Between visits with Kim, Bobby, and my recent girls’ trip, I’ve spent a good amount of time in Nashville. I have family there, which is a big draw, and I always have a good time while I’m there. Give me some good food and good company and I’m a happy gal – and Nashville certainly has both. A lot of readers have been asking where to go in Nashville, so I went ahead and put together a list of recommendations.
Where I stay:
On the last trip, we stayed in this charming purple house, which I found on Airbnb. It’s in a great area, right near many of the places we wanted to visit – and also very close to my cousin’s house! I love hotels, but I also love Airbnb – especially when Bobby and I want to go upstate and unwind in the country. While in Nashville, I normally stay at Hutton Hotel, which I highly recommend – but with five of us traveling together (and the hotel at max capacity), a house seemed like the most logical choice.
Coffee, dessert, light bites:
Bongo East: This was a couple of streets away from where we stayed, but Lauren accidentally ending up driving to their other location (Bongo Java), which was quite a long drive. We walked there the following day. It was a great place to grab a quick (and very good) cup of coffee.
Barista Parlor: Quite possibly the cutest coffee shop, ever, it also seems to double as a local hangout for the best looking people in Nashville. I’m pretty sure that they all got together and said, “Hey, we’re ridiculously good looking, so let’s travel in packs and make Barista Parlor our clubhouse.” There was a precious little mobile shop stationed outside, where my sister bought a couple of t-shirts and a pair of glasses, and delicious biscuits and coffee inside. We took a pause on our way out to appreciate the mural of Mrs. Hannigan from Annie, and also to creep on the tattooed motorcycle babe who rode off with both my sister’s and my heart. I mean, go here for coffee, but also go here if you want to just randomly give your number out to beautiful people.
Sweet 16th Bakery: My cousins Claudia and Mark brought breakfast to us, one morning – and they introduced us to the delicious “eggy biscuit” from Sweet 16th. It’s commonly referred to as “1 to go,” but please order it as an “eggy biscuit,” because Mark is hoping that the name catches on.
Jeni’s Ice Cream: You guys, I love Jeni’s. I’m so glad we don’t have one in New York, because I would be there all the time. They are so friendly in there and encourage as many samples as you want, and you should take advantage of that because they have many delicious flavors that are often changing. I had the pineapple upside down cake yogurt and brambleberry crisp, but I also tried about seventy million and twenty eight others (or something like that). And for crying out loud, will you please get it in a fresh waffle cone? Or if you prefer a dish, get the waffle wedges. Because that’s the best part, and I get angry with Bobby every time he forgoes the waffly wonder of deliciousness.
City House: This was one of my favorite meals on the trip. We went on a Sunday, which always has a different menu. Everything was very fresh and delicious. We ordered a bunch of things and shared, family style. The pizzas in particular were delicious, and keep in mind that I live in New York and would be shot if I said that and it didn’t hold up.
Pinewood Social: Restaurant, bowling alley, bar, and coffee shop in one. They also said they’re putting in a pool. Really cool place, though I wish I would’ve bowled. I’m horrible at bowling, but that’s half the fun of it. Order the fried cheese curds and broccoli.
Rolf and Daughters: You can’t mention Nashville without someone recommending Rolf and Daughters. At least a couple of the girls in our group named this as their number one favorite meal on the trip. This is another place where you should get several dishes and share, because you’ll want to try everything – and since it’s a seasonal menu, that dish might not be there the next time you come back. Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what some of the listed ingredients are, because most of them are pretty normal, only with fancy names. I am not ashamed to admit that I googled things before ordering them. Nothing was too contrived – it was just rustic and delicious. I like ingredients to shine, and they do that perfectly at Rolf and Daughters.
The Southern: Oyster happy hour, ya dig? Don’t sit outside like we did, because it’s way too hot and you’ll be loopy by the end of your oyster session.
Marché Artisan Foods: This is one of my favorite lunch spots in East Nashville. A lot of the food we ate on the trip was incredibly rich and indulgent, so it was nice to sit down and order a roasted squash and chickpea salad and not immediately want to take a nap. It was absolutely delicious, by the way. My sister also swears by their burger, and Lauren got a peach tartine that looked heavenly.
Husk: This was my favorite meal, and you know that’s the truth because I instagrammed it. That’s a vegetable plate, and yes, hushpuppies and 60 degree poached eggs over grits are apparently vegetables. I’m okay with that. I actually didn’t eat the hushpuppies because I was more enamored with the sugar dusted calas (creamy rice fritters), but the crisp, tangy broccoli, grits with mushrooms and egg, and the succotash were spot on. Also, shout out to the nicest waiter we have ever had, Eli. Manager at Husk, please give that man a raise.
Lockeland Table: This was within walking distance of the house, so we wandered over on a lazy night. I wasn’t very hungry that night, but what I had was very good (I had the lobster tacos and tried some of Christine’s lentils) – and the staff was very accommodating of our large group.
Edley’s BBQ: I am just about the least fancy person in the world, so the idea of bbq nachos that are actually potato chips is very appealing to me…especially since I can never eat those types of things on a regular basis. It’s an order at the counter and seat yourself type of place.
Pancake pantry: Yes, this is a tourist trap, and yes, the line is always long. But it moves quickly, and also, pancakes. I felt like I would get bombarded if I left this off the list…and I actually really did enjoy the pancakes.
Josephine: We wandered in here after getting stuck in Imogene + Willie during a torrential downpour. The employees, who were probably afraid we were going to take up permanent residence in their shop (partly because I told them that), suggested we head to Josephine for drinks and a few bites. My favorites were the pretzel rolls with mustard butter and the rainbow carrots with curry granola and dill.
Patterson House: Cocktails, speakeasy vibe. I don’t drink, but they were very kind to make me a delicious cocktail (and didn’t make me feel dumb about it).
Santa’s Pub: For the complete opposite vibe of Patterson House, check out this pub, which is literally in a trailer – and not the cute, kitschy airstream kind. I oddly felt at home in this beer only, cash only, karaoke dive where a hipster cowboy was singing Savage Garden’s “I Want You” with his own personal hype man. That is, until I had to sing and I had an anxiety attack, because I’m a basket case weirdo. Also, please understand that everyone has amazing voices in Nashville. They’re all one step away from stardom. My sister basically lived for this place, because she is a natural born entertainer.
Robert’s Western World: If you’re going to Nashville, you have to go to a honky-tonk. This one has a fried bologna sandwich special that comes with a beer and a bag of chips for $5, which blew my friend Holly’s mind. She actually asked if there was an error on the check, because she couldn’t believe it was only $5. Live music, cheap drinks, fried bologna sandwiches. That about sums it up!
The Hip Zipper: Located in East Nashville, just a few steps away from Marché, this vintage shop is my favorite of all. It has the best selection and great prices, and I always leave with something. If you want to continue your vintage hunting, they will kindly give you a printed list of all the vintage shops in the area.
Imogene + Willie: Beautiful shop on 12th street, stocked with their premium denim, cute hats, soft t-shirts, and other odds and ends. There’s a strip of cute stores along the street, but this one was definitely my favorite. Also, if you’re in need of a photo op, the “I Believe In Nashville” mural is just down the street.