In Nashville, music comes first, but the city's status as a food destination is rising. Nashville has lately seen an influx of star chefs and big-city names opening multi-million dollar restaurants catering to the stars and late-night crowds. But even with its newfound glitz, it would be a shame to ignore true Nashville flavor. Here, we've compiled a few places to get you started, from the city's iconic hot chicken to its Southern-made sweets.
Cole Villena and Brad Schmitt contributed to this story.
Where: Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
The godfather of them all is Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, founded in 1945. The recipe was reportedly created by Prince's wife, who wanted to get back at her philandering husband with a dish of blisteringly hot bird. Prince loved the chicken as the story goes, and the rest is certainly history. Spice-haters are welcome to order their poultry plain, but it would be a shame to wait in those lines just to chicken out.
5814 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, (615) 810-9388 / Assembly Food Hall, 5055 Broadway Place, stall 2268.
Where: Ooh Wee Bar-B-Q
Among Tennessee cities, Memphis may be best known for its barbecue. But Nashville can certainly hold its own with solid barbecue restaurants including Edley's, Peg Leg Porker and Shotgun Willy's.
One unlikely barbecue powerhouse is in a nondescript trailer with a barrel smoker chugging away out front. You'll catch a whiff of Ooh Wee Bar-B-Q before you even arrive.
Pull up and place your order — pork shoulder, ribs and brisket are a good bet — and don't forget the fruit tea. What you get at Ooh Wee's is not glitzy nor polished. It's just solid, good barbecue.
2008 Jefferson St., Nashville, (615) 200-7191.
Where: Arnold's Country Kitchen
This mom-and-pop Nashville fixture features a rotating cast of meats served cafeteria style with homey vegetable sides. And yes, in the South, macaroni and cheese is a vegetable.
Arnold's Country Kitchen is one of Nashville's best-known meat-and-three restaurants, and people line up around the corner to sample fried fish, cherry-smoked ribs and roast beef with all the fixings. You can't go wrong with the cauliflower casserole, stewed okra or corn pudding, but absolutely save room for dessert. Arnold's pies are legendary and the banana pudding is killer, too.
605 Eighth Ave. S. Nashville, (615)256-4455
Where: Bourbon Sky at Bourbon Steak
While Jack Daniel often gets the spotlight when it comes to Tennessee whiskey, Nashville is centrally located to a number of top-notch whiskey makers, including Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., home of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. That's just an hour and a half south of the city. Nearest Green Distillery, named after the enslaved man and distiller who taught Jack Daniel everything he needed to know about making whiskey, is even closer.
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But if you're staying in Nashville, you don't have to drive at all to taste Tennessee whiskey. Bourbon Sky, located high above Eighth Avenue in the J.W. Marriott, boasts sweeping views and an expansive whiskey library — and it's just an Uber ride away from your hotel.
201 Eighth Ave. S., 34th floor, Nashville, 629-208-8440
Where: Goo Goo Chocolate Co.
The Goo Goo Cluster, famous for being America's first "combination" candy bar, was created by Howell Campbell in 1912 and made in a copper kettle at the Standard Candy Company at historic Clark Street and First Avenue North in downtown Nashville.
Now, the marshmallow nougat and roasted peanut treat is a sweet symbol of the city, and it even has its own gleamingly modern but nostalgic temple, Goo Goo Chocolate Co.'s downtown storefront, just off Broadway. It has a milkshake bar (yes, there's liquor) and a wall of touchscreens where customers can design their own premium Goo Goo Clusters.
116 Third Ave. S. Nashville, 615-490-6685.
Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.
Reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Top 5 Nashville places for hot chicken, barbecue, bourbon, sweets