Experience Nashville's Food Scene Like a Native
The Real Nashville
When ABC (then CMT) developed the TV show Nashville, I often found myself having to answer a barrage of questions from my hometown friends. Do you ever go to the Bluebird? Have you seen any stars? Are there really paparazzi?
Not so long ago, the New York Times named Nashville an "it" city. Hundreds of people move to the city every day, and the city has become a prime destination for bachelorette parties and gatherings. There are many sites detailing what you have to see and do here, but you can make sure you get to see the real Nashville with a few tips from the locals!
Where to Eat
Nashville is becoming a culinary destination, with several local chefs reaching the James Beard finals and semi-finals. While I'm a huge fan of Nashville's higher-end restaurant—and recommend checking out one or two if possible on your trip—there are other affordable options that will allow you to experience Nashville like a local, get a great meal, and save a few dollars! Here are a few suggestions:
- Baja Burrito: A Nashville staple, the small Thompson Lane eatery is home to delicious Baja style fare. Build your own burrito, enjoy a taco salad, and make sure to try the fish tacos and barbacoa. The fruit tea is some of the best in the city. Add chips and salsa to your order for a small fee, and make sure to grab a seat on the patio and enjoy the day!
- Gabby's Burgers and Fries: Just want a great burger? Stop by this tiny hidden gem for a cooked to order burger and delicious fries (regular and sweet potato). While the hours can seem a little constricting (most days the restaurant is only open for lunch), the line and cramped quarters are worth it. There are monthly specials, and the shakes are absolutely worth the trip!
- Puckett's Grocery: With several area locations, Puckett's has a lot to offer. The restaurants often offer live music alongside traditional Southern fare and drinks. The fried green tomato BLT is to die for, and the menu often includes seasonal fruit cobblers, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. The breakfast buffet, available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, is a perfect way to kick off the weekend.
- Five Daughters Bakery: If you're in the mood for donuts, this family-run enterprise is a must-visit location. Famous for the 100-layer donut—a flaky delicious cross between donut and croissant—the bakery also offers paleo and gluten-free options. Do yourself a favor and try a 100-layer donut at least once. You won't regret it! (Not in the mood for 100-layer donuts? Be sure to stop by Fox's Donut Den. the Nashville staple serves up traditional yeast donuts and pastries that will leave you wanting more. Make sure to try the apple fritter with a large cup of coffee!)
- The Loveless Cafe: Yes, it makes all the tourist lists, but it really is worth it. From flaky homemade biscuits to the peach preserves that taste like dessert to fried chicken and mashed potatoes, the Loveless serves up Southern home cooking as good as grandma's! The restaurant can get busy, though, and wait times are long. If possible, choose to go in the middle of the week or at an odd time on the weekend.
- Edley's Barbecue: While Memphis may be better known for barbecue, Nashville also has a lot to offer. Enjoy traditional barbecue in a fresh modern setting at Edleys, with daily specials and plenty of menu items to choose from. Be sure to try the macaroni and cheese—and don't pass up the chess pie!
How do you pick a restaurant when you travel?
100 Layer Donuts
The Story Behind Puckett's Grocery
While the eatery now has several Middle Tennessee locations, Puckett's Grocery got its start in a small grocery store in Leiper's Fork, TN. Learn more about the original location in this video.