Farewell, Nashville

Nashville was an excellent demonstration of my “don’t plan my visit to any city too thoroughly in advance” strategy both not working great, and of it working absolutely perfectly.

In order to avoid the stress and time requirements of doing research and planning for each city I visit to make sure I don’t “miss” anything, I mostly rely on recommendations from people I know and last minute on-the=spot research to find things to do after I arrive.  In Atlanta and New Orleans this approach filled my time perfectly.

For a number of reasons (unexpected last minute scheduling conflicts for my local contacts among them) this strategy left me with a number of idle evenings and weekends, and a distinct lack of museums and other local attractions visited.

So on the one hand, I stayed in my apartment and didn’t get out for a number of weekends.  On the other hand, this was the most restful and relaxing stop so far on this year’s travels.  Which, I think, means everything worked out perfectly.  Basically, I didn’t do much, and I’m mostly happy about it.

The 1,000+ foot walk to the laundry room

I was staying near downtown Nashville in an area that clearly used to be industrial, but has mostly converted to big residential complexes as the industries shut down and left.  And I do mean big complexes.  The place I was staying was at least 1,000 feet long with the laundry room at one end and the dumpsters at the other.  No.matter where you were staying, you were in for a long walk for at least one normal chore.  or you could, as I saw a few people do, just drive the length of the parking lot.

“Toby” the groundhog

Being right on the Cumberland River meant a decent amount of time just sitting on the back porch watching the water.  Not something I’d done much of before, but an activity that I found immensely relaxing.

It also meant watching a bunch of wildlife down by the river.  Mostly birds, but there was also a fearless groundhog running around back there.  I decided he looked like a “Toby”.  The first few times i saw him he seemed a bit skittish, but by the end of my stay he barely batted an eye when I came out back to sit down.


I did get out to Broadway, where a bunch of the live music venues are, a few times during my stay.  What I’m looking for in a small live music venue is some act I’ve never heard of doing something new and interesting.  I was a bit disappointed that a lot of what I encountered was some act I’d never heard of doing mostly-direct covers of stuff I already knew.  I think that the prevalence of Jazz in New Orleans helped mitigate the problem there.

It was interesting to contrast Broadway in Nashville with Bourbon Street in New Orleans as they serve similar cultural purposes.  Except that Broadway is a major traffic street, four lanes wide and full of cars while Bourbon Street is a narrow historical street that is closed to vehicles much of the time.  The latter feels a lot more coherent, like the whole street is a shared experience, while the former feels a lot more like adjacent, but separate, experiences.

It’s a beautiful time of year to be in Nashville

Other than “be in the south in the Winter and the north in the Summer”, I haven’t really been planning this year around being in certain places at certain times.  I guess I just got lucky with Nashville.  It was a beautiful time of year, and the transition from early March (the top photo) and early April (the bottom one) was lovely to watch.

I suspect that the nature stuff contributed to the relaxation effect that I noticed.

I believe that I’ve covered most of my stand-out Nashville food experiences in other posts, but I’ve got a bit of a tradition going where I cap my final post about a place off with food I liked, and I like that tradition, so excuse any repetition.

Chicken tenders, cucumber and tomato salad, fried pickles, and banana pudding from Waldo’s

Waldo’s Chicken and Beer was probably the place I ate at the mist during my time in Nashville.  Their chicken is incredibly good (some of the best I’ve had anywhere), driven largely by an incredible dredge and batter which was savory with just a hint of spice, and by carefully calibrated frying time which left consistently juicy chicken with perfectly crispy batter.  But more than their chicken, I was in love with everything else.  Their cucumber and tomato salad was a delight of cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions very lightly pickled for a really refreshing combination of flavors.  Their fried pickles had some paprika in the batter which made them just slightly spicy, and they were fried to crispy perfection without drying them out.  Their banana pudding was a great balance of dense, custard-y pudding and light, airy whipped cream.

Everything I ate there made me happy.

Rigatoni Bolognese from Little Hats

Definitely my second most common go to for food.  Little Hats made me.some very good sandwiches and some truly great pasta.  If I was in the area longer, I have to imagine I would have begun taking advantage of their little market area, too.  A well stocked deli counter (with sharp provolone!), a cooler case full of their wide variety of ravioli, and their broad selection of jarred sauces would have made for a number of delicious meals if I’d been more willing to do the dishes after cooking at home.

Fried chicken, fried catfish, spinach stuffed shells, corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and collard greens from Monell’s (banana pudding for dessert not pictured)

Monell’s bills itself as a “family style” restaurant, but I think it’s more like an old boarding house style.  Except we don’t really have boarding houses these days, so most people wouldn’t know what that meant.  I’m too young to have stayed in one myself, but people of a certain age that I’ve described it to have nodded and said “like at a boarding house” more than once, so I figure it’s a good description.

Eating at Monell’s made me wish this style of restaurant was more common because I really enjoyed the experience.  It also made me wish boarding houses were more common because I can totally imagine enjoying living with a community of folks that ate together regularly, bound only by mutual living arrangements myself.

Barbacoa taco, and crunchwrap from Redheaded Stranger

Redheaded Stranger was a late recommendation from a local coworker, and where I got my last lunch in the city.  The line was out the door, but after I got mine I could understand why.  A really tasty taco loaded with fixings, and their take on a crunchwrap were enough to make them a recommendation.  The crunchwrap’s crunch came from a layer of melted-then-hardened cheese, which was great.  I wasn’t prepared for how messy the whole thing was.  Being filled with refried beans, melted cheese, and pico made it more sauce-y than I would have expected.  Which probably explains why the guy who brought me my food pointed me toward the forks.

Earl Grey shaved ice with dried raspberry from Locust

Shaved ice is probably my favorite dessert.  This one from Locust was both delicious and interesting.  While the prices at Locust mean that a meal there isn’t for everyone, if you were able to get a walk in slot in the evening and just get shaved ice for dessert, I’d highly recommend that you do so.

Tennessee is a beautiful part of the country

And that’s it from my time in Tennessee.  It was refreshing, and the first place I stayed this year that made me imagine coming back for a longer stay in the next couple of years.  (Not that I didn’t enjoy Atlanta or New Orleans, but Nashville hit different.)

See you again sometime, Nashville!






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