You know how you can live in a place but not know some of its best kept culinary treasures. The Sweet 16th a Bakery is not in my neighborhood, but how I wish that it was.
When you walk in the door of the The Sweet 16th a Bakery, you will be greeted by the owners, Dan and Ellen Einstein, who are busy servicing the line outside the door, but not so busy that they don’t stop to give you a warm welcome. You might even get a hug on the way out.
The people in line are mostly regulars who stop in for coffee and scones that are light and fluffy, but if it’s morning, they come for the famous, legendary, never had better, breakfast sandwich that was touted by Food and Wine Magazine as one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the country.
That’s a lot to live up to, but it does and could even be considered “last breakfast” good. It looks simple and unassuming. Eggs, cheese, and green chiles are baked in a casserole dish and then sliced and served on a cheesy scone. There is not a way to describe the lightness, the flavor, the mouthful of goodness, until you try one.
There is an array of cookies, dessert bars, cupcakes and some savory take out food. We took home potato knishes to eat later, full of black pepper, tasty and addicting. We noticed they have big slices of lasagna and soups.
You can pre-order birthday cakes. They make the best of the flavors people love like their signature chocolate, red velvet, triple layer coconut and then some wild flavors like Velvet Elvis, or simply Elvis, a banana cake with peanut butter. They have a couple of savory items that will feed a crowd like their own creation of a grits based frittata with provolone cheese, portobello mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes, which feeds 12.
The heavenly scones at the Sweet 16th are just that, light, fluffy and probably the best scone I’ve ever had.
They don’t have fancy coffee; but they do have great coffee and a bottomless cup. There aren’t too many places to sit, but we were able to find a few community seats and strike up a conversation with a local neighborhood regular.
Not only did she brag on the owners, their food and how often she shows up, she gave me tips on other places to eat and shop in the neighborhood that I had no idea about. If I had different circumstances, I’d live in East Nashville. It reminds me of Long Beach, California (without the beach). It has that same edgy, loyal community vibe, and people walk in neighborhoods to go eat or have coffee.
When the Sweet 16th a closed at 1:00 on a Saturday, I sat with the owners, listening to the many stories and memories weaved around this bakery. They described it as a neighborhood watering hole, where people have met their spouses. It’s the kind of place that builds memories. They are honored that one customer has ordered all her son’s birthday cakes from them, 18 years in a row.
I also learned that Ellen’s parents survived the holocaust. This stirred an emotional reaction in me, as most of the generation she serves doesn’t quite know the signficance of this. It explains why her father encouraged her to open the bakery and take a chance.
Ellen had been baking out of the house for about 10 years, before they decided to take the risk, go all in, buy a building and hang a shingle. While they may have thought they were selling scones, cakes and cookies, they never dreamed they were contributing to the food movement and culture of the city, but when you ask any of the regulars about the Sweet 16th a Bakery, you see a smile come across their face.
You know it’s about more than the food. It’s about relationships, community, a place to connect.
The Sweet 16th a Bakery is open Tues-Friday 7:00 am – 2:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
311 N. 16th Street, Nashville (East Nashville)