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First Time in Nashville - Nailed it?


My partner and I are roadtriping through Tennessee on our way down to New Orleans from Montreal.

I am very excited to come to Nashville and will be staying in East Nashville.

Please critique my food targets and if you have any suggestions for great bars (dive,beer palace and cocktail joints) and your fav live music joints i would really appreciate it!

So in no real order i plan on visiting:

1) City House for Sunday night (Reserved) - I have seen a few detractors but people tend to come back to City House again and again. The sunday night special sounds like fun. This is my one major spendy. New Orleans for a week a few days after Nashville is set to destroy my wallet.

2) Pancake Palace - Sweet potato pancakes. Seems to be a mixed choice. Tourist trap?

3) Arnolds - Meat and Three choice.

4) Monells - Lunch. I have never had sourthern food so this seems like a great place to break me in!

5) Boltons (or Princes) - Not sure which one if they are just as good Boltons is near where i wil be staying.

6) Tacos - Mas Tacos. Heard great things.

7) The Pharmacy - I like beers and burgers and not so bad on wallet.

8) Loveless Cafe - Worried that this is a tourist trap now....

9) Marche Artisan - Sounded delicious and great prices.

What do you all think? Any drinking/musicc favs? I dont really like main stream country more of an alt fan (love Lucinda Williams and Gilliam Welch)

I plan on going to The Station Inn.

Thanks for reading


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  1. #2 would be Pancake Pantry. Not Palace. Make sure you try the cinnamon syrup. Phenomenal.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Crap... didn't nail it. Thanks for the Rec!

      1. re: Kangagirl83

        We just returned from 4 days in nashville (with kids) and looks like you are planning to hit up most of our highlights:

        1. City House. Loved the frico, bread gnocci and trout. Kids enjoyed pizza but were starting to get restless so we skipped dessert

        2. Monells. Its an experience. Very solid food (esp the fried chicken which they serve at every meal, the corn pudding, and cinnamon apples)- enjoyed the family style service and meeting new people at our table

        3. HattieBs for Hot Chicken. Right across the street from our hotel so we ate here 3 times. The medium was tasty, juicy and left a nice tingle. The hot made my nose run but still good, I could not handle more than that. Sides were fine but nothing special.

        4. Pancake Pantry. Arrived early on a Wednesday morning (8:45am) no line at all. Sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon cream syrup really really good,

        We also enjoyed Merchants, Sunset Grill and Taco Mamacita (and legato gelato next door) but not as much as the above.

        Wish we could have gotten to arnolds but without a car its not easy to get to and we just kept going across the street for lunch :)

        have fun!

    2. Pancake Pantry is definitely touristy, so most locals tend to skip it. For breakfast in the same area I would suggest Fido or Provence.

      I strongly suggest not missing Arnold's for lunch. Monells serves family style if you're ok with that.

      Princes is the original hot chicken spot, but almost a bit outside of the city in a somewhat shady part of town. My personal preference now is Hattie B's in midtown.

      You could also try Pour House for burgers and beer. They also happen to have one of the largest bourbon selections in the area.

      On the east side you could try Bar 308 or Holland House for craft cocktails. Holland House has one of the best happy hour specials after 10pm daily.

      You could also head to the 5 Points area in east Nashville and check out the local bars. You'll find a decent show at The 5 Spot, also located in east Nashville.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pete k

        Hey Pete

        Thanks for the great responses.

        What do you mean by family style. Its just a shared table right?

        I am cool with that.

        I read about Holland house i will check it out.

        1. re: Kangagirl83

          shared table and all the mains and sides are served family style. more is served as it runs out.

          If you're in the midtown area, i also strongly suggest the patterson house for classic cocktails.

      2. Hey, Gemma! I'm here now, too (from L.A.) -- we hit up Arnold's today, and it was almost deliriously good. We ate our way through half of the available lunch menu and STILL managed to polish off dessert. And the people there are warm and wonderful -- it's gonna be tough not to do lunch there every day this week...

        1. I think you've covered a lot of fertile ground here, Gemma. I'm from Toronto, but have been to Nashville quite often since my daughter lives there. I've been to 1,2,3,4,5,8 and 9. They're all pretty great to go to at least once. My faves are Monell's for great southern cooking served 'family style', and Prince's Hot Chicken, but I'd have to agree with pete k that Hattie B's is pretty darn good, and a lot more accessible than Prince's.

          In terms of music, the Station Inn is a good call, but all of the small clubs (Bluebird, 12th and Porter, Douglas Corner, Listening Room, Belcourt Taps, etc). have pretty awesome songwriters almost every night. Personally, I wouldn't miss a chance to see something at the Bluebird for my first visit to Nashville. You can check online to see who's performing when you'll be there. Have fun.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Yongeman

            Wow thanks for the recs i will look into it. The problem i have is that i like to eat out... listen to music and drink (not drink drink).

            Do you remember (or if i can get a local input) do the bars stay open late on week nights? I am actually in town early to mid week.

            I don't know how i will fit everything together. Yet!

            Time juggling could be an issue.

          2. 2) Pancake Pantry is not touristy and mid-week you should be fine to not stand in line. Sweet Potato is the way to go.
            4) Skip it. If you are going to Arnold's, you'll be getting plenty of southern food. Monell's is spotty to me and you are really beholden to what they put in front of you for the day.
            5) Princes is the gold standard, but I hear good things about Hattie B and also 400 degrees.
            6) Love!
            7) I hear up and down things, especially about service and "out of" items. You could try Burger Up in 12South or even Rotiers mid-town. Rotiers is old, old, old and definitely not fancy, but has a decent burger on french bread and an old fashioned off menu shake that can't be beat.
            8)Just don't. Middling food (except the biscuits) and you will wait even on a weekday. Unless you want to go just for the experience, it's not worth the drive.
            You might want to consider some BBQ. I really like Edley's in 12South. Las Paletas is also down there for dessert.

            1. The Loveless Cafe is a miserable experience. Long lines, mediocre food, lackluster service... just not worth it.

              Arnolds is wonderful!! Food is delicious and people are so welcoming. Definitely make a trip here.

              Pancake Pantry falls in between those two. Yes, its touristy, but the pancakes are yummy. Service is efficient, nothing special though. So if you can get in on a day when there isn't a line, it would be worth a visit.

              1. Me again. I managed to get a reservation at the Bluebird on a pew for a 9pm show on Tuesday night for a benefit show.

                I have no idea who is playing lol! Every other show i couldnt reserve Sunday/Monday and i read that people show up very early before shows and often dont get in.

                I'm not sure given my limited time in Nashville if i wanted to spend a long time in line.

                1. I lived in Nashville for seven years. I'm not a native, but I do know yummy when I taste it. The only place I'd say to skip is the Loveless. Pretty setting, but overpriced and disappointing. A tourist trap in every sense of the word. Pancake Pantry...just get there early. Bolton's will be easier than Prince's, the chicken is every bit as good, and the people are nicer. However...Prince's is kinda an essential Nashville experience. Monell's is delicious...my favorite day to go was always Wednesday. Arnold's is great. Marche was my favorite restaurant in all of Nashville.

                  If you want to do a drive to a place that's a bit of a local legend where the food lives up to the hype, skip the Loveless and head out to Nolensville to Martin's BBQ. Get the pork shoulder, or go on a Saturday evening when they are doing a whole hog. I seriously miss Martin's. You could do Martin's for lunch and spring from there out into more rural areas if you'd like to peek about the countryside.

                  1. Just a few FWIW things for ya.

                    We did Prince's around 6pm at Christmas. So it was well past dark. Absolutely no problems. BUT!! It is in a sketchy part of town. I've also had people tell me the best (in terms of fun/atmosphere) is any time past 10pm on Friday or Saturday.
                    Maybe if I were 20 again.

                    If you decide you want to get out of the city and are looking for some great southern cooking, Bellbuckle Cafe in Bellbuckle is probably my wife's favourite place for that. Quaint little arts community with a time capsule town square.
                    Another option for this is Stan's Restaurant in Columbia. Rumoured to be where Cracker Barrel got the idea. Fantastic food.

                    You're only an hour or so from Jack Daniels. If you're a fan, it's worth a visit. The tour is free. Check to see if they are doing BBQ on the Hill while you're in the area. A great experience.


                    1. Excellent choice on City House. If it has detractors, they are few and far between. Since you'll be here during the week, the other absolute can't miss on your list is Arnold's, just keep in mind it's only open for 4 hours at lunchtime. I would agree that if you do Arnold's, there's no real need to go to Monell's if time is limited, and certainly not Loveless (which is pretty far from where you'll be anyway).

                      Mas Tacos is another one of my 5 favorite restaurants in the city and can fill you up for cheap. Definitely get one of the soups. Cash only and also (mostly) early hours.

                      As far as hot chicken goes, I would second pete k's Hattie B's rec. I prefer it to Bolton's, and it's a much much more tourist friendly location than Prince's.

                      #7...unfortunately only been there once but was quite unimpressed by the burger. Awesome sausage though. I also think Burger Up is pretty overrated. Of the burger-specialty places, Gabby's is my favorite, and they have ridiculously good sweet potato fries (something I typically find better in theory than execution). Alternatively, you can go to Fido and have the best burger in the city.

                      For barbecue, I would second recommendations for Martin's or Edley's. Martin's is deservedly considered one of the best barbecue places in the country, though it is a little out of the way in Nolensville. Edley's is in town, newer, and my favorite within city limits.

                      I won't get to much into the Pancake Pantry discussion. If you really like pancakes, go for it and be prepared to wait. Others have mentioned options I personally would prefer.

                      I would look into Silly Goose as well. Another one of my 5 favorite restaurants in the city, and it's on the side of the river you're staying on.