For the first time since 2006, my entire family went on a vacation together. The last time that all 5 of us were together on the same trip for more than a night was when we went to Mexico over 10 years ago. It was a great trip full of sun, beach, shots, swim-up bars, and of course, Fermin. Since that trip everyone has grown up and started their own lives, so it’s been hard to get us all on a family vacation, but when the opportunity presented itself this year, we jumped at it.
Our cousin was getting married in Nashville in June so we decided we would all make the trek down there to celebrate with him and our extended family. The only difference this time was that there were now 8 of us, instead of 5, as I got married and my 2 brothers are both engaged to be married, so everyone had their significant other with them. Unfortunately there were no kids allowed at the wedding, so our daughter had to stay with my in-laws for the weekend, but that was fine. She had a blast with them and we didn’t have to worry about watching her the whole time, which meant we could take advantage of Broadway street in Nashville.
My parents, my wife, and I drove down from Chicago on Friday morning while the rest of our family flew down on Saturday morning. We got to our hotel around 5:30pm, dropped our stuff off and made our way towards The Gulch area of town. We didn’t want to go down to Broadway Friday night, because we wanted to do that when everyone was there.
The Gulch area of Nashville was closer to our hotel than Broadway was, but it offers a lot of cool places to eat and drink. After walking down the main streets that make up The Gulch, we decided to stop for a drink at Hops & Crafts, a craft beer taproom that my dad had read about and wanted to try.
Hops & Crafts Taproom
I’m not a huge beer drinker so I’m probably not the best person to review this place, but the one beer I did try, the Yazoo Hefeweizen, was pretty good. My mom got the same thing and enjoyed it, while my dad, I believe, got the New Heights Nothing Fancy, which had a little bit more of a bite at the end than I’m a fan of.
So while the beer was good, and was just what we needed after a long day in the car, we were definitely hungry and wanted to order some appetizers. Hops & Crafts doesn’t offer a full menu, but they do offer some smaller snack type dishes that would hold us over until we finished our drinks and found a place for dinner… unfortunately their oven was down, which meant that they could only serve up a couple of the cold dishes; we opted for hummus. I don’t eat hummus so I was a little disappointed, I was really looking forward to the Jumbo Bavarian Pretzel with moo shine beer cheese, but maybe next time.
After finishing up our drinks and the hummus, we decided we needed to find something more to fill our stomachs. I tried to make a reservation for a couple places on Open Table, but since it was a Friday night we weren’t having any luck. After a bit more searching we found Whiskey Kitchen, which was the opposite direction of all the crazy in The Gulch, so we were hoping it wouldn’t be super crowded… plus they didn’t take reservations on Open Table.
When we arrived at Whiskey Kitchen it was busy, but not overly crowded. We were informed that the patio was open seating so we put our name down and went to check out the availability outside. Unfortunately there was a dude trying to scavenge up enough table and chairs to seat like 15 people outside, and since it was kind of small out there, we were out of luck. We did manage to find a little table against the booth seating that we could sit and stand at and order some drinks until our table was ready.
As far as drinks go, I went with my standard Tito’s and Soda (had to give up the Captain and Coke’s due to this FODMAP diet). My dad went with a margarita and my mom had a martini. Obviously my drink was fine since it’s pretty standard, but my parents weren’t really feeling their drinks. It is a whiskey bar though so I won’t hold it against them, and it’s not like the drinks were bad enough to not drink… they definitely drank their drinks and then some.
As for the menu, it’s pretty extensive. There are a lot of things that I would have loved to have eaten, but when I go out to restaurants I still have to be careful about what I eat as I haven’t fully figured out what I can and can’t eat (although I’m pretty sure I know what sets me off). If I had my way, I probably would have gotten the pizza that night, but since we were out of town and had things to do all weekend, I didn’t want to risk it, so I went with my safety net, a bacon cheeseburger w/ cheddar cheese.
Just because I had to go with my safety food doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good, because it was delicious. I don’t know if it was just the alcohol catching up with me or what, but I thought the burger was very good. One of the better burgers I’ve had in a while. I’d say you won’t be disappointed if you go with the burger over some of the other menu items, but I would also have loved to have tried the pulled pork.
My wife and my dad both got the fried chicken wrap, although I believe one of them got grilled chicken instead. Both of them seemed to enjoy their food, and my mom, after trying my dad’s, said she liked the chicken wrap better than the short rib french dip that she had ordered. I think she was probably spoiled from the Korean BBQ Short Ribs that we’ve been making on the grill at home. It’s hard to eat other short ribs when you’ve already had the greatest short ribs ever.
I really liked Whiskey Kitchen. I thought the atmosphere was great, the food was good, the drinks were perfect, and it didn’t have the craziness of Broadway, but it still had the feel of a popular place. Give it a shot if your looking for something slightly off Broadway.
The next day, Saturday, my brother and his fiancee arrived pretty early from Austin, TX, so we were ready to go as soon as they got there. We scooped up a quick bite to eat at Panera and then made our way downtown to Broadway street, which was absolutely insane.
The Predators were playing in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup that night, in Nashville, so they had the entire street blocked off starting super early in the morning for the festivities. They had a huge stage that Allan Jackson and some other country folks were playing on later in the day, and it was a mad house.
We walked into the Broadway area and immediately decided we should just head up to the rooftop at Tootsie’s so that we could all say we’ve been there before it got too crowded… I’ve been there before, but a few people with us had not.
The rooftop itself was one-in-one-out by the time we got up there, but we were able to find a spot near the bar on the top level to hang out and have a few drinks. Our plan was to just ‘start’ there, but we ended up staying there for quite a while as we waited for my other brother and his fiancee to get into town. Once they got there we had another round or two and then made our way down the street to another bar, and then another bar. By the time we knew it, it was almost 7PM and we had dinner reservations at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant down the street.
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant
My wife and I made our way over to Puckett’s before everyone else as we just needed to get out of the craziness of Broadway and she, being pregnant, just needed to get a little something to eat before dinner.
We had a reservation at Puckett’s for like 7:30pm or something, but I don’t think we ended up sitting down until around 8pm. I didn’t realize it until we walked up, but I have actually been to Puckett’s before when I was in Nashville for a friends bachelor party, and I remembered it being pretty good.
We were seated at a large booth in the back and the drinking continued… except for me, I stopped and switched to water. I have this problem where I tend to get super drunk the night before a wedding and then I don’t drink or feel well at the wedding itself, so I wanted to try and curb that…. spoiler alert, I didn’t drink much at the wedding.
Since there were so many of us eating this time, I’m not sure what everyone else ordered, but I know there was a Piggy Mac and some fried green tomatoes and fried pickles. I opted to go for the ribs this time, since I remember I got the pulled pork last time I was there.
I thought the ribs were pretty good. Again, could have been the alcohol, and the fact that we hadn’t eaten much all day, but the ribs themselves were juicy and tender, and the bbq sauce was sweet and delicious. The 1/2 rack was perfect combined with the beans (I didn’t eat the potato salad). I felt like I ate just the right amount where I was full, but not over full. I would have loved to have tried the Piggy Mac, but this stupid diet kept me away. As for the fried green tomatoes and the fried pickles, I wouldn’t have tried those anyways.
After Puckett’s my parents, my wife and I called it a night, while the other 4 decided to head back towards Broadway and see what was going on. Apparently they didn’t last too long at Tootsie’s before the fire marshall came in and shut them down until they cleared some people out, so after that they all just came back, so we didn’t miss much.
The next morning was the day of the wedding, but it wasn’t until later in the afternoon, so we were on the hunt for somewhere to eat breakfast near our hotel.
The Row Kitchen & Pub
We stayed near the Vanderbilt area, so we ended up heading over to The Row Kitchen & Pub. We called ahead, since they said they don’t take reservations, and made our way over there around 10:30am. Upon arriving, there was a large empty table outside on the covered patio, but apparently that was for a “reservation” which they told us on the phone they didn’t take… Shortly thereafter a bachelorette party walked in and was seated at that table… I guess special events get reservations? I don’t know.
After waiting probably 30 minutes, we were seated at the long table next to the bachelorette’s and ready to eat, so we ordered a starter right away.
The Nashville Beignet’s were absolutely incredible. I could have eaten another order or two for my meal if I didn’t think the sugar would send my heart into a tailspin. I highly recommend the beignet if you’re headed here for breakfast or lunch.
As for our meals, I opted for just a normal 2-egg and bacon breakfast, with a side pancake (boring, I know). My stomach was all over the place after day drinking the day before, so I wanted to give it something familiar. My wife got the chef choice omelet, which was brisket and cheddar cheese that day. I did end up trying some of hers and it was pretty good; I was a little upset I didn’t get that, but oh well.
My brother’s, however, were a little taken aback by how spicy their Hash Skillet & Egg was. They never bothered to ask if it was a spicy dish, but the menu doesn’t really lead you to believe that it would be spicy… although there are peppers in it, so they could be hot peppers I guess. Either way though, both of them ended up finishing their food, and even some of a burger that one of their fiancee’s didn’t finish.
I thought the food was pretty good here, the atmosphere was nice. Thankfully the patio is a covered patio because it started to rain like crazy about half way through our meal. The rain did clear up in time for our wedding that night, so it was all good.
All in all we had a great time in Nashville. The food was good, the music was good, the drinks were flowing, and the wedding was beautiful.
If anyone has any food recommendations for Nashville, feel free to leave them in the comments. I don’t think this will be the last time we make it down there…