By Sean McHugh
I have to admit, I’m a coffee fiend. There’s rarely ever a day that I find myself drinking anything other than coffee and water throughout. Lucky for me, and for all coffee fiends, Nashville is home to a bevy of exceptional coffee roasters and espresso makers, none more prolific than Bongo Java.
Located on Belmont Boulevard, across the street from Belmont University, Bongo Java is the longest standing and most beloved coffeehouse in Nashville, having been the catalyst for the Bongo Java Roasting Company, Nashville’s most diverse coffee franchise. Bongo Java’s network of locations includes Bongo Java East, Fido, Hot & Cold, Fenwick’s 300, and Grins, but the original Bongo Java is what we’ll be focusing on today.
Bongo Java is a mecca of the Belmont/Hillsboro Village area, a meeting place for students to hang out between classes, residents (such as myself) to get their daily fix, artists and musicians to collaborate, or business leaders to have meetings. Bongo is open seven days a week from 7am to 10pm, which makes the coffee shop the preeminent spot for any food or drink needs.
Bongo Java’s breakfast menu is one of the best in town, with items such as the Egg McBongo (a much more delectable version of McDonald’s McMuffin), the Juanita Burrita (a three egg breakfast burrito; my personal favorite), the Bongo Basic (a classic two eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and a cup of coffee), a rotating menu of daily omelets, and their exceptional Breakfast Bombs (bagel sandwiches).
If you’re not much of a breakfast nut, then you can’t go wrong with getting any of their lunch or dinner menu items, which range from a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Being that Bongo Java is a coffee shop; its coffee is unparalleled, as well as its espresso options. I typically opt for just a regular cup of coffee or a doppio espresso, but you’re bound to find something you like from their specials or just regular espresso drinks.Bongo Java is a unique Nashville institution, being that it’s a coffee shop, as well as a live entertainment venue to boot. Bongo Java is home to the Bongo After Hours Theatre, a separately run theatre and music space above Bongo Java. The After Hours Theatre has hosted a variety of acts ranging from musical artists, improv troupes, and magicians. Another aspect of Bongo’s storied history is that of the “Nun Bun,” a cinnamon bun found in Bongo Java in December of 1996, which just happened to bare resemblance to Mother Teresa.
Bongo Java makes perennial appearances on Nashville’s “Best Coffeehouse” lists, due in large part to the proximity to Hillsboro Village/Belmont, excellent food and drink selection, and overall welcoming environment. One of Nashville’s finest and most beloved institutions, Bongo Java will undoubtedly continue its history as a bastion to the community.