Tennessee is kind of a funny state. With it's long and skinny shape, it is really kind of three different states than one unified place. From my hometown in eastern Tennessee, Washington DC is almost closer than Memphis. When I was growing up we would visit the Smoky Mountains or the Isle of Palms in South Carolina or go all the south to Florida. We never went west. Which means we never went to Nashville, the state capitol. Which is less than two hours away. Nashville is a hot spot for all kinds of reasons right now, one of my favorite TV shows is set there and it is a very important place for the music and publishing industry. This past summer on the big college tour trip to America, we scheduled a few days in Music City. This is what we ate and drank.
37 Rutledge St
Ever since I read the New Yorker profile of chef, Sean Brock, I have wanted to have a meal at Husk. As luck would have it, he just opened a branch of his wildly successful Charleston restaurant in Nashville. I booked a lunch table for a birthday celebration months in advance. We spent the afternoon drinking black pepper Bourbon cocktails, and eating biscuits and gravy and the best hamburger I have ever eaten. Ever.
The Turnip Truck
321 12th Ave South
Wandering the aisles of a grocery story is one of my favorite vacation activities. A grocery store with a restaurant is a dream come true. While waiting for the Teenager to perform at the the very groovy Two Old Hippies Open Mic, we went across the street to fill up recyclable cups and plates with cucumber Dry Soda and hot biscuits and gravy made with bentons bacon and fill our suitcases with slabs of Olive & Sinclair's Chocolate.
1017 Woodland Street
An August thunder storm thwarted both our hunt for Connie Britton, who was filming a scene for Nashville and our plans for dinner at Pharmacy burger, which was darkened by a lightening strike. The nearby Margot Cafe was helpfully recommended. Quite a bit fancier than the originally planned outdoor hamburger and beer garden, we adjusted just fine. In the elegant dining room we tried bourbon cocktails made with a blackberry shrub, homemade potato chips and duck breast salads.
The Bluebird Cafe
4104 Hillsboro Pike
If you watch Nashville (and if you don't, what are you waiting for? The second season of this terrific show starts this week) you know about The Bluebird Cafe. With only 100 seats this intimate space is a music lovers dream. We waited in the August afternoon sun. OK, Mark waited in the sun, I sat in the shade, borrowing a neighboring building's wifi to get one of the last spots for a performance by four grammy winning, chart topping Nashville songwriters. It was an incredible look behind the curtain of the songs you hear on the radio. It is also a great spot to drink a cold, locally brewed, Yazoo IPA.
What could be more American than eating home cooked southern food (chicken and cornbread dressing and sweet tea) from a food truck, in a car dealership parking lot, at a NASCAR event?
2103 Elliston Place
Any southerner knows what the glowing red light at the Krispy Kreme means. Fresh. Hot. Donuts. When I lived in Zimbabwe and would make the long journey for a visit home, my brothers would meet me after the 24 hour flight with a box of Krispy Kreme. No visit home is complete without at least one stop here.
731 Mcferrin Ave
Before the drive back east, we took another stab at Pharmacy burger. The breezy beer garden, and jugs of endless ice water were the perfect accompaniment to a very good burger and a cold, hoppy beer.
2007 Belmont Blvd.
On the edge of the beautiful Belmont University campus this groovy coffee spot had two things this family at the end of a month long college tour needed; strong coffee and strong wifi.