Monday, June 22, 2015

Eating BIG in Nashville Pt. 2

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- More Southern Eats and Drink in the Music City

Took a ride down to Nashville this past Memorial Day weekend and had a good time. This was my second trip and I will admit that the atmospheres of each trip were very different, the first one being a bachelor party and this most recent one being a trip with the lady. Still the same as far as activities go but aside from a quick stroll down Broadway one afternoon and then a quick drink at a live music venue the next night, we stayed away from the drunken festivities. Nashville is the the bachelorette capitol of the country or at least it seems that way once you get there. There's also tons of construction going on in the building of apartments and hotels. Some people compare it to Austin but other than the live music and fast urban development similarities I never really felt it. I want to go back to Austin but I don't need to go back to Nashville. Unfortunately we didn't get in until Friday afternoon and because Monday was Memorial Day, Arnold's was closed when we pulled up. Major buzzkill yo. I was looking forward to a return visit but it just wasn't meant to be. Check Part One HERE.

What happens in Nashvegas, stays in Nashvegas
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Hattie B's Hot Chicken

First stop was going to have to be the hugely popular Hattie B's. I've heard about it on here and elsewhere and she was told by a work colleague that it was a must and we're both fans of fried chicken so we rolled over upon arrival. Line was out the door but it was a Friday and seeing as how there was only a few people outside we figured this might be the shortest it got that weekend.
Speaking for me and me only, the best hot chicken I've had remains that from Rocky's. Hattie's was a bit of letdown. The wait wasn't worth it and the service came with I don't give a sh!t attitude. By no means was the final product bad but it just didn't have that oomph that places like Rocky's and some other spots I tried this trip did. If this was my first introduction into hot chicken I might be a little bit more enthusiastic about it but I just didn't think it was all that it's been cracked up to be. Definitely social media driven. Good but not great and the sides were the same way. Still, don't stay away, decide for yourself, maybe it was an off day.

Hot Chicken at Hattie B's
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400 Degrees Hot Chicken

Getting right into the question most readers are asking "what was better than Hattie B's" we head over to a random food court that houses a few generic chain restaurants like Quizno's and J. Gumbo's. So looking in from the outside it doesn't seem like there's a damn thing worth your time until you step inside and spy a stand sporting Hot Chicken on it's menu. I heard good things about 400 Degrees and it's owner and neither disappointed. Owner Aqui Hines works most of the magic with the help of another employee in their small space with just two fryers so make sure to order ahead if you're in a hurry. If not you can enjoy the company of Nashville's Hot Chicken Queen.

The Frying Station

As followers of his thread know, when it comes to hot chicken mild is hot and hot is hell. I like heat but I don't want it to hurt anymore than a few seconds afterward nor to takeover the entire flavor profile of a dish. This versions spicing was perfect. The heat may have lasted 10-15 seconds but much like Rocky's I found the flavors to be finger licking good. They do a double spicing technique that includes both the seasoning of the bird before frying and the dipping of it into hot sauce once it comes out of the fryer. The sauce glues itself to the crust and forms magic. The reason I know I liked this one the most was because I wanted it again the next day but unfortunately they're closed on Sunday's.

Hot Chicken (200 Degrees)
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Pepperfire Hot Chicken

This little walk-up shack with a few tables is another locals favorite I wanted to check out. Known for their hot chicken and a signature dish called the 'Royale with Cheese' which is deep fried grilled cheese topped with three hot chicken tenders. I was tempted by the sandwich but a bird with bones will always win out. And win it did. Another excellent option with heavy hits of cumin coming after the heat. I thought it was good enough for second place on this trip.

Hot Chicken at Pepperfire
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Helen's Hot Chicken

Last place finisher of the four was this spot hiding in a strip mall located in a residential area away from the other spots. I guess they have or had a foodstand because I originally went to the address for that location but the lot was empty. The inside of the restaurant would be empty when I stopped in though they were just closing as I was the last customer of the day. The wings were just ok, a little bit greasy and not as crispy as they could have been. They were touting this homemade drink mixing mango juice with sweet tea and it was pretty damn good but must of been filled with sugar.

Hot Chicken and a bottle of Hella Mango from Helen's
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Saint Anejo

We took a walk around an area with lots of buildings going up and came across a stretch where there were quite a few new school bars and restaurants. The outdoor patio and bar at Saint Anejo were packed so we stopped in for a drink which also turned into a bite to eat. I couldn't resist the hot chicken tacos which made for great fusion food. The warm fluffy tortillas were made on site and the crispy hot chicken inside of them was cooked just right. I also enjoyed my Mezcal Old Fashioned and the friendly service of a nice lady from the Quad Cities region.

Hot Chicken Tacos
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Acme Feed & Seed

Good food options on Broadway aren't all that abundant but theres a new place at the end of it called Acme Feed & Seed and they've got some love for bringing the street some food you don't have to be hammered to enjoy. The guy behind it is a well known restauranteur in the area and is making his mark with this spacy three story restaurant with a huge music stage on the first floor and a large deck on top. The hot chicken sandwich was excellent. Butter toasted white bread paired with a crispy and tender hot chicken breast and plenty of pickles. If you have to eat on Broadway street and don't want a fried bologna sandwich I'd head here. It's not life changing but it is comforting.

Hot Chicken Sandwich
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Image Image
Party Fowl - We stopped in here for a drink and I had already put down a couple orders of hot chicken so I just didn't have it in me to try theirs but a snack of boudin balls were good. Drinks sounded just ok but most places were that way so I stuck with beer half the time. I'm becoming a cocktail snob. Haha.
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City House

This relatively new Germantown restaurant provided our best overall experience as far as everything goes. Drinks, food, and the service, were all wonderful. We sat at one of the bars and chatted it up with one of the guys behind it. This was a late nite stop for some cocktails that turned into a pizza eating session as well. The Belly Ham pizza was one of the best wood fired pies I've ate. They even cut it in squares, not that it needed to be. I'd for sure go back here if I ever make it back into town.

Belly Ham Pizza with an Egg added on
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Hermitage Cafe

This diner is an institution that's been feeding Nashville's late night hunger going on 25 years. Its just off Broadway and very popular with the late night crowd as they open for breakfast and lunch on normal diner hours than close and reopen again at 10pm. Foodwise its about what you'd expect. Good greasy stuff to soak up the booze. The burger was fine but the fried bologna sandwich was better.

Cheeseburger and Fried Bologna Sandwich
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Pinewood Social

I liked the looks of this place and really liked what I saw on their site so it was in the books. We stopped in Sunday morning during brunch hours but they have this weird thing where theres a different menu for the outside area. So we just sat at the main bar. The place is located in what seems to be an old warehouse district so the size of the space is huge. They got a coffee shop, a bar, a bowling alley, tons of tables as well as lounge areas and the aforementioned outdoor patios. Both the food and drinks did not disappoint. I really liked the breakfast tacos made with bacon and green chile stew with pork and thought the drinks were good enough to go back to if they were in Chicago, a city loaded with worthy options. The service and overall attitude of the bartenders was also excellent.

 
Breakfast Tacos
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Epice

Taking a quick break from Southern Eats we went to this popular bistro sporting a modern Lebanese menu. Located in a very nice part of the city it's lined up with all sorts of other little bars, restaurants and boutique shops. The lunch menu sported a variety of sandwiches and we tried the 'Samak' which was a fresh grilled fish filet and also the 'Makanik' which was made with spiced ground sirloin sausage mixed with a pomegranate molasses. I'm usually not a big fan of most fruit mixed meat but this was an addictive sandwich. The fish was also pleasant and both came with a side of salad and cilantro roasted potatoes. Good spot.

Samak Sandwich

Makanik Sandwich
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Nashville Farmers Market - I must say the Farmers Market was below average at best, they just switched to growers only but the best thing going was the peaches from the popular Georgia Peach Truck. Maybe it's all downhill when you're a frequent summertime shopper at the Dane County Farmers Market because I've been to the supposedly good ones in farm friendly cities like Austin, Asheville, San Francisco and none have matched Madison.
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I should mention a few things about the drinks, it's one of the main reasons people visit the town. If you want more than a Budweiser in a plastic cup you don't have to look to far. The best Happy Hour as far as beer goes can be found at The Sutler Saloon. It's everyday and drafts are just $2.50 and they have all the good local micro-brewed stuff for you to choose from. They got cocktails too. I liked the beers I was trying around town from Jackalope Brewing enough to visit the brewery for a cold one, it's right next door to Party Fowl. Nice 1-2 punch.

Jackalope Brewing Company

This time around I much preferred the drinks at Patterson House to Holland House, the former being one of the better bars in the country. We also went to the popular cocktail bar called Bar No. 308 and enjoyed it although it was packed and the bartenders were stressed because of it. Embers Ski Lodge was recently opened and it's supposed to be a Northwest style cocktail bar that focuses on Asian eats. We didn't eat but the cocktails on the patio were pretty good but nothing to get extremely excited about. Then again we all have the type of drinks we like so it's best to see for yourself.

Embers Ski Lodge
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Thunderbird

I stopped into Craft Brewed Bottle Shop and Tasting Room to buy some six packs to take home and came across this food truck slanging smoked chicken wings outside. It was a welcome break from the hot chicken. Perfect with an ice cold beer.

Smoked Wings
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Dino's Bar

Dino's touts itself as "Nashville's Oldest Dive Bar" and I can verify the dive bar part. Located next door to Bar No. 308 I was intrigued by the sign and then when I saw the interior and the flattop grill sitting right there I knew where I was eating before we headed back to the hotel. They're loved for their cheap ice cold beer, delicious burgers and also some live music. It's a dump in every sense of the definition but the hipsters made those cool so it's all good in the hood. That said the hipsters know a good burger because this one was every bit as good as any I've had of late. It was simple, but it was fresh beef cooked until just juicy and it hit really the spot right then and there.

Cheeseburger
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Biscuit Love

We wanted to stop into here on Sunday but the line was too long to wait it out. Expect one should you go because we went back Monday before leaving town and there was still a line. However there is a first come first serve policy at the bar and we went on in and waited for all of 1 minute before two seats became available. I'd be doing the guy behind the bar from Alabama a favor by not calling him out. Apparently he thought it was still 1942 or something and while not saying anything directly he made it clear he didn't want us there. Nice as could be to the everyone else sitting there but nothing except one word here or there to us. However the rest of the house was pleasant and he was tipped accordingly. It took quite a bit of restraint to keep my mouth shut.

Bonuts Deep Fried Biscuit Dough filled with Blueberry Compote

The bonuts were good but I wasn't ecstatic over them, then again I'm not a big morning sweets guy. But I thought they'd be both a little hotter and also softer. I got the Biscuits with Country Ham and Sausage Gravy and it was satisfying although I'm not sure I'd say the same if I waited an hour for it.

Biscuits with Country Ham and Sausage Gravy
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Husk

Had to do a dinner at Husk as thats the spot she wanted to try, and I certainly wasn't opposed. Good thing because otherwise I would've missed out on an excellent meal and maybe my two favorite bites of this trip, along with the hot chicken from 400 Degrees anyway. The patio was an option and it was beautiful outside so we rolled with that. The cocktails here were almost as good as the food, as was the service.I;d heard mixed reviews before going in, but we were off to a good start.

Country Ham Sliders

I don't have to say anything about the sliders featuring Cheerwine Glazed Belly Ham, Pickled Onion, Cucumber, Smoked Duke's Mayo, and a House Fried Rind on a Homemade Parker House Roll except that you cant get much more Southern than that. I've never been to Charleston but the shrimp and grits here were so good we had to order another round, fitting since Husk has a location there. The waiter explained the grits are made by some local guy and they're the best in the business. When mixed with mushrooms, a runny egg and whatever other magic they put into this dish it was an item that just might make into my 'best of' list at years end. See ya next time.

Shrimp and Grits
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Hattie B's Hot Chicken
112 19th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 678-4794

400 Degrees Hot Chicken
319 Peabody St
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 244-4467

Pepperfire Hot Chicken
2821 Gallatin Pike
Nashville, TN 37216
(615) 582-4824

Helen's Hot Chicken
1222 Rosa L Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208
(615) 484-7460

Saint Anejo
1120 McGavock St
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 736-5301

Acme Feed & Seed
101 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37201
(615) 915-0888

Party Fowl
719 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 624-8255

City House
1222 4th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 736-5838

Hermitage Cafe
71 Hermitage Ave
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 254-8871

Pinewood Social
33 Peabody St
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 751-8111

Epice
2902 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 720-6765

Nashville Farmers Market
900 Rosa L Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208
(615) 880-2001

Jackalope Brewing Company
701 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 873-4313

Embers Ski Lodge
2410 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 866-5652

Thunderbird
2502 Franklin Pike
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 601-2750

Dino's Bar
411 Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 226-3566

Biscuit Love
316 11th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 490-9584

Husk
37 Rutledge St
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 256-6565

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