Next stop: Music City. Nashville, Tenn., has a growing food scene, but this fine town has a lot of competition (and perhaps a long way to go) when it comes to being one of the tastiest communities in the Southern U.S. I planned this trip last minute, and while I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to get a reservation at The Catbird Seat, I was fairly confident that Nashville has some good alternatives to offer.
For lunch, it was something quick and easy. While Corky’s BBQ is more of a Memphis chain, I saw that it had a drive-thru, so off I went. All of Corky's meats are slow-cooked over hickory wood and charcoal. I chose ribs covered with the "dry rub," which have a completely different flavor than the "wet" barbecue sauce that most of us typically eat (read: devour). Dry rub had a flavor of cayenne, cumin, garlic, and something else… I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it may be a secret ingredient. Don’t let the dry rub fool you, though. Your hands will still be sticky, and you will certainly be licking your fingers.
For dinner, I tried Pour House: Burgers, Bourbon, and Brews, which just opened a few months ago. Parking is valet only, but it is well worth a few bucks since parking downtown Nashville can be challenging. It was busy, but my friend and I got a table in less than 15 minutes. I settled for a portobello burger that was juicy and flavorful. Since I had indulged in a hearty helping of fries with my lunch, I opted for a salad. The server informed me that all of the bourbon menus had been stolen since the restaurant’s opening. I guess customers were so impressed with the selection of more than 130 bourbon varieties that they needed a take-home souvenir. That was OK by me since beer goes pretty darn well with burgers. I tried a local Portly Stout from Turtle Anarchy Brewery in Franklin, Tenn. Creamy, dark, and delicious. Pour House is off to a great start. It will only improve once bourbon menus become available again.
My friend, who’s a Nashville local, brought me to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for dessert. My friend also owns a local Nashville catering business, Savor the Flavor Catering, so she knows food. My understanding was that there is always a line at Jeni’s, no matter what day, what time of the day, what day of the week, the fullness of the moon, or whatever. Considering that the staff allows customers to sample any flavor they may want (without limit) I’m still surprised at how rapidly the line moved! The server behind the counter was very patient and knowledgeable. I guess we sampled eight different flavors each. The standouts were goat cheese and red cherry, banana cajeta, riesling poached pear, whiskey and pecans, and some sort of fig flavor (I unfortunately forgot since my taste buds were in shock at the time!). Once I had tried a nice variety of their samples, I settled on a cup full of the goat cheese and red cherry… ahhhh-mazing! Please tell me I get to go to Nashville again one day... like... tomorrow. So many flavors, so little time. I will stand in that line at Jeni’s again, any day, any time, and during any phase of the moon!
For more Nashville coverage, check out our Nashville Travel Guide.