10 Favorite Nashville Restaurants

The problem is, I could no more pick a favorite restaurant than I could pick a favorite dish.

It’s obvious to anyone that knows me – actually it’s obvious to anyone who has SEEN me – that I enjoy eating. And because I often eat out, I’m sometimes asked to name my favorite restaurant in Nashville. Continue reading “10 Favorite Nashville Restaurants”

End-of-Summer Scramble

It’s the last weekend before college football season, and folks in Nashville are either scrambling to get one more weekend of summertime activities done.

It’s the last weekend before college football season, and folks in Nashville are either scrambling to get one more weekend of summertime activities done, or tending to yards/houses/chores/family members that need attention before Autumn. I confess that, due to televised NCAA football, I don’t get out much on Saturdays between the first of September and the end of November. (If I were a fan of a top-ranked team, I’d probably have to resign myself to doing all my holiday shopping online, because the NCAA division championships go right into mid-December!

As I mentioned recently, I’m getting ready to have a big yard sale with friends – and that’s going to eat up every bit of my time and energy on Friday evening and Saturday. On Sunday, however, I plan a nice, relaxing day, followed by an evening at the Carnton Plantation for the Sunset Concert. (This weekend’s band is an Eagles cover band, The 7 Bridges Band.)

But here are some good ideas for fun this weekend…

Friday night is a Full Moon Pickin’ Party at the Warner Park Equestrian Center on Old Hickory Blvd. These laid-back, family-friendly fundraisers allow musicians and music lovers alike to mingle under the light of the moon, while enjoying fine bluegrass and roots music. Adult admission is $25 at the gate, which includes complimentary beer &/or water. Youth 7-17 can enter for $10; Children 6 and under are admitted free. You can bring food, blankets, chairs, dogs (on 6’ leash), and if you bring an acoustic instrument to play in the jam circles, you’ll get a significant discount!

If I wasn’t planning a yard sale, I’d be planning to catch the Saturday matinee performance of Cirque du Soliel’s “Varekai” at Bridgestone Arena, followed by dinner at one of the Nashville Originals restaurants that’s participating in Nashville Restaurant Week.

As it happens, I’ve already told you something great to enjoy on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

I don’t plan to post suggestions for Labor Day weekend. Hope you have a splendid holiday! (I plan to resume my series about Nashville-area neighborhoods in September…stay tuned!)

Berry Hill / Melrose is the Place to Be – Dead or Alive!

Whether you are planning to spend a day or a weekend (or longer!) in the Berry Hill/Melrose district, here are some suggestions for places to visit, shop and dine.

Native Nashvillians past a certain age still recall when the impossibly large and elegant 100 Oaks Mall was opened in 1968. It was the place to be seen, when Bobbi Brooks was the clothing brand to be seen in! Now that the mall has changed its focus (yes, there are still shops on the exterior perimeter, but the main focus of the mall itself is outpatient services affiliated with Vanderbilt Medical Center) the excitement has shifted to the neighborhoods adjacent to the mall – Berry Hill and Melrose.

Berry Hill has been home to an eclectic variety of shops, offices and restaurants for many years, but its popularity has surged recently. And, while it’s hard to say whether the phenomenal growth in Melrose is more directly related to the popularity of Berry Hill or 12 South (its neighbor to the west), all of the sudden the Melrose area is a fun area of town again!

Whether you are planning to spend a day or a weekend (or longer!) in the Berry Hill/Melrose district, here are some suggestions for places to visit, shop and dine:

Breakfast

If you’ve got kids, breakfast at the Pfunky Griddle on Bransford Ave. is a great way to start the day. This fun eatery provides you with all the ingredients your heart could desire to cook your own breakfast – right at the table! Then – best part – they clean up after you!

Looking for a great value at breakfast? Athens Family Restaurant on Franklin Pike has been voted Nashville’s number one breakfast restaurant, serving breakfast any time of day (and through the night Thursday through Saturday!). Order an egg & cheese sandwich for just $3.99 – or loosen your belt and get The Hercules Platter (steak, eggs, home fries, toast & pancakes) for $14.99. You even can order fancier fare, like the Crab Cakes Benedict or Eggs Viennese (a low-carb treat featuring lox and cream cheese).

If you have a taste for high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, give Fenwick’s 300 a try. One of Melrose’s newest restaurants, the “300” refers to a perfectly bowled game – an homage to the Melrose Lanes bowling alley that occupied part of the building from 1945 to 2005 (they preserved one lane in the bar area). This is a restaurant to get breakfast with a creative twist – and a custom coffee beverage created by the in-restaurant Bongo Java coffee bar. Fenwick’s 300 is located in The Melrose building on Franklin Pike.

So now you’re fed, and you’re looking for something to do…

GasLamp Antiques Mall has gotten so big and popular that they’ve now opened a second location, GasLamp II, just half a block from the original on Powell Place. With over 160 spaces, the sheer variety of available merchandise boggles the mind. This Saturday (June 27), both GasLamp locations will be hosting a Freedom Fest, serving cold lemonade and savory barbecue – and many of the dealers will be offering special summer savings.

This June 26-28 weekend is also the weekend for the monthly Nashville Flea Market at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Considered one of the top ten flea markets in the U.S., each month 800 to 1200 vendors peddle merchandise representing every category imaginable (except animals – not permitted).

You may already know where many of Nashville’s current music stars live – but have you ever taken a tour of the stars’ final resting places? Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetary, flanking Thompson Lane, is where a good many country legends are buried. Take a tour of the grounds, and you’ll find markers for the likes of Porter Waggoner, Marty Robbins, and George Jones. Head into the mausoleum to find Tammy Wynette (real name Virginia Richardson) and Jerry Reed (Jerry R. Hubbard), among others. The burial park even has a “famous grave locator” website so you can plan your tour.

When it’s sizzling outside, many Nashvillians head to the movie theater, and the Regal Hollywood 27 is a perfect place to catch a summer blockbuster while waiting for the sun to set. Located next to 100 Oaks Mall, this is really a building that you can’t miss – with an impressive neon display that beckons evening drivers on nearby Interstate 65. Many action films are also available for viewing in 3D or RPX (Regal Premium Experience).

Need to relax? I mean, REALLY relax? Try booking one of the sensory deprivation tanks at FLOAT Nashville on Greystone Road for a 90- or 120-minutes session. These tanks are filled with skin-temperature water that has enough Epsom salt mixed in to make a body float on the surface. No light. No sound. It’s the most effortless thing to do to rid the body of pain and stress. The folks at FLOAT Nashville think that, once you’ve tried it, you’ll become a regular (and enjoy significantly discounted prices)!

It’s dinnertime

I realize I didn’t give you any lunch options, but all of the breakfast places I mentioned also have lunch menus, so I’m skipping right to some suggestions for dinner.

You can get a quick, healthy, casual meal made-to-order at Baja Burrito on Thompson Lane. Think Chipotle, but more fun and authentic. This is a favorite for families with kids.

Also on Thompson Lane, The Yellow Porch has a vibe that’s somewhat more refined – you can enjoy a nice wine or cocktail while considering menu options ranging from Shrimp & Crab Stuffed NC Trout, to Cardamom & Ginger Rubbed Lamb Chops, to a well-prepared Filet Mignon.

If you’re really puttin’ on the Ritz (and have made reservations), dinner at Sinema restaurant is sure to be a memorable experience – you are likely to glimpse celebrity executive chef Dale Levitsky (a former Top Chef contender), and you just might see one of Nashville’s other celebrities. Word of caution – do not approach a celebrity trying to enjoy dinner – it’s just not the Nashville way. If you happen to catch a celebrity’s eye by accident (not because you are staring or trying to take a selfie with them in the background), it is acceptable to smile discreetly and nod – as if to say “Yes, of course I know who you are and I like who you are, but wouldn’t dream of interrupting you.”

After dinner

If it’s just the adults, why not stop off at The Sutler for a nightcap? If you’ve got energy to spare (because you spent the afternoon in a sensory deprivation tank), you can stay upstairs and catch some live music. But head downstairs for a more romantic vibe with better drinks!

Whoa – that is one very full day that offers something fun for everyone! Great job, Berry Hill / Melrose!

5 Steps to Planning a Day of Fun in Middle Tennessee

Here’s how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together

Summertime is the time of anniversaries and birthdays at our house. We’ve celebrated enough of both to make traditional gift-giving seem impractical – even slightly ridiculous. (As I explained in my Valentine’s Day article, we usually don’t even buy cards for each other any longer!)  In this article, I’m going to tell you how to plan a “Day of Fun” – the extraordinary gift of spending an entire day together sharing interests and experiences. This particular itinerary will be planned for Saturday, June 6 – which happens to be our wedding anniversary!

Step 1 – Choose the First Event – There are a number of festivals going on in small towns across Middle Tennessee on June 6. You might select the Wartrace Music Festival (10am – 10pm), or the Folk Medicine Festival in Red Boiling Springs (9am – 6pm). For this weekend, I’ve chosen the Coopertown Barrel Festival (10am – 4pm) as our First Event, which means that we want to arrive in Coopertown sometime between 10am and noon. But first – breakfast!

Step 2 – Pick a breakfast spot on the way. Put some effort into this selection – this might be the time that you finally try to get a table at one of Nashville’s new brunch hot spots like Biscuit Love or Fenwick’s 300. (Or you might just head over for the terrific breakfast and friendly service at Nashville Biscuit House in East Nashville.) In our case, since we know our First Event is in Robertson County, I spent a little time on Google and discovered a promising breakfast spot – The Country Junction in Joelton, TN.

Step 3 – Pick an alternate morning activity. Okay, let’s say that we arrive at the Coopertown Barrel Festival at about 11 am, and we’ve seen all there is to see by 11:30. Or, let’s say that the heavens let loose and we decide that slogging about in the rain doesn’t Sound Like Fun. Part of the reason for picking the Barrel Festival in the first place is that we enjoy learning about whiskey distillation. So, if we end up needing to stay indoors, we’re likely to head over to Prichard’s in Joelton, or down to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Marathon Village (or both) for a tour. Or, if we’re feeling ambitious, we might go up to Bowling Green, KY to tour the Corsair Distillery (and get a stamp for another destination on the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail).

Step 4 – There Will Be Barbecue! After the big breakfast we’ve planned, we’re probably not going to be hungry until almost mid-afternoon. And, though it’s sometimes fun to just choose a restaurant based on what looks good (and open) as you’re driving by, I tend to get impatient once hunger strikes! So, it’s a great idea to check out Yelp! (or some such service) so that you’ll know a good local barbecue joint that’s not too far out of the way. For my itinerary, I looked for something in Springfield – I see that top-reated Willie Mae’s is closed on the weekends, but J.L. Baldwin & Son’s Pit Barbecue is open and reviews are solid!

Step 5 – Chill Time. There’s nothing like a cold beverage and some live music to round out a Day of Fun. Of course, we have several favorite music venues in Nashville we could visit – but at Beachaven Vineyards and Winery in Clarksville, we can set our lawn chairs out and listen to some great music – FREE! (All we have to pay for is the wine we drink.) This Saturday’s artist is the “World Famous” Jim Gibson, playing blues/jazz guitar.

So, there you have it – 5 steps to a spectacular Day of Fun! I’ll be featuring additional itineraries in the future. Feel free to share any successful itineraries you’ve crafted – let’s make our summer memorable!