Plus I genuinely enjoy the company of many local food bloggers, freelancers and in particular, The Tennessean's Jennifer Justus. Though I've certainly made critical comments about some aspects of Gannett Corp., I really appreciate that The Tennessean still offers a forum for some longer-form pieces by Jennifer. I definitely use the majority of my monthly allotment of free Web page views on her work. (That might change if the Titans ever stop stinking up the joint ...)
So I was delighted to hear that Jennifer has written a book for Globe Pequot, titled Food Lovers' Guide to Nashville. More than just a typical listing of local restaurants, their cuisine and their hours of operation, this book is more like reading the advice of a real local who wants you to discover unexpected surprises in the Nashville dining community.
Divided conveniently by neighborhood and cuisine types like "Foodie Faves" and "Landmarks," Food Lovers' Guide to Nashville is quite comprehensive. It's clear these reviews are deeply personal to Justus, who shares topics like her experiences with hot chicken and how she thought that the bumpersticker reading "37206: We'll steal your heart and your lawnmower" was a joke until it happened to her. On both counts, I assume.
Justus even includes new restuarants like Etch, Silo and Lockeland Table in her guide, but alas publication deadlines wouldn't allow the omission of Cha Chah, Rumba and tayst. At least they can live on in their immortilization in the book. (And after all, Cha Chah, at least will return in a reinvented form.)
She also includes lists and descriptions of some of Nashville's favorite food festivals and food trucks. Other interesting sidebars cover the history of meat-and-three restaurants, and dining spots that are worth the drive out of the immediate Nashville area.
The drink culture is covered with sections on breweries and distilleries, craft cocktails, classic honky-tonks, watering holes and dive bars. Justus also shares information on some of the best venues to experience live music with a meal. She seems to have so much personal experience of all these places, I find myself wondering when she has time to write. Or how she wakes up in the morning. ... No, wait, that's me.
Perhaps the coolest part of this 300-plus page guidebook is that Justus has included recipes from some of Music City's favorite chefs including Hal Holden-Bache, Laura Wilson, John Stephenson, Tyler Brown, Margot McCormack and Tandy Wilson. Heck, just the fact that Teresa Mason of Mas Tacos, Por Favor included her recipe for that delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup makes Food Lovers' Guide to Nashville worth the $14.95 price!
The book itself is an interesting size and shape, pretty much a 6-by-6-inch square. I discovered this makes it the perfect size to fit in my glove compartment, where it will stay for easy reference when I'm out and about and need the advice of a trusted friend for where to go eat or drink. Even if you've never met Justus, I think you'll feel the same way after you read her book. Pick up a few for holiday gifts today.