By Jim Myers

Sustainability has become such a ballyhooed buzzword that its meaning seems to be in danger of fading. It does, however, still resonate with a lot of good folks — like the ones who are taking it very seriously at 1 Hotel in downtown Nashville. They opened their doors in July. 

A natural theme envelops you the moment you walk in, from rough-hewn boulders that double as the front desk to live plants on the walls, tables and pretty much at every turn. 

The showplace bar and restaurant, 1 Kitchen, helmed by Top Chef alum Chris Crary, is a refuge from the crackling stress and strain of modern life. Its soothing woods, natural linens and simple aesthetic manage to be more warm than they are austere. Even the “save a menu—use the QR code” signs are tucked in with potted succulents on each table.

Tying the restaurant space together is a natural wood trellis that frames the ceiling with undulating waves of coarse linen. Thick rope loops connect wall dividers, and while they and the blown-glass light fixtures could lend themselves to nautical comparisons, the space feels comfortably earth-bound and grounded. 

Crary, who has been with the 1 Hotel chain for four years, brings a California sensibility to his menu, but he anchors it in his grandmother’s family’s Tennessee roots. Like the decor, Crary’s food is decidedly earthy, without too many overwrought ideas and ingredients. He lets the few constituent elements shine, like a simple pickled beet salad buoyed with whipped feta and spiced walnuts and sweetened with enough honey to balance it out. 

His spiced Caesar is composed of full Romaine leaves, dressed well, and it has the sharp bite of fresh anchovies marinated with spicy citrus, instead of the salt-drenched and mealy numbers pried from a tin. Also a hit was the Bolognese with its tender curls of torchio shells and rich creamy tomato sauce anchored with ground chicken, allowing for a much lighter feel.

Taking the hotel’s mission to heart, Crary appreciates the challenge of sourcing locally in a four-season climate, unlike California where fantastic local produce is available year-round. “We say that we celebrate local ingredients, and we do. I really do believe that the closer things are to home, the better they taste,” Crary says.

1 Kitchen partners with a number of Tennessee farms and meat, poultry and fish producers to align with the organization’s missions of sustainability and ethical sourcing. 

And that focus on sustainability extends to the bar. The signature cocktail we tried — the Violet Beauregard — was a light purple-hued drink laced with locally grown lavender and mint to build the base for gin and Lillet Blanc. It was floral without feeling “love shack” fancy, and well-rounded with just enough lemon — in other words, dangerously good.

Plans are in the works for a fifth-floor garden and apiary, while the kitchen strives to continue its mission for zero waste, composting and using recyclable materials where possible. The facility even brought in equipment to pulverize its broken glass to be used in sandbags for flood-ravaged areas.

Scheduled to open in late fall is Harriet’s Rooftop Bar, currently de rigueur for every downtown hotel. There also is Neighbors, a casual café well-suited for lunch, that offers picnic fare — also locally sourced — 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

1 Kitchen

710 Demonbreun St.

Dinner daily, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Bar service 4 p.m. to close, “light bites” available 

Brunch Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

About 1 Hotel

1 Hotel Nashville, the luxury sustainable hotel chain’s eighth global location, has 215 rooms, including 37 suites. It opened in July 2022 with the intent of being a “consciously cultivated urban oasis.”

“We’re excited to bring a tangible demonstration of our overarching mission, vision and purpose — including a commitment to luxury sustainability, communities, holistic health and wellness, and natural design — to an iconic city, admired for its positive energy, devotion to live music, down-home hospitality, festive food and family fun,” said Barry Sternlicht, 1 Hotels founder and chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group.

Contact the hotel at 615-510-0400 or through their website at