Recently, three good friends of mine (who also happen to be chefs) visited me in Nashville. They came into town for some NFL football, delicious food, and Southern hospitality. They were very clear about what they wanted “food-wise”: They wanted to eat some simple, flavorful Southern-style foods. And, of course, they also wanted to try any Nashville-specific specialties.
A couple of weeks before their arrival, I asked them a few questions and learned that they’d be staying at an AirBnB in my neighborhood. With the location in hand, I began putting together a fun and fast-paced multi-day menu designed to expose them to a “best of” sampling of our local neighborhood’s cuisine in The Gulch neighborhood of Nashville.
Their visit spanned two nights and four meals. We kept it very straightforward and flavorful by narrowing the menu down to:
Pit-smoked Barbeque, Nashville Hot Chicken, Grass-fed Burgers, and Breakfast Food. At Nissan Stadium, the menu would be familiar: Tailgate fare and Stadium snacks.
Our first stop was Peg Leg Porker, a single-location Barbeque spot that specializes in Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Chicken–pit-smoked onsite. Here’s what they say about themselves:
Peg Leg Porker: NASHVILLE’S ORIGINAL BBQ STANDARD
We built our restaurant in the Gulch section of Nashville to be able to serve the downtown community as well as the residential areas of Nashville. Our building is old school BBQ. We have a great patio to enjoy the downtown view and have a plain but soulful interior for you inside. Our décor, well it is the story of pitmaster Carey Bringle’s life. Everything that you see in our shop is about family and friends. We want to be an important part of your life and so we are welcoming you into ours.
Read more about their fascinating history, and learn why this successful restaurant refuses to consider multiple locations, franchising or brand licensing.
The platters of pit-smoked barbeque we shared really got our appetites going, so I suggested that we hit a real HOT spot next…and not just any HOT spot—one that features Nashville Hot Chicken. If you’ll recall, in previous editions of our Foodie Friday blog, we’ve explained what Nashville Hot Chicken IS and what it IS NOT. First of all, it IS NOT: Buffalo Chicken, Barbeque Chicken, Peppered Chicken, Smoked Chicken, or Jerk Chicken. It IS NOT any variation of Mediterranean, Hispanic or Thai dish. It IS NOT Hot Pot.
So what IS Nashville Hot Chicken? So glad you asked… There are three letters that describe this fiery favorite: H-O-T. —in deliciously varying degrees. Every Hot Chicken joint in the Music City (Nashville) describe the dish a little differently. According to their website, Party Fowl puts it this way…
Party Fowl: So, What’s this place all about?
Specializing in Hot Chicken and cold drinks, Party Fowl offers diners a one-of-a-kind experience. The menu, created by executive chef Bart Pickens, includes a number of hot chicken dishes with heat levels ranging from mild to “Poultrygeist,” as well as creative spins on the classics.
We shared a couple of platters of medium-hot, on the bone—as pictured—as well as a platter of breast tenders with sides. When you visit Nashville, be sure to treat yourself to some hot chicken at Party Fowl.
Our taste buds were really “singing” by the time we left Party Fowl…so we figured that we should find a place to take the stage for Karaoke!
And, of course, for something a little weird…
If you know me, you know that I have never been known to turn down an opportunity to get onstage with a mic in hand and friends nearby for some Karaoke. This night was no different as we headed on foot to Lower Broadway to visit one of my favorite “honky-tonks” for some singing. My guests enjoyed the walk and didn’t even complain as we climbed to the 3rd floor level where A.J.s offers singers a chance to get onstage 7 nights a week starting at 7:00 p.m.
A couple of us put our names in with songs that we felt pretty confident singing. When our names were called, we got up onstage and did our best renditions—to the delight and applause of our audience (hey, at least that’s how I remember it…).
After a few songs, we headed back to our respective places for a good night’s rest. It was early—around 1:00 a.m.—and we had a football game and more Nashville food to enjoy the next day. Stay tuned for Part Two…
Until then, I’ll leave you with images of me with my friend Franco onstage at A.J.s! Happy Foodie Friday!