Most would agree that we Americans have become accustomed to hefty servings of food at restaurants. As the U.S. economy has grown we’ve lived in excess, and being offered bottomless french fries and never-ending stacks of pancakes for “one low price” is considered a normality. So I wasn’t exactly surprised when I uttered the word “tapas” to acquaintances and friends who then mistakenly believed that I wanted to go to a “topless” restaurant. Of course this was a running joke, but in reality, the root of the mistake comes from the fact that many Americans that I’ve encountered have no idea was tapas are. Tapas are small plate servings of food to be shared with those at your table. They’re not part of an endless buffet and one tapas plate may not be “meal”-worthy by American standards, but they’re meant to encourage the community of your table. Nashville doesn’t quite have a plethora of options when it comes to official tapas restaurants, so when Antica opened it’s doors in the fall of 2013 I was eager to see if tapas would finally catch on in the Music City.
Situated between the Cumberland and East Nashville in the Fifth and Main apartment complex, you might miss it when you breeze by on your way to Five Points. Antica’s facade faces Main Street and sees a constant stream of traffic, but if you’re not looking for it’s silver sign, you may not even know it’s there. Although the tapas spot has not been in heavy rotation among buzz worthy new restaurants, it’s unique cocktails and menu selection are worthy of any Nashvillian foodie. Lucky for patrons, it’s easy to sample a large portion of the menu as each member of a party can likely order 2 to 3 dishes to share. The philosophy of a meal consisting of shared plates supports the liberty of the individual to choose, then share their selection among friends. This style of dining emphasizes what is sometimes lost on Americans during meals: conversation. While dining at Antica, my (nearly) native friends and I found ourselves chatting more and taking longer to try each dish, despite the lack of other patrons.
In a city where oversized servings of home style cooking is the considered the norm Antica is among the minority, offering small plates of delicious proportions for every taste, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. They even offer a selection of free tapas during happy hour with purchase of specialty cocktail or glass of wine! For as much as this restaurant has to offer, it seems to have flown under the radar in the several months since it’s opening. Now is the time for my fellow Nashvillians to catch the tapas bug and venture out to the East Nashville borderlands to see what Antica has to offer. Not only will you delight in the ever-changing menu, intriguing cocktails, and quality service; You’ll be reminded of the true enjoyment of sharing a meal with friends.
From left: Mexico? More Like Sexy-Co Cocktail, Vietnamese Catfish Cakes,
Roasted Squash Medallions with Quinoa (bottom middle), Poached Wheat Berries with Arugula,
Moradita (middle right), & the fish cheeks with citrus salad
Check out their website on the Eat Like a Native page!