We are less than three days from kickoff of UK/Western, which means a good number of you are headed to my fair city very soon. Back in March, I gave myself a crash course in flowcharts and created two in-depth guides to Nashville eating and drinking. I’ve updated those with my latest favorites in Music City. Click on each restaurant/bar name to go to their website. As a general disclaimer, yes, I realize there are tons of restaurants in Nashville, but these are my favorites. If yours isn’t on the list, don’t be offended. Just add it in the comments section.
* Be sure to read Yelp! reviews for hints on Sam’s Sushi Bar etiquette. I wish I were joking, but I promise it’s worth it.
Five Off-The-Beaten-Path Places to Try
Tenn-Sixteen is a new Cajun restaurant in East Nashville, a very hip neighborhood about a mile from downtown. And I do mean hip–the East Side is home to Nashville’s “hipster” population, but before you roll your eyes, it’s also home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Tenn-Sixteen is in Five Points, the epicenter of the neighborhood, and has awesome food, along with tons of TVs and a very impressive tap list. FYI, it’s one of the few smoke-free bars in Nashville, and because of that, no children are allowed after 4:30 p.m., which would make it one of Matt’s favorite restaurants if he were in town.
Tavern is the sports bar that Ron Burgandy would go to if he existed in real life. It’s dark, masculine, full of giant televisions, and vaguely smells of rich mahogany…and delicious food. It ain’t the cheapest place on the block, but there are few sports bars in town with this level of food. Try the Sweet Potato Chips with the Bleu Cheese Fondue…I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Two Boots Pizza is an NYC-based Cajun/Italian pizzeria that recently opened in Midtown. They specialize in crazy pizza combinations, and their local special is “The Kitty,” honoring country legend Kitty Wells; it’s topped with hot chicken supplied by Midtown neighbor Hattie B’s, blue cheese dressing and jalapenos on a white pie. More on that hot chicken later…
Want to go out for a fancy meal Friday night? Try Rolf and Daughters, which was just named Bon Apetite’s third best new restaurant in America. It’s in Germantown, an up-and-coming neighborhood a mile north of downtown. Along with City House (also in Germantown), it’s considered the best Italian restaurant in the city.
Edley’s BBQ (East or West)
Edley’s is a local BBQ chain that is actually pretty decent. The East location is really nice and very close to downtown, with a great patio that would be lovely if it weren’t supposed to be 95 degrees this weekend. Regardless, if you feel like getting out of downtown for some BBQ, it’s a solid choice.
Four Things To Know
You can’t park at LP Field unless you have a pass: Fortunately, passes are still for sale at the LP Field ticket office for $20, so if you want to be as close to the stadium as you can be, you’re in luck. For those of you tailgating, lots open at 12 p.m. central, which yes, I agree, is not early enough.
There are also several pay lots around the stadium ranging from $5-$10, and a public garage next to the Courthouse where you can park for $3 at night and on weekends. It’s an easy walk across the river to LP Field.
Don’t bring a big purse to the game: LP Field now goes by the NFL’s new safety policy, which means women can’t bring in any purses larger than their hand (seriously). You are allowed to bring your belongings in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag, or a clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag that does not exceed 12″ by 6″ and 12″. To avoid all of this, wear something with pockets and leave the big purse in the car until after the game.
Alcohol WILL be sold at the game — Since this is a Western home game, alcohol will be sold to all those with a valid ID. Drink responsibly and pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and ain’t no shame in drinking water between your adult beverages.
You can still smoke in Nashville bars: And it is still disgusting. That makes Music City one of the last places in America you can smoke indoors, along with New Orleans and casinos. (I have a theory that the people who invented Febreeze are behind all of this.) Fortunately, some honky tonks and bars downtown have gone smoke-free, including Tootsie’s and Robert’s Western World.
Three Sure Bets Near the Stadium
Broadway Brewhouse: Plenty of TVs, beers, and decent bar food. One of the best places to watch a game downtown, aside from Bailey’s, which has seen better days. Do as I do and sit in the window and randomly high five people as they walk by while drinking a Bushwhacker.
Puckett’s Grocery: Family friendly, good down home southern cooking. Awesome breakfast, live music at night.
Riverfront Tavern: Great sandwiches, not super touristy. Lots of TVs and a good beer list.
Two Nashville specialties
Hot Chicken — If there is one thing you do in Nashville besides watch the game, let it be hot chicken. Hot chicken is a Nashville staple. What is it? Essentially, really really really spicy fried chicken, thanks to the cayenne pepper and other spices added to the buttermilk before frying. People swear by it here and the best place to get it is Prince’s Hot Chicken, which, in full disclosure, is in a sketchy part of town. If you’re not up for the risk, here are some other hot chicken haunts:
Whichever place you choose, keep in mind that hot chicken can come back to bite you the next day…if you know what I mean. Pack the Pepto.
Fireball — For one reason or another, Nashville has become the home of the cinnamon whiskey, which is actually made
in Louisiana at Buffalo Trace. “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere said that she became a Fireball fan after moving to Music City, where it is pretty much the shot of choice. As Kentuckians, nothing beats bourbon, but if you want to make terrible decisions live it up on Labor Day, do as the Nashvillians do. And buy Kristen Geil a shot while you’re at it.
This seems like a great time to remind you that KSR always wants you to drink responsibly.
One can’t-miss event
The Tin Roof “Bluegrass Takeover” event the night before the game. We’ve publicized it a lot on the site, but it really will be the place to be the night before the game. The college football kickoff party will feature music from 64 West (they’re UK fans, too) and the crowd will be dominated by Cats fans, including myself, Mr. TT, Aaron Flener, Kristen Geil, Nick Roush and other KSR celebrities. Tin Roof is located at 1516 Demonbreun Street, a $7.50 cab ride from Broadway (according to Drew), near Vanderbilt’s campus.
See you guys soon.