Nashville Hot Chixn & Other Travel Novelties

The Tennessee State Capitol Building.

I had never heard of Nashville Hot Chicken until I started telling people that Matt and I had a trip planned there.  I guess it is a regionally famous food phenomena.  It was among the first things mentioned by the Uber driver who picked us up from the airport.  She warned us not to go crazy with the super hot unless we were prepared because it was really, really hot.  She said it in a more colorful way, but...that was the gist.

A Nashville Hot Chixn Wing.

Luckily, just because we won't eat chickens doesn't mean we miss out entirely on the Nashville Hot Chicken phenomena.  I love the age we live in.

A Nashville skyline from over the Cumberland River.

We ordered up the Nashville Hot "Chixn" Sandwich and the Nashville Hot "Chixn" Wings from the Be-Hive.  Be-Hive makes all their plant-based meats and cheeses in house and they were mighty fine.  It was all soooooooo dang tasty (and perfectly spicy) that we ordered the exact same thing the next night, too.  Though with double Nacho Tots the second time because I didn't want to share a side with Matt.  I wanted my own.  ;)  We had our Nashville-specific dinner delivered by UberEats, also something we'd never previously done.  It was slick.  We ate reaaaaaaaaly good down there all told*. 

The biscuit bake (foreground) from the Sunflower Bakehouse was truly phenomenal.  Mmmmmmmmmm!

Hot chixn conveniently delivered to the door was just one of many fantastic firsts and novelties down in NashPhil though.     

We were very impressed by the murals and street art downtown.  This one is particularly impressive in that the raised brick detail (and shadows) around the window on the right is "real" and painted in exact replica around the windows on the left.  I, of course, loved the black cat leaping out onto the ledge.

We rented some of those e-scooters (Lyme, Bird, etc.) for cruising around downtown.  It was delightful to make your own breeze during the particularly hot and humid portions of the day.  It sure beat walking in the mugginess.  Plus, it was downright fun!  And a super fast and affordable way to get places, especially given the prices of rental cars right now.    It was a superbly convenient way to explore, too.  It was a cinch to stop and read a historical marker or check out some art or birds or something that crossed our path.  It was such a pleasant, easy, and cheap way to get places that Matt and I actually looked up getting a pair for ourselves for around town here.  They were pretty great.  We're hooked.

We packed our bike helmets so we could enjoy the scooters with confidence and safety.  It was a brilliant packing decisions.  We enjoyed the heck out of those scooters.

While we were cruising around the Riverfront Park area we saw a small flock of Northern Cardinals.  We don't get cardinals where we live and these were Matt's first ever sighting**.  He was justifiably dazzled by their vibrant color.  We saw them quite a bunch while we were there...from the hotel pool, in the park, walking to the concert...  So bright and beautiful!  We also saw hundreds of Northern Mockingbirds.  They were all over the place, which stands to reason since they're the Tennessee state bird***.  They were as common around Nashville as robins are up here.  Exotic and unfamiliar birds are one of the things we really love about traveling.  Same with plants!  The plant life down there was lush!  Thick with greenery, dense with blossoms.  And so different than what I find closer to home****. 

The Passion Flower is the Tennessee state flower.  We spotted this one during a walk around the neighborhood of our hotel.

We watched a big ol paddlewheel boat going up the Cumberland River.  I've ever seen one of them before, that I recall.  Matt took a paddle wheel boat trip on the Missouri in his youth.  They make him think of his dad.  Cardinals, as it happens, are associated with his paternal grandma.

Watching the paddleboat go by was pretty neat.  Matt and I should do that someday.

The apartment we rented for the NashPhil run had a rooftop pool.  That was fantastically rad and something neither of us had experienced before.  The view was great.  The street noise faded away.  The water felt refreshing as all get out.  The air was breezier and cooler.  It was spectacular.  The actual apartment was adequate, but the pool was magnificent.  I loved it.  We went swimming three times on Saturday alone!  Morning, afternoon, evening!

My roof top pool paradise.

I ordered what has to be my first ever whisky cocktail.  I don't really enjoy whisky, but Tennessee is whisky country and the Brooklyn Bowl had a cocktail called A Touch Of Earl Grey.  I couldn't resist the tea-infused, Grateful Dead-referenced, regionally-appropriate nature of the drink.  So I ventured outside my comfort zone and gave it a try.  It was so stiff that I watered it down...and then watered it down some more...and then watered it down again...and stretched that bad boy out for over two hours. It even tasted pretty good by the (dilute) end.  Talk about an economical cocktail, too.  Matt, a much bigger whisky enthusiast, drank his in about 20 minutes.  We also sampled plenty of southern craft beers.  Like the novel flora and fauna, this is always a treat about travel.

Matt and a blooming Crepe Myrtle.  Those stunning flowers were quite prolific in a variety of hues.  The red were my favorite though.

We stumbled upon Polk's tomb quite unexpectedly.  Maybe I'm wrong, but one doesn't just accidently bump into a presidential grave up here in Montana so I found it pretty surprising.  I told Matt that makes at least two presidential tombs I've now seen, having visited Washington's as an 8th grader.  We were exploring the greenspaces and architecture in the Tennessee state capitol area.  There was some impressive columns and stonework, plenty of statues and fountains.  There was a lot of construction going on so it will all probably be even more impressive next time.

President and Mrs. Polk's final resting place.

On our walkabout the capitol area we found two places where statues had been removed, at least one of which was toppled during Black Lives Matters protests in Nashville.   It was a personal exposure to modern history and culture that I'd only previously seen remotely.  On a similar vein, it was shocking and educational to stumble upon historical markers noting that the area had been a slave market or the site of a sit-in civil rights demonstration, etc.  Again, this is something I'd only seen and heard about at a remove, largely in books and film, etc.  Matt and I had a couple lively discussions on what it would mean to live side-by-side with such painful history.  Not that Montana doesn't have its own painful history, but still, the depth of history in the south is sort of dazzling to me.  I mean, we saw churches in Nashville that were already 50 years old when Montana finally became a state!

As I mentioned, there was a lot of restoration work going on around the capitol area, including on some of the fancy stone columns.  We found some that were partially disassembled which allowed us to see how they fitted together and take a closer look at the stonework details, too. 

The Saturday Phil and Friends show was the first time I experienced a substantial concert delay.  A storm broke right as Phil was about to take the stage and the power went out for an hour.  We just stood inside listening to the thunder rattle the building and hoped for the best.  There was no fan, no AC, no filler music.  We chatted up the folks near us in the crowd.  When the power came back and the band finally took the stage they came out with all musical guns blazing.  I think it was, quite possibly, the most powerful night of music of my life thus far.  That's a hard thing to quantify, but...I think this was the one.  I danced myself into a delighted frenzy.  My heart soared.  I smiled for hours.  When we walked out of the venue it was still dumping rain, but it didn't matter because I don't think I've ever been that wet before in my life, outside of swimming or the bath.  I've certainly never been that wet fully clothed.  Between the humidity and the dancing....the rain on the walk home really didn't matter.  Its not like I could get any wetter.  It was actually quite refreshing.

Our buddy Derek watched the first night of the run via live stream.  We've gone to a load of Dead shows with him and it was a cool, but bizarre twist to see this show together, but not together.  He sent us this screenshot the next day.  Matt and I are visible near the front on the keyboard side.  Matt's tie-dye and hat make him stand out to me.   I am in profile, turned towards Matt... likely raving about how good that last song was!

All in all, NashPhil was fabulous.  The music, the street murals, the verdant landscape, the critters, the lazy river, the architecture, the history, the food, the people.  Ugh.  It felt good.  So, good.

We saw a few magnolia trees with blooms.  Magnolias feel distinctly southern to me.  They have great trees down there.

*Matt and I almost never eat out.  We love cooking and we're pretty thrifty people and we have dietary restrictions.  Even when we're on vacation we lean towards getting a rental that has a kitchenette or something so we can cook for ourselves.  Eating out at a restaurant is, bay and large, a swanky treat for us as a result.  We hit several vegan restaurants this trip and tasted a whole lot of awesome along the way.  We ate three times at the Copper Branch because it was the closest to our rental.  The highlight there was probably the poutine, though Matt also felt pretty strongly about his Ultimate Bagel Sandwich.  We ate twice at the Be-Hive and I think that was our overall favorite.  Matt and I went back and forth on which was better-- chixn sammy or wings--with Matt leaning toward the sammy and me leaning towards the wings.  We ate twice at the Sunflower Bakehouse, once in the restaurant and once by UberEats.  There I got a magnificent creation called an "Omelette" Biscuit Bake (the menu describes it as "Biscuit Pieces, Savory Vegan Custard Cream, Red Onions, Green Onions, Red Bell Peppers & Vegan Cheese - all baked together.") that Matt and I simply HAVE to knock-off for home consumption.  It was nothing like our so-called omelette, but just as with the Breakfast Pizza in Mesa I was swooning over it with a heavy "Where have you been all my life?!?!"

**My first encounter with Northern Cardinals was on Val's porch in NW Arkansas.  

***Mockingbirds are also the state bird in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi.  As a matter of coincidence, Val is affiliated in my mind with mockingbirds, too.  The first time Matt and I encountered a one was in the driveway of the house Val rented for her wedding shindig in Las Vegas.

****Animal IDs: Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Mourning Dove, European Starling, Rock Dove, Turkey Vulture, Brown Creeper, American Robin, American Crow, Gray Squirrel, Pond Slider Turtle  

Plant IDs:
Southern Magnolia, Coontie Palm, Spotted Laurel, Crepe Myrtle, American Pokeweed, and Purple Heart, White-Mouth Dayflower, and Passionflower.

This mural sucked us into a little park downtown.  The more we looked the more we saw.  It was very cool.  So, we decided to snag one of the little tables and read our books and do some people (and bird) watching.  


  1. Hi Beth,
    ...that is so cool...happy to have a shared experience with can check out our trip to Nashville here... was a great trip...we had an awesome time...and a lot of good food...I remember the The Wild Cow fondly...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. Matt had the Wild Cow on his Google Map of Things-We-Could-Check-Out, but it didn't end up happening on this trip. Something to look forward to next time!!


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