“Joe! My MPGs!”

Hello all! I know I said I’d be posting an update Sunday night (I meant to! Honest!), but that pillow felt a whole lot nicer than I’d expected. Spoiler alert: I slept like a child.

As our impromptu holiday drew to an end, I still had a few boxes left unchecked. Santa’s Pub? Some other time. Honky Tonks? Maybe if they’re open… now. Athena’s Statue? I am a nerd. The weather was crummy, the traffic going back to DC was stacking, and frankly I felt like death from the absurd amounts of food consumed in such a short time. But, as Bluto said in Animal House, “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!”

Exactly.

I had to choose my parting memory of Nashville, and that would be a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich.

We had some time to kill until any of the shops opened, so we braved the rain and headed for a downtown pedestrian bridge. As luck would have it, the rain let up long enough for us to walk a bit of downtown and enjoy some music coming from an early morning honky-tonk.

Eventually we stopped by the Red Bicycle cafe for some crepes and coffee. The place was packed but the food and coffee were on point. As we left, a kitter stopped and demanded tribute. “Meow!”, she cried. Now, most kitters would skitter if you got too close, but this one stood fast and demanded pets. I, a weak man, obliged.

My captor, “Smudge”

Folks inside the cafe pointed and smiled as I’d been captured at paw-point by the toughest cat in town. I paid my ransom with chin rubs and pets until a neighborhood doggo came through and occupied my hostage taker. Seizing the moment, Q and I snuck out to the car.

We shopped around a bit at a local leather shop (Nisolo) then made our way to my final box. Now, Nashville is to hot chicken as Philly is to cheese steaks. Hattie B’s and Prince’s are the Pat & Gino’s of Hot Chicken, and I was determined to get one of ’em.

Until I saw the lines! We swung by two Hattie B locations with lines out the door and no parking in sight. Prince’s was out of the way, but a local spot “Party Fowl” caught my eye.

Side note: “Pine’s Party Fowl” was the name of my team during the Siemens Cookoff this year. What did we offer? CHICKEN SANDWICHES!

The place was packed but the bar was open. Having read reviews, I opted for a medium-spicy hot chicken & cheddar and a local brown ale. Q was fighting off a serious head-ache, but I devoured my sandwich like I’d not eaten in days. This concoction of fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and spice was everything I’d hoped it would be since I’d first tasted a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. I would get it again in a heartbeat, but spicier.

Hot chicken & cheddar @ Party Fowl

Bellies full and wallets lightened, we headed home. Twelve-ish hours later, we reached the driveway at 2:00 am. The cat, thoroughly convinced we were dead, was beyond happy to see us and did not leave Q’s side all night.

The cat is GLUED to Quynh

We’d happily return to Nashville, though likely we’d be flying rather than driving. If we had it to do again, we’d probably plan better on the “What’s open on Thanksgiving” side of things, as well as figuring out how not to eat to the point of gluttony. I’d also be curious to come back and check out the myriad state parks in the surrounding area.

Thanks to all who followed this blog for this trip!

If you are what you eat, I am everything.

Good evening, all! Do you know what’s nice about Black Friday? Stores and restaurants are actually open!

After a quick hotel breakfast, we made way to Bicentennial Park near the State Capitol Building. The park’s carillon played the Tennessee Waltz; peacefully carrying across the plaza to all passers-by.

I really enjoyed the sense of pride displayed in this park. Several small monuments showcased Tennessee’s contribution to WWII, the transformation from territory to statehood, even the timeline from 10,000 B.C. to now. Clearly inspired by the monuments back home in DC, this was a stop worth making.

Tennessee WWII memorial
Tennessee WWII memorial

Next to the park is the Nashville Farm Market, an indoor / heated outdoor market featuring local vendors and uniquely local food. Q enjoyed walking through the garden center while I hemmed and hawed over coffee. Neither of us bought anything (some Black Friday shoppers we are!), but definitely a place we’d like to come back to.

Who doesn’t?

“Onward!” shouted Quynh as we climbed in the RAV4. She had selected our next target: a coffee shop chain in the 12 South neighborhood, Frothy Monkey.

12 South is a cute neighborhood that has, for better or worse, been overrun by hipsters. This has brought an abundance of beards and boutique shops to the area, and murals on the buildings that set the scene for every Instagraminista’s next post. The coffee shop had a line out the door (I would find out why later), so coffee was abandoned for neighborhood sight-seeing.

Down a few stores is Imogene + Willie, a Nashville clothier housed in a 1950’s service station. Though the clothes felt solid, $265 for denim is about $200 more than I can justify. We left impressed with the merchandise (I can see why their jeans are raved about) but ultimately bewildered that enough people purchase to make the business viable.

Not my photo! Photo by Imogene & Willie

As we bounced from store to store Quynh began to fall in love with the myriad yoga studios here- 3 on one block! We found a few murals, explored White’s Mercantile (purveyor of US Made and Southern Made goods), and enjoyed lunch at Burger Up.

Found near a restaurant dumpster.
Caught this couple almost holding hands

Lunch was delicious, as burgers with fried eggs often are. This restaurant makes their aioli and Jack Daniels maple ketchup in house, and it’s so good: we bought some. Is it worth 8/10 dollars per bottle? Time will tell, but in the moment: YES!

The Woodstock Burger (somewhere under the egg, promise.) at Burger Up, 12 South

Full of burgers and beer, we jumped across town to the West Nashville / Nations neighborhood to find a store specializing in ethically made products for Q. The store is small and honestly, shopping with me in tow is like hunting with the game warden. I saw myself out and over to a table at, you guessed it– The Frothy Monkey!

🐒

I now understand why the line was out the door. This “coffee shop” also serves beer and wine all day, as well as a full breakfast menu. I enjoyed my Irish coffee, caught up on the day’s news, and enjoyed a bit of people watching. Fact: the two barista I saw looked like Zoey Deschanel and Woody Allen. Shoulda grabbed a picture!

Spotted behind The Frothy Monkey

Folks, in case you’ve not noticed: all we do is eat and sleep while on holiday! I promised Quynh we’d go to a local vegetarian restaurant for dinner, but we’d have to clear some room first. We parked in Downtown Nashville and walked around a bit to burn off the day’s grazings. Some of this downtown reminded me of Philly, then you get to the honky tonks and you are definitely in Nashville. We missed a drunken performance from Kid Rock by six hours, bummer!

Spotted in a downtown shopping arcade.

Q’s vegetarian choice is a recently relocated local favorite, The Wild Cow (or Mad Cow as I remembered it). We lucked out and got sat next to a couple of regulars who had, uh, enjoyed everything the bar had to offer. Great folks who gave solid recommendations for dinner as well as where to buy good beer for the trip back home. The food was great, but neither of us finished… How could we? All we do is eat!

I write this lying on the couch struggling to live, my stomach stuffed to the brim. Tomorrow we’ll be checking out and hitting the last few bits of Nashville before starting the trek back to Maryland. I have a few more boxes to check before we go, but so far this visit has me wanting to come again.

Until tomorrow!

No plan survives first contact…

Operation Random City is on! After a white knuckle overnight Odyssey, full of gale force winds and swaying tractor-trailers, we pulled safely into the parking lot at Hyatt Place Nashville Airport. Though windy and dark, I-81’s isolation from civilization lent us a beautiful view of the stars and an almost story book view of sleeping town’s streets lit up in wait.

With barely a half-night’s sleep between us, we dove into bed at 7:30 and slept like it was our job.

Quick note about our hotel: Q picked this hotel from Costco’s travel services because they had a great price and a great location (and, you know, COSTCO!). I’ve never been to a Hyatt property, but the décor is modern and thoughtfully layed out with amenities that aren’t half-assed attempts at a renovation. I’ll post more on this later, but so far a fan!

What was intended to be a two hour nap turned into a five hour refresher. Since most everything is closed on Thanksgiving day, we ventured over to Nashville’s #1 attraction: The Parthenon. What we didn’t account for was the park being under renovation to reposition a monument and make the park pollinator friendly! Aish…. While we didn’t get to appreciate [what will eventually be] the splendor of this park, we did get to enjoy the detail and artistry of the Parthenon’s exterior.

Nashville’s Parthenon. Not pictured: EVERYTHING under renovation 😫
My man on the right is about to have a bad time (horse hoof)
“What sharp teeth you have, Grandma…”

Our Tenne-Greco excursion ended and nect began our search for food. Neither of us had eaten anything but kimbap for the last 15 hours. Now, folks– I had always figured DC was the same as anywhere with people staying open year ’round to feed the masses. Apparently Nashville is a bit more traditional. Thanksgiving in Nashville means almost everything that isn’t a chain (and even most chains) were closed. Thanksgiving dinner was looking endangered.

Of the five restaurants we called, zero were open. With Trip Advisor guiding us, we drove around the neighborhoods looking for open restaurants, sadly to no avail. This led to a fairly non-traditional leap: Indian (Asian, not indigenous). We showed up to Sindoore just as they opened and feasted on bird, veggie, potato, and bread; Thanksgiving was saved!

This pilgrim ate with the Indians.

There’s a saying in conflict that goes “No plan survives first contact…” which means no matter how well you plan, something will go awry. Things we learned today:

  1. Overnight driving is cool… if you’re both well-rested from the onset.
  2. Kimbap is the best road trip food ever.
  3. Nashville is not D.C. and most restaurants are not open on Thanksgiving.
  4. I have located all the hot chicken places I want to try, now I need a bigger stomach!

Edit: We found warmer weather, too! Let’s hear it for a technicality!

Thanksgiving Road Trip!

Hey, everyone! Quynh and I are readying up the wagons for a Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Nashville, TN in search of warmer weather and sights unseen. What’s in Nashville, you wonder? I haven’t a clue. 

Things I know about Nashville:

  • Nashville hot chicken sandwiches?
  • Dukes of Hazzard Museum (Though it took place in Georgia and filmed in CA!)
  • Food hub of the American South
  • There is a place called Santa’s Pub that is a double-wide trailer with a dude dressed like Santa selling beer out of his fridge. This stop will be a priority.

We’ve got a new set of tires, a fresh oil change, kimbap, a playlist full of K-drama soundtracks, and 4 days to burn. Stay tuned!

If you have any suggestions on things to see or do in such a short time (Santa’s Pub, OBVIOUSLY!) please don’t be shy!

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 16.38.30
Taking bets on when Q falls asleep…