NASHVILLE, TENN. — It’s hard to visit Nashville and not want to forget about your life beforehand and put down roots in the Portland of the midsouth.
We visited the rolling city to support several of our friends who ran the Country Music Marathon and were instantly smitten, aside from the horrible, horrible traffic, but that’s another story.
First of all, I say stay away from downtown. It’s a country Los Vegas, or another version of Dollywood, only with more drinking. It’s all loud, crappy country music and Neon. There’s a three-storied, open bar that I swear is a scene out of Dante’s Inferno. I can only imagine the bodily fluids that have flowed out of that place.
But beyond the south side of downtown there is an amazing, vibrant city that manages to feel smaller than it is.
Being a militant farmers’ market supporter, we had to stop at the year-round Nashville farmers’ market. The smells of fresh strawberries, onions, and baked goods was everywhere. I got a pint of strawberries which me and the wife, along with two friends, managed to take down in an afternoon.
After a brief visit to the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon (that’s got to make Athens Ga. a little miffed) we went to Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden in East Nashville. It was exactly what I’ve always expected out of beer garden, but haven’t been able to find — picnic tables, great service, a beer list that is impressive and the distinct impression that no one has ever puked there. Add to that a great cast of friends, a late afternoon sun and a temperature in the low 80s, and you’ve got my version of paradise. (For you teetotalers, they do their own gourmet sodas, which looked pretty good.)
The burgers looked great, but the wife and I ate a late lunch and had to opt out, though when we return we’ll bring our appetites with use.
After an interlude at some friends’ place, we headed to Five Points Pizza and got, well pizza. It was good pizza, which is a high compliment, because I think pizza is either good, bad or Pizza Hut. (All three of which, by the way, I’ll gladly eat.)
Then, to end a great day, we headed to 3 Crow Bar for Bushwackers. Imagine if Dave from Wendy’s and Captain Morgan got together and decided to make a drink (a.k.a a Frosty plus Rum) and you get a Bushwacker. This is a one and done kind of a drink, first because it’s strong, and second because I have no idea how my stomach could handle more than one. Though it’s been rumored someone has had six in one sitting.
We managed to save the best culinary experience for last. Just west of the river in an up-and-coming neighborhood there’s a place called Monell’s. There’s no ordering at this restaurant. You get seated at a big table with strangers. Your waitress quickly tells you to mute your cellphones and enjoy. They bring out dish after dish and you enjoy family style. We had a country breakfast which included: biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, eggs, pancakes, corn pudding, cheesy grits, bacon, ham steak, sausages, fried chicken, fried apples, hashbrowns, coffee and sweet tea.
Other than saying everything was amazing, I don’t think anything else has to be said about this amazing, down home food experience.
So if you get the chance, check out Nashville, avoid downtown, and don’t drive during rush hour.