New Member Spotlight:: Sopapilla’s

As a Phoenix native and Albuquerque transplant, Steve Dale developed a deep love for the flavors of Southwestern cuisine. After moving to Nashville to pursue a music career and eventually becoming a bassist for the popular group Little Big Town, Dale never imagined that his passion for food would lead to a restaurant of his own.

“While I was touring, the team convinced me to make them New Mexican cuisine, so we began having what we deemed “Fiesta Nights,” Dale said. “I’d make a pretty extensive spread and we’d pull the busses together, put up a tent and enjoy some margs with great company and a delicious meal.”

The success of these Fiesta Nights, coupled with the fact that there were no restaurants in Nashville serving dishes that reminded him of home, spurred Dale’s desire to open a New Mexican restaurant of his own.

He began to head back to the bus at the end of long nights on tour to develop his business plan, and in April of 2010, that plan came to fruition as Sopapilla’s opened in Franklin, offering a taste of New Mexico to the entire community.

The restaurant acquired its moniker from a traditional dish that is believed to have originated in New Mexico in the mid 1800s — a puffy, deep fried pastry called a sopapilla. Typically eaten with honey, these popular treats were used to cut the heat of the chiles and peppers used in the spicy cuisine. The restaurant now serves them as a dessert with chocolate sauce or honey.

“Our goal is to be a really welcoming environment for every single person in Franklin,” Dale said. “We wanted it to have an upscale feel, but we didn’t want it to be so intimidating that you can’t bring your family.”

The restaurant’s menu features bold takes on classic New Mexican fare, like the blue corn chicken enchiladas, assembled with shredded chicken and  house-made blue corn tortillas, topped with red or green chile sauce and a local farm egg.

Though the recipes preserve the traditional integrity of the cuisine, the menu also contains creative twists, like an award-winning green chile cheeseburger made from local dry-aged steak, short rib and brisket topped with Hatch green chile, cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion. The The restaurant’s fire-grilled fajita selection ranges from fresh Maine lobster to portabella, as well as more traditional options of chicken and local steak.

An extensive bar program complements the menu, and all of the restaurant’s margaritas are made with fresh, hand-pressed fruit and use 100% organic agave nectar.

“We currently offer 86 kinds of tequila, and our signature is a Hatch chile-infused tequila that has a smoky heat to it,” Dale said. “We use that in our Hatch chile and grilled pineapple margarita, and it’s a delicious combination of the sweetness of the pineapple followed by the warmth of the chile.”

Dale’s goal is to encourage guests to try a dish they’ve never had before, in hopes that they will come to appreciate Southwestern cuisine as much as he does.

“The most rewarding thing is seeing guests come in and enjoy this type of food for the first time,” Dale said. “There are items here that no other restaurants in Nashville are serving. People develop a love for the unique dishes on our menu and start to crave them.”

Sopapilla’s is located at 1109 Davenport Blvd and is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Learn more at sopapillas.com.