A mix of traditional eats with a shot of whiskey, Nashville’s thriving food scene serves up hearty Southern grub, the likes of fried chicken, barbecue, and meat-and-three. There are also pockets of international cuisine, including Middle Eastern specialties. That’s because Nashville is home to the largest Kurdish community outside of Kurdistan.
But it’s Nashville hot chicken that flavors the city’s culinary culture and draws me in. At its birthplace, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, you’ll get a true taste—fried chicken smothered in hot sauce and cayenne. Beware: The heat is real. I recommend erring on the side of caution because even mild packs a punch. Keep reading for more on making the most of three food-filled days in Nashville.
Pack for hot and muggy summers with frequent thunderstorms, while winters are relatively cold.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.
Get acquainted with Nashville’s staple dishes, such as slow-roasted barbecue and authentic hot chicken. Start at one a trendy coffee shop in the Gulch neighborhood or grab brunch at Biscuit Love (try the bonuts) before doing some sightseeing and shopping.
Staying in the Gulch, head to Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the most popular spot in town for a classic meat-and-three meal with sweet tea. Since this is a go-to spot, be prepared for a line. Or head to McGavock Street, between 11th and 12th avenues, for some finer dining restaurants. And if you’re around Broadway, beeline to Prince’s for that hot chicken.
Head to the historic Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., about a 1.5-hour drive, for a tour and whiskey tasting. Plus, explore downtown Lynchburg and order pie at Miss Mary Bobo's Restaurant. If you instead stay in Nashville, sip some Jack at one of the many honky-tonks that line Broadway and at the hidden gems in Printers Alley.
Then, cross the Cumberland River toward up-and-coming East Nashville to eat smoked meats at Edley’s Bar-B-Que (try the Tuck brisket sandwich). Also, try Cafe Roze for American classics, Five Points Pizza for NYC-style pie, and Peninsula for Spanish fare.
The circa 1800s Nashville Farmers Market, located downtown, is open daily, showcasing local produce and artisan wares. It's near the Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and plenty of restaurants. After a market visit, walk a few blocks to Silver Sands Cafe for soul food including chitterlings, pigs feet, oxtails, and catfish.
Next, take a 20-minute drive (or No. 52 bus) on Nolensville Road/Pike toward the Nashville Zoo, to dine on international fare, including at Newroz Market for Middle Eastern specialties, Pupuseria Reina La Bendición for pupusas and empanadas, and La Hacienda for Mexican faves.