Nectar: Urban Cantina
206 McGavock Pike
Nashville, TN 37214
As a resident of Donelson, no one was happier than me when Nectar: Urban Cantina opened their doors in September 2017. Donelson has long been known as “Hip Donelson”, but when Nectar came to our community, it did more than make Donelson hip – it made Donelson cool.
People ask me all the time, “What is Nectar?” Well, Nectar is a café and cantina that has become one of Nashville’s hottest spots to gather, eat, and drink. The café opens early and serves coffee, lattes, juices, smoothies, and bowls. The cantina is open for lunch and dinner – and brunch on Sundays – and serves Mexican-inspired cuisine, cocktails, and beer. They have what I would call an outdoor beer garden with a stage for live music, disc golf, cornhole, a full bar, and plenty of seating for relaxing and dining. Two of the four interior walls have roll-up glass windows that allow the breeze to blow through the restaurant – weather permitting, of course. There are also several TVs, so you can always catch your favorite team.
Nectar is locally owned by two couples who work in the restaurant every day. They are invested in their community and their industry. They feature local music, plenty of local ingredients, and a guest chef series that raises money for local non-profits.
I’ve had lots of great coffee in the café, as well as a Horchata Latte, which is house-made horchata mixed with espresso. This is so good it should be illegal. I’ve also had two different smoothies – the Whole Lotta Love and the Stella Blue. Whole Lotta Love is made with peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, almond milk, and honey. Seriously, what’s not in there? The Stella Blue is made from blueberries, bananas, avocado, hemp seeds, flax oil, coconut water, and apple juice. The flavor is amazing, and it will definitely cure what ails you. Both smoothies were fantastic, and I would certainly get them again. Other smoothie options include Positive Vibrations (strawberries, bananas, apple juice), and The Izzy (kale, spinach, mangos, pineapples, bananas, spirulina, apple juice). No matter your taste, they surely have a smoothie to satisfy you. To see the full café menu, click here.
Most of my time at Nectar is spent on the restaurant/cantina side, as it has become our go-to restaurant in Donelson. From tacos to burritos, burrito bowls to quesadillas, nachos to salads, Nectar has you covered. My favorite taco is the recently-added Cheeseburger Taco, which features a double-stack shell with one soft shell and one hard shell. It contains ground beef, black bean spread, pepper jack and Oaxaca cheeses, romaine, pico de gallo, house crema, and morita salsa. It’s quite simply the best taco I’ve ever eaten – anywhere. Another favorite is the Yazoo Dos Perros Decker Taco. It is made with brisket braised in Yazoo Dos Perros beer, pepper jack cheese, pico, and horseradish crema. Other excellent taco options include the Fish Taco, Chicken Tinga Taco, and the Carne Asada Taco. You cannot go wrong with a taco – or two – from Nectar.
Another favorite is the Burrito Bowl, which is black bean salsa, verde rice, cheddar jack cheese, pico, queso fresco, romaine, and buttermilk chipotle ranch. For protein, I usually add grilled chicken, but you can go with steak, brisket, or even fish. It’s all the goodness of a burrito without all the carbs you get in a tortilla.
If you’re not opposed to carbs, you really need to try the Nectar Nachos, which is tortilla chips topped with queso, black beans, pico, pickled jalapenos, romaine, guacamole, and Mexican crema. Again, for protein, you can add chicken, steak, brisket, or fish.
Some of my favorite side dishes are Avocado Fries – which are exactly what you think they are, Fried Plantains, and Street Corn. They also offer Sweet Fire Brussels Sprouts, which are a recent addition.
For dessert, you can choose between Churros, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, or Mexican Spiced Chocolate Lava Cake. I’ve only had the Churros, but I cannot wait to try the others, especially the Lava Cake. See the full food menu by clicking here.
The bar features a somewhat rotating selection of local/regional craft beers on draft, as well as the usual suspects when it comes to canned/bottled beer. Nectar also serves excellent margaritas, sangria, and blueberry lemonade made with Picker’s Blueberry Vodka. It’s sinful, but very tasty. To see the full bar menu, click here.
As good as the regular menu items are, executive chef Julio Hernandez is always creating special, limited menu items, such as Nashville Hot Chicken Tacos, Crab Cake Tacos, Portobello Fajita Tacos, Cobia Ceviche, and Red Velvet Tres Leches Cake, just to name a few. I think this is how the Cheeseburger Taco made its way to the regular menu.
Be sure to follow them on Facebook to keep abreast of specials and happenings.
We love to hang out at Nectar, and we think you will, too.