It’s been ages since I was last in Nashville, Tennessee and I was excited to have a couple of days to explore the city. I visited in late January, so it was a little colder than I’d like, but the cold also meant fewer tourists, which worked in my favor into getting into restaurants, bars, and museums in record time.
Holston House was the hotel I picked, due mainly to the fact that it was brand new and it’s a Hyatt hotel for points (in the Hyatt Unbound Collection), and close to all of the action in the heart of downtown. The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful! I didn’t take advantage of the amenities or food inside of the hotel, but the lobby and lounging areas were well-decorated and the people I had interactions with were helpful. I was even able to check in 5 hours ahead of time without any issues.
My room was spacious, modern, clean and had a spectacular view. The big problem I had was with construction noise keeping me up all night – a problem that is hopefully remedied on its own since the hotel can’t do much about it.
For a full recap of my hotel stay, see my review on Yelp.
The first full meal experience I had in Nashville was dinner at Pinewood Social. It features a very large dining and bar area and included a space in the back with a bowling alley.
The first thing ordered was the chips and French dip as an appetizer. As a lover of French dip, I was happy with that choice to nibble on while my group waited for the rest of the party to arrive. We also started with drinks and I went for “An Improved Whiskey Sour”.
For my main dish here I chose the Shaved Brussels salad and Pork Spare Ribs – a little bit of a strange combination but it was delicious! They had some tempting desserts on the menu as well, but I was too full after apps and dinner to order anything else.
The second experience was a dinner at Etch. I was lured here after being told they had amazing catfish, but sadly, that was only offered during lunch. For dinner, we started with some wine (prosecco for me) and Roasted Cauliflower appetizer. The truffled pea pesto that accompanied the cauliflower was incredible, as well as the red bell essence.
For my main dish, I ordered the Veal and Shiitake Meatballs, which also came with cauliflower, but this time it was in a fried cake form, that had a totally different taste than the appetizer. I enjoyed both the meatballs and side dish thoroughly.
Dessert was the Apple Phyllo Tart, though I did get to try the Olive Oil Almond Cake and Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse desserts that my tablemates ordered. Of the three desserts, I think I’d order the Almond Cake if I ever came back again – the apple tart wasn’t sweet enough for my taste and the Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse was a little too rich. If you’re a dark chocolate lover visiting here, definitely go for the Mousse.
My only breakfast experience in Nashville was at Biscuit Love, and after one visit, I think it’s worth coming back to on a return trip. The table ordered the bonuts to share while waiting for the rest of our order, and those things were worth a trip in and of themselves! They are balls of biscuit dough sweetened & fried up like doughnuts, with a lemon cream filling in the center and blackberries on the side. My only regret with that dish is sharing, and not ordering a whole order for myself!
We also ordered coffees – I ended up getting my old standby, a cappuccino.
My main dish was the Nasty Princess, which features a biscuit with hot chicken smothered in gravy, with the option of a fried egg on top, which I didn’t get. The chicken was incredibly flavorful and the gravy & biscuit just added a little bit extra to the experience of eating it. The portion size was ridiculous for breakfast! I finished maybe half of the sandwich.
I stopped at Milk & Honey literally two hours after an enormous breakfast at Biscuit Love, but I was determined to try one more meal in Nashville before heading to the airport. I remembered seeing this place while I was on the Discover Nashville tour, and made a note to stop here if I had time.
I stepped into the restaurant and was just about to sit at the bar, but noticed there was a second seating area in the back where you would watch the kitchen, and sat there instead. Nothing like watching people roll out dough and fry up stuff to make your own eating experience better!
I started out with their Champagne Mojito as a little bit of a reward to myself for making it to the restaurant without freezing to death (full disclosure — I got totally lost walking to the restaurant, even with the help of Google Maps, and for some reason had only packed a rain jacket and thin flats though I knew the weather was going to be in the 30s that day.)
I then ordered the Smoked Trout since I knew it would be more of a small plate sized dish and was happy to see it served as more of a salad, on a bed of greens. It was just enough for a light lunch.
With an early start the next morning, there wasn’t a lot of time to spend checking out the music scene on Broadway, but I was able to make it to Nudie’s, Second Fiddle and Tootsie’s — all locations that were pointed out by our guide while I was on the Discover Nashville tour beforehand.
For Nudie’s, I just stayed for one song, and the same for Second Fiddle. The crowds at both locations were pretty light but didn’t quite feel like I wanted to hang out for the remainder of the night at either place.
Tootsie’s was much busier, but also had some great music to justify the crowd. I arrived as a band I didn’t catch the name of was finishing their set, and another band, Trailer Park All-Stars, was taking the stage. I ended up staying here for a lot longer — they performed a lot of covers, with a few of their original songs mixed in. They were great to listen to and attracted a fun crowd.
I decided to visit Frist Arts Center to kill time before I had to head to the airport. They only had one exhibit open at the time – Nick Cave. I was a little disappointed there weren’t other exhibits open, but with my limited time, it turned out to be just enough to enjoy in less than an hour.
The most notable pieces to me were the Sound Suits. In hindsight, I wished I had asked a docent for more information on the meaning of each individual “suit”. The Blot video was completely mesmerizing to watch, as it is a black figure that morphs shape constantly against a white background.
There were also a few other pieces – both an architectural piece and sculptural piece that I enjoyed as well.
There just wasn’t enough time to see and eat all of the things I wanted to in Nashville! I didn’t have any negative experiences during my visit (besides the uncontrollable noise issues with the hotel) and am already looking forward to coming back again in the warmer months.
I’d highly recommend the tour, restaurants, and bars I went to during my visit, as well as just exploring and popping into any place that looks interesting. You really can’t go wrong in this city.