What food options are missing?
Editor’s Note: What foods would you like to see in County Rutherford? Share your thoughts with journalist Nancy DeGennaro ([email protected]).
Fifty years ago, Murfreesboro’s restaurant scene included a handful of steakhouses, country-style cafes, and Mexican restaurants.
But it was arguably Smyrna who had one of Middle Tennessee’s most unique dining experiences, including the Omni Hut, which was opened by the late U.S. Air Force Maj.James Walls. It was a special place.
Walls brought back recipes from his stay in the South Pacific. Everything has been scratched. And the Tiki hut-style restaurant itself was part of the experience, with bubbling fountains, native handcrafted artwork, and Polynesian elements that set the island vibe.
Much to the dismay of generations of fans, the restaurant closed in 2018 due to personnel issues. The tasting room has taken over the space and offers a chef-led menu with a carefully curated wine list.
As Rutherford County continues to attract people from diverse cultural traditions, we have seen a diversification of the restaurant scene – Japanese, chinese, indian, italian, middle eastern, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, Cuban, Puerto Rican, authentic mexican, Salvadorian and a plethora of South and American gourmet formulas.
Nonetheless, I would like to see an even more diverse range of culinary offerings. So what types of cuisines are they lacking?
Several readers have weighed in on what Rutherford County needs and why.
Polish / German
Kristin Evans of Murfreesboro is a graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, which is a Le Cordon Bleu certified cooking school. She has worked in award winning restaurants and foodservice operations, wrote a food blog, and contributed to a weekly food publication. Evans craves Polish and German food.
âI come from a large Polish community in Chicago and I miss the food so much,â Evans said. “I had to hunt pierogis for Christmas and couldn’t find any.”
Although not a full-service restaurant, MTSU swimmer Veronika Banas, her mother and grandmother operate Mamusia’s kitchen catering in Murfreesboro which serves homemade Polish dishes. But we still lack German, although similar to Polish foods.
Louis M. Kyriakoudes, director of the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University, is a greek american who grew up working in the family restaurant. In college, he worked in a French restaurant under the direction of a distinguished chef who would later win a James Beard Award.
âI don’t know if that makes me a foodie, but I can identify good ingredients and how to cook in a serious way,â Kyriakoudes said.
Kyriakoudes said he would like to see us win a Kurdish restaurant. Central Tennessee is, after all, home to a large Kurdish population.
âI understand that Kurdish cuisine has characteristics of all cultures that touch the historical homeland of the Kurdish people in West Asia – Persian, Turkish, Indian and Syrian,â Kyriakoudes said.
A few months ago, I ate at the Ethiopian restaurant Amy in Antioch with another sweet tooth Mandy Johnson (admin for Facebook group Mini culinary adventures) and I fell in love with it. A large majority of Ethiopian dishes are served with injera, a flat, spongy bread that is the basis of spicy stews, mounds of vegetable and meat curries. My mouth is watering thinking about my dinner.
So what types of foods would you like to see in County Rutherford? (Please, more channels!) Email me at [email protected] I would love to hear from you. I will share the answers in the coming weeks. Also, if you have any food photos from your travels, I would like those too. I look forward to hearing from you.