Nashville has always been “Music City,” and rightfully so. Many a country legend got their start in this Tennessee town, and today bluegrass, rock and country sounds continue to pour out of just about every bar on lower Broadway. This industrial city is also in the middle of a transformative cultural explosion, and traditional Southern-style fare is being reimagined right along with it, turning Music City into a dining destination. Come hungry: here are 7 places not to miss while visiting Nashville.
Martin’s BBQ Joint
Can’t decide between pulled pork shoulder, beef brisket or ribs? You don’t have to here. Join the masses at this Nashville’s most popular barbecue, known for its four centrally-placed whole hog barbecue pits and spacious upstairs beer garden. For a taste of everything Martin’s has to offer, grab a friend (or don’t) and order the “Big Momma,” a platter selection of ribs, pork, brisket and three sides. You’ll be in hog heaven.
Go-to Order: Whole Hog–they smoke for 20 hours in a hickory wood barbecue pit and then serve the next day. Come early: once they run out for the day, that’s it!
The fresh, airy, light feel of this brunch hotspot draws you in, but it’s the biscuits that will keep you coming back. As the name suggests, Biscuit Love serves up a selection of reimagined Southern-style fare centered around buttery, perfectly flaky biscuits. This place is known for its East Nasty: a cheddar biscuit covered in fried chicken. But the former food truck’s plat de resistance is an order of “bonuts”: donuts made of biscuits and topped with a dollop of butter cream and blueberry compote.
Go-to order: The Princess, a sweet tea and a plate of bonuts to share.
Family Wash / Garage Coffee
East Nashville’s favorite live music joint started in a former laundromat, though it’s recently moved into a roomier location. Head here Tuesdays for Pie & Pint night; for $12 you’ll get a pint of beer, a hearty Shepherd’s Pie and hours of live Americana music in a comfortable, low-key setting. The space is also home to Garage Coffee–don’t miss out on their Road Rage espresso, which is perfect on a nice morning with a muffin on the outdoor patio.
Go-to order: Traditional Shepherd’s Pie and a pint of beer to wash it down.
This instagram-worthy cocktail bar, bowling alley, pool and bocce lounge is the perfect place to just . . . hang out for an afternoon. The menu is a trendy departure from Nashville’s iconic honky tonk joints, but the neon lighting, exposed brick walls and vintage decor stay true to Music City’s industrial roots.
Go-to order: Gold Rush hand-selected barrel cocktail
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Nashville’s iconic hot fried chicken maintains its spicy reputation at this popular stand, where counter-served customers can choose between five levels of heat (the hottest, “shut the cluck up,” is reserved for the boldest of palates). Cool down afterwards with a refreshing coke and vanilla ice cream float.
Go-to order: Hot Chicken Sandwich (the spice is up to you!) and a coke and vanilla float.
Housed in an former auto repair shop, this hip coffee shop serves artisanal, pour-over espresso and buttermilk biscuits or waffles in an industrial setting that pays homage to the building’s previous life (right down to the bandana napkins). Most everything sold here is sourced locally, from the breakfast sausage to the art that hangs on the walls.
Go-to order: Pour-over, BP Sausage Biscuit, Peach Waffles.
ACME Feed & Seed
This lower Broadway building has housed many a business since its construction in 1890; among them Continental Baking Powder Co., Southern Soda Works and Acme Feed and Hatchery. Today, it’s a four-story destination for locals and visitors that offers an “upscale honky tonk” bar and restaurant with live music, a sushi bar and sports lounge, an event space and a rooftop bar with unobstructed views of the waterfront and lower Broadway. The food, though delicious, isn’t mind-blowing but it’s worth a visit for the drinks and the views.
Go-to order: Shrimp & Grits and a Mulekicker cocktail.
Looking for more foodie city tours? Check out this guide to Paris’ sweetest patisseries!
–The Wandering Alligator