When it came time to planning my mother-daughter trip, a food tour was on the itinerary (obviously). As we had had such a fantastic time on our other Southern food tour we had taken together (which you can read about here), I knew any such food tour in the Music City would not disappoint…and it didn’t. I ended up booking with the company Local Tastes of Nashville, specifically its tour in the Gulch.
Like many city neighborhoods across the country, the Gulch is a neighborhood that’s super in, and uber hip as of late (i.e. trendy non-chain shops and restaurants and astronomically high rents too). Although it had always “existed” (it’s the neighborhood between the city’s downtown and Music Row), its early origins were more of the non-residential nature (i.e. factories, depots, etc), and then in the latter part of the 20th century, derelict and abandoned buildings and a lot of crime. But in the 2000s, concerned citizens banded together to make it everything it was not, a place good people would want to be.
The tour itself started at the city’s Union Station (which was also where we had our first tasting), what was once the city’s main transportation hub but then like train travel across the country in the latter part of the 20th century, it became obsolete and this gorgeous early 20th building became an abandoned eyesore. Thankfully campaigns ensued to save it and now it’s what appears to be a most incredible place to stay in (next time Nashville). I loved hearing the history of the former station from our fantastic guide Kristin who although not a Nashville native, she still had a charming southern accent being from Texas.
There were a total of five stops of which I’ll detail below in the order that we stopped.
Carter’s (Union Station)
Our first stop started on a tiny food portion note which was fine with me as I prefer not being bloated right off the bat on a food tour. It was here that we had a Southern food staple, a spin on pimento cheese atop a delicious tasting cracker.
Fin & Pearl
Although Fin and Pearl is known for its Southern accented seafood selections, we actually were served another Southern staple here, chicken and waffles, but as that’s a favorite of mine, I didn’t mind one bit. Not being from the South and visiting rather infrequently, there are just some culinary items I want to try while there and this is one of them. The chicken tasted sublime and was a welcome change from my hot chicken consumption the day before in which my bites were definitely more tentative.
I had heard so much about Biscuit Love when planning my trip including its very long lines, so I was super stoked to learn that Biscuit Love was one of the stops on the tour (i.e. no waiting in said lines). It offers up locally sourced Southern breakfast and lunch fare (no dinner biscuit noshing here) but for our stop we had bonuts, which are basically donuts made with the scraps from biscuit dough when you are rolling them out. The bonut is comprised of fried biscuit dough and was topped with lemon mascarpone and served over a blueberry compote. Delectable doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Peg Leg Porker
If you’re wondering about the name of this establishment, well, the owner and culinary brainchild behind it had lost his leg but never let his handicap keep him from pursuing his dream. The interior of Peg Leg Porker was as typically Southern biker you could get but one wouldn’t expect anything less when being served some bonafide pulled pork.
This was our final stop on the tour and as the saying goes, it ended on a sweet note literally and figuratively. Colts’ Chocolates is the creation of Mackenzie Colt, a cast member from the television program Hee Haw (I can’t say I knew the show, but every time I hear Hee Haw being said I think of Sam Wainwright’s usage of that phrase from the cinema classic It’s a Wonderful Life. We got to taste a variety of the chocolate samples that the store makes and then could take home a full size one. It was also here that I learned the origins of “chess pie” (a Yankee reporter came down to the South, he interviewed a woman asking the name of a particular pie, but with her accent being so thick and his ears being Northern born and bred, he interpreted what she had said to be “chess pie” instead of it’s “just pie”).
All in all, this was a fantastic food tour that had the perfect ratio of sweet to savory tastings, offered an introduction to an incredibly unique neighborhood (did I mention one of my favorite photos ever of me in 2018 was taken right there), and a guide whose infectious spirit and passion for her love of her job would have charmed anyone away (and rightly so).