Judge Bean’s Bar-B-Que (615.823.3507), operated by Texas transplant Aubrey Bean, features brisket—and lots of it. Smoked for at least 16 hours, the brisket sandwich includes half a dozen quarter-inch slices piled high on a sesame seed bun. Plate it and you’ll get two sides—baked beans, fresh cut fries or coleslaw. While there’s no pork on the menu, you will find meaty ribs, chicken drummettes, shrimp and even tamales. And because the joint is located in the heart of Music City, look for local musicians on Thursday and Friday nights.
Inside the Gaylord Opryland hotel, you’ll find a good mix of Southern favorites and quick bites. Old Hickory Steakhouse (615.871.6848) offers everything from bison and bone-in rib steak to salmon and short ribs. If you’re more of a cheese-and-wine type, they’ve got that, too. Or relax with a domestic or imported beer or Kentucky bourbon at the Library Lounge. Reservations required.
Dine al fresco at the Tuscan-themed Ristorante Volare (615.871.6848). Try authentic Italian dishes like chicken fettuccini, lasagna Bolognese and tiramisu, or signature items such as parmesan-crusted swordfish or pork chop wrapped in prosciutto and sage. There’s also an extensive wine and dessert list. Volare is kid-friendly, too, but be sure to book your reservations early.
Gaylord also has a number of upscale casual eateries, including Cascades Seafood Restaurant (615.871.6848), Japanese-style sushi at Wasabi’s, Rusty’s Sports Bar and Grill, and Water’s Edge Marketplace Buffet.
Looking beyond Opryland, you’ll find no shortage of hip places and old favorites dotting the Nashville scene. Upscale meets modern cuisine at radius10 (615.259.5105), located just 15 minutes from the convention center. The lunch menu is a mix of re-imagined favorites like mac ’n cheese and po boys, while dinner offers up flavorful ahi tuna or chicken and white truffle lasagna. Arrive early and order from the happy hour menu that goes way beyond typical bar fare. Beer, wine and specialty martinis round out the menu.
Located in Nashville’s hip Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood, Bongo Java (615.385.5282) is a local hot spot. Java Joes and Janes can sit a spell at the hand-painted tables inside or head outdoors to the deck and enjoy the fresh air. Bongo serves scrumptious breakfasts—bagels, heart-healthy granola and your basic eggs and bacon—all day, or choose from an array of salads and sandwiches including black bean burgers, hummus wrap or childhood fave grilled cheese. Or just stop in for a fancy cup o’ joe.
If you’re looking for meat-and-three, head to Arnold’s Country Kitchen on 8th Ave. The popular destination serves up Southern comfort meats—meatloaf, chicken, pork chops—alongside three sides—slaw, potatoes, greens or beans. Try the flat griddle-cooked cornbread, a dinner favorite in Nashville. Expect a line at lunchtime; Arnold’s is a local darling.
For a taste of New Orleans, Chappy’s on Church (615.322.9932) is the place to go. Owner John Chapman and his wife landed in Nashville after Katrina destroyed the original Chappy’s on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The two-level renovated building seats up to 220 people. It’s decorated with Orleans flair: Parisian street lamps, stained glass and vibrant colors. Here, seafood classics—jumbo shrimp, oysters and trout almondine—meet up with Orleans’ favorites including honey island swamp frog legs and Mardi Gras lamb chops.
There’s an excellent reason Nashville’s nickname is Music City. Musical artists—no matter their genre—have traveled to the musical mecca to explore the history of sound and song.
Rooted in the folk traditions of the British Isle, country music began as a blend of ethnic sounds and styles, evolving over the years to become today’s multibillion-dollar giant. From the early days of Hank Williams and the Carter Family to today’s chart-toppers Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood, country music is a rich mix of stories, rhythms and rhymes to create a sound that feels like home.