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Nashville - end of March

Hello, South Chows!

I have been researching your Board for a couple months. I am planning five day trip to Nashville, and would love your feedback on my tentative iten. I love BBQ, and I prefer to eat at places that have options not typically seen back home (Minneapolis). I will have access to car Thursday afternoon through Monday. Am staying at the Union Station Hotel. I like to eat lunch and dinner - not much of a breakfast person. Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

Wednesday - arrive at noon. Solo day. Jack's BBQ for lunch. Country hall of Fame. Wild Horse Saloon or Tootsie's for cocktail. 1808 for dinner.

Thursday: Nashville Farmer's Market, Swetts. Sister arriving around six. Watermark or Miro District for dinner?

Friday: Will be with family at the Grand Old Opry - niece is in a competition. Expect to have some time open late morning/early afternoon. If they make finals will be tied up until about 8:00 at night - otherwise will be free. So, thinking Arnolds for lunch. There will be three adults for dinner: Martin's BBQ or Dees Q or Neeley's? If it get's late, I think we'll have to go with Neeleys, as I think Martin's is about a half hour away and not open as late. Thoughts?

Saturday: Monell's for breakfast (will defer to bro-in-law who adores breakfast, as he will be shlepping my sister and I around all day). B.B. King's for casual dinner, music?

Sunday: Chappy's on Church (Bro still here...) Then I will be solo - thinking of visiting Cheekwood , then Patterson House for cocktail, and City House for dinner.

Monday: Loveless Cafe for breakfast, then Belle Meade, Leipers Fork, Franklin. Pucketts in Franklin for late lunch, then off to airport (leave at 6:00pm).

A couple of places on list but don't think will work out due to timing, or my preference for more local flavor, or my sister's insistence to go to B.B. King's.... Hog Heaven and Carl's Perfect Pig look like great Q places. Cafe Margot and Merchant's both on top of list. The Standard, The Palm, Capitol Grille look beautiful, but menu's just really didn't pique my interest as much as others.

Thank you. -Mary

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  1. Mary, you've got some great choices on there - a good mix of old school and new school. Here are a few random opinions from me:

    - I have consistently found the food at B.B. King's to be mediocre. That said, they often have a great band, and it's a fun place to hang out.

    - I wouldn't waste my time at the Wildhorse Saloon. Go to Tootsie's for that cocktail instead. Actually, almost any of those Lower Broad honky tonks are better than the Wildhorse. I especially like Robert's.

    - I have not been to Miro District since they changed chefs, but you can't go wrong at Watermark.

    - Martin's is definitely the best of the BBQ places you mentioned. But it is *at least* 30 minutes from downtown (closer to an hour). Dee's Q is now out of business. The Nashville Neely's is pretty good, as is Hog Heaven. Carl's Perfect Pig has gone downhill in recent years, plus it is 30-45 minutes from downtown.

    - The Monell's breakfast is a feast to behold. If you leave hungry, it's your own fault!

    - City House is an especially great choice, especially on a Sunday night.

    - Don't bother with Merchant's. Margot (and Marche) are fantastic, though.

    From the looks of things, you are going to have a great trip! Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jamiecarroll

      I second Hog Heaven for barbeque---be sure to try the white sauce.

      1. re: suebro

        Ignore all the other main courses on the menu except the chicken w/ white sauce and the sides are good.
        And give a review of Loveless. The last few times I was there it had slipped quite a bit but that has been a while and I under stand (& am hoping) new owner-ship has gotten things back in line.

    2. You have some good choices here - City House on a Sunday will be fun, as they do some interesting things Sunday eve. Martin's Q is the way to go if you can squeeze it in, but I think that Hog Heaven is worth a stop - the white sauce is fab and you can always consider it a "snack." Do have cocktails at Patterson House. Go to Crema for a good espresso. Monell's will do in your day you'll be so full but it is worth it. In Franklin, Pucketts is good, as is Meridee's next door for casual sandwichs and good baked goods. Dotson's is a dump but they would feed you good fried chicken and meat n' three stuff if you wanted more of that before leaving town.

      We've been to Miro somewhat recently and really liked it; I know Watermark is always tops around this board but I've found it to be not as good as it wants (or I want it) to be, if that makes any sense. Other considerations for a nice dinner might be Margot, Miel? I like Capitol Grille for the setting and service and the food is always well executed.

      1. Mary, have you stayed at Union Station Hotel before? My niece had a very unpleasant stay there. Ask them to put you in a quiet room. Some are quite noisy.

        Not bbq, but three restaurants we enjoy are Tin Angel, Tayst, and The Acorn. Tin Angel is on West End at 32nd and The Acorn is a block off West End on 28th. Tayst is on 21st, south of Vanderbilt.

        1 Reply
        1. re: decolady

          I have not stayed at Union, but I have heard about the noise issue. Fortunately, I sleep like a rock no mater where I am! Thanks for the suggestions. :)

        2. Draft #2, based on suggestions - thanks, all!

          Wednesday: Jimmy Carl's lunchbox; The Standard; Robert's

          Thursday: Swett's; Watermark

          Friday: Arnolds; Martin's BBQ joint

          Saturday: Monell's; B.B. King's (still hoping sister will cave on that...)

          Sunday: Chappy's on Church; Patterson (cocktail), City House (dinner)

          Sunday: Loveless Cafe; Puckett's Grocery or Dotson's

          How am I doing? As Jamie noted, I am interested in a blend of classic south mixed with fine dining with southern nuances.....

          LOOKING FORWARD!!! -Mary

          3 Replies
          1. re: rp1760

            That looks great! I wish I could go with you!

            I forgot about Jimmy Carl's - another great choice. Really good ribs and really good baked beans. And it may make you want to go see a show at the Station Inn!

            1. re: rp1760

              I would scrap Chappy's and look for a southern brunch somewhere. There are dozens of great brunches in Nashville on Sunday.

              1. re: spider2001

                I see your point, Spider. However, we had nephew that attended Tulane in New Orleans and we had chance to visit Chappy’s when it was located there, pre-Katrina. This is kind of a nostalgia thing for us.

            2. Hey RP

              Not sure if you've seen my review of Puckett's. If not, here it is.

              Obviously I'm a fan.


              4 Replies
              1. re: Davwud

                Great report - thanks for sharing!

                  1. re: Davwud

                    Final Draft (I think....) Thanks for all you help!

                    Wednesday: Jimmy Carl's lunchbox; The Standard

                    Thursday: Swett's; Watermark

                    Friday: Arnolds; Neelys

                    Saturday: Monell's; F. Scotts

                    Sunday: Chappy's on Church; Patterson (cocktail), City House (dinner)

                    Sunday: Loveless Cafe; Puckett's Grocery or Dotson's

                    1. re: rp1760

                      Let me second the nomination of the Loveless Cafe for breakfast and add to that the Pancake Pantry for breakfast. Both are can't lose options. A side note, expect a wait at the Pantry, a long one. But, it is worth it.

              2. I have been to Neelys and it is a great option! For sure you need to go there. Stockyard Steak House is also amazing. voted one of 10 bestin the country. Pricey but excellent. I would go to The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar in downtown if you are looking for something fun to do. It is my favorite place to go there and I usually end up spending all night there because i am having so much fun and dont want to leave. if you like sushi the Pearl Sushi in downtown is fantastic too. I love sushi and have beent here many times and it is always great. i have taken other sushi lovers there and they love it too. you wouldnt think there would be great sushi in nashville but there is for sure! sorry for the late reply. I am new to chowhound but i hope those suggestions help. Oh and when you are at Neelys if you go outside to the patio you can feed the turtles down in the water below. Sounds weird but it is fun! Have fun in Nashville. It is my favorite City!!!

                24 Replies
                1. re: crystalrae

                  Have to disagree on Stockyard, Big Bang & Pearl Sushi. Neely's is good, but have my doubts about these other rec's...

                  1. re: grundoon

                    Thanks, grundoon. Funny that none of those places ever hit my radar over the past couple months.... I'll stick with my Final Final draft. :)

                    Wednesday: Jimmy Carl's lunchbox; Capitol Grille

                    Thursday: Swett's; Whiskey Kitchen

                    Friday: Arnolds; Martin's BBQ (unless performance goes late), back-up is F. Scott's

                    Saturday: Pancake Pantry; Watermark

                    Sunday: Neelys (I know - opens at noon - but only way we could fit it in - sister really wants to go...) Patterson (cocktails), City House (dinner)

                    Monday: Loveless Cafe; Puckett's Grocery

                    Two more weeks!!!!!!!!! -Mary

                    1. re: rp1760

                      After a visit to the new location of Martin's this weekend....I would personally skip it. Not only is it a good 30-40 minute drive from Nashville, the bbq was not impressive. May I suggest going to Jack's on West Trinity...

                      1. re: pete k

                        Darn. The old place seemed to get good review, and I so love the pictures on their website!

                        I am directional challenged, so I could be way off, but had also picked Martin's because I was looking for someplace close to the Opry, as my niece is in a competition there. We will consider Jack's. Thanks, pete.

                        1. re: rp1760

                          Unfortunately, Martin’s would be about 30-35 minutes from the Opry area depending on traffic.

                          Don’t let me stop you from going. They may have worked out their kinks. The new location has only been open for a little over a week now.

                        2. re: pete k

                          I was there Saturday and thought the Q was great.

                          Everything was perfect save for the ribs being slightly over cooked. I got the tail end of the ribs so they'll cook faster than the other end. The flavour was excellent though.

                          Their sauce was amazing. Reminded me of my enchilada sauce but with molasses.

                          I really enjoyed the "Redneck taco"



                        3. re: rp1760

                          I like your list, If you have the time stop by Alpha Bakery. It's on the way to Loveless in Bellevue. The best Handmade FRENCH Patries in TN. Get them to go you will love them.

                          Try the Peanutbutter, bacon, and Nutella panni at the Patterson house. Youeat it and start to wonder but you cant stop eating. The best combination of flavors that you would never put together yourself. You can taste that the bacon was smoked in some old school smoke house.

                          Jack's BBQ on Trinity lane cant be beat. You can eat them with NO TEETH , they are so tender.

                          Get to Whiskey Kitchen early. The place is small and there is a wait every time. First come, first serve. And people Love to just HANG out there. Great whiskey drinks and the food is very reasonable.

                          Sweet Potato Pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. I want to go now :)

                          Also Chef Market for Lunch. Great food in Hendersonville. about a 20min drive but no further than Loveless. Great food and homemade fro m a chef who open her own spot. Open for lunch and dinner. Better Quality than your average meat and three. Still Southern but better quality and still southern prices.

                          Do not go to Swett's Everything from a can. Horrible. I will cook for you for free than let you go to Swett's

                          ***Friends dont let friends eat BAD food***

                          1. re: katkoture

                            I decided on Jimmy Carl's over Jack's.

                            I am shocked by your observations on Swett's. Everything I have heard up to now has been very favorable. It was named the "Best of" on the Nashville Scene. Is that not a reliable source?

                            1. re: rp1760

                              I think you're making the right decision on Jimmy Carl's, especially if you want ribs. Just remember that they are only Tuesday through Friday and only for lunch.

                              Also, I'm not too sure about that Swett's dig. Their radio advertisements specifically mention that everything is prepared fresh. Sounds to me like somebody has an axe to grind.

                              1. re: jamiecarroll

                                I agree about Swetts. Tried them a couple of times at the airport and thought they were pretty darn good, especially the beans and the pulled pork.

                                1. re: jamiecarroll

                                  I don't buy that knock on Swett's either. It's certainly not been my experience with them (at least at the main or farmer's market locations - can't speak to the airport outlet).

                                  Also, if you're looking for BBQ near the Opry, Jack's on West Trinity is probably your closest good option.

                                2. re: rp1760

                                  I'm telling you it's not that great and I went to 2 locations. The original one by Meharry medical and the farmer's market location. I have only been to both locations one time and each time was not great. Be careful of the Nashville Scene, every place they suggest is not that great. But nashville is not NY we dont have tons of great places that open every month and they have to write about something. I know fresh . I grow my own collard, and turnip greens, green beans and tomatoes. Make my own sauce . Grow my own peaches, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, peaches, and blueberries. make my own jelly.jam, relish, pickles and chow chow. Would have a couple of chickens and a cow if my husband would let me. You have a limited schedule and I know how that is.

                                  I guess you have to go now to see if I am right or not. If you go please post what you think . I'm dying to hear.

                                  1. re: katkoture

                                    I think we may have hijacked this thread. That said, I was at the City Market for lunch today and stopped by Swett's. I asked the young man working the register whether their vegetables were fresh or canned. He said fresh and added that he purchases fresh produce first thing every morning. He added that he welcomes anyone who wishes to challenge that assertion. My final word is I've been eating at meat and three's since we moved south 35 years ago. Swett's rates in the top 25% IMHO.

                                    Swett's Restaurant
                                    2725 Clifton Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

                                    City Market
                                    449 E E St, Elizabethton, TN 37643

                                    1. re: Cameraman

                                      Thanks for your legwork, Cameraman!

                                      Now, care to fess up on the other meat and three's in your top 25%? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Arnolds is one. Any others? :)

                                      1. re: rp1760

                                        How about At The Table on 12 South. Meat loaf is off the hook as are the greens. How about you?

                                        1. re: Cameraman

                                          I have no idea. I am from Minneapolis, on my way to Nashville for the first time. Can't wait!

                                          1. re: rp1760

                                            you have to write a review on this thread so we all know what YOU think. I'm dying to know.PLS PLS PLS.. Hope all was well and will have to get your ideas on great places in Minneapolis. Coming there in August for the fair. Just to go.

                              2. re: rp1760

                                You might want to run by Henpeck Market when you're down toward Franklin on Monday...

                                1. re: grundoon

                                  Any recommendations near (not at) the airport? I've got one dinner in town Thursday night- never been to Nashville. I eat anything good! Doesn't have to be barbeque, but certainly could be. Biggest concern will be transportation- no car, so has to be cabbing distance (10-15 mins max). Thanks!

                                  1. re: Unterco

                                    Do you care if it's under water or not?

                                    1. re: nm1

                                      I was just about to say, this might be a little difficult just now. Lots of places are flooded. Paticularly in the Opryland area and downtown. Broadway along 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and maybe further are all under water, which includes many great restaurants. 10' of floodwater in the Opryland Hotel complex.

                                      However, if you don't mind going to the West End area, we really like the Tin Angel. Boscos in Hillsboro Village is good, also. They do housecreafted beers, should that interest you. Both those are probably out of your 15 minute range, though they are not flooded.

                                      Tin Angel Restaurant
                                      3201 W End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

                                      1. re: decolady

                                        I can't wait to read the report on this trip. I believe Nashville may be on the same level with NOLA in regards to good food.

                                        1. re: Littleman

                                          I love Nashville to death, but that is a grossly inaccurate statement.

                          2. These are some great places, but I have to agree with the poster that did not like Swetts. I am an avid Meat and 3 fan, love Arnolds, Copper Kettle, and Southern Bred, and those 3 were FAAAAAAAAR and above better than Swetts. I found Swetts food to be extremely bland and uninteresting.

                            Swett's Restaurant
                            2725 Clifton Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

                            Copper Kettle
                            4004 Granny White Pike, Nashville, TN 37204