Travel, Uncategorized, Wanderlusting

Nashville Guide

Oh hey all, I’m back!  Deepest apologies for that hiatus. I honestly don’t know what happened… well I think I got a tad bit lazy and kept procrastinating.  So, this is exciting I contributed to WCBC’s Friday Five post last week!  Check it out here or here!

So, remember a while back, I posted on Instagram about flying to Nashville for a day?  Then I promised I’ll would write about it?  Well, I finally did!  For your reading pleasure!

Honky Tonk Row

Nashville is one of my favorite domestic cities. It’s good for any age and for any occasion, whether one is there to celebrate a bachelor or bachelorette, a birthday or even a divorce (seriously, I met a group of 30 somethings celebrating a divorce! Why not, right?).

Nashville gets the reputation of a party city, you’ve heard it called #NashVegas. It’s important to me to stress that “#NashVegas” doesn’t necessarily define the city. Nashville is a city full of indescribable talent, history and has an extraordinary culinary scene. However, if partying is what you’re after, then this city is also for you.

Our first trip to Nashville was back in February of 2015. This was a Christmas gift from S (I would have to say this was the best Christmas gift he’s ever given me). I was excited to trade in the bitter cold of Chicago for a long weekend in warmer Nashville. This first trip was spent on Honky Tonk Row aka Lower Broadway where we listened to live music and ate at one of my now favorite places in Nashville. We explored President’s Polk’s burial site and wandered through the financial district.

Honky Tonk Central

Honky Tonk Central

Our second trip was four months later in June, as a bday trip for S. We road tripped from Chicago with our favorite couple and spent 48 hours drinking, eating and listening to live music.

Our most recent trip, a bucket list item for us, was only 12 hours. Growing up in Rhode Island, day trips were a common thing, we would drive a couple of hours up to Boston or a few more hours up to New Hampshire or 45min to Newport.  In my adult life, while living in Boston, S and I would drive up to places like Rockport or Salem, Ma or to Rhode Island, Maine or New Hampshire.  We would take the Chinatown to Chinatown bus to Manhattan, spend the day and turn around and come home.  We were spoiled.  Since moving to Chicago we’ve only done one day trip, to Milwaukee, until now.  It’s always been a dream of mine to fly somewhere just for dinner and entertainment and fly back.  When I was a kid, I was in my middle school production of Guys and Dolls (I know, pretty mature for a group of 12 year olds).  I recall a particular scene where Sky Masterson purposes dinner in Havana, Cuba to Sergeant Sarah Brown. Since that day I have dreamed about flying somewhere just for a meal.  Since S and I had already been to Nashville on two other occasions, we found that this would be the perfect city to live out that dream.

We flew the first Southwest flight out of MDW and the last Southwest flight out of BNA.  Upon landing we took an UberX to Monell’s at the Manor to experience a traditional southern family style meal, in the most spectacular setting.  They had the most delicious, airy and buttery biscuits, I smothered mine with their homemade peach preserves while S doused his with gravy.  The restaurant started out as a mansion for an L&N railroad tycoon, then became the Colemere Club before finally becoming Monell’s.  The upstairs of the restaurant has been restored into a museum of sorts for patrons to visit.

Monell's at the Manor

Monell’s at the Manor


Monell's Upstairs

How creepy is this picture? Tell me if you see anything out of the ordinary, other than myself.

Monell's at the Manor Museum

Monell’s at the Manor Museum

Dining at Monell’s is an experience, you are seated at long farmhouse style table with other customers and the food is served family style to be shared.  This type of seating encourages one to chat with their fellow table-mates.  We sat next to the most charming local couple (the husband is a pilot), a wonderfully quiet and kind couple from Raleigh, NC and a group of Chicago girls, who happened to sit next to us on our flight in.

Monell's Bread Rolls

Monell's Family Style Table

After brunch we took an uber to the Ryman Auditorium where we toured the iconic theater, learned about it’s history, and recorded a song (the disk will need to be destroyed, believe me no one wants to hear the caterwauling).

Ryman Auditorium

Tip: Buy tickets to cut a song when getting tour tickets. Believe, it's an experience...

Tip: Buy tickets to cut a song when getting tour tickets. Believe me, it’s an experience…


Ryman_ Macarons and Lavender

Afterwards, we stopped into Jack’s BBQ for a quick bite where we shared a plate (they have the best smoked turkey and green beans).  In hindsight, we should have each ordered our own plate of food, we were anticipating grabbing a nice dinner before heading to the airport so we didn’t want to fill up.  As the saying goes “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” we didn’t make dinner… at all.

The rest of the afternoon was spent “hollerin’ and swallerin'” at the Full Moon Saloon, the iconic (and my all time favorite) Tootsies, and The Stage (a close second favorite).  We spent hours at both Tootsies and The Stage. This is where S asked me if I wanted to go to dinner or if I wanted to stay and have a “liquid dinner”, I’ll let you guess which one I chose… let me give you a hint, it did not make for the most pleasant plane ride home.

Macarons and Lavender Nashville

Cheers to a liquid dinner

Liquid Dinner- Macarons and Lavender

Each time we’ve been to Tootsies, we never make it past the front room.  Apparently there are multiple levels and even a roof deck.  When S and I go to Nashville, we go for the music. I am obsessed and infatuated with the talent in that booming city and we always find that the front room of Tootsies has the best band.

Jake Maurer of Nashville @ Tootsie's

Jake Maurer of Nashville @ Tootsie’s

Jake Maurer

Jake Maurer

No matter which bar you choose to stop into, the music will always be good, the crowd will always be entertaining and drinks will always be good.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite spots.


  • Monell’s – There are three locations. You’ll be fed well with some good ol’ country cooking.
  • Acme Feed & Seed– One of our all time favorites, go early or at an odd time and be prepared to wait in a line. Believe me, it’s well worth the wait.  Do yourself a favor and order the Hot Chicken from here.
  • The Southern Steak & Oyster– The atmosphere is cool and rustic here. Take a peek at how the ceiling fans are operated, it’s pretty neat.  The oysters, the chops and the smoked baby back ribs are all so so good.  This is where we got our friend hooked on Old Fashions. Get one.
  • Merchants Restaurant (Upstairs and Downstairs)- Merchants was pharmacy, which eventually became a hotel and is now a Restaurant.  The building’s interior and exterior is simply incredible. The Upstairs restaurant, a bit more fancy, and is where we fell in love with Steak Tartare. To date, this has been the best Steak Tartare we’ve had in the continental U.S.  Sadly, the Steak Tartare is no longer on the menu, but the rest of the food is delicious.  S had his shoes shined while we dined. The gentleman took his shoes, shined them and returned them to the table! The Downstairs is cool and casual with the most magnificent bar, come here for brunch and Upstairs for dinner!
  • Husk– Reese Witherspoon has declared this her favorite restaurant in Nashville. There’s also a location in Charleston, SC (all the heart emojis).  Full disclosure here, we haven’t had the chance to dine here yet, but we’ve only heard good things.
  • Arnold’s Country Kitchen– This is Scott’s pick. He was in his a “meat and three” heaven.  Be prepared to wait in a longish line, but S says it’s well worth it!
  • Catbird Seat– Make reservations as soon as you can, as this place is difficult to get into, but it’s worth it.  Ranked as one of Nashville’s top restaurants, there is no traditional menu, however, you get a tasting menu that is determined by Chicago native, Chef Ryan Poli.  This is what I would call a special occasion restaurant. Be prepared for your meal to be an experience. It can take up to a couple of hours.  Also, the price point may be a bit high, but it’s worth it.
  • City House– The Executive Chef,  Tandy Wilson, just won a James Beard award.  So, I’m adding this to the list.  City House is located in Nashville’s Germantown and has a menu that is drool worthy!
  • Puckett’s– Great place for breakfast/brunch.
  • Jack’s BBQ– As mentioned previously, this a great meat and three spot right on Broadway.
  • Prince’s Hot Chicken– TV shows love this place. Andrew Zimmern loved this place. I’ve unfortunately never been.
  • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken– When in Nashville, hot chicken is a must!

Attractions and Things to Do

The Stage

The Stage

The Stage Nashville

The Stage Nashville

The Stage

  • Ryman Auditorium– This iconic venue is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  Buy tickets to tour this place and tickets to record a song!
  • Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Parthenon– This is a FULL-SIZE replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece!  You can’t miss out on seeing this!
  • President Polk’s Burial Site- Why not? Located on the grounds of the State House, it’s an easy walk from Lower Broadway.
  • The Hermitage– President Andrew Jackson’s estate has been turned into a museum.
  • Honky Tonk Row- Catch some incredible live music.  Remember to bring cash with you so you can tip the band and request songs.  The rule of thumb is a $20 bill will instantly get you your song request played.  One of our favorite musicians to catch is Jake Maurer, not only is he extremely talented, but he’s hilarious. Jake had women all around swooning over his vocals and his engaging personality. Check out his website for his schedule.  The level of talent this city has is indescribable, people and performers are humble and kind (Isn’t that a Tim McGraw song?).
  • Tennessee Central Railway Museum
  • Clement Railroad Hotel Museum
  • East Nashville- This is the part of Nashville that is on the up and up.  Great restaurants and the area is a bit more “hip” and with edge.

I could honestly go on and on, share with me where you like to go when you’re in Nashville.

Love, Lephan

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