Food & Drink

Music City Meals

Nashville is a terrific food town and I strongly encourage food lovers to visit that city if you can.  Our visit to Nashville included sampling the cuisine; CrustBurgers, incendiary chicken, & more.


The recent second birthday of our grand nephew gave my wife and I an excuse to visit Nashville, where our niece and her husband live. And that, in turn, gave us the opportunity to check out a slice of the food scene in Music City, and for me to cross an item off of my bucket list: a visit to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Nashville is a terrific food town and I strongly encourage food lovers to visit that city if you can. 

Jane’s Hideaway

Our first stop was a hidden treasure in downtown Nashville called Jane’s Hideaway, which features live music, a full bar, and tasty bar fare, not to mention a bluegrass brunch. 

Jane’s Hideaway Chicken Pot Pie

Among the treasures at Jane’s Hideaway are crawfish-stuffed hushpuppies, okra fries, a fried green tomato shrimp salad, deviled eggs with crispy shallots, pork belly BLT, and my favorite: rosemary roasted chicken pot pie with herb butter.

Jane’s Hideaway Fried Catfish

But you can’t go wrong with the fried catfish plate at Jane’s Hideaway, which comes with collard greens and cornbread. Or for that matter, the country fried chicken with sweet potato puree, collard greens, and hot honey. 

Of course, no trip to Music City is complete without a visit to Third Man Records, Jack White’s vinyl-focused independent record label, music venue, and record store, complete with a music studio, vinyl pressing plant, and film studio. And if you think Jack White isn’t a hands-on guy, you’re wrong. He was spotted during our visit leaving Third Man Records in his custom-painted vintage White Stripe Ford Bronco. 

I don’t really watch much food TV, but I do love Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. During the Nashville episode of Feed Phil, Phil Rosenthal went to eat at a place called Joyland with his dining companion for that day, country music superstar Brad Paisley.  

Joyland is the creation of renowned southern chef Sean Brock, whose Nashville restaurants include The Continental, Audrey & June, and Joyland in East Nashville. Through the years, he has been on a quest to create the perfect burger, first at his Husk restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina and then at Joyland. He has succeeded with what he calls his CrustBurger. 

Joyland CrustBurger with Curly Fries

The idea behind the CrustBurger is that the entire burger is made up of the crunchy bits of meat that are normally only found around the edges of a burger. And then, because the meat and cheese are the stars of the CrustBurger, plus a little onion, the meat is served between thin, crisp buns. It’s hands down the best burger I’ve ever eaten. Brad Paisley was so impressed he said to Sean Brock, “You are a Jedi! Do you need a partner?”

Joyland Fried Chicken Sandwich

Chicken is another Sean Brock specialty and his Joystick – chicken on a stick – is amazing. Brock spent countless hours of experimenting to create the special dusting that makes a Joystick so delicious. Ditto his fried chicken sandwich, which comes with pickle slaw, Joy sauce and mayo. 

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is legendary in Nashville, and is agreed to by most to be the place where Nashville hot chicken was born. Prince’s was opened in the 1930s by Thornton Prince and his great niece – Ms. Andre Prince Jeffries – is the restaurant’s matriarch today, nearly 100 years later. 

The story goes that Thornton Prince was a casanova who was married five times. Being caught with another woman, one of Prince’s lovers supposedly decided to teach him a lesson by serving him fried chicken that had been doused with incendiary spices. But apparently the revenge meal backfired; Prince liked the super spicy chicken, recreated the hot chicken recipe, opened Prince’s, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

There is nothing fancy about Prince’s. There’s not even any silverware. Just rolls of paper towels (you’ll need them) on each table and a walk-up and order counter. But the place is wildly popular and I can see why. The staff there is super friendly and the food, well, it’s legendary. 

Prince’s Hot Chicken

If you’ve never had Nashville hot chicken like Prince’s, it’s time to remedy that. There are a lot of hot chicken places now open in Utah, including my favorite: Pretty Bird. What makes Nashville hot chicken different from most fried chicken is that not only is there hot spices – usually lots of cayenne – in the coating of the chicken, but then hot, spicy oil is poured on top of the cooked chicken before serving, like a sauce. It’s a messy affair; certainly not tweezer food. At Prince’s, you can have your chicken as hot as you want it, or not. The flavor spectrum is Plain, Lite Mild, Mild, Medium, Hot, X Hot, XX Hot, and XXX Hot. I ordered X Hot and can’t even fathom what XXX Hot must be like, because my mouth was scorched with the X Hot version. The hot chicken at Prince’s is served in the traditional manner: on a slice of white bread and garnished with a pickle. It’s not fancy, but it’s an unforgettable taste experience. 

Bearded Iris Brewery

Taking time out for some craft brews, we stopped by the Bearded Iris brewery in Germantown, where the patio is rockin’, especially on weekends. The beer selection there leans heavily toward IPAs, DIPAs, and pale ales. I particularly liked a double IPA made with bee-foraged honey called Queen Bee. 

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, you’ll find exhibits that include nearly 500 musical instruments, 1900+ items of stage wear and personal clothing, and objects from microphones to automobiles, including Elvis Presley’s gold-plated Cadillac. 

Rolf and Daughters

Located in the century-old Werthan Factory building in Germantown, Rolf and Daughters was the fanciest restaurant we visited during our Nashville trip, but also one of the warmest and most welcoming. 

Rolf and Daughters Kale Salad

Chef/Owner Philip Krajeck’s restaurant is a must for anyone seeking creative cuisine in Nashville in a very soothing setting with lots of brick and wood, communal tables, high ceilings, and stellar service. Tempting starters include beef tartare with parsley, garlic scape, bottarga and sourdough bread; or slices of tangelo orange with pistachio, chili, and smoked roe. A salad of kale with yogurt, toasted seeds, black currants, microgreens, and more was sensational. 

Rolf and Daughters Mafaldine

Homemade pasta dishes are a specialty at Rolf and Daughters and when we visited, menu items included rigatoni with heritage pork ragu; tonnarelli with clams and Calabrian chili; canestri with pork meatball and aged parmesan; and cecamariti with black pepper and cultured butter. A real winner was mafaldine with nettles, pine nuts and pecorino. 

The last stop during our Nashville getaway involves a Utah connection. Nelson’s GreenBrier Distillery came about when brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson discovered that their triple great grandfather was one of the most successful whiskey distillers in pre-prohibition America. Some 100 years later, the brothers vowed to revive the since-forgotten family business, which they have done.

We enjoyed a tour and tasting at the distillery and while we were doing so, learned that the folks at Nelson’s GreenBrier are opening a restaurant next to the distillery. The consulting chef helping to develop the menu and open that restaurant in Nashville is none other than Executive Chef Michael Showers of Park City’s Nelson Cottage and High West Distillery and Saloon. Small world. According to Michael, the Nashville restaurant is scheduled to open this summer.

As much as I liked the whiskeys at Nelson’s, my favorite sip during the tour was Louisa’s Liqueur. Louisa Nelson “grew the distillery into one of the largest in the country at the time despite the great odds against her, including not having the right to vote,” according to our tour guide. Louisa’s Liqueur is a caramel, coffee, and pecan-flavored liqueur that was conceived as a tribute to Louisa Nelson. It’s delicious poured over ice cream.  I got to see a sneak preview of the menu for the new Nashville restaurant and Chef Showers’ dessert choices include a vanilla bean ice cream milkshake made with Louisa’s Liqueur and toasted pecan brown butter streusel. I’d go back to Nashville just for that! 

Photos by Ted Scheffler

Culinary quote of the week: “My absolute favorite meal in Nashville is sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry.” – Taylor Swift  

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