I don’t write as many restaurant blog posts as I used to, because Instagram has taken over the shout out. In fact, I have a specific instagram account just for Nashville called Nashville Urban Buzz that both Mr. Spinach Tiger and I contribute and often share back stories on all the fun places we eat.
Sometimes, I find a gem I have to tell you about here. I don’t have enough words to properly describe why the Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge is not just a go to restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner, it’s go, and go again, because it’s not food you can easily make at home, such as 100% organic Nixtamal, housemade tortillas or the long braises of meat inside banana leaves. Here’s a cool article on Nixtmal tortillas.
We like big fat healthy food. This means flavor, texture, color, sensuality and sensibility. In a perfect big fat healthy dish, it also means surprise. On Charlotte Avenue in Nashville, it means a stop in at Bajo Sexto Taco.
You might be wondering what is Bajo Sexto mean? It’s Spanish for sixth base, the largest guitar ia Mexican string instrument with 12 strings in 6 double course used in a Mariachi band. It was meant to be representative of Nashville (Music City) and it’s first (more limited menu) location inside the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The first time I tasted the food of Chef Kaelin Ulrich Trilling, it was at the Cochon 555. He was one of five Nashville chefs competing for a chance to participate in the National Cochon event in Chicago. To his great surprise and as the youngest competitor, he won. Each chef had to break down a heritage pig and provide five dishes to be judged. He put out big flavors with finesse and took home the trophy.
That was some event, and they couldn’t put their samples out fast enough!
Is it any wonder that Bajo Sexto Taco also won Eater’s 2016 Reader’s Choice Award.
Chef Kaelin grew up in Mexico under the guise of his legendary mother, Susana Trilling, who runs one of the most respected cooking schools in Oaxaca, Mexico and has a cookbook Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico.
He furthered his amazing skills at perfecting authentic Mexican cuisine under Chef Hugo Ortega, considered one of the best Mexican chefs in the America. He learned about balancing flavors, which is evident in his food and key to what makes people want to come back and eat again.
It was this event that led me immediately to the Charlotte Pike location of Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge.
Skirt Steak at Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge
At the bartender’s insistence, I ordered the grass-fed skirt steak, one of their signature dishes. He was so right, as it was tender, flavorful, and surprisingly a healthy choice.
When I was eating the steak, I thought this restaurant passes the “entire menu” test. Most don’t. This means the food peaks my interest so much, I want to come back and have every single thing they offer, seeing where the chef takes me. You have to bite into this steak to understand what skirt steak ought to to taste like. The carrots were a big treat as an accompaniment.
Tacos Served on Authentic Nixtamal Tortillas
Tortillas matter. The Nixtamal tortillas are delicious, more delicately flavored than they look. The corn doesn’t overpower the fillings and they were so good I had to ask, are you sure these are not flour tortillas? They are and they’re gluten free.
There is a lot of license for tacos, but I’m always looking for more authentic flavors within the unique offerings.
The carnitas is made in a special fashion, roasted inside of the banana leaves and is so complex and flavorful.
There are fish, pork, chicken, grass fed beef, but also duck tacos with salsa pasilla and crispy duck chicaharones.
Brunch is Amazing at the Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge
The next time, we went for brunch. I have a few places I love brunch in Nashville. They are all order off the menu, under $15 places. I’m not one to stuff myself in the middle of the day and then lose Sunday to food fog. I’ll just say this. So far in my eighteen years in Nashville, the dish I ordered, beats any brunch, lunch or breakfast I’ve had. I said and I mean it.
Carnitas Hash with Fried Eggs, Fingerling Potatoes
Pork Verde, is braised pork, spicy but not so hot, you can’t taste the nuances of flavor in every bite of everything. The potatoes join this party and the fried eggs on top complete the brunch. This dish would be good even without the eggs, but everything together is just a blend of superb surprise, and heft. I could only eat half, and took the other half home. Who in the world heats up a fried egg? Let me tell you, this dish heated, fried egg and all, was just as good as earlier in the day, if not better. That was all I ate the entire day and I felt twice blessed.
The only thing we didn’t love were the brussels sprouts because they were too salty, and we love salt. Hold back on that a bit and they will be crispy perfection. The chips are also just a little greasy, but the salsa is fresh and tasty, and we still ate two baskets full.
Chef’s Guacamole at Baja Sexto Taco Lounge
We also ordered the chef’s guacamole. There is an every day guacamole and a chef’s special (using seasonal ingredients). The guacamole was topped with sliced cucumbers and garnished with mint. It was a winning combination, and we’re thinking we will top Doug’s famous guacamole with cucumbers this summer.
Let’s talk Tamales at Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge
Mr. Spinach Tiger is a tamale fanatic. These are the best he’s ever eaten, wrapped, in a banana leaf and when you open up, you have the tender cooked masa surrounding the most flavorful meat. The masa is tender, but not mushy, and the inside holds those same flavors I’ve been talking about.
Chilaquiles at Bajo Sexto Taco Lounch
Another blogger friend ordered chilaquiles and wished she’d ordered my pork verde, because she’d never had it before and was hoping more for a nacho type dish. Chilaquiles purposely drowns tortilla chips in a salsa or sauce, similar to enchiladas, but still different. Every restaurant makes them differently. The only reason I would say not to get the dish is that there so many better choices, such as the carnitas hash.
Chorizo with Potatoes
We’ve also had the chorizo with potatoes. Be warned. This is big fat heavy dish, but if you’re a potato lover like I am, get one for the table to share.
Steak and Eggs at Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge
If you’re a steak and eggs person, they have you covered with that same marvelous steak I already mentioned. They know how to cook eggs, make potatoes, and you won’t be sorry.
There is a location inside the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is where Chef Kaelin started. There is a also a Bajo Sexto Taco Truck.
We love the vibe at the Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge, and as I said, we aim to try everything on the menu except maybe the grasshoppers + worms – cured dried worms, roasted grasshoppers, guacamole, salsa pasilla tortillas.
I am an adventurous eater, but I’m not sure I’m up for the worms.
We will most assuredly return for brunch!
The wall opens up to an outside patio and I’m sure we’ll be there many times this coming summer.
Whether casual or high-end, we want chefs who bring new flavors to Nashville! Chef Kaelin is in his early 20’s, and I can’t wait to see what he does as time goes on.
5303 Charlotte Ave
Nashville, TN 37209
I also have my very own Mexican recipes for carnitas roasted salsa verde, and for this avocado egg with lime hollandaise everyone goes bananas for. I also have a fresh citrus margarita and an avocado margarita for the adventurer.