Critiques · Ingredients

Merchant’s Restaurant ~ A Rich History

This past week, we had the opportunity to dine in one of Nashville, Tennessee’s great dining establishments.  Before we go inside this beautiful vintage building, let us talk about some interesting history. Many Thank You’s to those who work so hard to preserve the original architecture and design.

She was first built around 1870. The first floor was a pharmacy. The second floor was a hardware manufacturing company. The third floor was very interesting sounding. It was a wholesale drug company famous for producing the alcohol and opium based “Blood Medicine” which they say you can still see written on the walls. 








As it says above, Merchants was established in 1892. She was built as a hotel and restaurant. You could stay for 25 cents. At the time, we read, the quarter used was “Barber” style. Charles E. Barber, liberty head, who was the sixth Chief Engraver (his father was the fifth) at the United States Mint from 1879 to his death in 1917.  On the back is a royal eagle holding an olive branch and arrows in his talons. 

We had to chuckle when they described staying at the Merchants. You had a bed and a fireplace. Sounds cozy, but they could not guarantee privacy. Ever popular it seemed, as it is now as a restaurant and bar.


Here is a suggestion for when you eat at Merchants. Look at the menu before you make reservations. The restaurant is split between what they are logically. Upstairs and Downstairs.

Downstairs has soups, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. More casual dining. Upstairs the ambience is fancier, dimly lit, but inviting and welcoming, so dress can still be casual.

We ate Upstairs because we could not secure reservations Downstairs. We ordered the Tuna and the Swordfish with a side of Herbed Wild Mushrooms to share. Do Not Assume Downstairs is not as popular. It is very popular and was packed. Even though it was cold, all the outside seating was full!

The Bar is sideways. And what we mean by that, is it is shown on the menu with side arrows. The Downstairs menu is below. You are correct. Down arrows 🙂

down-menu Page 001.jpg

down-menu Page 002.jpg

Interior photos are courtesy of Merchants


When you walk through, notice the traces of the original building they maintained. 



The Upstairs menu.  You can order individually, or combine.  Most of the portions will feed two people very easily.

up-menu Page 001.jpg

up-menu Page 002.jpg


With the Downstairs and Upstairs full on the night we were there, and the sound of music playing in the background, we had easy and casual conversation.  The ambiance is warm and inviting.  The wait staff was very courteous and quick to fill a glass, and make certain we were pleased.  Merchants is a restaurant you will want to experience.  Call ahead though, for it is best to make reservations.

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