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nashville, local style eating?

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We live in Califonia, so have plenty of fancy whatever places to eat at home.

We will be in Nashville for Dec 31, Jan1 and leaving the night of Jan 2 2008. That leaves us all day New Year's day and most of Jan 2 to eat.

We want local food, BBQ places, breakfast, that kinda thing.. Casual or a step up please.
A NYE place also welcome.

some ideas ive gleamed:
JACK'S BAR-B-QUE
Rotier's - Nashville, TN
CANTRELL'S BAR-B-QUE
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
Gerst Haus

Ideas? Comments on these/others for overall chracter?

We'll have a car, so out of town places are ok too.

Also wonder if things in general are open NY Day, as we have no plans whatsoever of what to do...

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  1. I don't live in Nashville, but have been 4 or 5 times this year. Although I'm not familiar with all of the great eateries that Nashville has to offer, I can comment on our favourites so far. We finally got out to Monell's--actually twice on our last trip, because it was so good. We went to the Germantown location which was a great setting. Food is served family style at large tables, so you are seated with strangers. As visitors, that was a great way to meet people. Each dish is brought in and passed "to the left". And what great home cooking, too! Breakfast was pancakes, cheese grits, bacon, sausage, eggs, corn pudding, country ham, fried chicken, etc and everything was delicious.
    When we went back another day for lunch, it was equally excellent. The cost was about $12 for an unlimited supply of food.

    Of the places you've mentioned, I've been to Jack's BBQ downtown--ok. I preferred Hog Heaven, but there's also a great spot on the Nolensville Pike, I think, called Martin's BBQ. It's fairly new, but they have a website and blog ( http://martinsbbq.blogspot.com/ ). I really enjoyed a takeout pulled pork sandwich, but would love to go back to Martin's for the eat-in experience.

    I really loved my one venture to Prince's Hot Chicken shack. I think I had 'medium', which was plenty hot for me.
    Have fun, docb. There are some higher-end places that are supposed to be good as well, but when I'm in Nashville, it's fun to try what I can't get at home.

    1. I wouldn't waste a trip on the Gerst Haus unless you love German food for some reason. It's not going to give you a taste of "local" food. If you want bbq, I would suggest Hog Heaven on West End instead of Jack's. Monell's is definitely the place to go for family style southern cooking. If you are really craving a burger, then I guess Rotier's is one of the better places to go here in Nashville, but I think you will see there are mixed reviews from the locals on this site.

      For a more upscale dinner on NYE with still a hint of southern, try Radius10 in the gulch. Jason Brumm's shrimp and grits are to die for. Actually he has grits 3 different ways on the menu and they are all insanely good!

      Have a great trip and enjoy your time in Nashville!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sparkplug

        It looks like everyone is saying the same thing, but I would also go for Hog Heaven over the other choices for barbeque.

      2. OK, first of all, forget about Cantrell's. That place is like third-tier BBQ and not anything special. Jack's is pretty good IF you are willing to drive to the Trinity Lane location (where they actually cook the BBQ). As a general rule, if you get out of your car at a BBQ place and don't smell hickory smoke, you should beware. But I digress. Hog Heaven is good, too, but keep in mind that their "dine-in" seating is two picnic tables which are outside, and this time of year, it's a bit cold to be eating outside. So unless you feel like eating in your car or taking your food back to the hotel room, you might look elsewhere. Martin's BBQ in Nolensville is indeed outstanding, but it's a good 30 minutes or more from the heart of the city. Also quite a drive from the city, but also worth it is Carl's Perfect Pig in White Bluff, TN. Or if you REALLY want to get serious about the BBQ, you can head three hours east to Memphis...hahaha. One more thing to keep in mind is that most of the BBQ places here are mom-and-pop operations, so their hours are subject to change, and it's not unusual for a place to close up for a week for the holidays. You should call ahead before you visit any of these places, especially the out of town ones.

        I have a sentimental fondness for Rotier's, because I grew up going there with my dad after Vandy games for a burger and a shake, but when it comes right down to it, it's a place that has a cool dive-y atmosphere, but the food is not that outstanding. The cheeseburger on french bread is unique, but in my experience, the bread-to-meat ratio is too high. Even if you order the burger on a standard bun or grilled white bread (my preference), the burger is not anything that special. I've said it before in these forums, and I'll say it again: I think the newly arrived Five Guys has the best burger in Nashville. But 5G is a chain, so dining there will not be a uniquely Nashville expereince. If you'd like reccommendations for some local burger places, I'd be happy to oblige, but none of them will blow your mind.

        Prince's is, in my opinion, deserving of every bit of praise they receive. It's the best fried chicken in the world. And if you're worried about the heat, fear not. I actually usually just order mine "plain," which is just regular fried chicken without the heat. Two things to know about Prince's, though. First, it's not in the greatest neighborhood. I've been there dozens of times and have never had any trouble, but just know that it's in an area that is considered "high crime." Second, don't be in a hurry. They don't make it til you order it, so it'll be at least 15-20 minutes until your chicken is ready, and on weekend nights, it's closer to an hour.

        The Gerst Haus is a great traditional German restaurant, but it's not really anything that's unique to Nashville.

        Let me resoundingly agree with the reccommendations of Monell's. It may not be the best meat-and-three/southern restaurant in Nashville (that would be Arnold's), but it's pretty damn good, and, assuming you go to the original Germantown location, it's a really great dining room in a great little neighborhood. And yes, it's all you can eat, so if you really take a liking to something, you can get your fill of it.

        Have a great time, and let us know how it goes!

        1 Reply
        1. re: jamiecarroll

          GREAT INFO, SO VERY MUCH APPRRECIATED

          I still wonder what New Years day will be like, with most every thind closed?

        2. I have to agree that Hog Heaven is your best choice for BBQ but the atmosphere is a true BBQ shack (white washed cinder block bldg with picnic tables) Yet it is in Centennial Park so you can get your Q and have it on the steps of the Parthenon, weather permiting. Try the sides if you go there. Jacks BBQ is a good bet if you are wandering along Broadway hopping the Honky Tonks. The HT open at 10 am and serve beer etc. so a solid bit of food may be a good idea.

          A true Nashville eating experience will need a stop at a Meat and Three, I love Sylvan Park for just lunch or an early dinner. If you want a more homey atmosphere Monelle's is awesome, Germantown is their best location. Arnold's is good but last time I went everything tasted sweet like they put sugar in all of it. White Trash Cafe out by the Fair Grounds is a good bet too for good home style food.

          If you want a good burger I would drive out to Mo's Fat Burger on White Bridge and Charlotte. Again, no good place to sit and enjoy but very tasty and a true local place. Lots of folks seem to like burgers at Brown's Dinner, Rotiers and Elliston Soda Shop. I find these all to be similar, a bit too greasy and a rather smallish serving. BD, R, and ESS have a very cool vibe and they are all a sort of retro place. Well actually original since none of them have remodeled since the 1960's. All are close to Vandy.

          For breakfast the defaults are Pancake Pantry or Loveless Cafe. They are both good, local, traditions. But you will stand in line for the PP and LL has a kitchy touristy feel along with a long wait for a table but their Hams and Jams are fun to take home to share. I like the breakfast at Fido on 21st they have good coffee and good food that doesn't require a huge time investment to get a table. Or you could venture to Bongo Java (Same owner as Fido) to get breakfast and see the Nun Bun, a roll that looks like Mother Theresa.

          Go to Princes for the Hot Chicken. It will knock your socks off. I always go in day light or with a friend. I like their food but the neighborhood is a little sketchy.

          If you want a little nicer place to try my top picks are: Tayste, Zola, Germantown Cafe, Cafe Margo. I have had wonderful meals at each. They all try to incorporate Southern influences but still have modern food.

          You will need to call around a bit before you decide on your New Years day plans, lots of local places take the day off (they do this on every major holiday including the 4th of July, so frustrating)

          You have a really short trip to Nashville, if you are headed to Franklin for any of the Civil War locations the food at Puckett's grocery is very good. Out by The Hermitage most things are chains but you are just one exit from Opryland Hotel and the fantastic gawdiness that it is. The food there is forgetable but the decorations in the hotel are over the top.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bubblet4me

            I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially since Hog Heave is my favorite as well, but they are CLOSED for the holidays, reopening on January 2 :-( Another fun BBQ spot that also serves the wonderful white sauce is South Street http://pansouth.net/southstreet-index... they have other southern options as well (steak and biscuits, catfish, pulled pork, etc.) and in years past have been open on New Years Day, but it probably wouldn't hurt to confirm.

            I agree with sparkplugs rec to try Radius 10 (www.radius10.com) it is a great restaurant with great food and a bonus IMO is that they aren't doing any special seatings/menus for NYE so you can just make a reservation for whenever and order whatever you like off the menu. That man makes the best grits I've ever had, honestly.

            Enjoy your visit!

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