Southern Sundays: Nashville, Tennessee

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In the last year and a half or so, I have developed a minor obsession with The Black Keys.  I forget how or where I found them, but after hearing one song, I downloaded everything I could find and now they’re in close competition with Ryan Adams and Grace Potter for the every other song spot on my Ipod.  While on the plane to Arizona a couple weeks ago, I was catching up on some reading and dove head first into the February issue of Bon Appetit.  Much to my delight, the whole issue was dedicated to southern cooking/food AND there just so happened to be an article on Nashville (where I was headed the week after my Arizona trip).  The article on Nashville followed Dan Auerbach, the lead singer of The Black Keys around to his favorite Nashville spots, so I decided that while his guitar and vocal skills absolutely rock, I needed to see how his foodie skills matched up.  On a scale of 1 to 10 he get’s a 9 1/2, only because the barbecue joint that he took the writer to wasn’t my favorite.  I’m not a barbecue expert by any means, I just know what I like.  Dan, if you ever play the Carolina’s I’ll send my list of spots and you can compare for yourself.

Nashville, Tennessee, as of late, has become one of my favorite cities.  So much so, that I have considered moving there.  It’s everything I love about the south and more, the slow southern draw, farmland, city life, nightlife, shopping, restaurants, with the great addition of a melting pot of super cool people.  As someone told me last week, when people wade through the bullshit of LA and New York, they end up in Nashville.  So very true.  Who knows if I’ll ever pull the trigger on the move, but nonetheless, I love visiting and I look forward to going every chance I get.

Ok, on to food.  I only hit a couple of the places listed in the article, but of what I tried, I definitely recommend all of them if you’re in the Nashville area.


1.  Mas Tacos Por Favor.  No website, but you can follow them on twitter at @mastacos  One thing I’ve learned in my 31 years is…where there are hippies, there are good tacos.  After concerts, in taco trucks and little hole in the wall joints like this place.  Everything we tried was good.  The line up on our table was fried avocado, sweet potato and quinoa and chicken tacos, spicy corn on the cob and black beans with plantains.  We had hoped for the tortilla soup, but we got there pretty close to closing time and the last bowl had just been dished out.  Best thing about this place is that it was in a “less traveled” area of town and it immediately gave you the feeling it was going to be good judging by the fact that had it not been a taco shack, you might not have gone in on a bet.  Perfection Dan, you get an A+ for this one.


2.  City House. www.cityhousenashville.com  This place was really cool.  Great bar and the kitchen was open to the restaurant so you could see what they were doing.  And…if you sat at the bar at the kitchen (like we did) you could get to know head chef/owner Tandy Wilson and his buddies cooking up some really good dishes like Octopus and Tomato Chickpea Stew, Broccoli Salad and house made Belly Ham pizza.  YUM!!


3.  Martin’s Barbecue.  www.martinsbbqjoint.com Ok, I feel it’s my duty to give an honest review and while Martin’s was good, it was just okay…in my “non expert on barbecue” opinion.  The meat was actually sweet…dessert sweet which kind of threw me a little bit, but the atmosphere was cool.  However, I nearly lost my appetite when three guys unwrapped a full hog and hurled it onto the smoker that was right behind my seat and started hammering nails into it’s hooves to secure it in the smoker.  Thank god A. I wasn’t that hungry and B.  I only got an accidental peripheral glance.  That could have really ruined barbecue for me for a while. Whew!  A slim escape.



4.  The Blue Bar.  This was a new Nashville place for me.  It’s not on Dan’s list, we went there on the rec of another person.  It’s on Broadway going toward Vanderbilt University, kind of hidden, but it was a really cool place to hear singer-songwriters play their original songs.  There was a lot of unheard of and up and coming talent in there playing songs that I’m sure we’ll be hearing on the radio very soon.  The owner Bobby and his wife Lucy also serve food.  Bobby was walking around with baskets of Bologna fries and heard that I write a food blog so invited me in the kitchen to try Lucy’s original recipe of Chicken and Dumplin’s and Dump Cake.  They were such a fun couple and so very nice to meet, so definitely go by the Blue Bar if you’re ever in Nashville and pay them a visit.


A couple other restaurants that we went to were Virago Sushi and Tavern.  They are both under the same restaurant group M Street and their website is www.mstreetnashville.com  They also have Whiskey Kitchen that is fun in the warmer months when they open up the garage like windows and have the patio open.


As far as “honky tonks” on music row..,
Tootsie’s www.tootsies.net
The Wheel have always been fun.


If you get the chance, a concert at the Ryman Auditorium is a real treat.  I saw The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals there in September.  Great venue if you love music and history.  Walk the halls to see some of the talent that’s been through there…pretty impressive.


A couple shopping spots in Nashville…
Imogene and Willie  www.imogeneandwillie.com
Two Old Hippies  www.twooldhippies.com
Every time I’ve been to Nashville in the last year, I always have to take an afternoon and ride out to Franklin, TN.  It’s the cutest little town with great shops and restaurants.  Some of the spots I like out there are…


South 55  www.eat55.com  Great restaurant for weekend brunch.  Bloody Mary bar is fantastic.  They have the most unimaginable additions to flavor a Saturday morning Bloody.


Emmaline  www.emmalineboutique.com  Cute little boutique.  I always find something I can’t live without.


The Iron Gate  www.theirongateonline.net  I love this shop.  It has the most beautiful and unique home accessories and their selection of candles is divine!!!  They have just about every yummy candle company you can think of lining the shelves on both walls when you come in the front door.


Ivey Cake  www.iveycake.com  Who doesn’t need a cupcake after shopping?  This tiny little bakery (across from Emmaline) did Carrie Underwood’s wedding cake.  The girl has good taste!


On Friday night, we had the rare opportunity to have an up and coming singer songwriter share some of her music with us.  Her parents very graciously hosted a dinner for us and then afterword Abigail Rose gave a private concert.  Wow!  Did I mention she’s 15??  Taylor Swift, you’re darlin’ honey, but watch out….Abigail Rose will be nipping at your heels very shortly.


Check her out…www.abigailrosemusic.com



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