I am fortunate to be able to travel a lot. People wonder “how”? But it’s because I take opportunities and use them as excuses to book trips. After having an amazing September in Vancouver with cousin Alex, I knew I wanted to get back down to Nashville as soon as I could. So why not use Ben’s birthday as an excuse to get down to Music City? An idea bantered about with our mutual good buddy Paul, turned into a booked surprise weekend only a few hours after the idea sprung. Like I said, when I see an opportunity, I pounce on it.
Some people look at me strangely when I tell them about my enthusiasm for Nashville, Tennessee. I’m sure their perception is Honky-tonk and Hee Haw, but what most don’t know is that Nashville is a great eating and drinking city. So great in fact that even before touching down on Friday night for a weekend, I knew I wasn’t going to get to half of the places on my list. When I’d been to Nashville 2 1/2 years ago, so many of the places I wanted to go to were closed because of the 4th of July holidays, so even though it was my second visit to Nasvhille, there was still so much I wanted to try. Luckily, I had Alex’s assistance in focusing my weekend on the best possible eating and drinking experience.
Friday evening: Coming in late , we dropped our bags and met Alex and her bf James at Urban Cowboy Public House for a pre-dinner drink. We walked into what felt like a backyard bonfire and into the cozy bar area to get our drinks.
Being famished, but not wanting to ruin dinner, we ordered a few things. The beef fat olives (it was too dark to take photos) are worth your time. Trust me. I loved the atmosphere at the Public House. The juxtaposition of drinking fine cocktails in front of a bon fire was just something that I would never experience at home. It’s for moments like this that I travel.
I wanted to stay at the Public House longer, (especially because the kitchen is supposed to be killing it), but we had a reservation at Rolf and Daughters to get to.
On my last visit to Nashville, Alex lived right behind Rolf and she couldn’t speak highly enough about the place. “The pastas, and the chicken, oh yes and the cocktails are great too”. Paul, who usually doesn’t go near a carb at home, was ordered to throw out any food restrictions for the trip and especially for our dinner at Rolf.
Friday late evening: After Rolf & Daughters, we made our way over to Dino’s, Cousin Alex’s dive bar. I was so excited to finally get to check it out!
We started out with “a shot and a pony” and then hopped next door to Bar No. 308 which was having a 90’s night. We lit up the dance floor for a bit and then headed back to Dino’s to end our night. Needing some grease to soak up all the liquor, I took home an Animal-style fries, or Redneck Poutine as Sean Brock on the Nashville episode of Parts Unknown coined it as, when they were featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”.
Saturday Morning: We were all slow to get up on Saturday, but decided it was probably better that we didn’t adjust to the 2 hour time difference. The morning was beautiful, so we decided to take a walk around Nashville to try to work the cobwebs out.
Saturday noon: For brunch/lunch we were back at Dino’s where I had 2 of my favourite things from the trip. The Damn sandwich was amazing, as was the best darn Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted.
Saturday late afternoon: Next up on the agenda was a tour of the Nelson Greenbrier distillery where I learned about the process of making bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.
Saturday evening: I’d originally booked the boys to go to see the Grand Ol’ Opry at the Ryman while I went to a “blow-out” dinner with Alex, but it turned out that my dinner reservation was late that I could do it all! I’d been to the Opry the last time I was in Nashville but saw it at the megamall Opryland. While I’m not a huge country lover, I do appreciate a good show, and the Grand Ol’ Opry is good entertainment. And any night that has Bo Duke and Deacon Claybourne on the same stage is a fun one in my books. The Ryman is such a special place to see a show. I will definitely keep an eye on the schedule for my next excuse to visit Nashville.
Saturday late evening: Ever since I started talking to Alex last fall about returning to Nashville, she’s been mentioning Bastion as a “must”. I knew it was going to be a multi-course extravaganza, something not everyone can appreciate. But Alex is the perfect eating date as she’s always IN for a good time, and that we had.
We met up at the bar side of Bastion, and before I knew it, I had a smoky (and delicious) mezcal drink in my hand. We were quickly ushered from the busy bar to another behind a metal door. Entering into the back bar, I felt like we were part of a secret club. I started to get giddy for the experience.
We then moved to the kitchen counter bar to and made our choices for the evening.
And just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, the desserts hit the counter.
It was an epic meal, and I could do little more that evening than go home to rest (pass out) and recuperate only to wake up and start the eating all over again.
Sunday Late Morning (aka early afternoon): Slow to rise again, Paul and I fed our Starbucks obsession by driving 10 minutes to the closest Starbucks (there are none in East Nashville) and then hitting the Turnip Truck grocery store by our place for other provisions. A few hours later and we were eating again.
On my last trip to the South, I went to Husk Charleston & Nashville. I loved both of them so much, and just found the food to be so unique and special that I just had to return.
Alex recommended we go for brunch, so we could order the hamburger. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get a good sampling of the menu at brunch. Who was I kidding, with Alex there’s always more than enough. It turned out we received more than double what we ordered, but it was a wonderful way to taste all of the amazing dishes that Husk has to offer.
Sunday Afternoon: There’s no better way to work off a huge brunch than by bowling a few frames down at Pinewood Social!
Sunday evening: I’d originally chosen Rolf & Daughters over City House for this trip, but Alex insisted I needed to try both, especially because they were serving their Sunday Supper. I’m glad I did because the food was amazing. I was happy to see some green vegetables during that evening, but the star of the evening was definitely the broccoli pizza.
Sunday Late Night: We returned to the bar at Bastion where it was quiet on a Sunday night. James was working for the night and prepared some delicious cocktails for us as we took turns playing table arcade games.
Monday before leaving: One last stop on the eating itinerary before flying home. All my body was craving was a big salad, but we had a monster, (or rather whole pig) to end the trip.
I’d been to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint on my last trip to Nashville, but not the new space downtown complete with a huge outdoor patio and games. This would be a top recommendation for downtown Nashville. The BBQ is amazing, and if you’re lucky you’ll see them cooking up a whole hog like we did.
And with that, we zipped off to the airport for the long journey home. Diets & detox for the YVR crew after our weekend of indulgence!
Urban Cowboy Public House : 103 N 16th St, Nashville
Rolf & Daughters :700 Taylor St, Nashville
Dino’s : 411 Gallatin Ave, Nashville
No.308 : 407 Gallatin Ave, Nashville
Nelson Greenbrier Distillery : 1414 Clinton St, Nashville
Bastion : 434 Houston St, Nashville
Husk : 37 Rutledge St, Nashville
Pinewood Social : 33 Peabody St, Nashville
City House : 1222 4th Ave North, Nashville
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint : 410 4th Ave South, Nashville