When a friend of mine dared me to play hooky with her last Tuesday – Thursday and jet off to Nashville for no other reason than the fact that flights were cheap, I jumped at the chance. Neither of us had any desire to see the Country Music Hall of Fame or catch a show… you’ll have to read another blog for that info. Our goals were simple: 48 hours of beer, dive bars, and biscuits. I also mandated lots of coffee and at least two Instagram photo ops.
Biscuit Love: 110%, absolutely must must must eat at Biscuit Love in The Gulch. Get there early, because there’s a line. Yes, you’re paying $3 for a biscuit and the Bloody Mary is cheaper than the mimosa, but it’s so so delicious and the server didn’t judge me for my order of 3 beverages and a plain biscuit.
Pro Tip: Nashville is not the city for mimosas. At $10 a glass, it pained the part of me that is used to paying $12 for bottomless mims. Then again, Nashville is known for its local craft beer, and that’s definitely not a disappointment (and well-priced).
Family Wash / Garage Coffee: While Biscuit Love is more of a breakfast spot that happens to have Bloody Mary’s, The Family Wash/Garage Coffee is more of a bar (both for coffee and beer) that happens to also have breakfast. I can’t attest to food here, because we happened to pass it on our 7-mile trek from Broadway to East Nashville and just stopped for a refresher. I had an iced cold brew coffee, and my partner in crime was a big fan of the mimosa. We sat at the bar and the staff was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable about the area, and super sweet. I would have liked to stay longer but we had a big day of bar hopping ahead of us and this was just the first stop. (Oh, yes, like nearly everywhere in Nash, the Family Wash has live music.)
Mas Tacos Por Favor: This little dive taco shop in East Nashville is a cash-only spot that lives up to it’s name. All I wanted was Mas Tacos! The menu is short but perfected, the cast iron chicken taco somehow tastes like much more than a simple chicken taco. Travel Bud and I pooled our remaining cash (my only gripe – who doesn’t at least have Square!) and each got a taco and a drink. Tacos are ordered at one stand, and then we took our seats at the bar across the little restaurant and ordered drinks… They have a basic drink menu (margs, sangria, beer) but the real special part was that whatever fresh fruit they happened to have that day, they would use in a twist version. Pineapple sangria and a spiced chili marg were our picks and they didn’t disappoint.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken: Could it get any more Nashville-staple-esque than Hattie B’s? Everyone we asked recommended we stop here for “true Nash food” and by the 7,000th suggestion we couldn’t resist. Holy. Chicken. Oh. My. Tits. I’ve never eaten such amazing fried chicken before. Medium was a good spice level, and if you don’t get the pimento mac and cheese as one of your sides, you’re doing it wrong. Again, there’s a line, so go early. We got a pitcher of beer and spent a good hour and a half sitting on the outdoor deck eating every speck of chicken batter and drop of local beer.
Paradise Park Trailer Park Resort: I think I’m a little biased to this Broadway dive because 1) it’s so purposefully trashy, and 2) it reminds me of my favorite dive bar in college (RIP Devaney’s) and 3) they had a giant theater sign just announcing “TOTS” and 4) the live music was a chick who was kicked off The Voice and wrote a song about how much Miley Cyrus sucks. I also don’t remember much after our stop here Tuesday night (except we met a Californian named Brad who also loves pancakes and mimosas) so clearly it was a fun spot to sip Coors light under a tire-turned-into-a-lamp. The bartender was again, super friendly, and the other patrons (all like, 6 of them, since it was early) basically pulled us into their other party.
Losers and Winners: Contrary to popular belief, Losers is actually one bar and Winners is technically another, set right next to each other. After eating our weight in Hattie B’s, we had three hours to kill before we had to get to the airport, so we looked for a drinking hole within walking distance. Considering it was barely noon on a Thursday and we were both giving the giant middle finger to adulthood that day, we chose the Losers bar and it was everything I could ever want in a dimly lit, dingy, gross bar. Two regulars sat at one end of the bar going shot for shot and smoking, asking where we were from “cause they don’t make em like that round there,” and the other end of the bar hosted a Patron tequilla sales rep, who was working from the bar. (Is anyone hiring positions like that? Because that’s a full time job I could love.) The music was played via the bartender’s iPhone and it was the perfect sad slow country you’d want to join you for a daytime bender in the middle of the week. I’ve also been told it’s way fun at night but, we just daydrank.
Other places worth mentioning, that would make great places to stop by if you’re in the area, but aren’t really a whole trip in themselves:
- I Dream of Weenie hot dog stand in the East End
- The Pedestrian bridge that connects Broadway over the river to the stadium.
- The Treehouse, if you want a classy dinner or drink in a place that looks like a fort
- Dukes Bar, for a super grunge hipster vibe with great beer knowledge.
Places that were supposed to be great but fell short of their hype…
I try to just boast about awesome places, but considering Nash is one of those places where everyone has such iconic, must-visit recommendations, I feel the need to dispel two myths of places that just didn’t live up to their recommendations.
The Pharmacy: This burger, brat, and beer garden was so highly recommended by locals, but fell so short when we visited. I can totally get the appeal of the outdoor beer garden in amazing weather, and the beer was good… but the service wasn’t as friendly compared to basically everywhere else we went. Granted, we did go in the middle of the day, and apparently it doesn’t hit it’s prime until later in the evening, but I’m usually one to appreciate a low-key empty spot more. Best part: it’s right across from Mas Tacos.
The Stage: This Broadway staple bar was recommended as our “one tourist bar we must visit” by everyone we asked. I’d probably opt for Losers any day. This was one bar we gave the fairest shot, early in the evening (when it was busy but not so packed you can’t move), and it just did not do it for us. The music was alright. The service was okay. The other patrons were not friendly (which was opposite of every other place we tried). I’ll be honest, my main issue was the hard core ID-checking the door guy did. I’m all for Nash’s strict ID-everyone policy, but the dude tried to scratch the hologram off my license, then bend it (if you have a FL driver’s license, you know how easily they snap and how expensive they are to replace!), then demanded a credit card. He was skeptical of my old school ID in my wallet, and when I kindly offered him other forms of ID to back up that yes, I am in fact, old enough to be drinking in a bar, he replied that the more I talk the more guilty I look. Look, I used to live in the city of pretentious asshats… I’m not on vacation to find any more of them.