood-Houston pays tribute to a legend.
Written By: Erin Byers Murray
Photographers: Emily Dorio
As development rolls on and new real estate deals are inked every day, the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood is primed for a wave of new residents to start calling the area home—which makes the opening of Hemingway’s Bar and Hideaway well timed.
Nestled in to the corner of a former hosiery building, the lease on the space has been held by co-owner Chris Weber since 2014; it took nearly three years for him and his partner, Paul Cercone, to get a small business loan and build out the concept and space.
Weber, a fan of Ernest Hemingway, says he has always wanted to open a place that pays tribute to the legendary author—but don’t expect major references or even images of Papa on the walls.
“We’re not a theme park,” he notes. “The references are subtle.” For example: Typewriters and an old library card catalogue are part of the décor, and there’s a Porter’s Suitcase cocktail, which is a reference to a lost case of Hemingway manuscripts. Barely noticeable on one wall are sketches by artist Salvador Dali, depicting images from The Old Man and the Sea. “It’s more about honoring Hemingway’s character. He was adventurous, and he loved his booze,” Weber adds.
Designed to be a welcoming, neighborhood joint, the large room houses both a dining area and bar, a space that’s airy and light, and allows for a flow between the two—socializing is encouraged, especially with a long, communal table sitting at the center of the space and plenty of elbow room near the bar, where groups can congregate. Toward the back, there’s a small lounge with free arcade games and decks of cards lying about.
“It used to be that, in Nashville, you’d see a guy in a suit and another guy in a t-shirt sitting beside one another and starting a conversation at the bar,” Cercone explains. “We wanted to bring that vibe back—to make this a community space.”
For Weber, who has been working behind the stick for 17 years here in town and around the country, the bar and cocktail program are integral. Drinks are listed only by name, primary spirit, and a brief description. (“I’m only asking you to read a little bit,” he jokes.) There’s also an infographic depicting the glassware and mixing method for each, a clever move that takes the guesswork out of what kind of drink you’ll get. One named “By Any Other Name” notes Codigo Rose Tequila as the base and the call out that it’s “handsomely dry with a citrus hook.” Yes, there are also beer and wine, but the cocktails are boozy and moderately priced, making them a big draw.
Chef Larry Carlile, formerly of Silo (where Weber and Cercone also met), has crafted a menu that meanders around the globe—a tribute to Hemingway’s love of travel. At lunch, there’s a Cuban sandwich, as well as a killer Reuben, plus a broad bowl of etouffee that brims with crayfish and shrimp. The dinner menu brings more heft, with a plate of poutine topped with duck confit; mussels with a Middle Eastern spin of harissa and ras el hounet; and a sturdy portion of Korean fried chicken, sweet with a tingling spice (at lunch, it comes on a sandwich). For those who like to share, a 32-ounce ribeye is the way to go—it’s served Tomahawk-style on the bone, a feast for the eyes, plus it feeds more than four hungry adults, easily.
To finish, there’s Key Lime Pie, a nod to Hemingway’s home base, served in a jar and topped with brûléed meringue. But, if Papa himself were haunting the place, you might opt, instead, to wrap up the night with a Hemingway daiquiri—heavy on the rum, light on the grapefruit.
438 Houston St., 615-915-1715; hemingwaysbarandhideaway.com