Day 2 – Eating Our Way Through Nashville
This is the second day in a series about my cross-country road trip. To see the intro post, click here.
As soon as I woke up, I knew I had a big day ahead of me. Or rather, my stomach had a big day ahead of it. Nearly every destination on our Nashville itinerary was food related, meaning that by day’s end, I was certain to be full with the fruits of our labor.
Breakfast at Biscuit Love
Our first stop on this gluttonous Nashville food tour was a local breakfast joint called Biscuit Love in the gentrified neighborhood called The Gulch. Like the name might suggest, its specialty was biscuits, and nearly every entrée invoked the call of these dense, buttery balls of dough. I ordered a somewhat-predictable meal that included two eggs, bacon, a sweet biscuit, and a dish of cheesy grits. Everything about the food was exquisite, from the thick, smoked bacon to the savory, seasoned grits. Even the biscuit came with a homemade berry preserve that elevated it far above standard side dish fare. Paired with the on-tap mineral water, it was a breakfast I would surely repeat if I had the chance.
Photos at the Parthenon
Upon exiting this restaurant, we decided to head to another one of Nashville’s most prominent tourist destinations – the Parthenon. Luckily, the weather was chilly and unforgiving, so there weren’t many others brave enough to dare the elements. We found the spot nearly abandoned, making it perfect to take in the massive structure unencumbered with guffawing children or selfie-overdosing foreigners.
After finishing our examination of the monument, we had an idea to take advantage of the plethora of scooters littered about the city. Unbeknownst to us prior to that day, it was Uber’s very first day of electric scooter operation in Nashville. To celebrate, they were offering free 15-minute rides. As we were unwilling to commit to a full-priced ride, we decide to seek out some Uber scooters and give them a test. However, we were unable to find any near the Parthenon, so we put this plan on the backburner for later.
Lunch at Prince’s Hot Chicken
Lunchtime was now approaching, and even though we had only had breakfast about two hours prior, we decided to tackle our next food hurdle – hot chicken. This spicy and aromatic dish had quickly become one of our favorites after sampling some in both Columbus and Pittsburgh. So we absolutely knew we had to see how Nashville fared in competition, and to do that, we headed to the source of it all – Prince’s Hot Chicken.
Supposedly, this was the first eatery to ever offer hot chicken, making it one of Nashville’s most prominent restaurants. In fact, it’s so prominent, that we walked in to find the show “Flip or Flop: Nashville” doing an interview and B-roll filming. It’s unknown if we made it onto any footage, but I should certainly be easy to spot with my neon purple mess of hair.
We had placed our order online (at the advice of both the restaurant’s website and customer reviews), so we just had to wait a couple of minutes for it to be finished. Then, we grabbed a table and took a look at what we had just gotten ourselves into.
Before us on the platter were two kinds of chicken – Hot and XXXHot. The latter was supposedly a middle-of-the-road heat, while the former was the hottest available. Many reviewers suggested ordering one level of heat down than you usually get, but we weren’t phased. We knew we could handle the spiciest iteration the restaurant could throw at us, but to preserve our palettes, we decided the Hot might provide some nice cooling relief. Immediately I could see the difference between the two – the Hot was a pleasant light brown color, while the XXXHot simmered a mouthwatering dark brown that instantly assuaged any and all fear. Even if I died after tasting the XXXHot, I knew it would be worth it just because of how good it looked.
We started things off with the Hot, and I was pleasantly surprised to find my taste buds weren’t overwhelmed. The flavor was potent yet serviceable, and I eagerly stripped the moist, tender chicken off the bone. That hurdle surmounted, the only thing left before us now was the XXXHot. I grabbed the crispy leg, brought it to my lips, and instantly felt my eyes water. The heat was delicious, the spice rolling into my mouth as I chewed and masticated. My mouth began to hang open as sweat beaded on my forehead and fluid dripped from my nose. Chicken juices rolled over my lips and I licked them up greedily, too afraid to miss even a single drop of this deep-fried gloriousness.
By the end, my mouth was a lurid pit of anguish, but it wasn’t unendurable. I swished some chocolate milk in my mouth, and found that after five minutes, the heat has dissipated entirely. I was left only with a tingling scalp and the faint memory of some of the best hot chicken I’ve ever had.
Testing Out the Free Uber Scooters
Now that our stomachs were truly overflowing, we had to move around a bit, so it was time to pursue the aforementioned Uber scooters. We headed back toward The Gulch and were able to purloin a couple from the sidewalk. The scooters zoomed along at the slightest touch, peaking out at 15 miles per hour. The wind whipped through my hair, turning it to purple ribbons as it cascaded behind me. Sweeping and swerving through lone pedestrians proved quite the challenge, but once the road before us was free, it was easy to delight in the speed and savor the power that thrummed under our feet.
Day Drinking at Southern Grist and Smith and Lentz
Fifteen minutes passes fast when you’re scootering, and soon, it was time to move on to our next activity – drinking. The first brewery we visited was called Southern Grist House, with no relation to the Grist House in Pittsburgh. We ordered two flights to try as much as possible, and the beers here were all delicious and easy to gulp. It was hard to choose a favorite, so we simply enjoyed each one on its own merit as we played a riveting game of Banangrams.
From here, our next stop was Five Daughters Bakery to pick up some donuts for the road tomorrow. What makes these donuts different from their doughy counterparts is that they are created with carefully layered croissant dough, resulting in a pastry that is both light and flavorful at the same time. I settled on a chocolate raspberry variant, while Drew went for a chocolate strawberry option. In the end, we split them in half, and both were exquisite.
The next brewery we graced with our presence was Smith and Lentz, located in East Nashville. The atmosphere was open and accommodating, and we settled in for two more pints each while enjoying episodes of The Twilight Zone.
The drinking was still not over. Because it was too early for dinner, we found one more local bar to hold us over while we tried to let our stomachs digest a bit. The Germantown Pub had a happy hour we didn’t realize was going on, so we enjoyed a cheap, tall PBR which probably did not help empty our bellies at all.
Dinner at Monell’s
Drinking for several hours does tend to make one hungry, but because of all the Nashville food I had already ingested during the day, my stomach wasn’t quite as ravenous as usual. Despite this, we decided to head to a lovely family-style eatery called Monell’s. Usually, customers are all sat at one big table, and unlimited sides, main dishes, and desserts are passed around freely, with everyone socializing and bonding over their meal. Unfortunately, we were the only ones at the table, so we enjoyed enormous amounts of food all to ourselves. Everyone on the menu was incredible, from the stuffed shells to the homemade biscuits to the pie for dessert.
At this point, my body simply could not go on. I had eaten too much Nashville food, and my stomach desperately needed time to process it all. Conscious again of the open road waiting for us the next day, we decided to turn in and prepare ourselves for the second leg of our road trip.