The Beautiful Freshman Fifteen
Fun fact: I used to read Inside ‘Dores blogs at the end of senior year when I should have been working on my twenty-page thesis paper. I remember reading a food post by Heather, where she claims that the freshman fifteen was invented because of Vanderbilt. I was super excited by that statement, because instead of inciting fear in me, the whole idea of the “freshman fifteen” was extremely exciting: it meant good food.
I’ve already mentioned my love for Jeni’s in my first post, so I’ll leave that one out to make room for the top 15 food joints (both on and off campus) that have contributed to my freshman fifteen and, more importantly, greatly enhanced the first two months of my Vanderbilt experience.
1. The restaurant at Homestead Manor, which opened just this summer, provides a phenomenal farm-to-table experience in a beautiful setting. Julianna (my roommate) and I went there with our families for brunch on the day of move-in, and the food was incredible. So fresh (there’s a farm you can tour right next to the restaurant) and the service was sooo friendly. Also make sure to ask for a tour of the historic house — there are rooms with different themes and the interior decorating is unique and artsy: just do it. Definitely under-the-radar right now, but more than worth the 30 minute drive off campus.
2. Grins (on meal plan) is the vegetarian restaurant on campus. Now, as a self-described carnivore it was hard for me to imagine a good vegetarian anything, but Grins is definitely that. Known and loved especially for its nutella breakfast panini, Grins is arguably one of the best (and definitely healthiest) places to eat on campus.
3. The workers at Thistle Stop Cafe on Charolette Avenue are all survivors of prostitution, sex-trafficking, and addiction. They each have a beautiful story and the cafe allows them to tell it and focus on healing and getting back on their feet. The women there are lovely, the space is refreshing, and the food is amazing.
4. Atmalogy, a coffeeshop within walking distance from Vandy, has become my favorite study space. With a bunch of creative spaces to work in, this place can’t get old!
5. Stambaugh Soirees are weekly events where our awesome prof in residence Al Pal (she needs a whole blog post to herself, which I’ll get to soon) invites well-known people from all areas of life (from a guy who started his own artisan water company to the mayor of Nashville to just chill and talk with us. In addition to having great conversations with interesting people, going to soirees means getting to eat delicious food from around the Nashville area.
6. Dinners with the Dean are events that happen a couple times a month where the Dean of the Commons invites freshmen and notable professors / others around Nashville to her home to discuss different topics. I was at the “Farm to Table” dinner where the Vanderbilt Garden Initiative club cooked us a fresh meal while we discussed the different social implications of “farm-to-table” dining and other food trends / problems in our culture today.
7. The “Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival” had an insane amount of ethnic food trucks and stands. A great place to try some ethnic delicacies that I had never heard of, let alone got the chance to consume. Eye-opening for me in that I was able to see Nashville as it is – a melting pot of extremely eclectic cultures as opposed to a homogenous “southern” white city.
8. The lunch buffet at Sitar was a great “bang for your buck” option that my big sib in the Asian American Student Association, Justin took me too! Coincidentally, Justin, who is now a senior, was interviewed as an incoming freshman for an Inside ‘Dores blog three years ago here.
9. LAB (Lunch at the BCM) by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry is an event that happens once a month where Thom, the talented director cooks everyone a delicious meal. My first LAB consisted of very good lasagna, garlic bread, collard beans, cole slaw, and peanut butter lasagna for dessert — a very real thing!
10. Kissam, the newly built living and learning community with dorms for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, has it’s on “Kitchen” — my personal favorite meal plan dining option. I admittedly make the trek over there from Commons for dinner more often than I’d like to admit, and have already run out of excuses to my upperclassmen friends for why I’m sitting there eating when I don’t really even need to be on main campus. Here are pictures from a special buffet highlighting the taste of fall.
11. Commons, the freshmen dining hall, does not offer what you would consider typical dining hall food. From harissa rubbed tri tip steak to chile rubbed tilapia with asparagus, this place is the real deal.
12. Cabana, a more upscale, Southern style place within a 10 minute walk from Commons, is on the “Meal Money” plan, which is convenient because you’re technically not spending real money when you go there! They offer cute little cabanas for larger parties — a good place to go with friends.
13. Bamboo Bistro (also meal plan) offers Vietnamese style pho noodles and banh mi entree options, as well as bubble tea, tapioca pudding, flan, and more. Good to have an Asian-inspired dining option on campus!
14. The Pub at Overcup Oak, located right above Rand dining hall in the Student Life Center on main campus, is probably the place with the most restauranty vibe and offers good comfort food. I’m a sucker for their fries.
15. Pi and Leaf, also on the meal plan, offers different types of wood-fired pizzas and made-to-order salads throughout the week. Lines get long for this one, especially on the weekends.
Phew! So while my friends have to put up with me constantly taking pictures of my food, you lovely folks get the benefit and have been given a small dose of what your foodie adventures might look like if you choose to come to this wonderful place!
Pro tip: Don’t bring a scale with you to college, and welcome the freshman fifteen (or thirty, or whatever) with loving, open arms.