Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nashville: The Food

Skipping over the music, the attractions, and the fun of Nashville, the part of our trip that I seriously can't stop thinking about is the EATS! Possibly unsurprising if you really know me... I do love my food.

We were on a mission to eat deliciously while we traveled, and boy, did we. Take a look!

Rippy's Bar and Grill
We saw Rippy's on Wednesday night when we got into town, and C immediately requested that we eat there. We ended up at a different place for dinner that night, but made our way to Rippy's for lunch on Thursday. I am SO GLAD we did! We ventured to their open-air, upstairs seating area, and enjoyed watching a torrential downpour (common theme during our whole trip) while we ate.

The BBQ at this place was phenomenal - I had a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, and loved every bite. The meat was smoky and tender, and by adding both the sweet and spicy sauces that were offered on the table, got the perfect sauce combination. The coleslaw was cold and creamy, and I piled it right into my sandwich. Yum! We also drank some yummy local beers. C really liked the Lynchburg Lager, but I preferred the Yazoo beers. Rippy's was also the scene of my first-ever fried pickles! Adored them. Served with a side of Ranch, they were tangy and piping hot. I just would have liked them in slices, rather than spears - we had to wait a long time for them to cool!

Loved this sign - so funny!

Merchant's is where we ended up having dinner on Wednesday night, and I'm so glad we did - the food was delicious! My mom had a vague memory of a restaurant she'd eaten at and loved when she was in Nashville before, but she couldn't remember the name of it. When we walked past this restaurant, she immediately remembered, and in we went. Good call, Mom!

The restaurant is built in the old Merchant's hotel, which opened in 1892. The history of the building is just as amazing as the food that they're serving up - I loved both aspects. There's an upstairs and a downstairs at Merchant's: upstairs is "fine dining," and downstairs is casual. We went with casual, and after a short wait, were shown to a booth with a great view of the nightlife on Broadway. We ordered four different dishes, and each one was a hit.

Half of my Grilled Salmon BLT, half of mom's Portobello Burger, and Sweet Potato Fries
Dad's Grilled Cheese (amazing) and Tomato Bisque (amazing-er)
C's Steak Frites with homemade steak sauce
Mom and I stuck with tradition and ordered Tennessee Mojitos from the drink menu - made with peach rum!

C & I found Chuy's, a Tex-Mex chain that we'd never heard of, while we were exploring the commercial/mall area around the Grand Ole Opry. We had some time to kill before our tour started, I was hungry, Mexican sounded delicious... in we went for "drinks and an appetizer" (or so we thought). A couple of Corona Lights, a basket of warm, homemade chips, a HUGE platter of nachos, and a bowl of chile con queso later, we were absolutely stuffed. There was a hatch chile salsa that was highly recommended when I checked in on FourSquare (that's Mayor Lindsay, of everything), so I special ordered that and greatly enjoyed it on the nachos. The truly bright spot of the meal, though, was the fresh pico de gallo that was brought out when we sat down. While this was just the "salsa" of the usual chips and salsa, I couldn't stop eating it! Fresh tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and cilantro, all mixed together, served cold - I practically licked the bowl clean. Lucky for me, C doesn't like tomatoes, and I got it all to myself!

Sicilian Pizza & Pasta
No pictures on this one - but needed to mention it! C and I had our Mexican feast on Friday afternoon, and then went to the bars later. We sort of forgot that the bars don't serve food, and were enjoying the music and beers too much to ever go find dinner. Hence, we were in serious need of something by the time we got back to the hotel. The front desk recommended Sicilian Pizza & Pasta and handed over a menu. We ordered pizza (his and hers halves, of course) and had it delivered straight to the room. Maybe it was the drunk in me speaking, but this pizza was SO GOOD. Loaded with cheese and toppings (ham and pineapple on my half, thank you), sweet but tangy tomato sauce, and a really nice, chewy crust.... it hit the spot, and made a great breakfast the next morning!
This place... I have no words. Stumbled upon it somewhere (Knoxville, apparently, according to the website) while we were driving to Blacksburg and searching out a Dunkin' Donuts for coffee. Never got the coffee - instead, kick-a$s tacos. Behold:

Why yes, those are fresh, piping hot, homemade, thick corn tortillas, made-to-order when I requested them, and tacos filled with every scrumptious topping one desires. No paying extra for guac here! (Chipotle drives me crazy for that. Just give me the guac!) I think this may have actually been taco heaven. Really.
Other Nashville Eats...
  • Breakfast was courtesy of the Holiday Inn Express we stayed at, which we booked purposefully because it was right on Broadway and offered free continental breakfast. Hotel breakfasts can be disappointing - cold bagels, cereal, and toast, or whatever - but this one surpassed any I've ever seen! We were pleasantly surprised. Biscuits and gravy, a pancake machine, scrambled eggs, skim milk, whole fruit, low-fat yogurt, bagels, muffins, toast... there was something for everyone! It was a great way to start each day, and save a little money by not eating out. Success!
  • Made the requisite stop at Cracker Barrel on the way down (because what's a car trip without Cracker Barrel?!) - don't worry, I made sure to photograph the remnants of my hash brown casserole and send that to my sister. She was jealous. It was delicious.
  • Can't forget road-trip snacks necessities - gotta make it through that 11 hour car ride!


I think we could have spent two weeks in Nashville doing nothing but eat, and still not hit all the great spots. I would go back for the food alone! There were tons of places recommended to us that we just couldn't get to. Don't worry, we will go back. And eat our way through town again. Happily!

Any places you love in Nashville that we missed? Tell me about them, and we will add them to the list for next time!

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