I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
April 24, 2021
I’m trying to be very Zen about Nashville’s growth explosion and its resulting traffic and soaring prices and overcrowded everything, and really the only way I can do that right now is by focusing on the food. Until the last few years, the food scene was pretty boring here — Our restaurants catered largely to tourists, which meant most menus were either Southern, New Southern, Southern-inspired, or Southern fusion. We could expect a ‘fresh take’ on barbecue/okra/biscuits/fried chicken pretty much everywhere we went… and not much else.
Now, though, the game is changing fast. With the influx of so many people from across the country and around the world, there’s a new demand here for more exotic fare, like banh mis and birria tacos and fried halloumi — Food trucks and pop-ups and farmer’s market stalls and restaurants and cafes are popping up all over the place, each offering something new (to me, anyway) and amazing, and I am 100% HERE FOR IT. My husband and I have started going on lunch dates each week just to try as many of these new places as possible — and because so many of you have shared your favorite local food finds with me, I want to do the same for you — Let’s start with The Horn.
The Horn has been open since 2014, but I only recently discovered them on Instagram and quickly became obsessed with their mouth-watering images of sambusas and malawah and chai. The family that owns and operates this restaurant on Murfreesboro Pike immigrated to the United States from Somalia 25 years ago — They want The Horn to be, in their words, ‘a bridge from Nashville to authentic Somali culture.’ This is especially important here because Nashville is one of the largest refugee destination cities for Somalis in the southeast. So not only is The Horn giving Nashville’s Somali population a taste of home, it’s exposing and addicting people like me to the deliciousness of Somali cuisine.
We couldn’t try everything on the menu during our visit to The Horn, but we did order so much that I was a little embarrassed, and two things on the menu REALLY stood out, enough that I will go back over and over again just to get them.
First, the beef sambusas are absolutely fantastic. This flaky pastry is filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions, jalapenos, curry, cumin, and garlic. They do not skimp on the seasonings and the result is the most delicious, savory meat pie with a subtle heat and heady flavor that stuck with me long after I’d left the building. All sambusas are served with a wonderful dipping sauce called bisbas. It’s made with mango and serrano peppers and was so good that I was contemplating putting our extras in my purse to take home, and now I’m mad that I didn’t.
The second showstopper is the Somali chai — The Horn makes a big deal out of its chai and that’s really the main reason why I wanted to visit. I’m a big fan of chai lattes, but they all pretty much taste the same to me — Was The Horn’s chai really, as they claimed, the best in Nashville?
Yes. Yes it was. The Horn’s Somali chai drink is one of the best hot drinks I’ve ever had. It was perfectly sweet and spiced and milky and I foresee many chai cravings coming on and many trips to The Horn to satisfy them. I asked after our visit what makes the chai so special and here’s the response I got:
“The chai is made in house daily. Our tea leaves our sourced from Kenya and our chai is simple because we only use cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves to keep the flavor simple yet delicious.”
Trying the chai inspired me after our visit to read about the Somali tradition of chai tea. By all accounts, this is the drink of choice for Somalis, in the mornings, at afternoon tea (called casariya), and after dinner. It must be sweet, it must be milky, and it must be rich in cardamom. Call me out if I’m wrong. It truly puts our coffee and Earl Grey habits to shame.
The Horn almost had to close its doors for good during the worst of the pandemic, but loyal customers have helped keep it open and that’s a very good thing. It’s an adventurous and affordable choice for a quick lunch — Sambusas are $2.99 or three for $8 (and they make several different varieties each day). Next time I visit, I’ll probably order a beef sambusa and a nafaqo, which is a quarter of a hard-boiled egg and seasoned mashed potatoes, all fried into a big ball of goodness. My daughter had one and loved it so much that I only got one bite (“And make it a small bite,” she cautioned before giving me a taste). It tasted wonderful, but I need to order one of my own now to conduct further ‘research’! I’m also excited to try the malawah next time — It’s a sweet crepe that looks intriguing, and it’s only $1.99. The Horn also has a bakery case filled with sweet treats that need further investigation, as well as a nice selection of coffee drinks. If you try and love something here that I missed, please let me know in the comments!