Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

Objectively Black in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Last week, we were in Nashville for business, but we still found many opportunities to eat and drink well in one of America’s fastest growing cities. We mainly stayed around Downtown and Broadway for this entry and when you’re traveling for work, you need to be on your A-game twenty four-seven lest you show up home from work early and have to explain to your wife why you’ve put in an application as an Uber driver…

So, not too many crazy adventures or anecdotes this go-round, but if you’ll allow us some latitude, we’ll drop a couple pearls on where to eat, drink, and party it up. (We’re 2-stepping only tho. Business casual out here, you feel me?)

Dinner

Husk 

Located in Rutledge Hill in the heart of Downtown Nashville resides the new classic, Husk. “A celebration of Southern Cooking”, Husk is headed by Executive Chef Katie Coss who uses fresh and local ingredients from local farms to create amazing dishes. 

Given the central role that African Americans and other Immigrant cooks that lent to traditional Southern cooking, its important to note that when we talk about “traditional” southern cooking, we need to go all the way back to the beginning to pay homage to those that literally slaved in kitchens across the south creating and curating these dishes.

Husk has done a great service to what I deem to be classic traditional southern dishes. With both of my parents being born and raised in South Carolina, my family grew up on southern recipes passed down for generations. You know the classics: Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Grits, Biscuits, Cornbread, you name it. Just thinking of some of these foods brings back great emotions from my childhood and reminds me of simpler times.

I also heard the Cheeseburger described as “perfect”, but alas, it was not on the menu for the night.

They have a large wine cellar in the basement and the cocktail menu is on point as well. You really can’t miss with anything on the menu. Our table ordered a smorgasborg of menu items and shared a little bit of everything. I won’t review everything individually but I’ll say with certainty that this is the best meal I’ve ever had in Nashville over multiple visits. Here are the standouts:

  • Bear Creek Farm Beef with Smoked Tomatoes, Butterbeans, Embered Beef Fat and Basil
  • Field of Dreams Chicken, Sweeter Days Shishitos, Schmaltz Red Potato, Miso Butter, Benne
  • A Plate of Southern Vegetables 
  • Shrimp and Grits

Again, Husk did an amazing job but in the end, they ain’t got nothin on my Grannie’s home cookin. Guess I’ll need to make sure to get down south for the next family reunion.

Score — 4.7/5

Virago

When we first booked this restaurant, I gotta admit that I was a little skeptical at first. Sushi? In Tennessee? Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised. They did a really great job. Sushi Chef Himmi continues a sixteen year stand of creating amazing Makimono and Nigirizushi dishes. 

The menu was intelligently split into several different columns: 

Garden

Land

Sea

Temaki (Hand rolled sushi)

Nigiri-Zushi (Slice of fish atop of compacted rice)

Sashimi & Nigiri (Thinly sliced fish)

& Makimono (Sushi rolls)

The restaurant had recently moved to a brand new space and had rebuilt the restaurant from the ground up. The new ambiance really worked for them and evoked a traditional Japanese Sushi restaurant vibe. It was very relaxing. It felt like I was back in Tokyo again and had stumbled on to a ritzy sushi spot in Ginza.

The food and service were both great, but given how popular Japanese Whiskey’s are right now, I’m a little surprised that Nikka was the only one they had on the drink menu. Really my Nikka’s?

Either way, I’d definitely recommend this spot and will likely be back if I’m in Nashville again anytime soon.

Score — 4.3/5

Breakfast

Kitchen Notes

Similar to Husk, Kitchen Notes is a Farm to Table Southern Cooking experience located at the Omni Hotel. The Omni is probably (definitely) the most expensive hotel in all of Nashville. It has a gorgeous lobby and really leans into the the country and blue grass roots of the region. It’s located right across the street from the Nashville Convention Center (Which if seen from above, looks like a giant guitar. Pretty dope).

I ventured over for breakfast one morning and realized that I’d eaten here once before on a previous work trip to Nashville. The food was just as good but the service as a little slow (I’m not gonna name names. We’ll just call dude Frederico for now). The waiter forgot to bring me A1 for my Steak and Eggs a couple of times. Also, I found the seating arrangements and dining room setup a little strange. There were square tables for four flanking either side of the room, but in the middle of the room, were big benched tables with seating for about 6 each. Now, I was there pretty early, so the restaurant wasn’t anywhere close to full yet for breakfast. They sat me dead center of the room at a bench….and then sat an incoming couple right next to me! Come on people,  I know you Tennesseans are super friendly and hospitable, but after a long night and an early morning, sometimes a guys just wants to eat breakfast and catch up on the news on his own.

“Ay Frederico… Where’s the steak sauce, my guy?!”

Score — 4/5

Bars

Thursday Night 8:00pm – 3:00am

Acme Feed & Seed Rooftop – Downtown Broadway

Acme Feed and Seed – (4 Level Bar on Broadway with a Rooftop Bar) 8:00pm – 10:00pm

We had reservations on the rooftop, and it was really nice with the weather being around 75 degrees and breezy. The rooftop bar overlooks the river and has great views of Nissan Stadium and the Walking bridge (if that’s what you’re into. You can actually see down the entirety of broadway on the left side of the bar.

The drinks were all comp’ed, but they seemed to be decently priced with a pretty good selection of local beers and IPAs.

Tin Roof (Live Bar and DJ)10:15pm – 11:15pm

Now, this place is interesting. Its split right down the middle by two different bars with a live band none side and a DJ on the other. The crazy thing is, you aren’t able to hear the other from either side. We kicked it on the DJ side where he spun some current and classic tracks. Had to roll out tho, when the ladies started shotgunning Red Bulls.

“Bartender…A mop over here please?”

Ms. Kelli’s Nashville (Karaoke Saloon)11:30pm – 12:00am

Didn’t stay too long. Ms. Kelli’s was super divey, but the Karaoke was very well organized….That’s all I got, really….

Dirk’s Bentley’s  (4 Level Bar on Broadway)12:15am – 2:15am

Yikes. This place was huge. The DJ on the 2nd floor was doin the damn thing with all the latest Hip-Hop cuts. Don’t think I didn’t notice you played a few songs multiple times tho, my G. You gotta freshen up the MP3s on that MacBook Pro.

I’ve been to Nashville more than a few times now and its always finds ways to surprise me. You’ll find live music of all kinds, good and bad. There are your typical nine-to-fivers in the classic Honky Tonk’s, like Tootsies or Robert’s Western World, and there are some amazing local artists just trying to become “the next Taylor Swift”. The town is growing and with growth comes different perspectives. I’ve never had any issues with rowdy crowds (tho they do get rowdy), fuckery, or redneckery. People in Nashville will really surprise you and that doesn’t seem to be what they are about. People seem to be there just to have a great time. Black or White, Red or Blue, Country or Hip-Hop, people treat each other with respect and that’s the mark of a truly progressive city. 

Sure, there are some areas that could use a little more work. Much like Denver, Colorado, the homeless population has not really been addressed. People don’t harass you at all like they do in NYC but when cities grow this quickly, local businesses and legislators focus on new attractions, hotels, shopping malls, bars, sports arenas, etc. People that need help tend to get the short end of the stick and to me that really keeps a city from reaching its true potential.

The city is growing enormously and with people coming in from all over the world, it seems like Nashville is trying to create more opportunities to cater to people from everywhere. Yes, the country music culture will always be intrinsically tied to Nashville. That will always be their unique identifier and claim to fame.

But there are a lot of other really cool things going on in Nashville right now as well. 

“Scheduled to open in Downtown Nashville in early 2020, the National museum of African American Music will be a 56,000-square-foot facility that will encourage visitors to discover the many connections and influences that composers have had on all genres of music. From classical to country to jazz and hip hop, NMAAM will integrate history and interactive technology to share the untold story of more than 50 music genres and subgenres. It will be an unparalleled institution, not confined by record label, genre or recording artist, but instead will tell a unique narrative through the lens of black music”. – NMAAM

On Broadway in particular, there are a lot of different options in a small area. All the “touristy” bars are on Broadway and can be in a lot of fun, but it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. Many of the bars are multi-level and have something different going on each floor. You could be singing “Friends in Low Places” with a live band on Level 1, Twerking it out to Old Town Road and Cardi B on Level 2, Yee-Hawing to Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban on Level 3, and Vogueing to Madonna and Lizzo on Level 4. Theres a lot going on and you’re anything like me, you’re going to need to buckle down and figure out what you really want to do for the night. 

I will say though, that going out with large groups makes it even more difficult for people because of all the jumping from floor to floor and across the streets from bar to bar. Somehow tho, it all evens out and you have the time of your life. You’ll hit the sack around 3:00am but not before you stop at a local diner to get some Hot Chicken and Biscuits.

Neighborhoods to check out:

Downtown Broadway

Germantown

East Nashville

Belmont

Green Hills

Midtown / Vanderbilt

Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s