Over President’s Day Weekend we escaped to Nashville with a couple of friends. It’s in the South, we thought. It will definitely be warmer than New York. Wrong. The South was experiencing a rare case of low temperatures, so while we managed to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC, we did not escape the cold. In fact, our return flights got canceled several times because of an ice storm and we ended up staying down South for an extra three days. Nonetheless, we had a great time exploring Nashville and all its little quirks. Here are some highlights.
Food: We had a delicious and relaxed meal at Husk Nashville, which occupies a beautiful 19th century home in Rutledge Hill. The menu focuses on modern Southern cooking and changes daily depending on what’s fresh at the market. Between the four of us we ate dishes such as johnny cakes, shrimp and grits, and beef with hearth cooked onion, mushroom catsup and liver jus.
Mas Tacos in Greenwood serves up, yup, tacos, plus classics such as pozole verde, black beans and plantains, tamales and fruit juices. Between the four of us we ate chicken tortilla soup, which they’re known for, pulled pork taco, spicy carne molida taco, cast-iron chicken taco and horchata. Everything was so delicious, I ended up ordering a second pork taco to eat at the airport later.
Walking distance from our AirBnB house in East Nashville is Two Ten Jack, an izakaya and ramen house. Our flight to Nashville was delayed from NY and by the time we landed we were starving. Luckily Two Ten Jack was still open so we took a cab directly there, and the staff kindly stored our suitcases for us. We sat at the bar and ate some yakitori, JPC (Japanese fried chicken) and sunomono salad (octopus, scallop, cucumber, brussels sprouts, radish), washing it all down with their deliciously innovative cocktails, two of which are on tap. Our friends ate the brussels sprouts from here earlier in the day and couldn’t stop talking about them the rest of the weekend.
We had walked by Dino’s earlier in the day, wondering what was inside as the outside was rundown with a “No Firearms Allowed” sign, something you would never see in NY. Little did we know we would end up there later that night for dinner. After we tried and failed to get a table at Husk on Valentine’s Day at the last minute (did we really think that would work?), Dino’s was recommended to us. We gave it a shot and actually had some really good burgers and fries in a dive bar that was apparently redone recently. We’re not sure what “before” looked like, but “after” was a friendly, no-frills bar serving decent food.
On our actual last night (at this point, we never knew when our last night would be, as our flights kept getting canceled!), we ended up overlapping with our friend’s brother, who was in town for work. This wouldn’t have happened if our flights were on time, so it was a nice and unexpected coincidence. We met him downtown at The Farm House, a farm-to-table restaurant serving up a flavorful, fresh menu. The crispy pig ears, shared by the table, were a hit. The most popular dishes in our crowd were the lamb with bean, cavatelli, kale and chimichurri, and the springer chicken, one of their specialties, which is spicy and served with biscuit puree, pickled garlic and potato.
Coffee: Barista Parlor is one of the most happening coffee shops in Nashville. We were in awe of the large space that you would never find in NYC, the cool sign outside that called for a photo opportunity, and the friendly staff who didn’t rush you. The peppermint tea had an amazing flavor, while the coffee, and the prices, didn’t seem worth all the hype. Plenty of seating, but it gets a bit loud so not ideal if you’re trying to do work or read. We didn’t discover the breakfast until later in our stay, but it turns out they serve up a delicious and reasonably priced meal, cornbread included of course.
Crema was a little more reasonably priced and the coffee slightly better than Barista. Again, the staff didn’t rush you and even took the time to chat with us about recommendations around the city. The space is a bit smaller with a wait for a table at busy times, but the noise level is more conducive to working or reading. It’s not far from downtown and conveniently located near Husk.
Shopping: We didn’t do much shopping, although we did try on cowboy boots at Boot Country (buy 1, get 2 free; can’t beat that) on the main downtown street, Broadway. Imogene + Willie is one store we made a point to go to in order to check out their custom crafted jeans. When we walked in the staff started chatting with us like we were old friends and never once turned on a salesman pitch, which we appreciated, even if it made the New Yorker inside of me a little skeptical. The space is beautiful and very relaxed. We were told friends often come by to hang out and sometimes they have pop-up events. While we didn’t walk out with any jeans, we did buy these cute little pocket journals and a signature Imogene + Willie candle for our home. Bonus: the wax can be used as solid perfume!
Drinks: Husk also hit it on the nose with cocktails. Their bartender Jessica, who was working both times we stopped in, once for a cocktail and once for dinner and drinks, did a great job mixing up libations for us. I ordered off the menu and Prem told her what he likes in a cocktail and she made one to his liking. Like everyone we met in Nashville, Jessica was willing to take her time with us.
After dinner at Dino’s, we hopped next door to No. 308 for some after dinner cocktails. They have an extensive cocktail menu and we enjoyed every drink we tried.
Pinewood Social is a bowling alley, coffee shop, bar and restaurant all in one. If it sounds like too much going on, it’s not. It seems to work well. While we didn’t have a cocktail or food here, both looked well-made and delicious. Crema has a stand inside, which is what we enjoyed when we went, sitting in their “living room” - a mix of comfortable chairs and couches, as opposed to the dining tables.
People: We are clearly jaded New Yorkers, as the friendliness of people in Nashville was so obvious to us. From cab drivers to restaurant employees to people on the street, everyone says “hi”, strikes up a conversation, and takes their time with you. No one in the long coffee line looks mad that the barista is asking where you’re from or suggesting places to see live music. No one rushes you out of a restaurant. Cab drivers want to know how your day is going and want to tell you about theirs. It was very refreshing.
We look forward to visiting Nashville again, sans snow.