About a month ago, I picked up the third version of George Motz’s “Hamburger America” – the text that started much of my food journey. I discovered the existence of this tome more than a decade ago, when we were having lunch at Mr. Bartlett’s Burger Cottage, in Cambridge, MA. This book documents George’s journey across this country to find the best burgers he could. The first version had 100 burgers – the third has 200, and removes the ones that are gone.
For many years, there was an awesome app that listed them all, with an interactive map, and had been updated with more burgers than are in the book, but it, sadly, has been IoSed out of functionality. The third edition added another spot in Nashville, Dino’s Restaurant, and I, dutifully, added it to my list. When we were in NashVegas for thanksgiving weekend, I planned to make a stop.
So on Friday evening, we had a very nice dinner, but, as we were driving around, I was still hungry. Dino’s address was plugged into Google maps. We parked down the street and walked through the front door. Dino’s bills itself as Nashville’s oldest dive bar. I don’t know about “oldest”, but they are dead-on with the “dive bar” description. The room was lit with red lights – and I don’t think that was for the Christmas season. Although there were Christmas lights strung around the window. You order at the bar, then find a seat. We stepped up to the register and looked at our choices:
As you can see, the menu wasn’t too broad, and the “kitchen” was right in front of us. We ordered a cheeseburger and fries, to share, and took two seats at the bar. The three young folks working the bar and grill flowed together like a well-oiled machine and chatted with us while we sat there.
My beloved told them that this was “second dinner” for me, and he asked where the first was. She told him and he said, “Yep. One of my best friends is a bartender there. They all come here after work for burgers.” The crowd seemed to be a mix of locals (a group of six hipsters starting their night with PBRs and burgers / working folks after work / Belmont and Vandy students kicking off the weekend) and visitors, like us. It was something like going to the church of Dolly – folk art portraits of Dolly Parton adorned the walls, smiling over us like a patron saint.
We listened for them to call “35” and burger was delivered. We had watched him cook the patty on the griddle and immerse the potatoes in the deep fryer – anticipation was high. And they delivered – the fries were almost-too-hot to eat, crunchy and delicious. They tasted like the double fried fries we love down on the Georgia coast, but I swear we only saw them fry them once. The burger has a crisp exterior from the griddle and wasn’t so thin that it was crispy all the way through. It was definitely a winner – with plenty of flavor. I recommend it heartily, just be prepared for where you’re going.