A few days ago, I went on a trip with two of my closest friends to Nashville, TN to see Iron Maiden at the Bridgestone Arena. Now, everyone that knows me knows that this trip was a REALLY big deal for me. I have been wanting to see this band live for almost a decade and I finally did! However, this is a food blog and that is what I am dishing about. This trip was amazing for music AND food and I just needed to make a post to show my appreciation.
We left early on Monday morning to head to Nashville and go into town around noon. All of us were starving and there was no better place to satisfy our appetite than Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Midtown. For those of you that don’t know, hot chicken is the food staple of Nashville and is the dish the city made famous. Essentially, it is fried chicken that is cooked with spices that make the chicken….. hot. It is pretty self explanatory! The original restaurant that started hot chicken is Prince’s Chicken Shack. Prince’s has been around for a long time; however, Hattie B’s is a recent institution that is making a name for themselves with their own spin on the classic dish. Parking around the midtown location was a hassle and, around noon, the wait time was around 45 minutes. Nevertheless, we persisted and finally got to order our food. My friends and I sat down and received our food within ten minutes. This is what came out to greet me.
AMAZING, right? There are several heat levels you can get for the chicken, but I went with Medium to be on the safe side. I got pimento mac and cheese, collard greens, and cole slaw as side items. I am not exaggerating when I say that this was some of the best bone-in chicken I have ever had. The skin was spicy, flavorful, and crispy. The meat was tender, juicy, and had an intense flavor from the spices. Pimento mac and cheese was creamy and had flavor profiles that complemented the chicken well. The cole slaw helped cool things down and the collard greens were top notch. If you want some spicy and amazing chicken, then come on down to Hattie B’s!
For dinner, we wanted to eat somewhere near Broadway street/Music Row. I stumbled upon a little taco place called Cerveza Jack’s that had great reviews and we were feeling adventurous. A guy was performing an acoustic set when we walked in and about 10 people were sitting and drinking, adding to the laid back atmosphere of the place. Cerveza Jack’s had the usual Mexican type of fare including quesadillas and tacos. I chose the taco route and got 3 different kinds.
On the left is a braised lamb taco with tomatoes, onion, and a jalapeno tzatziki sauce. The middle is a crisp pork belly taco with french fries, crema, and an arbol-peanut salsa. The right is a fried egg taco with avocado, bacon, oaxaca cheese and ranchero sauce. If I had to rate these tacos, I would give the braised lamb and egg tacos a 5/5 and the crisp pork belly a 3/5. The crisp pork belly, fries, and crema components were really nice; however, the peanut salsa (which I didn’t know was a thing) gave a weird taste to the taco. The salsa gave an odd texture and flavor to the overall taco and should have been replaced with a more traditional salsa.
The next day, we ate breakfast at a place called Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant. I imagine this place to be exactly like Cracker Barrel used to be…. before it became a huge chain restaurant. The layout of the restaurant was a combination of old southern charm with a sleek modern finish. The grocery section was in the front, next to the hostess stand, and the restaurant part was in the back. After being seated as soon as we walked in, my friends ordered omelets and I ordered the stuffed French toast.
They were stuffed with bananas and peanut butter and served with a side of fresh fruit. The French toast was crispy on the edges, the stuffing was not overly sweet, and the chefs didn’t cover the dish completely in powdered sugar. Overall, if you need a light, but filling, way to start your day, then Puckett’s is the place to be.
For lunch, we went to Martin’s BBQ at the location three blocks from Broadway. You walk in and can smell the BBQ instantly and start to drool. Every table was full and every person had plate of food and a smile on their face. This place had to be awesome. There are lots of options on the menu, but most people either get a sandwich or a tray. Sandwich meals come with one side while trays come with a lot more meat and two sides, if my memory serves correctly. All three of us had been walking a good bit and were pretty whooped from the heat, so we just stuck with sandwich plates. I had heard great things about Martin’s brisket and got a sliced beef brisket sandwich with a side of mac and cheese.
To be fair, the mac and cheese was pretty solid (not as good as the pimento mac and cheese from Hattie B’s). The beef brisket? The best I have ever had. The meat was fork, spoon, spork, finger, whatever utensil you want to use, tender. Pieces just kept falling off while I was trying to eat it. The smoke flavor wasn’t overpowering and the dry rub used on it was a little sweet. The combination of the sweetness from the rub and the tangy white bbq sauce I put on the brisket gave the perfect bite every time. If you need some great BBQ and going through Nashville, you are doing yourself a disservice by not coming to Martin’s BBQ Joint.
Finally, my friends and I started a new concert tradition in Nashville: tank up at White Castle. Now, for my friends that are only used to Krystal’s, let’s talk. You think that they are almost the same and you would be wrong. White Castle steam grills their burgers and, the way they prepare their burgers, separates them from all other sliders. They’re so good that the original slider only has beef, onions, and a pickle. No sauces or anything else added on top. Before we saw Iron Maiden, we got a castle deal to end all castle deals.
20 sliders, 4 french fries, 3 drinks, and 3 huge appetites. Not a single slider survived that night and we loved every bite.
And there you have it! My culinary adventures through Nashville, TN with my best friends. We heard some great music, ate some great food, and made memories to last a lifetime. Here’s hoping I can come back to some of these places soon! If you’ve ever been to Nashville, what’s your favorite place to eat at? Let me know in the comments!