Standing proudly as the capital of Tennessee, Nashville is rich in history and Southern charm. Although first established as a trading post in the early 1700s, a real settlement wasn’t established until 1779 when a group of 200 pioneers settled on the banks of the Cumberland River on Christmas day. Fort Nashborough was soon erected, and later renamed Nashville. In 1796, when Tennessee became a state, Nashville was still a small settlement in a vast wilderness. That changed when a local lawyer named Andrew Jackson became a national hero in the Battle of New Orleans and, later, America’s seventh president.
The Civil War had an even greater impact on Nashville, partly because the Cumberland River made the city a desirable shipping port. Nashville also has the distinction of being the first state capital to fall to Union troops. After the War, the city emerged as a prominent trade center, which helped the population jump from about 17,000 people to more than 80,000 between 1860 and 1900. By the end of War World II, Nashville’s popularity grew for another reason: music. The Grand Ole Opry began as a radio broadcast on station WSM in 1925.
Twenty-five years later, the term “Music City USA” was coined during a WSM broadcast. Soon Music Row began to take shape as recording studios and record labels opened their doors. Elvis Presley, who recorded more than 250 songs at RCA’s Historic Studio B, was one of the many artists to put Nashville on the map.
Today’s Nashville is a treasure chest of Southern sounds, delectable foods, a bustling commerce and vacation destinations.
Let’s face it: When you visit Nashville, you’re not looking for sushi, burritos or pasta. Nope. You want smoky meat dripping in rich, tangy sauce. In Nashville, bar-b-que is KING. That’s spelled BAR-B-QUE, not barbeque! Smoked, slathered and scrumptious, Nashvillians love their grill.
Newcomer Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (615.776.1856), just a half hour from Opryland, is being hailed as a BBQ-lover’s heaven. Brisket, ribs and even bologna are smoked to perfection. Top it off with Southern sides like slaw, green beans or fries. If the enticing sauces don’t draw you, the prices—starting at $5 for just a sandwich—will. For a closer look at Martin’s, check out owner Pat Martin’s blog, in which he chronicles his beginnings as a pit-master apprentice to opening the doors of Martin’s.
With locations across the nation, Famous Dave’s Barbeque (800.574.9444) may already be a familiar name. Huge portions of pork, ribs and chicken are served alongside firecracker green beans, garlic red-skin potatoes and specialty drunkin’ apples.
If you’re looking for a local hangout, try the family owned and operated Whitt’s Barbeque (615.385.1553). All the meats are smoked for 24 hours over smoldering hickory coals, then processed by hand. Whitt’s specialty is Tennessee pork shoulder; or try the beef, chicken and turkey with all the fixings.