Put two chefs and two musicians at the table together, and the conversation inevitably veers toward where, what, and how they love to eat — especially when it comes to dining on a budget.
If there’s anything that chefs and musicians appreciate more than an over-the-top, memorable meal, it’s a soul-satisfying cheap one. Just ask Nashville chefs Josh Habiger and Lisa Donovan and musicians Cory Chisel and Adrien Denae, who spent hours over a recent Sunday Supper at City House sharing stories about their favorite cheap haunts around town.
Cory and Adrien live down the street from International Market & Restaurant, a grocery store with a small cafeteria dining room serving up Thai food near Belmont University — Cory says they’re in there all the time. “I literally live there,” he deadpans, causing Lisa, who, once lived in the same apartment building to laugh out loud. “We went there all the time! We’d walk in there and [owner Patti Myint] would feed our kids for nothing. We could all eat there for $12,” she laughs.
Cory turns the topic to chicken, asking for everyone’s favorite in Nashville. “It doesn’t have to be hot but that’s kind of what I’m asking,” he stipulates. Josh chimes in with a non-hot version from El Amigo on Nolensville Road. “It’s an old gas station they turned into a taco stand. They have this grilled chicken that’s amazing,” he says.
“Have you tried Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine yet?” Lisa asks Cory. “Definitely one of my favorites,” she adds, talking up their curries before adding another to her list, Mas Tacos in East Nashville. The food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar now boasts one of the city’s most outstanding chicken tortilla soups as well as a small selection of tasty tacos. “I can’t get enough,” she adds.
As for Cory, he says he’s hooked on VN Pho & Deli on Charlotte Avenue. “I’m around that area a lot. It’s really good Asian food,” he says, adding, “I’m also a really big diner guy. Brown’s Diner is my secret. I only tell people I really like because as of now, it’s only populated by regulars. It’s old Nashville — two trailers fused together. I will go there anytime. And I absolutely love their pork.”