“Smells like Bonaroo, tastes like heaven,” said the barkeep at The Pharmacy, regarding their Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie. Neither one of us knew quite what to think about that assessment, but I can attest to the claims regarding their burgers probably being the best in Nashville.
We were between stops on our first day back after a few months away, sandwiched between settling in our E. Nashville Airbnb and hitting a vinyl shop.
The afternoon’s itinerary also included a stop at a certain coffee shop where you can admire the artisan style iPad point-of-sale while trying to decide if you’re in a line or not (and for what). There, you have ample time to admire Metric on their turntable setup as you wait for your order to be called out.
Also, they have coffee.
I’ve had a similar experience while seeking caffeine there before. A friend’s recent account of his visit was surprisingly similar down to bus cart confusion. I still couldn’t locate the bus cart.
They also have several hot teas.
Eastbound and Up
One could easily stay in East Nashville and never go downtown, or anywhere else for that matter. Still Nashville has so many evolving neighborhoods that would be must stop destinations in any city. Grimey’s is truly a one-of-a-kind music store with a fine venue right under it in The Basement. That’s worth leaving East Nashville for. But, they’ve got a sister – or brother – venue with the Basement East in, you guessed it, East Nashville.
Closer to downtown, you’ve got Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom. The history alone regarding these Cannery Row venues is surprising. Speaking of history, there’s of course the Ryman. And, yes, the acoustics really are what they say they are.
Most of these stops have histories before the development boom of the last ten or fifteen years in Nashville. This boom has brought an almost overwhelming number of destinations for foodies and those with high credit limits and levels of disposable income. At the time of writing, roughly $2 billion in building projects across the area are underway.
What’s fueling the development? I hate to say it, but it looks like it might actually be as simple as a concerted shift in urban design combined with an effort to attract business (read: employers) to the city. Area industry has been lauded as more diversified (read: it’s not just country music) than that of other cities. It’s a college town. It’s a sports town.
In short, it could be a poster child for what loose monetary policy is supposed to do everywhere.
Some Potentially Related – or Tangential – Facts About Nashville
- Like Florida, Tennessee has no income tax.
- Nashville is a pain to fly into without a private jet.
- Hotel rooms are few, and a Hampton Inn might cost as much as $400 per night.
- Uber is a very effective method of transportation there.
- Carter Vintage Guitars is better than Gruhn Guitars, but don’t tell anyone.
What’s The Origin Story of Hot Chicken?
The demon spawn of tourism and loose monetary policy includes hype. In this case, the show Nashville can also be counted. And then there’s hot chicken.
Being southern, I had never heard of what has been hailed as a uniquely southern dish. Then, on a recent trip to Nashville, I found that it couldn’t be avoided. Like the author in a Bitter Southerner account, I didn’t understand where it came from or how I had missed it.
And, just as in the story from The Bitter Southerner, I made a similar discovery regarding it’s origin story when I asked an Uber driver about it.
He said he and his brother would be roused when their father needed soakage around 2 am. But no, he said, it was never as big of a deal as it is now. It was just a thing in the black community.
I asked another Uber driver, and he said the best hot chicken was in East Nashville, contrary to countless reviews of tourist traps. I did see the phrase “Spicy Chicken” on an old storefront window and a telephone number without an area code.
I don’t know the difference between spicy chicken and hot chicken, but I did get a Gulch restaurant to bastardize (read: improve) one of their dishes with hot (or spicy) chicken. It worked.
Anyway, you can get Nashville Hot Chicken at KFC now.
In the next post, we’ll continue our survey of Nashville including a look in on the arts and a trip for bagged ice.