“Country rooooad, take me hoooome, to the place that I belonnnnng”. As we blasted the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, during our 9 hour car ride, it was almost so surreal. The rolling, green hills and the robust farmland, Tennessee was beautiful. Known as Music City, the culture, music scene, arts, and the food will give any tourist an experience that only Nashville can provide. I’ll walk you through our amazing three day adventure in Nashville and fill you in on some of the must “go-to” stops during our trip.
If there is any advice that I listened to before heading out to Music City, it would be this “DO NOT STAY IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE”. I repeat. Do not stay in Downtown Nashville. Sure, it is crazy and a good time, but the hotels are super expensive. We stayed in Franklin, TN. A gorgeous country chic historic town that was filled with little shops, bars, and local restaurants. Our hotel was only a 15 minute drive to other neighborhoods in Nashville.
The Neighborhoods: Nashville is known for having several popular neighborhoods, and each one has something different and unique to offer. Our favorite neighborhoods to visit were:
- The Glutch
- 12 South
- East Nashville
There is so much to do in Nashville. We were gone from 9am to 1am every day during our stay. When we first arrived, we started our foodie adventures with Butchertown Hall. This was probably some of the best BBQ that we have ever tasted. Pictured below are the Oak-Roasted Brisket Tacos, which were topped with pickled jalapenos, charred salsa, and chayote slaw. The meat was so tender and juicy, while the seasonings and toppings were well balanced and savory.
My boyfriend had their Carne Asada tacos, which were topped with fire-roasted sirloin, serrano, onion, and cilantro. Not only are they known for their tender BBQ, but they are also known for their margaritas. Cheers!
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to drive 25 minutes from Franklin to the infamous, Loveless Cafe. The cafe is known for cookin up some of the most famous southern, traditional dishes with a country vibe. Guarantee to wait for over 30 minutes to get a seat during the weekday. During the weekend, expect to wait for an hour or two as they do not take reservations during the weekend. Luckily, we decided to have breakfast at Loveless Cafe on a Friday morning, so I had booked the reservation far in advance.
There is a huge debate in Nashville on who has the best biscuits. Loveless Cafe or Biscuit Love. I was sure Loveless had Biscuit Love beat. Once you are seated, your waitress brings you over a heaping plate of fresh baked biscuits with several of their homemade jams. The biscuits were so soft and flaky! It was hard not to fill up on the biscuits, and try to eat your actual breakfast too.
After breakfast, we headed towards Downtown Nashville, Broadway ave. We had arrived around 11am and fully expected to leave our car in a parking ramp as we knew that we would be getting our money’s worth. To my surprise, bars were already starting to fill up, and music could be heard pouring out of every bar and restaurant on the strip. It was like nothing that I have had ever experienced. We stopped at the historic Tootsies Orchid Lounge. In the land of a thousand Honky Tonks, Tootsie’s remains Nashville’s go-to destination. With several stages and country bands performing on each floor, we decided to sit on the 3rd floor where the outdoor patio oversees the strip.
After strolling up and down on Broadway and checking out a couple bars, it was time to do a little exploring outside of the strip. We had an evening reservation at the City Winery Lounge to see a local country singer perform, so we wanted to take this time to explore some of the murals, and grab a bite to eat. We stumbled across the “What Lifts You” mural that is located in the Glutch. This neighborhood is only a 15 – 20 minute walk from Broadway. In the Glutch, you will find several boutique shops, restaurants, and rooftop bars.
While we continued walking, we stumbled upon a couple unexpected restaurants. Peg Leg Porker BBQ, voted to have some of the best BBQ in Nashville, and Stock & Barrel, offering hundreds of whiskeys with their creative burgers.
After grabbing a bite to eat, it was time to catch our reservation at City Winery. We were so relieved to be able to sit down in an air conditioned restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine. Our feet were killing us! There are several City Winery’s located in other larger cities, such as New York. Owner, Michael Dorf, create City Winery where he could combine his two passions (wine and music). City Winery’s fully functioning winery is the only urban winery in Tennessee. It holds around 300 American and French oak barrels, with the ability to have up to 50 wines on tap throughout its facility. Pretty cool idea! Bringing wine to the people.
After the City Winery, we pressed on. Venturing out to more bars on Broadway. We were getting ready to leave, and that’s when I remembered, “I will not leave until I try one of those Legendairy Milkshakes…Literally!” A block or two from Broadway Ave., was Legendairy Milkshakes. This place was crammed with people who were anxiously waiting for their Friday night dessert. Same here! This milkshake was massive, but oh, so good. I highly recommend that you share with a friend. Luckily, my boyfriend is lactose intolerant. More milkshakes for me!
I know what you’re thinking…how can this girl down a 3 pound milkshake (sarcasm) and then down a couple donuts and beer the next morning? Trust me, I don’t know how either.
The next morning, after exploring Downtown Nashville and Broadway, we headed to the Donut + Dog. This little cozy restaurant has been featured on Buzzfeed, Good Morning America, Reader’s Digest, Today in Nashville, and just recently featured on Bring Me! This place has best of both worlds. Their 20 hour brioche donuts are heavenly light, and they offer a variety of flavors. We had opted for the:
- South Beach Donut: Raspberry/mint glaze, dehydrated raspberry and lime wheel garnish. 4 year old Florida de Cana rum pipet.
- California Dreamin: Bourbon vanilla bean glaze, house-made caramel, rolled in graham crumb, chocolate crisp pearls.
- Boss Hod: Bourbon maple glaze, apple wood smoked bacon, and pecan brittle
- Boston Cream: Dark Chocolate ganache, filled with cream filling.
They paired each donut with one of their beers on tap. My favorite was pairing the South Beach Donut with the Ballast Point, Sculipin IPA. The two together were very fruity, and transported me to a tropical oasis.
After filling ourselves with donuts and beer before 12pm, we were going to meet a college friend of mine, who is now working for PBS in Nashville. She was kind enough to give us a tour of Nashville! She took us to some of her favorite neighborhoods and murals that she likes to go to for photoshoots. The hot air balloon was my favorite. It was so colorful, and you could step into an actual basket to take photos in. How fun!
After visiting most of the murals that we wanted to see, such as:
- I Believe in Nashville
- Make Music Not War
- Nashville Looks Good on You
- East Nashville
We decided to get some ice cream! She introduced us to Jeni’s Ice Cream.
What makes Jeni’s Ice Cream stand out from the rest is their determination to become one of the first ice cream companies to source only compostable bowls, spoons, and napkins in their shops. Currently, 95% of what you buy in their shops is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. They are proud to continue seeking alternative ways to accomplish their goal of having zero waste sources in their shops. As of Earth Day 2020, Jeni’s Ice Cream will have successfully diverted more than 100 tons of waste from the landfill.
After a full day of exploring, it was time to get out of the hot sun! We said our goodbyes to my friend, and continued to work our way down our list of bars that we needed to try before our trip came to an end. The Fox Bar and Cocktail Club had caught my attention because it was featured as one of the best places to get a craft cocktail in Nashville. The high class bar also got my attention due to the speakeasy vibe, crafty cocktail menu, and the interior design. We enjoyed a cocktail here, and headed down the road to Pearl Diver.
I could not decide between the Pearl Diver or the Walden, and I’ll explain why. The Walden offers several cocktail “flights”. So, you get a little bit of both worlds. Both bars were just a short drive (3-5 mins) from the Fox Bar, but in opposite directions.
The Pearl Diver was your authentic tiki bar, while the interior design screams 80’s retro Miami beach theme. The bar was also voted as one of the top 300 best bars in the world, so my expectations were very high. The Pearl Diver was probably in my top 10 of tiki bars that have ever been too because of their extensive tiki cocktails, that are paired with several Hawaiian dishes, each offering an island flare. The bar was very stylish, and has the perfect decor and outside patio to take the ultimate Instagram selfie captioned: “Iv Got Two Tickets to Paradise”.
Last on our list was Five Daughters Bakery. After waking up the next morning with a slight hangover, we wanted to try one last famous donut place. Trust me, Nashville will never have a donut shortage anytime soon. Located in The Factory at Franklin/Franklin Farmers Market, Five Daughters Bakery is famous for their 100 layer donut. Sounds crazy, right?
This 100 layer donut is so light and airy, think croissant like consistency. This family ran business is lead by Stephanie and Isaac Meek, who is a 3rd generation baker. Five Daughters Bakery have another location in the 12 South neighborhood.
After you pick out your favorite donut from Five Daughters Bakery, I recommend that you check out the other shops and restaurants in The Factory. Choose from tacos, pizza, juices, Seoul food, and more ice cream from Jeni’s!
After scarfing down a delicious maple and bacon donut from Five Daughters, I visited Honest Coffee Roasters, also in The Factory.
Even in 80 degree weather, this coffee hit the spot. Brewed to order, this coffee left an impression, probably due to the delightful presentation. Coffee shops who take the time to perfect each cup of coffee, and that aim to enhance the experience for the customer with their presentation, gets an “A” in my book. The coffee was served in a “not your typical transparent coffee mug”, a small cup of milk on the side, a sophisticated stirring spoon, on an individual wooden serving sets, and with an individual card that paired with each customer’s coffee. The card highlighted the tasting notes, origin of the coffee, etc. Overall, a very neat experience for those that are not looking for your average donut, and not your average cup of Joe.
That was our trip to Nashville in a nutshell. Three days of exploring the hottest bars and restaurants, with some surprises along the way.
Other restaurants and bars that were on our list:
- Vandyke Hotel – Fancy Cocktails
- Rock Bottom Brewery
- Mantra Artisan Ales Brewery in Franklin
- Losers Bar
- Headquarters Beercade
- Pinewood Social – Experience a renovated bowling plaza with a pool and cocktail bar.
- Vinyl Tap
- Drug Store Coffee
- Proper Bagel
- Black Abby Brewery – Brewery located in old church
- The Chopper Tiki Bar
- LA Jackson – Cool Roof Top Bar
- Ma’s Tacos Pro Favor – Famous Mexican Restaurant
- Sand Bar on Beach
Until next time, Cheers!
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