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From Honky Tonks to Hot Chicken, Nashville Has it All Y’all!

Nashville-skyline

After a weekend at Stagecoach, it was clear this cowgirl hadn’t gotten enough of her country fill, so I headed to Nashville for a bit more honky tonkin.’ After all, what better place to get down to the roots of the songs I had been belting all weekend than the home of country music itself?! 

Before embarking on my trip, I knew the itinerary would mostly consist of a little history, a lot of music and a smorgasbord of Southern eats. Luckily for me, most of that can be found in the heart of downtown Nashville, literally steps away from my home base for the week, The Westin Nashville. Needing to switch gears after deplaning, I checked into what could only be described as a hotel haven, a quiet reprieve in the midst of a bustling city. Exhausted from my travels, but exhilarated by the sweeping views of the city outside my windows, my transition from one country adventure to another was fully underway. 

Peg Leg Porker

First on the agenda was Peg Leg Porker, a family owned and operated BBQ joint that’s no frills and all flavor. Like most Nashville eateries specializing in Southern dishes, the menu is small but mighty, and you know you can’t go wrong with any of the options. Luckily, as a group of four, our MO was to order an array of dishes and sample a little bit of everything. Hits of the group were the half chicken, mac and cheese and perhaps the quirkiest appetizer I’ve ever had: a slab of cream cheese smothered in pepper jelly and served with saltines. 

Fully sated, the natural next course of action was to relax with a cocktail! I mentioned our itinerary was mostly eat, drink, eat, repeat right? Wanting to treat the family for my invitation to Nashville, we walked back to The Westin to imbibe in some cocktails on their rooftop bar L27. Nothing like a dirty martini and some Tennessee whisky as a palate cleanser… With the city surrounding us, and impeccable views from the infinity pool, it was the ultimate happy hour before embarking on our next stop.

Bat L27 - dirty martini

Now it’s not truly a trip to Nashville without enjoying live music with a little bit of history. Tackling both, we visited Robert’s on Broadway, one of the oldest honky tonks in the city whose walls are adorned with neon lights and little trinkets of Nashville past and present. While the music is great, you also can’t beat their “Recession Special:” a fried bologna sandwich, chips, a MoonPie and a PBR for a whopping $6. 

Just a stone’s throw away, and a must-see spot for this newspaper editor, was Printer’s Alley. In its heyday, 13 publishers and 10 printers were located in this alley before becoming a hotspot for speakeasies during Prohibition. There’s a joke about editors and alcohol in there somewhere… Today it serves as another famous, albeit a bit quieter than Broadway, location for live music. With the first day in the books, it was back to The Westin for a waterfall shower and a king-sized bed to wash off that Southern humidity and get some slumber. True bliss.

Wanting to educate ourselves a bit more on the history of the area, the group ventured out the next day to Belle Meade, a historic site and winery just outside of Nashville. Covering everything from the mansion’s equestrian legacy to the enslaved African Americans who were brought to work on the land, Belle Meade is an important site to learn a small snippet of the South’s complicated history. 

Dedicated to the preservation of that history, the site not only offers educational tours, but wine and bourbon tastings that connect the history of Belle Meade with the modern purpose it serves today. After the tour you’re treated to a complimentary wine tasting and are then free to wander the expansive grounds. One of the highlights was indulging in a scoop of butter pecan ice cream from the Coop n’ Scoop while our group got into a highly competitive game of cornhole, one of a myriad of lawn games offered to visitors. 

In search of our next meal, we headed to what is arguably a can’t-miss dish while in Nashville: hot chicken. While many claim to have the best, our group ventured to one of the originals, nay thee original, Prince’s Hot Chicken. 

The story goes that Thorton Prince was notoriously a bit of a ladies’ man, much to the chagrin of his wife who sought out a bit of revenge. Hoping to torture him by making his beloved fried chicken unbearably spicy, she was in shock when instead of weeping in pain, he asked for seconds. The rest is history and for over 100 years, Prince’s has not only been serving hot chicken but kicking off a trend that still dominates the food scene today. While my tastebuds tolerated a delicious “Medium,” those who are gusty enough can order the “XXX Hot.”

       Back on the country music bandwagon the following day, there’s no better spot to hear the history of the music that made this city than the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the heart of downtown. With a myriad of exhibits, patrons are treated to the evolution of the genre from folk roots to current FM hits. It’s expertly curated and honestly, a true country fan could lose hours immersing themselves in the artifacts that adorn the walls. 

But perhaps this editor’s favorite part was the Hatch Show Print Shop located adjacent to the museum. Hatch is a working letterpress print shop that still uses vintage type and hand-carved blocks to create one-of-a-kind posters for all of Nashville. Expansive glass windows allow patrons to see the press machines being put to use, creating some of the most unique, and identifiable designs, of Hatch Print Shop. In a digital world, the power of the press reigns supreme in Nashville. 

Cultured on all things country and fully sated by an array of meat and threes (truly, the amount we ate could fill every column of this issue), it was time to wrap up our adventures, only about half of which were detailed above. With a local in our midst, we were able to fully play tourist while also hitting up the hole-in-the-wall joints that exude that Nashville charm and honestly, it was the ideal way to explore the city. 

Whether you’re a country music fan, an enthusiastic eater or simply looking for a new adventure, this Southern city exudes charm and then some. Nashville, until we eat again.

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After a 10-day stay at @WHHospital comedian @jayleno was released. He will receive follow-up care at the Grossman Outpatient Burn Clinic. Clips from a recent comedy gig show that Leno continues to find humor amidst it all.

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