We just returned from Nashville and are thrilled to share our trip with you! We had the chance to spend five days in this beautiful city, so instead of the usual 24 hour itinerary, we are sharing some of the best restaurants we dined at. Of course, even with such a long trip, we didn’t even come close to trying all of the wonderful restaurants this capitol city has to offer.
Southern Fusion: We were particularly interested in some of the Southern fusion restaurants in Nashville. The two we tried seamlessly blended traditional southern ingredients with other global cuisines.
We read about City House prior to visiting Nashville. The restaurant’s executive chef, Tandy Wilson, was Nashville’s first James Beard award winner. If you’re not familiar, this is the food world’s equivalent to an Oscar. Naturally, we made a reservation so that we could try it as soon as we landed.
We started with the octopus and sock sausage appetizer. We were really impressed with the immediate presence of both Italian and southern flavor. The smokiness of the octopus was delicious, and the slight bitterness of the Savoy cabbage brought a perfect balance to the sausage.
Next we shared the chard and pinto bean pizza. It was topped with buttermilk cheddar, tossed garlic and fennel. We were offered the option to add a fried egg add but unfortunately we declined. The runny yolk would have added the moisture and fat needed to round out the pie. Consequently this was our least favorite dish, but we only have ourselves to blame.
For our third course we ordered the bread gnocchi and rabbit sugo served with kale and parmesan. Unlike a traditional Italian gnocchi, the bread dumplings were chewy, similar to what you would expect in chicken n’ dumplings, except instead of chicken, this dish contained tender, slow cooked chunks of rabbit in a light, savory sauce. Talk about southern comfort!
We finished our meal with the almond skillet cake dessert. It was served with lemon marmalade and lemon gelato. Needless to say, City House set the bar high for our first meal in Nashville.
The following evening, we tried a new restaurant, Liberty Common which is located in the SoBro (South of Broadway) district. Liberty common features a French inspired menu which we were very excited to try. Because both Southern food and French food are typically countryside cuisines, the fusion seemed very natural. The Tiffany Blue decor and sidewalk seating emanated Parisian charm. We couldn’t help but think this restaurant was tailor-made for groups of women traveling to Nashville for bachelorette parties.
We started the night with the mint julep and champagne julep cocktails. We thought this was an appropriate selection as juleps are reminiscent of the most famous cross-road between France and the American south; New Orleans.
Per our servers recommendation, we ordered the pickled duck eggs topped with Tabasco and dijonaise as well as the buttermilk biscuits with sweet sorghum butter. For our main course we shared the cast iron lobster cake which tasted like a perfectly rich corn cake filled with decadent pieces of lobster. We also tried the gruyere Mac n’ cheese and grits served with pistou. We loved both of these simple yet subtly French side dishes.
To finish the meal, we ordered the pear cobbler and herbed ice cream dessert. Luckily our hotel had a gym, because we enjoyed every last bit of this meal.
Nashville Hot Chicken: Of course, you can’t go to Nashville without trying their famous hot chicken. What is it? Deep-fried chicken in a cayenne pepper-buttermilk mix! We tried two great spots, but we can’t wait to go back and try the rest!
The first place we stopped for lunch was Arnold’s Country Kitchen. Technically, Arnold’s is a meat & three, so we enjoyed fried chicken with three sides; greens, Mac n’ cheese and mashed potatoes.
We aren’t sure if Arnold’s fried chicken is technically, “Nashville Hot”, as it was very mild, but you could certainly taste the carefully prepared spice blend. What was most amazing about Arnold’s chicken was how moist and tender it was. We would love to know the secret to such a crsipy outside, and tender meat inside!
We also had the chance to eat at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. The origins of this restaurant date back to the 1930’s with the creation of Nashville’s signature dish. Legend has it, Mr. Prince’s girlfriend was so fed up with him, she decided to punish him with an overwhelming amount of spice in his dinner. Decades later, Prince’s is the benchmark for heat. We tried the second and third levels of spice (mild & medium) and we could barely finish our lunch. You will definitely need to order some sugary sweet tea to fight the burn.
Breakfast: We wouldn’t dream of skipping the most important meal of the day! Of course it was tempting to make a second trip to Liberty Common for a sampling of their brunch menu, but we were glad we tried the restaurants below.
After so many heavy meals, Crema was a welcome break. Their coffee shop menu offered lighter fare, and of course, incredible coffee. If you have the time, you can also check out their coffee classes!
But let’s be honest, can you really leave the south without a hearty helping of biscuits and gravy? We spent our last morning in Nashville enjoying the buttery heaven that is Biscuit Love. The “bonuts” (biscuit donuts) were served over blueberry compote and topped with lemon mascarpone. As delicious as these were, the real star of the show was the “East Nasty” sandwich. Their menu touts this dish as the “best sandwich in America” and we can see why. The perfectly flaky buttermilk biscuit is loaded with crunchy fried chicken and a generous portion of pork sausage gravy.
Now as they say in the south, I’m full as a tick!