06.04.2017 - 09.04.2017
It happens. I get soooo busy. So do all of my girlfriends. It's so easy to get caught up in jobs and kids and the stress that life brings and forget to make time for our friends.
That's why we make it a point to stop every once in a while to remind ourselves of the “work hard, play hard” motto and head out for a much needed girls’ weekend. Girls’ weekends are necessary for the mind, body, and soul.
It had been a while since the girls had been together. It was time to plan an epic weekend.
After tossing around several location ideas, we settled on the obvious….NASHVILLE!
Why hadn’t we thought of this before?
Once best known as the capital of country music, Nashville’s shopping, nightlife, and culinary offerings have blown up in recent years. Nashville is a perfect blend of culture and Southern charm. There is so much to see and do that a simple weekend couldn’t even scratch the surface.
And it’s right in our back yard.
I told the girls to grab their cowboy hats. It was time for a boot scootin’, biscuit eatin’, sweet tea drinkin’ good time.
We left Knoxville on a warm, sunny spring day and found ourselves cruising into Nashville just 2 ½ hours later.
What should we do first? Visit the Grand Ole Opry? Eat some hot chicken? Buy a cowboy hat?
We made our way to Germantown, a recently revived neighborhood just north of downtown. This 18-square block area is filled with cobblestone streets, charming homes that date back to the 1800s, architectural treasures, unique shops, and some of Nashville’s hottest restaurants. It’s urban, it’s chic, it’s walkable, it’s filled with coffee shops and eateries and wine…..in other words….it was the perfect place for a girls’ trip.
We scored these AMAZING accommodations on AirBNB:
This duplex was simply perfection.
Only 3 of us had made it so far. Our 4th was not joining us until later that night, so we spent some time unpacking the 35 outfits we had brought for 2 days, quickly spruced up, and made the short walk to Butchertown Hall for one of the city’s best Happy Hours.
Immediately greeted by the warm interior and the ridiculously wonderful smell of smoked meat, we were quickly seated and handed the Happy Hour menu. We proceeded to order ALL THE THINGS.
OH MY GOSH! The $5 margaritas were perfect. And all of the food was so stinkin' good, specifically the brisket taco, and the queso with their house made chorizo, and the loin back rib nachos. Oh, and the sweet tea marinated smoked wings!
Oh, and the wood grilled oysters with chili sauce and chimichurri!
I’m getting hungry all over again.
After eating ALL THE THINGS, we grabbed an Uber and headed to Sinema, in Nashville’s Melrose neighborhood.
Housed inside the refurbished 1940’s Melrose Theater, Sinema’s atmosphere and décor gave a nod to old Hollywood glamour. Downstairs had a supper-club atmosphere with elegant tables and a huge movie screen showing classic films. Upstairs we found a classy lounge with cozy spaces and a creative cocktail menu.
I pride myself on my research abilities and, typically, there are not many surprises waiting for me when I travel.
Sinema’s ladies' room caught me by surprise, however.
How had I missed the fact that Sinema has one of the most selfie friendly bathrooms in Nashville? It’s actually KNOWN for it’s selfie-worthy loo?
Sigh. There was a time when the bathroom was the ultimate private space – but that all ended when it became better known as a place where women stand in front of the mirror, phones held aloft, and capture images of their duckfaces.
We were guilty. We spent 45 minutes in the ladies room.
It took that long to perfect our 1973 Album Cover Look.
After bathroom art and cocktail hour was over, we walked next door to The Sutler to wait for our 4th to arrive.
Housed in the same location that the original Sutler Saloon operated in for over 30 years, The Sutler is the re-imagination of the original and houses an upstairs food and music venue and a dark, cozy downstairs lounge.
As old people, we of course opted for the quiet of the downstairs lounge, planning to wait in the peace and quiet with cocktails in hand while listening to some chill music.
What we didn’t know was that it was 90’s dance night.
No problem. We are adaptable.
With all four of us finally together, we decided it was time to hang up our dancing shoes and call it a night.
Friday morning was bright and beautiful. It was time to put on our walking shoes and our eating pants.
But first, coffee.
We walked over to Germantown’s Barista Parlor. While the place is riddled with ironic facial hair, oversized eye glasses, and permanent looks of hipster-esque disdain, it also serves up amazing coffee and baked goods. Everyone knows that hipsters make the best coffee.
I would call the décor of the Germantown location “vintage nautical industrial,” not to be confused with the original East location which I would characterize as more “nautical industrial lumberjack.”
There were plenty of laptops, skinny jeans, and unseasonable toboggans. As we puzzled over the hand carved wooden menu (no, I am not kidding), I settled on a Whiskey Caramel Latte, “The Judge” biscuit, and one of their homemade cinnamon sugar pop-tarts.
The coffee was velvety…creamy….delicious.
The biscuit was perfectly moist (I hate a crumbly biscuit) and loaded with fluffy scrambled eggs, tangy pepper-jack cheese, and ….wait for it….chili glazed candied bacon. Served on a hand made wooden plate with a bandana (no, I am not kidding).
The pop-tart was INSANE. It was nothing like a pop-tart. It was a rectangle of moist, doughy, flaky, gooey cinnamon filled heaven. I dropped a piece of that luscious icing on the floor and actually considered picking it up and eating it.
What was supposed to be a “light bite to tide us over” turned out to be a gluttonfest.
No worries. We had shopping to do and nothing fuels shopping better than sugar and caffeine (unless you count vodka, but that usually results in coming home with odd things like a pink ceramic elephant and size 24 sequined pants).
We rallied and headed out to see how much damage we could do.
9,456 steps and 14 shopping bags later, we were exhausted. I’m pretty sure one of my credit cards self combusted in my purse on the way back to the house.
There was only one thing that could get us moving again….FOOD!
It was 2:30. We just made it to Arnold’s in time to make the line before they shut the doors.
This hole-in-the-wall meat and three only serves breakfast and lunch, and only Monday through Friday, and only until 2:45.
Arnold’s is no-frills. It’s typically filled with hard-working, humble, good natured folks. Except the day we visited. The guy in front of us was wearing white skinny jeans, had a man bun, and was driving a Bentley.
They opened their doors in 1983. Almost 35 years and a James Beard Award later, they are still serving up the best fried catfish, mac n’cheese, and hoecakes in town.
A meat + 3 plate at Arnold’s should cost you a modest $9.74. My lunch, however was $18.59.
Because I couldn’t stop at meat + 3.
Sure, I started off innocently enough with a simple hickory smoked chicken breast smothered in house-made BBQ sauce, spicy-sweet corn pudding, baked mac n’cheese, and collard greens.
But then there were those crispy fried green tomatoes.
And that lonely hoecake.
Did someone say “hot pepper chocolate pie?” Yes, please.
So, my meat + 3 quickly turned into a meat + 4 + hoecake + pie.
We ate so much we shut the restaurant down. Literally.
We decided to walk some of our lunch off by trying to find the WhatLiftsYou wings mural nearby.
After lunch, we literally crashed back at the house.
That evening, we decided to stick close to “home” and find drinks and dinner in Germantown.
We started at the best happy hour of all time at the Germantown Café. Every day from 3:00 – 7:00, this happy little restaurant serves up a menu of creative cocktails and amazing small plates for $5 each. And we’re not talking well drinks and peanuts.
Try offerings like veal meatballs and steamed mussels, paired with a French 75 or a house made mojito.
After getting our happy hour drink fix, we walked to City House, still one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville.
The restaurant is inside an old house, and we were seated in the cozy upstairs instead of the large and open (and loud!) downstairs.
We started off with a bottle of bubbly Prosecco and a bowl of warm, marinated olives while we perused the menu and tried to decide what else our stomachs could possibly hold.
We found the answer in the form of their famous house-made belly ham pizza and the anchovy pizza with a bottle of red.
The first pizza was covered with mellow tomato sauce, anchovies, capers and house-made mozzarella while the second wowed us with belly ham, mozzarella, Grana Padano, oregano, and chiles atop the soft yet crispy crust.
We had ambitious plans to visit The Green Hour for after dinner drinks and chocolate and the Back Corner for music, but we had to be honest…..we were TIRED.
Instead, we found ourselves back at the house with Pretty Woman on the projector screen, a plate filled with cookies on the table, a few bottles of open wine, and our pjs.
Do-it-yourself collagen masks or the Walking Dead?
We had been blessed with GORGEOUS weather and Saturday was no exception. We roused ourselves and headed to brunch in Nashville’s quaint 12 South neighborhood.
During the week, the Flipside is a casual burger joint with a retro diner vibe, but on Saturdays it transforms into Brunch Central, with colossal Bloody Marys, two-for-one mimosas, and tater tots loaded with eggs and cheese.
Did I mention that you can get an entire plate of crispy bacon? A plate. Of bacon.
With maple syrup for dipping.
Bacon. Syrup. Heaven.
After stuffing ourselves silly, we walked through the cute shops and streets of 12 South.
You have to love a shopping neighborhood that gives away adorable little glasses of sweet tea and has a cupcake ATM.
We did obligatory photos with the I Believe in Nashville mural and the Draper James blue and white wall.
We also shopped until we dropped.
We bought ALL THE THINGS.
After much needed naps, we roused ourselves for the afternoon’s festivities – a ride on the Sprocket Rocket pedal bar through Nashville’s Honky Tonk Row.
Pedal Bar is really just an excuse to drink on the street and yell at people while listening to loud music.
And where better to do that than Honky Tonk Row, Nashville’s famed strip filled with neon signs, fried bologna sandwiches, all day drinking, and youthful debauchery. Is it touristy and tacky? Of course it is. But where else in Nashville can you spend the night dodging no fewer than 956 bachelorette parties, see 20-somethings in new suits and even newer cowboy boots throwing up on the sidewalk at 7:00 p.m., and hear Kenny Rogers coming out of one door and ZZ Top coming out of the next while 75-year old ladies line dance in the street?
It’s like the Vegas strip ….just replace the sequins, limos, and Fat Tuesday yard drinks with Wranglers, John Deere tractors, and Bud Light in a can.
We had enjoyed the Pedal Pub on our previous girls’ trip to Asheville so much, that we wanted to see if it was as much fun as we remembered.
It was us old ladies and a group of early 20's bachelorettes and, I must say, we showed those young girls how it's done.
We followed our pedal party with dinner at Germantown’s sophisticated 5th and Taylor.
I said the restaurant was sophisticated. I never said we were.
We started off with their curried crab dip and crispy potato skins.
I followed that with the filet. This came with a family-style order of creamy mashed potatoes, but that didn’t stop me from also ordering a giant plate of fries because 3 potato dishes in one meal is never too many.
My filet was perfect, but I have to admit I was a little envious of my friend’s burger.
And, just because we could, we ordered one of every dessert on the menu: the fried apple pie with bourbon vanilla ice cream and hot caramel, the banana pudding, and the chocolate torte.
Now you see them.
Now you don’t.
Much like my willpower.
And my slim waist.
Before we knew it, we were waking up to our last morning.
We capped our trip off with a fully indulgent, all-you-can-eat breakfast at Monell’s, just a block from the house.
We arrived early, so there was no wait, and we proceeded to stuff ourselves with fried chicken, bacon, sausage, ham, cinnamon rolls, fluffy biscuits with hot gravy, fresh peach preserves, home fried potatoes, cheese grits, scrambled eggs, pancakes, fried apples, and corn pudding until we had to undo our pants for fear of putting someone’s eye out in the event that we popped button.
The weekend had been amazing. It was definitely a “laugh until you pee a little” kind of weekend filled with the best kind of girl time. We had a chance to relax, have fun, reconnect, and charge our batteries. We were reminded that we may be getting older, but we’re not slowing down.
Nashville had delivered.
Nashville is a city I can picture myself living in. I’d buy a beautifully restored cottage in Germantown, and spend my days as a barista in a warehouse-turned-coffee-shop while eating my way through every biscuit joint in town. I would un-ironically wear cowboy boots and drink craft bourbon in a hand-blown glass tumbler with a single oversized square cube of ice. My days would be filled with endless hot chicken, country music, and sweet tea.
And good friends.