Nashville on Fire
"I have two tour books when we start a tour: The cities we're playing, and the places I have to eat in those cities," says Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill. Followill may welcome assistance finding places on the road—and delight in documenting meals on Twitter—but when it comes to the dynamic culinary scene in his hometown of Nashville, he's got it covered. Along with his brother Caleb Followill and chef Jonathan Waxman (Adele's, in which Followill is an investor), he cofounded the Music City Food + Wine Festival (Sept 20 to 21), now in its second year. Here are Followill's picks for where to eat and drink in Music City, from high-end Italian to a fried bologna joint.
Breakfast: Pancake Pantry
1796 21st Ave S., 615-383-9333
"Breakfast is Pancake Pantry, hands down. Nashville's a big songwriting town, as you may have heard, so a lot of songwriters will go there and get a nice space for their nine writing sessions for that day. There's a line doubled around the block every single day—it's crazy. But they serve sweet tea, lemonade and coffee to everyone in line. I'd say the sweet potato pancakes are a must. They would be on my death row last meal wish if I, God forbid, ever ended up on death row."
Lunch: Martin's BBQ
3108 Belmont Rd., 615-200-1181
"Martin's is the best BBQ I've ever had, period. Every day there's a special—whole pig, cow or goat, and more. When you leave, you smell like barbecue for four days because it just seeps into your pores. Their dry-rub ribs are the best I've ever had in my entire life—and I grew up in Memphis, where there's lots of dry-rubs around."
Family Dinner: Adele's
1210 McGavock St., 615-988-9700
"Adele's, of course! That Jonathan Waxman chicken is tough to beat. I'm not even an anchovy fan, to be honest, but the kale salad with anchovies is absolutely amazing. And their pizettes [mini pizzas]—my daughter Violet is a huge fan of the pizettes. The space itself is massive—definitely the biggest restaurant in all of Nashville. You can put three 18-wheelers in there and still have room to eat."
Special Occasion: City House
1222 4th Ave. N, 615-736-5838
"This is our go-to when we have family or friends in town and we can only take them to one meal. Their margherita pizza with an egg on top is phenomenal. Their char-grilled octopus with white beans is out of this world, and their chicken is amazing as well. It's also famous for Sunday suppers, which is a set menu: Whatever they're cooking that day, that's what you get. Tandy Wilson is the chef and owner—he's a good buddy of mine and an amazing cook. He doesn't even realize how good of a cook he really is. He's totally dialed in."
Courtesy of City House and Adele's by Jonathan Waxman
Cocktails: Patterson House
1711 Division St., 615-636-7724
"I would say Nashville's got beer down pat, but it's one or two places away from being a cocktail city. Patterson House is kind of the go-to spot for cocktails, and they also have Krispy Kreme doughnuts which are amazing at 2 o'clock in the morning. (Catbird Seat also has beautiful cocktails, but there's like a nine-month waiting list. You have to have the mayor on speed dial to get into that place.) As for my favorite cocktail, liquor just doesn't agree with me. I'm more of a beer and wine kind of guy. My wife makes fun of me because usually what I get there is something foofy and fruity. She's drinking whiskey on the rocks, and I'm ordering like a 19-year-old girl with a fake ID, with my sweet vermouth with a twist of lime."
Dive bar: Springwater
115 27th Ave. N, 615-320-0345
"They only serve canned beer and it's usually warm. They have a jukebox and it still has the same music it did when I first went in there in 2000. Nine artists there, with three songs each, and the world's most crooked pool table. It's a great, great little dive bar. To my knowledge, they don't serve food, but they do back up to a White Castle and McDonald's."
Night on the Town: Robert's Western World
416 Broadway, 615-244-9552
"Anytime we have family or friends in town, we take them to dinner and then we always end the night at Robert's, typically with a fried bologna sandwich and a PBR. And square dancing. That's the spot. (Pro tip: If they run out of bologna, go next door and get some Spam, and they'll probably fry it up for you.)"
Coffee Shop: Crema
5 Hermitage Ave., 615-255-8311
"I live a caffeine-free life, so I don't drink coffee, but my wife is a huge caffeine-head. We have a Keurig machine and, my God, we get a FedEx pod delivery every three days. She told me to tell you about Crema because they have a summertime coffee soda that's "weird and wonderful," according to her. There's also a place called Frothy Monkey that's been around for ages, and that's kind of a go-to spot."
Hidden Gem: King Market
1801 Antioch Pike, 615-333-3103
"For an adventure go to King Market in Antioch. It's a supermarket that also serves Laotian food. There's no English. Tucked in the back there's about five tables, and the food is amazing. You will eat pig intestines, you will eat brains, you will eat stuff that you would never in a million years think you would ever put in your mouth, and it is absolutely insane. You can take four people there and eat for $25. They just bring you stuff. The only English they speak is "How hot?" Me, I'm like 'No ketchup, please. I'll start sweating.'"