I’m Levi Kennedy, one of Tuft & Needle's full-stack engineers, and I moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University.
My initial goal for moving to Nashville was to tour as a guitar player. I spent about 6 months in the music industry as a production assistant for a legendary country music artist you’ve definitely heard of. After realizing the music biz was not for me, I sought out a new career, but stayed in Nashville.
Nashville is a fantastic city. It’s full of wonderful, creative people, who, even though they may not be from the south, definitely end up inheriting southern charm once they live here for a while. We’ve got great food, great beer, and great music. Here’s a list of my favorite spots.
Bolton's Hot Chicken
Eat & drink
Nashville has become known for its hot (as in spicy) chicken. I’d say, if you visit, you definitely have to eat at one of our hot chicken restaurants. I suggest one of the original hot chicken spots like Bolton’s or Prince’s, but I hear 400 Degrees is pretty great too.
Another Nashville classic is the Loveless Cafe. It’s not downtown, but it’s definitely worth the drive. If you’re looking for classic southern cuisine, this is your place.
Finally, my personal favorite is Martin’s BBQ. If you’re lucky, they’ll be cooking a whole hog in their pit when you’re there. The Belmont Blvd. location is my favorite, and that’s within walking distance to the 12th South neighborhood, which means you can get popsicles at Las Paletas as a light dessert after you’ve gorged yourself with brisket and mac and cheese.
If you’re looking to experience the city like a local, stay away from downtown and visit a few of these spots. First, if you’re into karaoke and cheep beer, visit Santa’s Pub. Santa’s Pub is a dive bar in a triple-wide trailer (that’s a double-wide fuzed precariously with a single-wide), that has karaoke every night. Sometimes the owner Santa, whose name fits his look, plays DJ. It’s cash only, but they have an ATM. PBR is $2, don’t get anything else.
One neighborhood that doesn’t get a lot of love from tourists is Woodbine. It’s just south of downtown on Nolensville road and is well known among locals for its ethnic food. Pupuseria Reina La Bendicion is a hole-in-the-wall El Salvadorian restaurant that serves papusas. It’s SO good. You can also find great Thai, Indian, and Kurdish fare in this neighborhood. Also, check out Plaza Mariachi—it’s always a good time.
The Ryman Auditorium
If you're headed downtown, the tour of the Ryman Auditorium is a must. This music venue has so much history, and so many artists have graced its stage. I get chills when I walk in.
There aren’t many honky-tonks worth going to, but if you were to only go to one, I’d suggest Robert’s Western World. They play only classic country music such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Marty Robbins. Go have yourself a Recession Special (A Miller High Life, fried bologna sandwich, and a MoonPie), and listen to real country music.
Do it for the 'gram
When in Nashville, you have to take pictures in front of murals. However, be aware that there is usually a line to get your picture taken. The gulch has the WhatLiftsYou wings mural, and 12th South has the “We Believe in Nashville” mural.