Nashville restaurants and honkytonks, from a Northener’s perspective
A few weeks ago, I went to Nashville, Tennessee for the first time, for Yelp Elite Spring Break, which you can read about here. I had a fantastic time, but what I want to talk about here is the food!
I am a foodie at heart, and Nashville definitely has some good eats. Although I didn’t get to go everywhere I wanted to, here’s a rundown of some of the cool places we were able to check out while there.
1. Jackalope Brewing Company, 701 8th Avenue South
We went here for one of our first Yelp events, Hot Chicken and Waffles Drunch (“Drunch” rather than “Brunch” because beer was included). The chicken and waffles were from Hattie B’s – Jackalope doesn’t actually sell them.
First off, I am not a beer person. However, I did mostly enjoy the beer I had at Jackalope – it was some sort of strawberry fruity beer, and it did actually have a fruit taste (major pet peeve about beers: they don’t taste like they sound. Beware of beers that sound great but aren’t, like chocolate beers or beers with “refreshing fruit tastes”!). Jackalope is also connected to Zolli-Koffee next door (they share a seating area) and I had a great homemade chai iced tea (about $4) there before the event.
2. Honkytonks: Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge, Lonnie’s Western Room (karaoke), and Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar.
I went to all of these as part of “UYEs” (Unofficial Yelp Events) and had a great time! Robert’s and Tootsie’s are honkytonks, where there is always a lineup of great bands playing at any time of day. Something I didn’t know until after I left the honkytonks was that the venues don’t pay them to play there – they only make whatever tips they get from the night. So when you see a hat or jar being passed around the room, try to contribute if you can! Most honkytonks don’t have a cover charge, either.
Robert’s and Tootsie’s had some great music acts when we were there. Lonnie’s is super small and more of a “dive bar,” but has some great karaoke, and it’s located in a section of town called Printer’s Alley, which harkens back to Nashville’s past as a printing hub. Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar is also located here, and we went there after Lonnie’s – imagine my surprise to find a New Orleans-themed bar in Nashville!
3. M Restaurant and Bar, 209 10th Ave. S., Ste. 223
We came here for another UYE on Saturday morning after a Segway tour, and were pleasantly surprised to see 20+ Yelpers here for brunch. I decided to give Nashville’s famous “hot chicken and waffles” dish another try, even though I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, and I liked M’s version better than Hattie B’s (consumed at Jackalope).
The chicken came on top of a rosemary waffle, which was delicious, and some sweet pickles. The chicken was again too hot for me, but if you like spicy foods, you would like this dish. The interior of the restaurant was very nice, as well, and it made for a great Saturday brunch place.
4. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, two locations: 1892 Eastland Ave., 2312 12th Ave. South
If you can only pick one restaurant/venue on this list to go to, go to Jeni’s. The ice cream is some of the best I’ve had in my life, and I have had a lot of ice cream in my life! We have a place in Michigan called Guernsey’s, that makes their ice cream fresh on-site, and I think this even topped that place, mainly because of the unique flavors and the ingredients. According to Jeni’s website, they “build [their] ice creams from the ground up with milk from grass-grazed cows and whole ingredients that we blend, bake, peel, chop, skin, pulverize, and blowtorch ourselves; [they] use no flavorings, chemical dyes, or off-the-shelf ice cream mixes.”
I will say that Jeni’s is rather expensive, but it’s worth going to at least once, and quality-wise, you definitely get what you pay for. I got three small scoops of ice cream, which normally would be $6, but Yelp had a deal for us: The Buckeye, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, and Roxbury Road (like a Rocky Road). They were all fantastic but my favorite was the Almond Brittle, it tasted like a fancy Butter Pecan.
5. Tavern, 1904 Broadway
Tavern is almost like a gastropub, in that it’s a bar that’s very upscale and has an interesting and vast menu. It’s known for its burgers, which the waitress also recommended, so I got that paired with melted white cheddar cheese and their Tennessee sweet potato fries (sweet potato, brown sugar, sea salt, and Jalapeno ketchup). The burger is made out of beef ribeye & filet, and is served on a “meltaway bun.”
6. Monell’s at the Manor: 1400 Murfreesboro Pike (2nd location in Germantown: 1235 6th Ave. N.)
We wanted to try out Monell’s on our first night in Nashville, with a blogger friend of mine, but certain (awesome) plans got in the way, so instead we went on our last day of vacation. The location we went to is by the airport and is called Monell’s at the Manor, but we also walked by a second location in Germantown, a smaller, more cafe-like restaurant.
I was expecting a Mrs. Wilkes-esque experience (Savannah, GA restaurant), since I knew it was “family-style” dining, but since we went the day after Mother’s Day, on a Monday around lunchtime, it was quite empty. There was one other couple at our table but they quickly ate and left, so we didn’t get to interact much with them … which meant more food for us, as you can see in the photos above!
My favorite dishes were the fried chicken (though it could have used a dash more salt), the mashed potatoes, the apples with cinnamon, and the peach pie for dessert. When you arrive at your table, the peach pie and beverages (water, sweet tea, and punch) are already present, and the staff then brings out the food courses as you start eating. I’d definitely recommend Monell’s for anyone who is a fan of Southern food, and there’s a lot to choose from here.
I hope this list proves to be a good starter guide for anyone who is planning on visiting Nashville. Let me know if you end up trying any of these great neighborhood gems!
Written by: Liz Parker