What It Is and Where to Find It
For a city that’s famous for music, Nashville sure has a lot of “down-home cookin” vying for some well-deserved attention. But it’s not all about mashed potatoes and meatloaf here; Nashville has its own version of comfort food, from spicy fried catfish to smoky barbeque, hot cheese grits and Cajun etoufees. Throw in a plate of “meat and threes” or the city’s signature “Nashville hot chicken” and you’re well on your way to feeling at home in this cosmopolitan-country enclave deep in the heart of Tennessee.
Sitting down to supper at Loveless Café feels like hugging your mama, plucking a hymn on your old guitar, or shelling black-eyed peas in the creaky rocker on your back porch – all at the same time. Checker-cloth tables are piled high with steaming plates of chicken-fried-steak n’ gravy, watermelon ribs, shrimp n’ grits, pit-smoked turkey and sizzling beef brisket, followed by Deep South traditions such as pecan pie and homemade “nana pudding.”
This is also where to get the best “meat and three” plates, where you order a meat of your choice and any three fresh-picked veggies on the menu that day: turnip greens … butterbeans … fried green tomatoes, pickles and okra. Work off some of those calories with a free game of cornhole on the lawn, and stop by the Hams and Jams Country Market for some take-home treasures.
Any time is the right time for Biscuit Love in the Gulch District. The famous food truck has a sit-down home now, so pull up a chair and get ready for biscuit-dough heaven. If there’s a way to deify a biscuit, you can bet they do it here — dropped, beaten, fried, toasted, risen and smeared with sorghum molasses or homemade fig preserves. The hot tip here is the Ham Bar, which is a shared plate stacked with a variety of local hams, cheeses and beaten biscuits, served with pimiento cheese and hot honey. If you still feel like sharing, try the Bonuts, an indulgent mix of fried biscuit dough, lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote, or order the Gertie with chocolate gravy and caramelized banana jam.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Whether you’re a newbie or long-time aficionado of Nashville Hot Chicken, nobody is going to argue about Hattie’s B’s being the place to go. Just be aware that “hot” chicken has nothing to do with temperature and everything to do with a searing spitfire cayenne paste that’s smeared on Southern fried chicken and rated for heat levels. At Hattie B’s, the ultimate test is whether you can stomach the highest level, affectionately known as “shut the cluck up.” Few even attempt it, and there’s a good chance they’ll even refuse to serve it to a newbie. Authentic old-school hot-chicken cafes keep it very simple: platters of fiery fried chicken, sliced white bread and pickle chips, with sweet iced tea and maybe a side of coleslaw, southern greens or black-eyed peas.
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