We were in Nashville in December 2017 as part of our Big Bend loop.
After we took the Airstream to Nashville last Spring, we knew we wanted to return for the food, drink, and fun, all with easy access from a campground in the middle of town, a rarity in a big city. We made Nashville our first stop on our trip to Texas and had a great visit, despite the -100000° temperatures.
Here’s a pronunciation tip to help you blend in with the locals: if you notice Demonbreun Street when you’re zipping around town, you may be like us and call it Demon Spawn, and then assume it’s pronounced Demon-Brawn. It’s actually De-MON-bree-un. You’re welcome!
Of course we stayed at the Fairgrounds Nashville again! Because of the freezing temps, though, we had to stay up top near the speedway and fairgrounds complex rather than in the huge lower lot like we did before, unless we wanted to go without a water hookup (due to temps), which we did not. Although, outside of a short span of above-zero daytime hours, we were running off the fresh tank anyway, since our heated hose wouldn’t reach the spigot. The upper parking area was fine, but we preferred camping in the lower lot for having more room to ourselves.
Last trip, we missed the chance to try I Dream of Weenie, a hot dog window in East Nashville, so it was the first place we went to when we got into town. J and Bugsy needed a snack after that long drive! They approved of their dog, and I enjoyed the setting, especially the hot dog-shaped planters.
The East Nashville food destination I was most excited about was Mas Tacos Por Favor, one of our favorites from the last trip. We had to wait a bit this time, but the wait is worth it for tacos that are SO good.
A friend of a friend recommended Fin & Pearl for a fancy seafood dinner. Let us save you time and trouble: don’t go there. It was empty (which should have been a red flag), the food was expensive and flavorless, and the beer list was embarrassing.
If you want the opposite dining experience, go to Husk. We rated it our #1 dinner last trip, and this trip we went for brunch. I laughed when I saw that the picture I took of my food this visit is basically the same as the one from last visit–there’s not much on the menu for non-pig eaters (me), but what is there is scrumptious, and J, a pro-pork person, was in hog heaven.
On our last night in town we got takeout from Vui’s Kitchen, a Vietnamese restaurant near Bearded Iris, to eat while we prepped the Airstream for departure the next morning. There’s also a Vui’s close to the campground in Berry Hill, which you will read about below.
Our favorite brewery last trip was Tennessee Brew Works, and it was the first one we hit this time for a tasty cucumber saison (me) and citrusy IPA (J), but we have a new favorite Nashville brewery–and J says it may be his favorite brewery ever. And he’s been to a LOT of breweries. Drumroll…
Bearded Iris Brewing has a really cool old-timey taproom sectioned out of the huge brewing facility, and the beers on tap the days (yes, we went twice in three days) we visited were all IPA and DIPAs of a danky, hazy variety, and all supremely delicious. (The picture features a growler from Charlottesville brewery Three Notch’d, which we filled at Bearded Iris, which I now realize is confusing.) The vibe and music at Bearded Iris is great, although the service could be a bit slow.
We liked the feel of the taproom of East Nashville Beer Works, and enjoyed a tasting flight, but none of the beers made us jump for joy.
While we haven’t been to every Nashville area brewery, we’ve been to most and are ready to present our top 3, in order. Each of these has a great atmosphere and at least a couple of beers that we really liked:
- Bearded Iris for danky IPAs
- Southern Grist for eclectic mix of sours, IPAs and more
- Tennessee Brew Works for fab location and scene, decent food, and great beer
On my to-do list from last time was a recommendation from a friend, to get a Bushwacker from Edley’s. Apparently Bushwackers, basically chocolate milkshakes with booze, are a thing in Nashville. It was pretty much how you would imagine it, and not something I’d get very often, but fun to try.
Pinewood Social was another recommendation from friends, and we drowned our sorrows in creative cocktails there after our terrible dinner at Fin & Pearl. It’s a huge bar and restaurant with a little bowling alley in the back, and be warned: it’s not the coziest place due to the size, so maybe better for a group night out than for a date, and the beer list left a bit to be desired.
Craft Brewed is a bottle shop not far from the campground, and a good non-brewery place to have a beer. We stopped into another cool bottle shop, The Filling Station, while poking around the 12South neighborhood, and wished we had a growler with us to get filled.
Our favorite place to run in Nashville is Shelby Bottoms Greenway. It’s in East Nashville, a short drive from the campground, the path is pleasant, and the run as long as you want it to be, if not super scenic or challenging.
We had a looooong travel day the day we left Nashville, so we planned ahead and picked up salads from Calypso Cafe just down the road from the campground for lunch on the road. The salads were good, but what really caught my attention was the interesting Berry Hill neighborhood (actually it’s a separate city!): music studios with elaborate murals, cute bungalows on quiet streets, and an eclectic variety of restaurants. It’s on the list of places to check out next trip!
Also on the list for next time: eat at Henrietta Red or Rolf & Daughters (both recs from friends… although they’re the same friends who told us to go to Fin & Pearl, so maybe they should be fired?), maybe repeat dinner at Butcher & Bee (from first trip), and explore more in Germantown. I’ll do a best-of post at some point to summarize our Nashville findings across the two visits!