Nashville – the Austin Expansion Pack. Honestly, though, Brian and I had an awesome time wandering around Nashville. We didn’t plan any part of this trip, other than our Airbnb, ahead of time. What we did have handy was a well-crafted list on Yelp of cool looking Nashville eateries. Armed with our Yelp bookmarks and recommendations from our many Uber drivers, Brian and I proceeded to eat our way through Nashville, seeing some pretty awesome sites along the way. I’ve got you covered for the must-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, dessert, and late-night Nashville spots.
Pancake Pantry has a line out the door and around the block! Located in the Hillsboro Village neighborhood since 1961, they open at 6am each morning to serve up some wonderful diner delights. The line was around the corner of the building and halfway down the block when we arrived. It took about 40 minutes for us to be seated. The good news is, once you are seated, the rest of the dining experience moves very quickly.
This was a common trend we noticed in Nashville. Most of the popular places had lines out the door, but once you actually sit down, there was no more waiting.
I ordered the sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon cream. It’s a menu item they’re known for, but I’d actually recommend the regular pancakes. They were much more fluffy and had a strong buttermilk taste (which I absolutely loved). Brian had the country ham which was NO JOKE. It took up his whole entire plate. It was pretty salty, so keep that in mind. Overall, I really liked Pancake Pantry because it’s your typical diner and I really like places like that.
Biscuit Love is another popular Nashville breakfast joint. We went to their Gulch location in the southern part of downtown. Again, we had to wait outside for about 40 minutes, but once we were seated we were quickly served. Inside is the iconic “Nashville” sign you see all over Instagram.
We opted for a seat at the bar to skip some of the line. It was totally worth it! The bar isn’t always a nice place to sit, but for two people, Biscuit Love’s bar is perfect. If you only have one morning you can spend waiting in line, chose Biscuit Love over Pancake Pantry. Both are delicious, but Biscuit Love is more unique.
Their breakfast is split into two parts – food with a biscuit and food without a biscuit. Obviously, I had to order something with a biscuit. We started with their “Bonuts” – fried biscuit dough topped with lemon mascarpone, served over blueberry compote. Absolutely delicious. Just know that you’re going to start your day with a sugar high! I also got their biscuit and sausage gravy. I wasn’t able to finish the whole thing, but MAN it was good. Also, the little kale salad on the side was surprisingly good.
Lunch and Dinner
Two Ten Jack is in a small strip of cool restaurants and shops in East Nashville. Our Airbnb was right around the corner, so on the evening we arrived, we decided to check it out. The ramen place is pretty small. If you’re a party of 5 or more, I’d recommend a reservation. The bar seating was also good here. I’d say most of the seats are bar seats! With East Nashville becoming cooler and cooler, I assume most people will be staying in the area. If you’re wanting ramen, Two Ten Jack is a good hit.
Now to the famous Nashville hot chicken! We visited Hattie B’s Hot Chicken on 19th Ave. (their Broadway location) for lunch on our last day. We waited over an hour in line, if you can believe that! I’ve heard their other locations are not as crowded as their Broadway one, but that’s what part of town we were in. Seating is also a bit tricky since you just get a number when you order and then you have to find your own seat. What’s hard is that some people sit down ahead of time and reserve spots before they actually order (rude…). We were able to find a spot and then moved halfway through our meal to a better location that wasn’t in the sun. The food was tasty and simple! It’s basically a fried, spicy chicken sandwich, but everyone is going to ask you, “Did you go to Hattie B’s?!” so you might as well check it off your Nashville bucket list!
One of our Uber drivers highly recommended Martin’s BBQ Joint. We are always down for some good BBQ, so we checked it out. The line wasn’t too bad when we arrived, but it was pretty long by the time we left. Martins BBQ Joint has a huge space with plenty of seating at long, community tables. I got their pulled pork sandwich and loved it! It wasn’t sweet, which is how I like my pulled pork. If the need for BBQ strikes, make it Martin’s!
If you are craving a pizza and beer, Five Points Pizza is perfect. Large salad, pizza by the slice, and HUGE garlic knots. Happy hour is a slice of pizza (which comes on two paper plates because it’s so big) and a draft beer (of which they have many) for $8. We were so hungry and the pizza and garlic knots were so good, I didn’t even get any photos! We visited their location in East Nashville – right around the corner from the East Nashville mural.
Speaking of murals, Nashville has a ton of amazing street art. Let the Instagramer in you go wild!
Coffee and Dessert
In the same strip as Two Ten Jack is Ugly Mugs. The coffee shop really represents Nashville locals by selling art, hosting musicians, and sourcing their baked goods all from local artisans. They also have a lavender latte! Their comfy couches and ample plugs really encourage you to stay a while.
I first discovered Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Washington DC and became an instant fan. While it can be quite a popular spot, there was no line at their 12 South location. If you visit, be sure to take advantage of the samples – they have lots of unique flavors and encourage you to try them. I decided on wildberry lavender and coffee. Jeni’s follows what they call the “Fellowship Model,” creating relationships with growers, makers, producers, suppliers, and customers to create the best product.
In a converted car garage, Barista Parlor is a super hip space. The baristas are busy making pour overs with single origin coffee in trendy, canvas aprons with leather straps. There’s definitely a hipster ‘makers’ feeling to the coffee shop.
While their location in Germantown wasn’t crowded, I’ve heard their other locations can get pretty busy. I’d maybe recommend visiting when you need that afternoon cup of coffee, not that quick hit in the morning.
While wandering downtown, I saw so many people with these cute little “Goo Goo” bags. I did a quick google search and realized “Goo Goo” is a Nashville candy! I had to have some. Located right across from the Johnny Cash museum, Goo Goo Cluster is a must-visit. The shop doesn’t just sell the delicious chocolate, caramel, marshmallow, peanut clusters, but offers a history of the candy as well. You can take fun photos at their Goo Goo backdrop, watch candy makers make the delicious clusters, order all kind of sweet treats from their dessert bar, and take chocolate classes. We bought a few boxes to take with us but ended up eating most of them throughout the day and on the plane ride home.
On our way out of town, we drove by Five Daughters’ Bakery. Located on 12 South, this cute little house sells the TASTIEST donuts. A family-owned business, owners Isaac and Stephanie Meek actually have five little daughters.
Their “100 Layer Donut” is Five Daughters’ version of the cronut – a croissant/donut hybrid. I snagged one of those along with three other donuts.
If you need a strong drink, hit up Acme. This four-story converted feed and seed warehouse offers some amazing bars and a sushi restaurant. Brian and I had drinks (and ate some Goo Goo Clusters) at the 1st-floor bar and listened to their live music. We would have gone to their 4th-floor rooftop bar, but it was raining that day. I had a Mill Creek Lil Dandy from the Tennessee Mill Creek Brewing Company. It was a delicious beer!
If you’re exploring downtown Broadway Street and want some true Nashville flavor, Nudies Honky Tonk is the bar for you. The music is great and they have a second bar on the rooftop. The rooftop views at Nudies are wonderful! You can look out on the downtown strip of bars and get some really great photos. Don’t miss the longest bar in Nashville (over 100 feet!) and the Cadillac that hangs on the wall. This place has… character… that’s for sure.
If bars aren’t really your late night scene, The Soda Parlor in East Nashville. You can get ice cream floats and play their free-play arcade games, including a super awesome NES Mini upstairs. Brian and I got some dessert, parked ourselves in front of the NES Mini, and played Mario for a good chunk of time. It was a really fun, wonderful find – especially if you have kids!
There you have it – breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, dessert, and late night in the Music City. Have you been to Nashville? What were some of your favorite places to visit?
If you liked this travel post, check out my New York City in Five Days itinerary!