NASHVILLE–When Mike and I began choosing a travel destination, it was a no brainer. A short flight from Chicago, good southern eats, beer, and live music. What more could we ask for?
Nashville is an unpretentious finger-lickin, deep-fried, groovin’ good time.
Acme Feed & Seed
We asked Bob, our Uber driver who coincidentally shared a strong resemblance to Bob Weir, to recommend some good Nashville eats for our first meal upon arrival. He drove us straight to Acme Feed & Seed- a 22,000 square foot cocktail, culinary and entertainment space. We snagged a table on the first floor which honors Nashville’s vast music scene with a “funkytonk” that hosts live music reflective of Nashville’s diverse musical landscape. We enjoyed the live blues/funk band playing while exploring the menu. Of the 28 regional craft beers on tap, we started off with the Acme Rooster Brew by Fat Bottom Brewery. A cloudy, unfiltered pale ale with a subtle after taste.
Acme’s menu offers gourmet street-style cuisine. We enjoyed the Damn Good- pulled pork with pinto beans and James Bros barbecue sauce with two fried eggs on top, and the Alt + B + E- Acme’s version of a BLT with avocado, a fried egg and lemon aioli severed with hand cut fries. Acme also features a comfortable lounge on the 2nd floor where you can enjoy handcrafted cocktails and vintage games while watching your favorite sports teams. Go up to the 3rd floor and you’ll reach The Hatchery which is a one level event and music venue and make it to the 4th floor and check out the open-air rooftop bar that overlooks the entire downtown area. theacmenashville.com, $$
We geared up to watch the Hawks game and walked to the nearest bar we could find with a TV. Riverfront proved to be a nice local spot with beer taps hanging from the ceilings, big TV’s, skee ball, a pool table and your typical bar food. We washed down our meatball sandwich and chili cheese dog with more local craft beers- a Hefeweizen and May Day Evil Octopus and made friends while watching the game for the next few hours. facebook.com/riverfronttavern, $
Wanting a taste of some local BBQ, we popped in to Jack’s Bar-B-Que before a line formed out the door. We waited in line to order pork shoulder with mac and cheese and baked beans with a hefty side of corn bread. With a prime location between all the honkytonks and souvenir shops, it’s no wonder that their business is booming. For one meal and two drinks, we paid an overpriced $20 and enjoyed mediocre food. Next time, I’ll go to Peg Leg Porkers. jacksbarbque.com, $$
Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar
In the heart of Printers Alley, we took a stroll to Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie for that Louisiana style eatin’ and blues. The musician on stage welcomed us as we walked in, as we were 2 of the 6 patrons in the place . The atmosphere and decor was great, had it been a Saturday night I could see this place packed for that alone. We ordered gumbo which was a first for me, and I was pleasantly surprised. Looking for some good fried chicken, we ordered the Chicken Basket- Fried Chicken, Fries, and Hushpuppies. The fried chicken turned out to be more like chicken fingers, the fries and hushpuppies left much to be desired. The music was pleasant and the Abita Purple Haze was a nice lager brewed with real raspberries. bourbonstreetbluesandboogiebar.com, $$
Peg Leg Porker
A walk away from the touristy traps, Peg Leg Porker’s had hands down the best BBQ. The succinct menu includes sides of baked beans, crinkle fries, slaw, smoked green beans and mac and cheese. I chose the “BBQ Sammich Platter” with Mac & Cheese and French Fries and was offered slaw on the “sammich”. Peg Leg Porker breaks the mold of tin roofs, barnwood and country music in the cinder block building with blues soundtracks blaring. The bartender saw me trying to decide what to order and she asked me what I liked and gave me a sample of the Southern Wit, which I loved. She gave me some background on the beer itself, and the brewery was just a block away. The combination of mouthwatering food, tantalizing beer, terrific music and enjoyable company left me wanting to go home and tell all of my friends. peglegporker.com, $$
If you are ready for a unique experience, go to Etch. We made a reservation for this restaurant a week in advance, and I have to admit that upon reading the menu I had no idea what anything was, and it scared me. If you’re a picky eater, it might not be the place for you. Etch is an open-kitchen setting of eclectic, upscale dining with a rich handcrafted cocktail and wine list. I loved this unique dining experience so much, I wrote a separate article about it. etchrestaurant.com, $$$
We took a short Uber ride to The Gulch, what I compare to “Old Town” in Chicago, but before ending our glutinous weekend in Nashville of non-stop fried foods and beer, we poured some gravy onto it. Another order-before-you-sit establishment (95% of Nashville eateries), I went all in and ordered the East Nasty – a Fried Chicken thigh that sits on top of a biscuit with aged cheddar and sausage gravy poured on top. We sipped down a refreshing mimosa made with fresh squeezed orange juice while sitting on the patio overlooking a pretty apartment courtyard. biscuitlovebrunch.com, $$
A Stroll Along Broadway
We took a nice Sunday afternoon walk and explored the area around us. We popped into several souvenir shops where you can get your usual keychains ($5-$10), postcards and cowboy hats ($10+). Most of the stores on Broadway have the same items, some fluctuating a dollar or two in price store-to-store. For every few bars there is a Boot Shop, advertising Buy 1 Pair, Get 2 Pairs Free. One shop that stuck out to me was Earthbound Trading Co (earthboundtrading.com), providing an eclectic assortment of affordably priced products from around the world.
With my passion for fashion, I was so delighted to stumble upon a shop that didn’t have plastic souvenirs made in China. Blush provides unique fashion-forward designs at an affordable price. The inside decor was feminine and pretty, each piece unique. Bags, jewelry, clothing, hair accessories- Located in the Gulch, Blush is a must when traveling to Nashville! blushboutiques.com
Walk of Fame
After an hour walk that should have taken us 10 minutes, we found the Walk of Fame, all 15 feet of it. If you are picturing something similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame like I was, set your expectations significantly lower. It was, however, neat to see the star they installed for Jack White just days earlier. Right next to the Walk of Fame was the Walk of Fame Park which was a really pleasant area to relax on comfy outdoor lounge seating, have a picnic on the grass, or lay back on a hammock.
The Quarters (AirBnB)
This was our first time using AirBnB, but most certainly not our last. While never actually meeting our host, we were given access codes into the building as well as our private apartment for the duration of our stay. At $160/Night, we had a full kitchen and dining room, living area, desk as well as a bedroom with a TV and a modern bathroom just steps away from all of the Broadway bars. www.airbnb.com
With the Uber presence in Nashville, there is no need to rent a car or ever have to hail a taxi. The fares are so reasonable ($14 from Airport to Downtown, all other fares costing anywhere from only $4-$10). What I loved about taking Uber’s around town was the chance to get recommendations from locals. We got the best recommendations from our Uber drivers. Download the Uber app on your phone now! uber.com
Before arriving in Nashville, we purchased tickets to see Jeff Austin (mandolin player for Yonder Mountain String Band) at City Winery. Having never been to City Winery’s Chicago location, we were excited to see what this place was all about. Since we had VIP seats and they were unable to fill the VIP deck, they reassigned our seats and comped us a delicious bottle of Chapoutier la Ciboise Luberon, 2013 which would be consumed throughout the duration of the show. I also enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio and we split the margherita flatbread. I loved the decor and ambiance, the wait staff was friendly and the music was phenomenal. We walked to an empty area in the back so we could dance, and recieved a shout out from Jeff Austin himself. This spot had me anxious to check out City Winery in Chicago as well. citywinery.com/nashville, $$$
Making sure to hear all the local talent, we walked down Broadway and stopped in all the bars that caught our ears. Starting off at The Stage, we witnessed a mans dream come true as the band pulled him on stage to sing along to one of his favorite country songs, while wearing sunglasses and swaying from side to side. After a little too many country covers, we moseyed on over to Layla’s to watch a band consisting of a female singer-guitarist, female violinist and male drummer. We walked outside and gravitated towards the sounds of Elton John and Queen, only to discover we walked onto the wrong floor of Rippy’s and were forced to politely sit through a cover of Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart. Being a fan of that song, I was disappointed when the female singer yawned in between breaths and looked like she was miserable. As soon as the song was over, we walked to the first floor to enjoy some amazing tunes- both covers and originals. Rippy’s was a casual bar with two separate rooms, a photo booth that we fully utilized, and a bathroom attendant. They had little games in the back and a Toy Claw machine that we actually won something out of on the first try! After handing most of our money to the same band we had watched for hours, we went on a mission to find a bull to ride. Tequila Cowboy looked like a happening-bro style establishment that might have such attractions, but alas- the place was dead. We popped into Tin Roof before holding hands down Broadway and watching the workers set up for the CMA’s.
$ Less than $10
$$ $11 to $30
$$$ $30 to $60
What are your favorite spots in Nashville? Where did you stay? Sound off in the comments below!