Americano: Member Spotlight

In a culinary landscape brimming with Americana-inspired food joints serving farm-to-table fare and the latest foodie trends, Americano—which recently replaced West End Cafe at 1720 West End Avenue in May—is a breath of fresh air for many locals.

Nashville’s newest (and quite possibly only) freestyle tapas bar offers diners a range of Latin-style tapas along with larger shared plates and entrees, as well as an extensive wine and specialty cocktail menu.

Americano co-owner George Haddad—who formerly ran modern Mexican restaurant Alegria in Green Hills, which is in the middle of relocating—says he wanted to create an atmosphere where people could gather and share great food in a comfortable setting.

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“It’s something I’m passionate about and something I enjoy doing,” he says. “The concept of sharing a lot of small bites, trying multiple things in one sitting, drinking a glass of wine and really enjoying the meal with a group of people.

“It’s similar to the restaurant where I bartended in college, and where I met my wife. I’ve always wanted to recreate that feeling; that’s where my inspiration came from for Alegria and Americano.”

George brought on the former Alegria kitchen team to Americano to help craft the menu, including Chef Mark Dobbs who was trained in Barcelona and Sous Chef Jean Marc who grew up in Valencia and still owns his own restaurant in the Spanish coastal city.

Diners can look forward to traditional tapas like patatas bravas, warm fried potato bites served with a tomato-based sauce; chorizo con pan made with paprika-spiced sausage; a Spanish cheese plate that comes with authentic jamon and more.

IMG_9641George recommends the smoked sausage and chicken paella, made using only traditional ingredients, right down to the rice—a justly spiced dish Chef Dobbs perfected from a recipe he learned while studying in Barcelona.

“The paella takes 30 minutes to prepare because it’s made the right way,” says George. “And it’s definitely worth the wait.”

To encourage the less adventurous diners, many of the menu items are prepared with a Nashville touch, which is probably most present in the cauliflower tapa. Instead of just roasting the veggie like it’s traditionally served in Spain, the dish is prepared Nashville hot chicken-style and served with a buttermilk blue cheese sauce.

“If someone has been to Spain, we want them to recall on those memories when they eat here,” says George. “For people who haven’t been, we want it to be comfortable experience to try new things.”

IMG_9506Just as the food is shared and savored in Spain, libations are treated in the same tradition. The bar menu at Americano features many of the classic cocktails found in Spanish cities such as sangria and sherry, as well as an extensive wine list to sip on and enjoy with a larger group.

In addition to the bar and full-service lunch and dinner seven days a week, Americano also offers brunch every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. with more great Spanish classics such as a Spanish tortilla, a traditional Spanish egg omelet made with potatoes, among others.

“I opened Americano because there were no good tapas places in town, and it was time Nashville tried something different,” says George. “The feedback has been incredible. From people on business lunches and families out to dinner, to Spanish natives coming in for a taste of home, everyone’s loved the food and the chance to share a meal in that Spanish style of dining.”

All that’s missing now is the flamenco dancers.

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Americano, located at 1720 West End Avenue, is open for lunch and dinner Sundays through Thursday from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 9 p.m. For more information, visit the website at www.americanonashville.com.