Trip Report: A Long Weekend in Nashville, Part 2

The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee

Author’s Note: Don’t miss out on the first part of our Nashville shenanigans, here!

Once the sun on day 2 started to dip in the Nashville skyline, we decided it was once again time to head out to explore the city. We caught an Uber over to Centennial Park, a gorgeous green space just Northeast of the Vanderbilt campus in the area of midtown. And wow – this park was seriously gorgeous!

The front of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, Nashville.

The front of the Parthenon in Nashville.

Probably the most unique feature at the park was the scale-model of the Parthenon.  And this thing is no joke, size-wise. While we were too late in the day to check out the art gallery and sculptures inside, we did spy another breed of entertainment: Pokemon hunters!

People playing Pokemon Go in Centennial Park in Nashville.

People playing Pokemon Go in Centennial Park in Nashville.

We joined in the fun and caught a Squirtle or two, before our stomachs told us it was time for dinner. Luckily, close by was Hattie B’s, one of Nashville’s famous “hot chicken” establishments. Undeterred by the line wrapping around the block, we joined the crowds and prepared to have our taste buds scalded.

The menu board at Hattie B's Midtown in Nashville

The menu board at Hattie B’s Midtown

The chicken here comes in six levels of hotness, ranging from “Southern” to “Shut The Cluck Up”.  We ended up ordering a 1/2 chicken plus a tender at the “Hot!” level as well as cole slaw, baked beans, and pimento mac and cheese as well.

Chicken and sides at Hattie B's in Nashville

“Hot!” means pretty dang hot, y’all. At Hattie B’s in Nashville.

And the hubby loved it – already somewhat of a fried chicken connoisseur, he proclaimed this one of the best meals he’d eaten in months. (Pretty impressive, considering we ate at a Joel Robuchon restaurant recently…)  As for me…well…let’s just say I might have been better off with “Medium”.

The neon lights of Lower Broadway in Nashville.

The neon lights of Lower Broadway in Nashville.

Once our tummies were full, it was time to quench the burn of that hot chicken with some DRANKS. So we headed off to “Lower Broadway”, aka NashVegas, aka the Bourbon Street of Nashville, aka Tourist Row. The street itself is lined on both sides with multi-level bars and clubs cranking out live music that is roughly 95% country and classic rock cover songs.

A rockabilly band at the Full Moon Saloon on Lower Broadway in Nashville.

A rockabilly band at the Full Moon Saloon on Lower Broadway in Nashville.

The famous Tootsies was probably the most crowded of all the Lower Broadway bars.

The famous Tootsies was probably the most crowded of all the Lower Broadway bars.

Down on Lower Broadway, the cheap drinks are flowing, the bachelorette parties are omnipresent, and the bars are literally packed. We visited a number of bars up and down the row, before finally stumbling back to the hotel around 1am.

The next morning, we were up at a very cruel 11am for our next adventure, a ride on the Tennessee Whiskey Tours.  Once onboard, we visited three local distilleries, partaking of tours and tastings at each stop. Only problem? We never actually got to try any official Tennessee whiskey – all the distilleries we visited were too new.

The H Clark Distillery outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

The H Clark Distillery made White Whiskey, Bourbon, and Gin, but not actual Tennessee Whiskey, which would have required charcoal filtering and barrel aging.

The Nelson Greenbriar Distillery in Nashville.

The Nelson Greenbriar Distillery were in the process of making a Tennessee Whiskey, but it hadn’t finished aging yet.  Instead we tried their white whiskey and cask bourbons.

Nashville Craft Distillery

Our final distillery didn’t make whiskey either. They made a distilled sorghum spirit called Naked Biscuit.

We also visited what the tour guide claimed was “one of the best barbecue spots in Nashville,” which…if that’s true…I feel really sorry for any Nashvillians out there. Y’all come on down to Austin some time, let us show you how that’s actually supposed to be done.

A plate of BBQ from Jack's BBQ in Nashville.

Pork shoulder, mac & cheese, creamed corn, and an assortment of barbecue sauce at Jack ‘s BBQ. I’d give this place like a 3.5 out of 10. Our worst meal in Nashville, for sure.

After completing the whiskey tours, we got cleaned up and presentable for our dinner reservation at Bastion. This restaurant is somewhat new to the Nashville scene, having opened originally as a bar. Now, however, the restaurant functions as a reverse-speakeasy. The main space is a raucous bar in an old warehouse, but make it past a series of hidden doors and rude hostess and you’ll find a posh 24-seat, open-kitchen restaurant, helmed by Chef Josh Habiger of Catbird Seat fame.

The bar space at Bastion, in Nashville.

The bar space at Bastion, where the cocktails flow and the music is loud.

The hidden restaurant area at Bastion, in Nashville.

The hidden restaurant area at Bastion, where everyone has a front row seat on the kitchen.

Here, we were treated to a six-course feast of innovative and meticulously plated dishes. You order from a slip of paper resembling a bingo card, X-ing out the dish you want for each course.  The course descriptions are left intentionally vague so as to “maintain an element of surprise” but highly shareable for a couple looking to explore.

Bastion Courses

Some of our favorites from the meal at Bastion, clockwise from top left: mushrooms and barley in a rosemary broth, raw oysters with a watermelon mignonette, raw beef tartare covered with nasturium leaves with grated gouda, squab with local blueberries, a dessert of gelatos made with chocolate mint and chartreuse, and a custard made of uni with scallops and shiso broth.

When we pointed out the amount of foraged ingredients and flowers topping our first couple courses, we asked the chef (who was mere feet away from us through the entire experience) if he considered his style part of the New Nordic trend.  He chuckled then replied, “Nah, it’s new Nashville.”

Biscuit Love in Nashville

The brunch crowd at Biscuit Love.

The next day, after our fancy-pants dinner, our final day in Nasvhille got underway, and we decided to brave yet another wrap-around-the-block line to try out brunch at Biscuit Love. The shop specialized in — you guessed it — biscuit based dishes.  And since I couldn’t leave Nashville having only tried hot chicken just once, I ordered “The Princess”, a piece of hot chicken on a biscuit, served with honey, dijon mustard, and pickles.  It was a great way to start the day, though the chicken at Hattie B’s pretty much blew this version out of the water.
Hot Chicken Biscuit at Biscuit Love in Nashville
After brunch, we headed out to explore East Nasvhille, and specifically the Five Points Neighborhood.  Apparently Sunday = 2-for-1s in Music City, so we soon found ourselves in a friendly (and surprisingly lively, for a Sunday) bar called the Three Crow Bar. Each drink you ordered came with a token that could then be applied to your next drink; a pretty good system!

We explored the area a bit more, checking out the local shops and galleries, before ultimately stopping in for one final Nashville meal at the much raved about Five Points Pizza. Upon entering, we noticed our waitress was rocking a Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza t-shirt, one of our hometown Austin favorites.  She then divulged that Five Points was based in both concept, style, and even recipes, upon Austin’s Home Slice Pizza.

Garlic knots at Five Points Pizza in Nashville.

Garlic knots at Five Points Pizza. These were indeed very similar to Home Slice.

The "Zeus" pie at Five Points Pizza in Nashville

The “Zeus” pie at Five Points.  Tasty, but not nearly as good as the crispy crusts at Home Slice.

We tried the garlic knots and the “Zeus” pie, but in the end, Austin wins this pizza battle, hands down. Five Points was tasty and filling, but the crust was just too thick and the ingredients didn’t ever seem to meld. Still, even mediocre pizza is pretty good, so with that, we headed off to the airport, likely about 10 lbs heavier than we arrived, after a great weekend in the country music capital of the world.

What are your favorite spots in Nashville? Tell us in the comments!

Whitney