Eating and Drinking Your Way Through Nashville, a 24 Hour Guide
Eat, drink, listen to live music – and do it all while wearing cowboy boots.
Nashville is arguably one of the most iconic cities of the South, so when my roommate invited the rest of us to visit her hometown for a weekend, I jumped at the chance. She prefaced the trip by telling us that Nashville is a very food and music-driven city, and she couldn’t have described the weekend ahead of us any more accurately.
Since Nashville is about a six hour drive from our current residence in Dayton, Ohio, we spent almost as much time traveling back and forth as we did in the city itself. While we were there, we quite literally spent the weekend eating and drinking our way through Nashville – and I’d argue there’s no better way to truly experience the city’s culture.
6 p.m.: We had finally arrived in Nashville, and the first stop on our food tour of the city is obvious: dinner. My roommate took us to the San Antonio Taco Company, known by locals as SATCO, a clear favorite of hers along with many other Nashville natives. The Mexican restaurant offers a variety of food and drinks, and the queso dip is to-die-for. This spot is definitely a must-try in Nashville.
8 p.m.: After the eating portion of our night had been fulfilled, it was time to commence the drinking. We donned our cowboy boots (not a cliché – everyone actually wears them) and headed to Broadway, a main street downtown famous for the bars and live music. We went to a bar called Rippy’s and watched a local band perform. Although I typically try to avoid country music at all costs, I enjoyed the folk-inspired music and raw talent of these local performers trying to make it big in the country music industry.
10 p.m.: After listening to a few more local bands play, we visited some more popular bars on Broadway: Legends, Tootsie’s and the tackily-named Tequila Cowboy, to name a few. Although touristy and slightly expensive, the atmosphere and live music are worth the experience. Prepare to meet a fairly even balance of locals and tourists dressed like cowboys.
10 a.m.: Since we were staying at my roommate’s place in Brentwood, a suburb about twenty minutes south of the city, we decided to explore that area for the morning. She took us to Franklin, a nearby suburb filled with unique shops and boutiques. One of my favorites was a spice shop that offered a variety of spices for every type of cooking you could imagine, along with samples of other delicacies like freeze-dried corn. It was a unique place, and all the spice samples kept up with our theme of eating our way through Nashville.
12 p.m.: After doing some shopping, we stopped at the Mellow Mushroom – this restaurant is a chain, but my roommate raved about the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar offered there on the weekends and we had to give it a try. It seems that everything is spicier in the South, and this was another great addition on our food and drink tour of Nashville.
2 p.m.: We decided our trip wouldn’t be complete without some touristy activities, so my roommate took us to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon – Nashville’s replica of the infamous Greek structure. Not only did this provide a great photo opp for Instagram, but it also serves as a monument to the original structure, complete with a museum inside. It also hosts the city’s art museum, containing a variety of paintings by American artists.
4 p.m.: After all that exploring, it was time for some more eating and drinking. Our next eatery of choice: Chuy’s, a Mexican joint on Broadway that had a tacky yet playful vibe and offered an excellent happy hour with a free nacho bar. Discounted margaritas and free nachos – who could say no to that? Try the jalapeno ranch dip with your nachos – Nashville tends to add spiciness to almost everything, I quickly noticed, and I can’t say I minded at all.
6 p.m.: After happy hour, we headed back to Brentwood to change, get ready for the night and most importantly, eat dinner. My roommate took us on a drive through her suburb, which had a surprisingly beautiful green landscape – I’d recommend exploring one of the suburbs of Tennessee if you have enough time. We stopped at Peter’s Sushi for dinner – consistently ranked one of the top restaurants in Brentwood – and it definitely lived up to the hype. Try one of the fried rolls for a unique and more filling sushi experience.
8 p.m.: Since live music is such an essential part of the Nashville experience, my roommate took us to a concert at a bar downtown called 12th and Porter, named exactly after its location. The bands: Phin, Milkhead and Arc and Stones, just a few of the many bands on the Nashville music scene hoping to make their raw, undiscovered talent nationally known. I’ve always preferred small, intimate concerts like this to large productions, because you get to actually experience the performance up close and interact with the band. If you’re like me, then you’ll love the Nashville music scene. I’d encourage anyone visiting Nashville to attend a concert of a local band – they call it the Music City for a reason.
10 p.m.: Since we hit some pretty expensive, touristy bars Friday night, we decided to visit some cheaper bars near Vanderbilt University, frequented by students and locals. Most of our night was spent at the Tin Roof, which was fairly large with two separate bar areas: one with a deejay spinning popular tunes, and another with a live band playing country and folk. It had a little something to appeal to everyone, and the most appealing thing of all: cheap drinks.
Come Sunday morning, it was already time to make the six hour road trip back to Dayton. Although incredibly brief, our weekend in Nashville was a great way to unwind from the work week, filled with delicious food and drinks, culture, and the live local music that Nashville is famous for. If you plan on visiting Nashville any time soon, prepare for los of eating and drinking – and don’t forget to pack your cowboy boots.