Destination Nashville: The Foodie Edition
All you need is a weekend to load up on the best of Music City.
WORD IS OUT THAT NASHVILLE has become the new cultural hotspot when it comes to fashion, food and entertainment. Local tastemakers call the city the “Refined South”—we call it plain cool. Long known as the home of country music and 10-gallon hats, Nashville is now experiencing a renaissance, with an upswing in the number of trendy restaurants and fashion boutiques and a buzzing craft cocktail scene.
So, we hit the road in the name of research, and five hours later, we arrived in Music City to take in a laid-back, long weekend. One of the best things about Nashville is that you never feel rushed: You can tour most of the neighborhoods and sights in the first two days of your trip and then decide how you want to spend the rest of your time. We spent most of our weekend in the hip neighborhoods of 12South, East Nashville and Hillsboro Village. Here are the foodie highlights, in honor of our Eat + Drink Issue.
DINNER NO. 1 WITH A SIDE OF SHOPPING
After snacking on the standard road trip fare on the drive down to Nashville, we craved some real food for dinner. Burger Up, located in the emergent 12South neighborhood, satisfied our appetites and gave us that good feeling that can only come from locally sourced food. Try the Woodstock burger, topped with Benton’s bacon, Tennessee Sweetwater white cheddar and Jack Daniels maple ketchup with a side of truffle fries. We were as impressed with their craft cocktails as we were with their burgers and opted for the Wonderland containing Rain organic vodka, Goslings ginger beer, lime, mint, cucumber and fresh ginger simple syrup. After lunch or dinner, walk down 12th Avenue to scope out the shops, including Nashville’s now famous Imogene and Willie, a buzzy boutique-slash-denim-jeans maker that not only carries an uber-hip Southern cool factor, but also tailors your jeans on-site for the perfect fit.
BRUNCH & MORNING COFFEE
For brunchers, Fido is a must. Situated in the heart of Hillsboro Village, just blocks away from Vanderbilt University, this casual, order-at-the-counter café serves up everything from muffins to egg scrambles or our favorite, the Fishy Bomb—a bagel sandwich featuring smoked salmon, herb cream cheese, onion, lettuce and capers. Eat inside or step out on the sidewalk cafe to people watch while sipping a cup of coffee from Fido’s sister company, Bongo Java Roasting Co.
DINNER NO. 2 WITH A SIDE OF ROMANCE
One of the pioneers on East Nashville’s foodie front, Margot Café and Bar offers rustic French and Italian cuisine in an unstuffy, but sophisticated atmosphere. Its intimate seating and warm lighting make it a choice spot for a romantic night out. The menu changes daily, and on the night we dined there, we shared two dishes: the fried polenta, stuffed peppers with tomato sauce and arugula salad and steak frites.
OTHER MENTIONABLE EATS
City House: Nestled in Germantown, this eatery serves up Italian entrées, pizzas and seafood dishes with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Try the belly ham and house-made charcuterie.
Pancake Pantry: Arrive early or be prepared to wait for these delicious stacks. McDougal’s: College kids abound in this hot wing heaven, advertising free ice cream with any order.
Nashville Biscuit House: Despite its vault-like exteriors. Inside, it’s all warm and cheery—and grits come with everything.
Photo credit: Sarah Bruno & Kelly Hamilton