Tom and I have both dreamed about going to Nashville for years, for different reasons. I’ve always wanted to wander the streets of Nashville listening to up and coming musicians and, dream of dreams, see a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Tom mostly wanted to eat Nashville hot chicken. On this trip, both of our wishes were granted and then some.
What follows is a very long, photo-heavy post about all the delicious eats and audible treats we discovered in Music City.
Music City Dining – A High Note
Nashville has a serious reputation as a must-visit foodie destination, so naturally we had to see what the fuss was all about. Our research was extensive, and it was delicious.
Vegan Goodness at Avo
After a gluttonous few days in Asheville, we arrived in Nashville craving something a bit more nutritious. We decided to get takeout from Avo, a vegan eatery in the trendy OneC1TY development.
We got several things to share at our Airbnb, which worked out perfectly. Our favorites were the Wild Nashville salad with local produce and the kimchi spring rolls, served with an addicting Thai peanut sauce.
Brunch at Butcher & Bee
We only had one full non-working day in Nashville, so we had to make the most of it.We started out with an al fresco brunch at Butcher & Bee. We loved the dog-friendly outdoor space at this hip Southern restaurant, but didn’t have the friendliest service. That said, the food was pretty great.
Tom’s green eggs and lamb with braised lamb, buttermilk biscuit and avocado hollandaise was excellent. I opted for the breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, hash browns, pepper-jack, pork green chile and crème fraîche. Both totally hit the spot.
A Nosh at Night Train Pizza
After wandering around Nashville all afternoon, we were starving before dinner time. Not much was open at such an odd hour, but we lucked into finding Night Train Pizza and snagging a seat on the patio. I didn’t expect too much from this pizza, just something to take the edge off and soak up some afternoon beers.
To our surprise and delight, this pizza was wonderful. We got half Transcontinental with mozzarella and roasted veggies and half Puffing Billy topped with house-made meatballs. Both were delicious, and we even had leftovers to have again later that night when we got home from an awesome night of live music.
Lunch Chow at Chauhan Ale & Masala House
Pizza and Indian food may not be the first cuisines you think of when you think of Nashville, but maybe they should be. When researching our trip, Chauhan Ale & Masala House kept coming up over and over. Considering our immense love of Indian food, we made a reservation right away.
Chauhan offers a menu of globally inspired Indian cuisine that draws influences from not only Mumbai and New Dehli, but Nashville as well. Co-owner and Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan combines her Indian roots with her love of Southern cuisine to create something truly unique. Although we love Southern food, we’d gotten enough of that the past few days. Our orders were primarily Indian, with a few subtle twists.
Tom went all in on the meat and three platter, available for both lunch and dinner. This epic platter features a rotating meat selection, three signature sides, naan, raita, papadum and a dessert. On our visit, the protein was a fabulous and spicy lamb vindaloo with okra, daal and pickled mango on the side. It’s a lot of food, but Tom was up for the challenge.
I decided to make my own Desi bowl, a really cool lunch feature that allows you to choose a base (quinoa, green or rice) a protein and a curry sauce. My bowl had quinoa, paneer and peppers and tikka masala. It came topped with a corn and veggie relish that really elevated the flavors and textures. If we lived in Nashville, we’d be dining at Chauhan as often as possible.
Hanging out at Husk
We’re huge fans of DC chef Jeremiah Langhorne, so a trip to Husk Nashville to taste his mentor Chef Sean Brock’s creations was a must. This was one of the more upscale dining experiences of our trip, so we made a proper date night of it. The restaurant is located in a beautiful house dating back to the late 1800s with a quaint garden out back.
We had an excellent bottle of wine and impeccable service, but unfortunately weren’t blown away by much of the food. I think we’re starting to get a little disillusioned by the fine dining scene. There are so many great, affordable restaurants out there and it seems like lately the more we spend, the less impressed we are with the food.
Our favorite item was definitely the spaghetti squash johnny cakes with sorghum butter. As for our other dishes, perhaps we just ordered wrong.
Hot Chicken Heaven at Hattie B’s
Tom is going to step in to recap the joy that he found in his lunch at Hattie B’s, as only he could. Without further ado…
Ever since we started talking about this road trip, and going through Nashville specifically, I had been looking forward to getting my hands on the famed hot chicken. I read up on the history and origin of Nashville hot chicken – apparently a vengeful girlfriend added extra spicy pepper to some fried chicken made for her boyfriend to get back at him after he had a particularly late night out. However, the girlfriend’s plan backfired and he loved the chicken, the rest is history.
We asked around a lot about where to get the best hot chicken and were consistently told of two places: Hattie B’s and Prince’s. We opted for Hattie B’s because of it proximity to other things we had planned to check out in Nashville. The chicken did not disappoint.
I went with a generous portion of the chicken (of course) with the spice level set to Hot. The spice ranged from Southern (no heat) to Shut the Cluck Up (very hot). Hot ended up being the perfect level for me as it packed plenty of heat but did;t burn my taste buds off. The chicken was extremely crispy on the outside and very juicy and flavorful throughout. Each bite was packed with a loud crunch and spicy deliciousness, I was in fried chicken heaven. The potato salad, pimento mac-n-cheese, and banana pudding were all very good as well, but they definitely take a back seat to the chicken here. I would rank this as the second best fried chicken I have ever had, with Eischen’s in Okarche, OK still holding my top spot.
Cuteness Overload at Cafe at Thistle Farms
Okay, I’m back. As much as it pained me, I had to skip out on the Hattie B’s festivities for the most part. I do love fried chicken, but two weeks straight of indulgent eating is too hard on my stomach. I decided to take a break from the gluttony and head over to the nearby Cafe at Thistle Farms while Tom waited in line for his chicken.
This place is just too cute to be true. I loved the inspirational mural on the exterior and the assortment of tea cups lining the ceiling. This would be such a fun space to work in or catch up with friends.
The entire menu sounded fantastic, but I decided to go with the roasted vegetable tartine topped with veggies, pesto, pickled onion, feta and a carrot-turmeric drizzle on sourdough toast. I took it to go and dined with Tom on the patio while he enjoyed his hot chicken.
And yes, I did try a bite of chicken. And yes, it was fabulous. And yes, I ate the majority of the banana pudding we ordered. I’m only human!
A Feast for the Ears – What Nashville Does Best
As I mentioned, my main motivation for visiting Nashville was to listen to live music. Specifically, country music. Tom isn’t a fan of this genre, but I grew up with it and couldn’t wait to reconnect to my roots. We had three different live music experiences, and they were each absolutely amazing.
Country Covers at Bootleggers Inn
Country music truly holds a special place in my heart. Not so much the new stuff, but the classic tunes that defined by childhood. It doesn’t matter to me if other people think it’s good music or not. It’s my safe place. It’s the parts of my heart that I have no name for, but as soon as I hear the song I’m right back home. It’s riding to the lake with my mom singing along to Garth Brooks. It’s waiting for a Sonic drink with my aunt, getting down to Boot Scootin’ Boogie. It’s dancing to Shania Twain with my cousins while my grandma makes supper, her loving eyes dancing and laughing with us. It’s dancing with my dad at my wedding. It’s the memories that belong to me and me, brought to life in an instant.
As such, our first musical destination couldn’t have been more perfect. We stopped into Bootleggers Inn on a lark to listen to a duo singing incredible covers of some of my favorites. This place was exactly what I pictured when I thought of a night out in Nashville.
I didn’t catch the name of the musicians, but they were fantastic and really set the tone for the next two days of live shows. A rowdy sing-a-long to Friends in Low Places was the icing on the cake.
The Real Deal at The Grand Ole Opry
This was such an unbelievable treat. The Opry is legendary — the home of country music. We didn’t know if we’d be able to swing a visit during the trip, but Kristin at Camels and Chocolate helped us get tickets (thanks again Kristin!). This was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.
I won’t lie, I got pretty emotional throughout the performances. It just reminded me so much of my grandma. It was also only a few days after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, and each musician that played offered beautiful homage to the victims and their families. It was a night I’ll never forget.
It’s Not All Country at The High Watt
Of course, Nashville isn’t just country music. Every genre is fully represented in Music City. When we saw that Strand of Oaks was playing at The High Watt during our stay, we snagged some cheap tickets. We loved this low-key intimate music venue.
Four days in Nashville was just enough to scratch the surface of all this legendary city has to offer. I have a feeling there will be many repeat trips in our future.
Stay tuned for continuing road trip coverage as we head to Oklahoma City and Eureka Springs, Arkansas!