To take advantage of the long, holiday weekend, my sister and I packed our bags for a quick jaunt to Nashville. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to adore the city as much as I did. We picked it purely on proximity (it’s only 5 1/2 hours away), and the fact we’d never been there. Now that we have, I wish I had gone sooner! This is an eclectic city with so much to offer.
After checking into the hotel, we were eager to begin our whirlwind through the city. We started at the most logical place: Arnold’s Country Kitchen.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Don’t be fooled by the cafeteria setting, this is a James Beard awarded institution. The line was nearly out the door, but we didn’t have to wait long. The concept of Arnold’s is you pick your meat from the options on the board (varies by day), your sides, and whatever breads and desserts strike your fancy. If you’re a vegetarian, there’s also a four sides meal. Don’t let the meat scare you away!
I opted for the roast beef, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. Sister (let’s just call her Becker), wanted meatloaf, but they were sold out. She ended up with a copycat of my meal plus cornbread–lucky her, it was insanely delicious. I wasn’t aware of the concept of “meat and three” (or two in my case) before this trip, but now that I am, Columbus really needs to get with it.
After scraping our plates clean, we hopped into the car to visit the top item on my Nashville to-do list: Third Man Records.
Jack White is to record stores as Willy Wonky is to chocolate factories. This was easily the most whimsical music store I’ve ever stepped in. Though it was small, every corner was crammed with something interesting, including the infamous recording booth:
And this number in a display case:
Attached to the store is a narrow hallway that separates the retail area from Jack’s studio (I like how I act like we’re on a first-name basis here). Becker and I like to think he was on the other end of that door working.
For any White Stripes/Jack White and music fans, Third Man is an absolute must. You know what else is a must? Oh, just being transported to ancient Greece:
The Parthenon in Nashville is so very random, but it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. The surrounding park is free, but for a mere $6, you can go inside this full-size replica and check out some art. The main attraction is the gargantuan Athena statue inside.
After much wandering and photo ops, we were hot, tired, and ready for the pool. But first, we made a genius detour:
Becker said it best when she called Las Paletas the Jeni’s of popsicles. Enter the store and you are faced with choosing between the traditional to more unusual flavors like hibiscus and creamed corn. We weren’t feeling anything too crazy–I had strawberry and she picked watermelon. Both contained chunks of real, fresh fruit, and were so refreshing and tasty. Honestly, this is a must if you find yourself in Nashville.
Before retreating to the hotel, we made one last stop at Local Honey, a vintage shop in the Belmont/Hilsboro area. All of the pieces are carefully curated, and we found so many random treasures. Bonus: If you need your hair did, there’s a hair shop right upstairs.
Sister walked away with a lovely crochet top, and we hightailed it straight to the pool. After some much-needed lounging, we got a second wind for dinner. Everyone insists you try hot chicken when you visit Nashville, and we read so many wonderful things about Hattie B’s that our plans were pretty much made for us.
We had some parking drama, but once we found a spot, we jumped at the end of a long line and waited. And waited. Aaand waited.
An hour later, we were tearing into the spiciest, most succulent chicken we’ve ever had. WORTH WAITING FOR. What sets hot chicken apart is not only the spice in the breading, but the spices rubbed directly onto the chicken. Between hot chicken, meat and three, and gourmet popsicles, I’m willing to declare Nashville my current favorite food scene. Luckily, with HCT in Columbus, my hot chicken cravings will be satiated.
I needed some ice cream to offset all of the spice, so I dragged poor, sleepy Becker to Pied Piper Creamery for a nightcap.
The Oatmeal Raisin in the Sun was a DELIGHT. Cinnamon ice cream with chunks of soft, oatmeal raisin cookie was just what I needed before falling into a food-induced coma. Luckily, we had another 24 hours to consume all of Nashville. More on that later! (Pt. II lives here).