Dino’s, a mostly locals place out in hip East Nashville, is the antidote to the touristy bars on Broadway Avenue. The only thing it has in common with the honky-tonks is that it’s loud. The difference is that the music is gritty bartender favorites (think The Stooges), rather than pop country. More important, the food is very good and the drinks are dirt cheap.
The bar is a loose, ramshackle place with decor that reflects obsessions with Dolly Parton and Christmas lights. Every corner is bathed in colorful neon. It is one of Nashville’s oldest and most treasured dive bars. It’s rough around the edges, but clean and friendly enough that you could take your folks to dinner.
The most famous dish is the cheeseburger, which is super-thick, charred crusty and can be upgraded to include battered fries. This is essentially a fine gastro-pub burger served in a dive bar at a fast food price: the best combination possible!
That is a mighty fine burger, but Joe’s Hot Chicken is the sleeper hit on the menu. It may not measure up with Nashville’s very best hot chicken places, but it’s better than some hyped, long-line joints. The moist chicken tastes like it might have been brined in pickle juice and dredged in extra-hot level breading. When you get it “hot,” it comes doused in a savory hot oil that soaks into the white bread below it. Best of all, this chicken comes with sides of atmosphere and drink specials with which no other place serving hot chicken can compete.
Another highlight of the menu is the Damn Sandwich. It isn’t any sort of culinary masterpiece — just bacon, egg, and cheese on white toast — but every element cooked perfectly. It has a secret sauce that might be why this ordinary sandwich seems extraordinary; but, more likely, the secret sauce is the round of drinks that preceded it. Either way, it’s the prudent choice on a menu that is mostly beer and shot combos.