645 West Iris Drive
Nashville, TN 37204
W: www.merenguecafenashville.com (under development)
One Sunday after church, we were hoping to visit a local restaurant that turned out to be closed on Sundays. When we realized they were closed, Michelle mentioned a nearby Cuban restaurant about which she had heard good things. That nearby Cuban restaurant turned out to be Merengue Café and, in this case, I’m glad our original choice was closed on Sundays.
Merengue Café is new, clean, and fresh. It’s located in an old house in the Berry Hill section of Nashville. The food is authentic Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban. As you would expect, it’s also packed with flavor. Customers are welcomed to order from the menu, or if you prefer, you can have them assemble your plate while you wait – similar to how they do it at places like Chipotle or Moe’s.
I’ve been twice now, and both times it was spectacular. Each time, I went through the line and chose a protein, rice, beans/lentils, and salad. The first trip, I had the pulled pork, brown rice, pintos, and tomato/lettuce salad. It ends up being a significant amount of food, so come hungry or be prepared to take home a go-box.
For my next visit, I had the meatballs, black bean rice, pintos, and the potato/carrot salad. I must admit, it’s never occurred to me to mix in cooked carrots with my potato salad, but it will from now on. It was simply amazing. Speaking of amazing, be sure to try the meatballs if they have them (the proteins rotate). These were some of the best meatballs I’ve had. There wasn’t much, if any, filler. It was like a ball made of meat, and the flavor was incredible.
All of their rice is good, so you’re pretty safe no matter which you choose. A quick tip, however. If they ask you if you want some gravy on your rice, the answer is YES. It doesn’t matter what kind of gravy it is. If they serve it, it’s worth it. Trust me on this.
On the second visit, I also splurged and got the plantains. While I’m no expert on plantains, these were excellent. I highly recommend them.
The prices are reasonable, and the service is fantastic. If you’re not very familiar with Latin food, fear not. The staff is also very helpful and will let you sample things.