2016 has really taken me places. From Hawaii to North Carolina, with stops in Portland, Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Nashville, I’ve traveled more this year than ever and for that, I’m pretty grateful. I haven’t always appreciated travel in the way I do now, trips to Alaska and Prague were lost on me (due to a. being five years old, and b. being a twerp high schooler) and traveling to the cape has become so comfortable, so familiar, that it hardly feels like travel at all. So NOW, with the promise of a money train that arrives on time every single Wednesday morning (i.e. a paycheck) and a very generous vacation policy, the world is quite literally at my fingertips. Travel near or far, is a beautiful thing, whether across the globe or to a neighborhood next door.
All of this of course relevant because I recently returned to Boston from a two part vacation to Nashville, Tennessee and North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. My brother Pete came, too.
Nashville was cool but not necessarily my favorite place in the world. If you’re headed there soon or thinking about it, here are some of my favorite
places to eat spots.
- Five Daughters Bakery: Go here, eat these donuts, thank me later. I never used to really consider myself a donut person, but honestly, I’m not a monster so who am I trying to fool? I’m a donut person. Donuts are good and these shouldn’t even be in the same category as your average donut. The 12 South location was just a block or two away from our Air BnB, so I was lucky enough to be the first in line on a quiet Thursday morning, opting for the sea salt chocolate frosted and a coffee from across the street at Frothy Monkey. I took a video of the experience aka me eating a donut on a sidewalk by myself, cause I literally couldn’t wait to eat it, and if you missed that, well I’m really sorry, cause I didn’t save it and it was out of this world. Neon signs, subway tile and a whimsically painted brick wall were icing on the cake, or frosting on the donut, if you will.
- Martin’s BBQ: It’s too soon to talk about this, the memories hurt too much…still mourning the loss of Martin’s in my life. The corn bread was weird but the beer was good and the everything else was…just…I can’t. Go here, to the downtown location and sit upstairs in the partially uncovered beer hall, at a picnic table near the pit room. You will be so happy and so well fed nad hopefully you will take a selfie with your brother as nice as this one:
- Yazzoo Brewery: We stopped here to kill some time before a nearby Darlingside concert (not country, but take a listen because they’re great) in The Gultch and it was fantastic. A really informative tour of the local brewery and good beer. Go here, do this.
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken: The line moves quickly so don’t even think about turning away. Also, hot chicken is HOT, so don’t try to be all tough and fearless. Order medium heat, plus one hot tender, to see what all the hype is about and you will indeed see what all the hot chicken hype is all about. Again, you can thank me later. As far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with sides so do your thing and enjoy.
- Pinewood Social: Cool place, good drinks, v instagrammable, fancy lil’ bowling ally in the back and a good playlist streaming through the speakers (not country). We didn’t eat here so…moving on.
- Grand Old Opry: Gotta do it! I wish someone had told us how very far outside of the hub of Nashville it is (maps too, I could have checked a map…) and I’m still not exactly sure what it is or why it’s so iconic (is it too late now to say sorry?) but we celebrated the Opry’s 91st birthday (!!!!) with THE Brad Paisley (sorry, who? jk) and witnessed a “G.O.O moment” with coutry music rising star, Mo Pitney. If that isn’t worth the $30 Uber I don’t know what is.
- Oh! and Edley’s I almost forgot about Edley’s: Our very first meal in Music City, nestled right in the heart of 12 South, where we (aggressively) ordered a heaping plate of BBQ nachos, 3 carnitas tacos, a pulled pork platter + sides and sweet tea and bourbon x2. It was wonderful, maybe even equally as good as Martin’s, and a very good way to start the trip.
Nashville is a great place for eating and Pete and I like to eat so the above list should come as no surprise to many of you. We opted mostly for good food, completely bypassing the country music museums, hall of fames and historic venues (aside from the Grand Old Opry) and most times, we could be found discussing dinner plans before lunch time. Neither of us country fans, despite a childhood filled with Willie Nelson, George Strait and Garth Brooks from dad’s car stereo, the fame of Nashville was a little lost on us. That said, we did explore the Vanderbilt campus, mingled with locals at a Penn State game watch and peddled a pedi-tavern near the Country Music Hall of Fame, so I mean, it wasn’t completely lost. You can bet we also hit Loveless Cafe and Biscuit Love (order the Bonuts, skip everything else. Jk order everything else, too) and a few honky tonks on Broadway, Acme Feed and Seed, a favorite for some good tunes (again, not country) and some kind of delicious frozen beverage available on the roofdeck. We drank beers and Bushwacker at Winners and Losers, downed some classic, southern Pickle Backs and ate as much fried chicken and biscuits as we could possibly handle (which ended up being slightly traumatizing so maybe quit while you’re ahead on the fried chicken and biscuits).
We were pretty ready for some wholesome, fresh air fun in the Smokies by the time our days in Nashville came to an end. More on that next time. Go book you flight to Nashville and eat some extra BBQ ribs for me.