Miles away from the nearest bachelorette party, a common sight on Saturday afternoons in Nashville, Nadeen’s Hermitage Haven is packed to near capacity—another common sight on Saturday afternoons. Local brunch-goers and regulars fill the seven or eight bar seats with spirited conversations, occasionally interrupted by the clack and dance of a mixer tin. Behind them, a small, lively dining room plays host to families, groups of day-drinkers, and older folks alike.
Billed as an elevated diner, the atmosphere is loud yet cozy and charming. The décor strikes memories of buying your first home and furnishing it by raiding the spare bedrooms and storage units of relatives—a mash-up of mid-century quirks and casual pub ambiance.
Originally, the plan was to open Nadeen’s in one of the trendy, hipster neighborhoods that decorate every corner of this city. You can’t blame the trio of owners—a wife and husband team (Nadeen and John) and a friend (Seth)—for wanting to drop anchor near other Instagram-friendly establishments and dining hotbeds. Hermitage is almost no one’s first choice. But landing here might have been a blessing.
Just a stone’s throw from Donelson—one of the fastest growing neighborhoods—and crammed alongside fast-food chains and various other forgettable shops, Nadeen’s lays claim to an underserved class of hard-working people. This area desperately needed a Cheer’s, somewhere to pause life for a few minutes and enjoy chain-free food. Many of the people that live on this side of town spend hours upon hours each week commuting into the city for work. The last thing that interests them is jumping back into their cars and making that same trek on a weekend just to enjoy a boozy brunch or a quick diner-bite.
Nadeen’s cheerfully fills that void by redefining what it means to be a diner. While their all-day breakfast menu plays the usual tunes of crowd-pleasers, such as the Diner Breakfast, and Hot Chicken and Waffles (a Yelp favorite), the house-ground burger holds its own and rivals any of the city. The wings deliver an almost cliché-level of jumbo tenderness, and the hand-cut fries, tossed in a secret blend of seasoning, satisfy every appetite. But the star of the show is easily their signature Philly Cheesesteak—perfectly seasoned beef served on an Amoroso roll, wit or witout, whiz or white, and executed in a manner that only someone from the Philadelphia area could pull off—the best cheesesteak you’ll find south of the Mason Dixon Line.
And, of course, there’s an inviting drink menu with house specialties and classics, an impressive line of spirits, a decent selection of brews, and your typical spread of wines. In short, Nadeen’s offers something for everyone, all day long, and does so without cutting corners.
But what sets them apart from the other bustling establishments near and far is the jovial attitude of its workers. The service industry presents tiring shifts and thankless jobs. Yet, here, servers and bartenders manage to make patrons feel like regulars even after a single visit. The owners introduce themselves without a shred of arrogance and their genuine desire to make your experience enjoyable clearly trickles down to every employee. If there’s one truth about every institution, it’s that happy workers equal happy guests.
Since the fall of 2017, that happiness has built a small buzz in Hermitage, where the Frito Pie (Fritos smothered with chili and cheese) brings as much joy to young kids on the middle of a Sunday as it does to hungry imbibers late on a Friday night. There aren’t many places around where you can order a two-egg breakfast and chase it with a glass of Jefferson’s Ocean Aged bourbon or Peerless Rye (if you’re so inclined). Scattered, smothered, covered, diced, peppered with a sunny side up egg? Sure, they can do that for you. Oh, and rumor has it, their home-made Pie à la Mode is worth the trip alone.
After entering, it doesn’t take long to question if “elevated diner” adequately describes this place. It’s a family diner that serves craft cocktails, a shiny dive bar that opens at 8 am, a zero-frills-given hashery with great food and drinks, and most important of all, a haven for the regulars that make frequent visits.
Every neighborhood needs its local joint, after all, and every local joint needs its neighborhood. Nadeen’s made that connection easy for Nashville’s far-east suburb. They probably won’t draw crowds away from the city’s trend-setting districts, or the bachelorette parties that lineup around murals, but that’s just fine by the regulars who seek refuge here. If you do happen to find yourself on this side of town, stop in, get the local treatment, and take advantage of one of the city’s best kept secrets.