Nashville has become my favorite city away from home. The music, the people, and especially the FOOD all add to the atmosphere. I first found myself in the Music City on a work trip in 2011, and have been fortunate to watch it transform through the seasons ever since.
While work hours in Nashville limit how many touristy activities I can do in one trip—most museums close at 5pm—I am able to venture into the different neighborhoods for good grub and a little shopping. On this guide I am sharing everything from my favorite coffee shops and restaurants to wellness stores and a special place where I find unique treats for my Pomeranian.
Let’s Get Eggcited
When I think of breakfast in Nashville, these three spots immediately come to mind. For locals, these are well known, but for anyone else… this is gold. What made my list? One breakfast spot made Bon Appétit’s best sandwich of 2015. Another holds sightings of Taylor Swift. And the last one is creating more toppings on your bagel than you can imagine.
Better known for their brunch, I often find myself here before doors open at 7am. Expect to wait in line for a few minutes (even in the early mornings) or longer on busy weekends when the line goes out the door. The favorites here at Biscuit Love are the breakfast items on a biscuit like the East Nasty and Princess—both made with fried boneless chicken thigh. On the one hand, the East Nasty is topped with aged cheddar while the Princess sandwich is prepared in that Nashville style “Hot Chicken”. A surprising dish is the Bananas Foster Oatmeal. I especially loved the creamy coconut milk with their oatmeal blend and caramelized banana jam.
First thing I go for at Fido is the Local Latte because they use local honey, duh! It is always incredibly delicious and hits the spot. From their breakfast plates, I like to order the Huevos Rancheros: fried eggs, black beans, sour cream, avocado, corn tortillas, and a red salsa that pretty much makes this a great choice. The menu also includes bagel sandwiches and other sandwich options with sides that include roasted sweet potatoes, chips and fruit.
Just think custom cream cheeses on fresh baked bagels. Here is a simple breakfast choice that won’t steer you wrong. Of course there is an avocado toast, but go for the bagels with house made butters or their customer cream cheese. These are some of my favorites: lavender honey, scallion dill, and Nutella peanut butter. Check out the full menu here.
The Mug Life Chose Me
Finding unique coffee shops in Nashville has now become one of the highlights of each trip. These spots are the best for their delicious lattes and super chill vibes. I find I frequent these most especially to catch up on work after hours, or to grab a hot (or iced) coffee before heading to the airport. Keep reading to find out my drink order at these brewtiful locations.
Their East Nashville location is just perfect because it is right next to Five Daughters Bakery so I can kill two birds with one stone. My eyes always go to the board on the left side of the counter where they list recommended lattes. The Mocha is a favorite, but I always jump on the Black Bear whenever available. It is a blackberry and honey latte that is just so unique here. Ugly Mugs is also a great work space and lots of windows in case you rather people watch.
While I have visited three of their sites, I always go back the Barista Parlor in Downtown on Magazine Street. From their specialty espresso drinks, I go for the Bourbon Vanilla or Whiskey Caramel. These subtle infusions are just right to start an early workday. Every now and then I also order breakfast here and so can definitely recommend the Moto—house made buttermilk biscuit with eggs, white cheddar, and a fat piece of bacon.
Three Brothers Coffee
Every visit I make to Three Brothers Coffee leaves me wanting more. Also, their branded merchandise makes me wish I left some more room on my suitcase. Pretty much stick to my guns here and order the latte with any one of their house made syrups like salted caramel and lavender. Pair that with the Egg Sammy and you’re all set.
I’ve pretty much started a tradition with Crema. Before driving to the Nashville airport to get back home, I make a stop here. This artisanal coffeehouse will give you all the feels. For a while I’d order the Frida—short latte served with a spicy Mexican dulce de leche and homemade cookie crisp—but, last time I was there (probably July of this year), they had a new specialty drink called the Groundskeeper. It is crafted with chamomile infused milk, espresso and a spiced syrup, then served over ice. Now that’s some good brew!
Winner, Winner, (More Than) Chicken Dinner
If you want the BBQ and hot chicken, just do a little Google search and you’ll be fine. I’m sharing below my all-time favorite restaurants in Nashville. These are places I go back to time and time again; tried and true.
5th & Taylor
Put it this way: before I book my flight to Nashville, I’ve already made a reservation at 5th & Taylor. With every visit, the infatuation grows deeper. The exposed beams add to the charm of the restaurant while the layout makes you feel like you have the place to yourselves. From the appetizers, the duck liver mouse is by far the way to start, but I love trying different options like the bacon wrapped quail or the mini sausage-cheddar biscuits. As for the entrée, I always order the halibut. This is a seasonal dish so since I find myself in Nashville at different times of the year, I’ve pretty much tried this dish 4-5 different ways. The most memorable version includes a butternut squash puree.
Cash only, people. Oh, but so worth it! You may even drive past this spot and not even realize the goods inside. This is a must-stop when in Nashville. Forget about the fried chicken; come to Mas Tacos and get the pulled pork tacos, fried avocado, or spicy carne molida tacos. Add to that order the chicken tortilla soup. You’re welcome.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Surprisingly, I did not find this one on my own. Some coworkers went out for a team dinner and we hit up Barcelona Wine Bar. It’s a great place to order small plates to share at the table. We pretty much devoured patatas bravas, chorizo with sweet and sour figs, cauliflower, and potato tortilla.
Because I Love Plants, Too
Let’s be real. Vegetables are awesome and they make me feel great, BUT… that burger! I just can’t quit that burger in a soft bun with gooey cheese running over. At the same time, Nashville is home to some awesome vegan joints that have quickly become go-to spots for me.
Even if you are not vegan, you will love Avo for the simple fact that flavor is on point. Their menu (and owners) changed a bit in the last couple of years, but I still deeply enjoy dishes like the seasonal squash bowl and Pad Thai. Take my word for it and order the kimchi spring rolls to start. Also to start, get your hands on the avocado margarita. This cocktail is creamy and balanced well with a hint of citrus.
The Wild Cow
There is a cozy feel here. I feel like I can walk into the Wild Cow with my pajamas on. The food gets you in that mood, too. First impression was great so I would come back here for the Portobello quinoa bowl with added avocado. Everything tastes homemade, fresh and just all around good. Your vegan friend will approve.
Search for vegan spots in Nashville, and Sunflower Café will come up real quick. There was one thing on the menu calling my name and that was the veggie burger. The pictures online don’t do it justice because this bad boy is stacked. It all begins with a flavorful veggie patty and then you choose a whole-wheat bun, flatbread, or wrap. I went bun all the way and topped it with their Asian slaw. Yum!
In case you are like me and honky-tonks are not your thing, here are a couple of my favorite places to find beautifully crafted cocktails. These two fellows are classy with a flair for art and style.
The Patterson House
Anyplace that dedicates a whole page to whiskey is pretty legit. They make my favorite Old Fashioned of all time. What’s even better about The Patterson House is that the bar is never crowded. The policy is that you can only come in if there is a table or chair to accommodate you. That means no mingling around the bar or hanging off the edge of a table. Behind the bar you will discover true mastery of the craft. Their mixologists pour up cocktails that are not only beautiful to look at, but also wonderful to sip.
This restaurant also has a bar downstairs that is even cooler than the main dining rooms. Across the bar inside Husk you will see a wall lined with different spirits. Their cocktail creations have fun names like Peanut in Paradise and Golden Sounds and German Towns. If you can’t score a table upstairs, you can always come down to the bar and order food there. My favorite here is the Ocarina of Time based in a Belle Meade Bourbon.
Bakeries and Sweets
All things sugar and more are also home to Nashville. Read below for my absolute go-to places to satisfy that sweet tooth. I’ve also been known to take these on a flight back to Miami and they have made it home just fine!
Five Daughters Bakery
100-layer donut. That’s all you need to know. The rest is pure magic. Five Daughters Bakery is a family business highlights all things sweet about the donut and other treats made from scratch. You can also find their donuts at Barista Parlor (where I first discovered them). I’ve tried some of their staple flavors like King Kong (maple/bacon) and Chocolate Sea Salt—can’t go wrong. When I was in Nashville back in July, I ordered the Dreamsicle, which is one of their rotating flavors. I’ll be back in October and can’t wait to see what else they’ve come up with.
Gigi’s is right across the hotel where I usually stay at. Yes, that is very dangerous. I can just cross the street and pick up a box of cupcakes (that I’ll be taking home to share with the family, of course). This location on Broadway is the original store and it’s just adorable. Gigi’s cupcakes are moist and topped with a tall swirl of creamy frosting. In my box I will always take back these flavors: Midnight Magic Chocolate Chip, Wedding Cake, and Scarlett’s Red Velvet.
The Bang Candy Company
Bang Candy Company treats can be found all across Nashville in places like Fido (mentioned above). They are Nashville-based and make some of the most unique marshmallow treats I have ever tried. Labeled more appropriately as gourmet marshmallows, they are half-dipped in Belgian chocolate and infused with flavors like Rose Cardamom and Maple Bacon Bourbon. This is a great souvenir to take back especially with the super cute packaging used here.
Beauty, Wellness, and a Little Extra
Over the years, I have come to learn that Nashville is more than just amazing food. I’ve discovered some local shops that have really touched my heart. These are stores selling products that they really believe in from wellness to special treats.
This is a new find for me. I was completely blown away when I walked into Lemon Laine. Since I follow wellness bloggers all across the country, I often hear them rave about products that I only dream about trying. Well, here’s the place to find them all under one roof. They are a natural beauty and wellness shop sharing their love for all things clean and personalized. Some of the products I took home with me include a Clary Collection oil infusion, Beauty Dust from Moon Juice (herbal supplement), and probiotic pearls. Follow them on Instagram to discover new products arriving nearly every week.
Baxter Bailey & Company
This cute shop has all things adorable for your pup. Towards the counter, there is a full glass case of Nashville inspired treats like boots and music notes. They also have special designed collars and gear for your pup, toys, and even throw pillows for the home. I always stop in here to pick up treats to bring back to my sweet Gaby (Pomeranian). Shop their store by clicking here.