Nashville downtown

Friday morning, my friend Becky and I left Chicago and headed south on a road trip bound for Nashville, where we would stay just two nights before turning back around to come home—which yes, is kind of crazy but also, it turns out, so worth it.

We started the trip by driving through fog like this:
fog on road trip 3

And passed through several states:


And ate at Chick-Fil-A:


(And saw our lives flash before our eyes when we witnessed a car accident from start to finish, which meant calling 911 in the middle of Indiana for a group of INSANE drivers, I still start shaking when I think about it, and did I mention my friend Becky DID ALL THE DRIVING? I so owe her.)

Then sometime Friday night, we arrived in Nashville:

nashville almost

Checked into our hotel:

Opryland Hotel at Night

And met up with my college friend Jarrelle for dinner at Marche (1000 Main Street, Nashville, TN 37206), a European-style cafe where the menu changes monthly.

Among us, we had the omelette du jour, the curried acorn squash tart with caramelized onions and oven-dried tomatoes and the creamy risotto, which featured Pancetta.

becky's omelette
jarrelle's risotto
my squash tart

Saturday, we tried to go to Loveless (1.5-hour wait?) and instead headed straight to Franklin, which feels kind of a like a Tennessee version of Geneva, and ate at the Franklin Mercantile Deli (100 4th Avenue North, Downtown Franklin, TN).

It was a little drizzly (although at least 15 degrees warmer than Chicago, so who’s complaining?), and hot, creamy tomato-basil soup with sandwiches (my chicken salad and Becky’s turkey) on multigrain bread were so perfect, especially surrounded by the vintage, unmatched tables and chairs and walls covered with paintings made by local artists.

franklin mercantile deli

becky's lunchmy lunch

Back in Nashville, we met up with Tim of Eat Today to Live Tomorrow (you may remember my mentioning that blog here) and his brother, Nathan, over at Las Paletas, which makes the gourmet popsicles featured in this New York Times article, made from fresh ingredients (I got pistachio. Good choice). They took us around the city and up to a bridge where we could take pictures:

bridge in Nashville

Then it was a stop at Fido (1812 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN) before Becky and I headed to dinner at Margot (1017 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN), a more established sister of Marche where the menu changes daily and features ingredients from many local farms. Even though there were no openings for the night, reservations-wise, we still got seated within 10 minutes (yay, last-minute cancellations!), and enjoyed the French and Italian country fare this restaurant offers, sharing the artisan cheese tray and ordering a whole black bass and a broccolini pizza.


That night, we fit in a country concert at the beautiful and historic Ryman Auditorium, which featured Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill and a bunch of other people, seated right on the main level, close enough for Becky to walk up to the front and take pictures, and our tickets were like $45 each.


After all that, we were both a little disappointed to leave the next morning, but a quick photo-taking stop at Dino World in Kentucky helped a little:

T-Rex at Dino World

And then, sometime Sunday night, we returned to fog:

fog Sunday
roads Sunday

And then we were home again.

(Special thanks to Tim and Nathan for the great dining recommendations and tour of the city. If everyone in Nashville is as nice as them, we are moving, I’m serious.)

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. postcollegecook

    Glad you enjoyed Nashville! Was the show at the Ryman incredible? I visited the theater during the day for a tour, but would imagine seeing a concert there would be really super awesome since it’s so intimate and historic.

  2. Gemma

    What a great trip. I would love to spend a few months driving across the US at some point and just seeing what we see and stopping where we want.

  3. Niki

    I’ve always wanted to go there and thankfully, I’m now dating someone who would love to as well. I am so intrigued by those popsicles too!

  4. MaryAnn

    Nashville is a good town to visit. I’ve been there and back in one day so I don’t think you guys were crazy at all for your short trip! Glad good times & good food were had by all!

  5. Ed Schenk

    Sounds like a great trip! Looks like you didn’t miss much.

  6. jessiev

    excellent road trip – WOW!! such fun. how was chick-fil-a? i have to admit i haven’t had it yet. crazy!!

  7. Whitney

    Looks like a super fun roadtrip!

  8. kate

    I really like Tim’s blog. I may have found it through you, hard to say. I do love a good road trip, and one with food is all the better.

  9. Janet

    I’m really impressed by your restaurant choices – you really go out of your way to seek out unique , sustainable and places with changing menus! Now that’s a culinary journey to be excited about! I haven’t even heard about Figo and margot. And gourmet popsicles!

    You should go back again soon! There’s so much more to see including the Grand Ole Opry (I joked to a friend I wanted to get married inside under the white makeshift arch), eat at Noshville (Jewish deli), Loveless, Bluebird Cafe and hit up a honky tonk bar (just to laugh at the scene.) =)

  10. Anne

    You are so good at taking photos on your adventures! I was having so much fun in Chicago I woefully abandoned my camera in favor of memories. C’est la vie, I guess.

  11. Jenifer

    I miss living in Nashville. Such a great city.

  12. Jacqui

    next up: MADISON! :)

  13. giao

    what a fabulous two nights in nashville you had! the concert at the Auditorium must have been so much fun – music, nashville and good food to boot. perfect!

  14. Donna

    Wow!! Thanks for the quick trip!! I love to read about travel and EATING experiences! Love your food pics! Love the soup in mugs…looks yummy!! Glad you had a great time!!

  15. Megan Gordon

    Ah…I’m dying to go to Nashville! Many friends I know have gone recently and have LOVED it. When I saw on twitter you were going, I tried to look up this breakfast place friends had told me about, but couldn’t find it…A breakfast place where you have a little griddle at your table and cook your own pancakes. Sounded (and looked) cool :) Looks like you guys did just fine on the food front though!

  16. Shannalee

    PostCollegeCook, It was so much fun! The last country concert I went to was at the Allstate Arena in Illinois which, if you’ve been there and to the Ryman, you know how completely not alike they are, ha. The Ryman is beautiful like a church and so much more intimate, like you said. Really glad we went.

    Gemma, I would love to do that, too! This was my first time to Tennessee but it’s true with every state I visit that you begin to appreciate how diverse America is. Someday I’ll just drive through all the states for a months-long road trip. Can you imagine?

    Niki, So when are you guys going?? You definitely should. And definitely get a popsicle.

    MaryAnn, There and back in one day!? Wow. At least I know we’re not alone. :)

    Ed, There were a few other places we wanted to try (Cafe Bluebird, Loveless, etc.) but this was a good, quick overview for sure!

    Jessie, Honestly I think Chick-Fil-A will always have a special place in my heart because we don’t have it here, ha. It reminds me of my freshman year of college and living away from here, and I love that they aren’t open Sundays. It’s nice that some places are still like that.

    Whitney, It was!

    Kate, I’m glad you like his blog, too! He knows his stuff.

    Janet, Well, the show we saw was the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman, and we stayed at the Opryland Hotel, which was INSANE. We literally got lost trying to find our room, and I still don’t think we saw everything! I hope we can go back because you’re right, there’s more to see. BTW gotta give Tim credit for the restaurants, most of which were his picks.

    Anne, Oh I hope your Chicago trip was a good one! I’d love to hear about it, even without photos!

    Jenifer, I totally get that. Would genuinely consider moving there.

    Jacqui, Yesssss!

    Giao, It was super fun. Very Nashville, ha!

    Donna, I love to read about trips, too. Glad you feel the same way. And that soup was sooo good and comforting!

    Megan, Go! You will love it. And thanks for trying to look up that breakfast place; you are so sweet! I don’t know what it is, but it def sounds cool.

  17. Kim

    These pictures are absolutely gorgeous. I feel like I took the trip along with you! Or at least I feel like I want to take that very same trip… :-)

  18. Ashley

    I’ve been there before, and have actually stayed at that same hotel, man, what an amazing place. Honestly, even just the hotel. It provide a couple hours of entertainment just walking around that place.
    Makes me want to go back :)

  19. Shannalee

    Kim, aw, thanks! Someday I need to get back to Cali or you need to get out here, and we’ll have our own fun.

    Ashley, It’s unbelievable, right? I could not get over it. Seriously. Insane.

  20. Angela@spinachtiger

    Wish I would have known. I live in Franklin. You ate at all my favorite places. Marche and Margot have same owners. Sadly, there are not too many other places I would actually recommend. You picked the right ones. Glad you enjoyed our town.

  21. Shannalee

    Angela! How did I forget you live in Franklin? Next time I’m in TN, we should hang out! And another kudos to Tim for telling us about these places. Glad to know you like them, too!

  22. Phoo-D

    What a wonderful break from the fog and snow! I will have to keep note of these places in case I find myself in Nashville.

  23. Shannalee

    Phoo-D, It was! And I hope for your sake that you find yourself in Nashville soon!

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  25. Angela@spinachtiger

    Shanalee, you’re on, and maybe there will be a few other good choices. We do have one local sort of pricy place in Franklin worth a visit, but we usually go to Nashville to eat. Suburbia gets very old and non-foodie.

  26. Shannalee

    Angela, Yay! Now I have one more reason to be excited to get back to Tennessee. :)

  27. lo

    A roadtrip with a good friend is… somehow… magical. NO matter how long it lasts, or where you go, or even (dare I say it) what you eat, it’s always something special.

    My last trip to Nashville was about 3-4 years ago (that long already!??!!) — and we had a wonderful time in the course of about 4 days. Neither of us had ever been there, so it was all about flying by the seats of our pants. Which means just perfect, if you ask me.

  28. Shannalee

    Lo, Yes! Aside from the accident on the way there, this road trip was awesome. And it’s fun to just see all the new sights and experience a new place; it broadens your perspective. But gosh, I hope my next trip to Nashville is sooner than four years from now!

  29. Cassie {Hi Sugarplum}

    I love this and all your posts about Nashville…stumbling across your blog was such a treat! I lived in BNA for 10 years and loved every second of it. We went back a few weeks ago, and at Las Paletas everyday! :) You hit up all the good spots…so it was a perfect intro. Thanks for the walk down memory lane for me! :)

    1. Shannalee

      Love hearing that, Cassie! I was just thinking back to this trip today and feeling like I was walking down memory lane myself. : )

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  31. S

    I have been reading your blog for a long time, and I have to say that I am disappointed to see Chic Fil A here. You have written so much about not only being conscious about what you eat, but conscious about how you live your life, and to see a virtual shout out (not to mention financial support) to such a hate-filled organization is a real disappointment. Your blog has always struck me as thoughtful, reflective– for lack of a better word, kind. You lost me on this one.

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Sara, I’m sorry you feel that way. While I no longer eat at Chick-Fil-A for health reasons, I did not hold those standards over two years ago, in 2010, which is when this post was written. Hope you can understand that sometimes people change their views. Because my diet changed throughout 2010, and continues to change, and because this site reflects that, there are countless posts featuring food I ate along that journey. I think seeing the growth is one of the best parts of blogging.

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