Let's say you're not feeling the foodie fare at joints with mood lighting, exposed brick and monosyllabic names. Let's say you don't really give a shit if the chicken you're eating was raised on a diet of vegan insects, nonsynthetic vitamins and affection. And anything with kale really pisses you off. What you seek, fellow unpretentious eater, is a combination of soul food, pork ribs, honky-tonk burgers and yes, more pork. This is Nashville, after all. Here's what I did. Trace my path if you dare, and bring the Bayer — shit's about to get salty.
Which brings me to my first stop for the most important meal of the day: breakfast at the Elliston Place Soda Shop. This innocuous little greasy spoon has some deliciously saline country ham. Add coffee, white gravy, two biscuits, hash browns, scrambled eggs doused with Louisiana Hot Sauce (not its last appearance of the day), signed pictures of LeAnn Rimes and Reba McEntire on the wall, and a waitress who calls everyone "baby," and you just laid the foundation for a Monday that is incapable of sucking. Now, wipe the glutton-sweat off your brow and waddle to work. It won't be the last time.
A few hours later and it's already lunch. Head down Jefferson and pull into Sen. Thelma Harper's soul food spot named, uh, Harper's Restaurant, for a narcolepsy-inducing noontime meal. Grab your tray and get in line for fried chicken encased in some of the best batter in town, mac and cheese, turnip greens with a liberal dose of Louisiana Hot Sauce (what else?), a buttered roll and, naturally, tea sweetened to the saturation point. Check the place for Sen. Harper in one of her awesome hats and loosen your belt a notch or two. Also, good luck maintaining consciousness at work afterward!
Once you've spent the rest of the day nodding off and scrolling through a Tumblr feed of beautiful women with Steve Buscemi eyes, it's time for dinner. Get on Jefferson again, this time steering for Mary's Old Fashioned Pit Barbeque. (If you're coming from downtown, it's the place with the red awning you passed on the way to lunch.) Try the rib sandwich — a slab of pork spare ribs slathered in a tangy sauce with just enough heat. Add a root beer to wash it down and a pile of napkins for the mess you'll inevitably make. Just look at you: like a damn child!
You may have noticed by now that my dream day hasn't included booze. Fear not. After dinner, go home, take a nap, set your alarm clock for 9:30. Pre-game with a glass of bourbon or scotch when you wake up — just one, per Metro Police — and roll down Lower Broad to Robert's Western World. Order a couple shots of Maker's Mark, two Shiner Bocks and a cheeseburger at the bar. By the time your cheeseburger comes, you'll be hungry again — trust me. I can't say for certain whether my love for Robert's burgers is directly proportional to my BAC — I mean, it's simple enough fare: a bun, a medium-well patty, cheese, a few fat slices of white onion, lettuce and tomato. But by God, I dare you not to inhale it as you watch a band with a stand-up bass thumping out Hank Williams and Bob Wills covers.
Repeat as necessary, drop a few wadded bills in the band tip jar on your way out and breathe the cool night air. Beware the Midwesterners lurching down Lower Broad — they're the stumble-y, loud ones in cheap straw hats. Thick as thieves out there. Forget your car and hail a cab. On the ride home, swear to yourself that after this day, it's nothing but carrot juice and wheat grass and joints with monosyllabic names and kale for the rest of the week.
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