Chris Carter is the co-founder of Nashville butcher shop Porter Road—what started as a local meat supplier with a cult following in 2010, the company now ships their beloved, pasture-raised meat directly to steak, pork, and lamb eaters nationwide through their online shop and subscription service.
Though Carter and his co-founder dream of supplying as many people as possible with high-quality, sustainable meat, he’s still proud of his status as a “unicorn Nashvillian,” having actually grown up in the Nashville area (an increasing rarity as newcomers flock to the popular Tennessee city).
“Nashville is a great city because there truly is something for everyone,” he says. “Whether you want to see some live music, shop, hike, or spend the day eating and drinking your way across town, Nashville can deliver.”
Below, Carter shares more-than-a-meat-lover’s guide to his hometown—from the best record stores to “blood pumping” power yoga.
Chris Carter’s Perfect Day in Nashville
9 a.m. — A breakfast spot that’s not afraid of lard.
I like to start my day at Barista Parlor in East Nashville and keep it simple with a black cold brew. Next door to our shop, Barista Parlor has high ceilings and tons of natural light. On warm days, they open up the garage-style doors to let in the breeze. It’s a great place to wake up and take in the early morning East Nashville activity. I typically pick up their Chorizo Burrito or Breakfast Biscuit. They were one of our first wholesale clients, and have done an amazing job with our sausage, in addition to using our lard (and recipe) to make fluffy and filling biscuits.
10 a.m. — For working off a lardy breakfast.
After a hefty breakfast at Barista Parlor, I like to go get the blood pumping with a yoga class at Shakti Power Yoga or play nine holes at the Percy Warner Golf Course. If it’s not too hot, taking a walk through Bicentennial Park, with a stop at the Farmer’s Market, and heading up to the Frist Art Center is a fun way to take in Nashville’s skyline.
12:30 p.m. — Just try to pick from these four lunch options.
Arnold’s is always on the top of my list—this lunch-only restaurant is one of Nashville’s best meat-n-threes [ed note: establishments where you can pick a meat and three sides] and has been around for more than 30 years.
Burger Up is another favorite. They make amazing burgers, fries, and salads, and have great seasonal specials with local ingredients. I typically go to the 12 South location so I can take a walk around the historic neighborhood and stick my head into a variety of small stores, after eating.
A lot of folks come to Nashville wanting to wait in line for an hour to eat hot chicken. It’s not my favorite (not a spicy guy), but I won’t deny anyone that experience. Go to Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack for a taste of the chicken that started the trend, or one of Hattie B’s locations for Nashville’s most popular chicken served with amazing sides (the pimento mac n’ cheese is killer).
2 p.m. — If you’re looking to take some tunes home with you.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Nashville without a stop by one or more of our record stores. I love The Groove, which is located right next to our butcher shop. It’s smaller, well-curated collection makes it easy to find special gems. I also love Grimey’s, a record store in an old church that regularly hosts intimate shows.
… Or want just a taste of music history.
Whether or not someone is a big fan of country music, a tour of “The Mother Church of Country Music” aka The Ryman Auditorium is a great way to brush up on Nashville’s musical history.
4 p.m. — Is it time for a drink yet?
I like taking visiting friends to Jackalope Brewing Company for a quick tour and a few beers, or to Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery to see where Belle Meade Bourbon is made (and to give it a taste). If you just need to fuel up before a night out on the town, Stay Golden is a go-to for coffee and a snack—don’t skip their crispy potatoes.
7 p.m. — For a not-too-bougie group dinner spot.
For a nice meal, I typically take friends and family to Josephine. It’s an upscale restaurant but has embraced a laid back vibe. Nothing Chef Andy Little makes will disappoint, but I’m partial to the Happy Hour Burger, as well as the beef tongue and pork chops.
10 p.m. — There’s a reason Nashville is called Music City.
12 a.m. — If you want to drink the blues away.
For great cocktails, I like stopping by Bar Sovereign, City House (get some dessert while you’re there), The Fox, or Old Glory. For late-night burgers and a last round of beers, Dino’s in East Nashville is always the right call.
Where to stay:
If you’re staying at an Airbnb, the southern part of East Nashville (Lockeland Springs) will put you within walking distance of coffee, bakeries, music venues, and bars. 12 South and Music Row are also great options, as both neighborhoods are safe and full of beautiful historic homes.
The Thompson Hotel is my favorite hotel in Nashville—in addition to having luxurious rooms, it’s home to Marsh House, a killer seafood restaurant, and L.A. Jackson, a rooftop bar with amazing views of the city.
Watch before you go:
Not a book, but Antony Bourdain filmed an episode of Parts Unknown here and it’s a fantastic way to get familiar with the spirit of Nashville.
Know before you go:
Walking around lower Broadway and sticking your head in the honky-tonks can be a blast, but don’t make the mistake of going down there at 8 p.m. on a weekend night. Those honky-tonks get very crowded with Bachelorette parties and other rowdy tourists.
Don’t come to Nashville expecting to use public transit—download Lyft and/or Uber. You’ll be able to get anywhere in town easily (and fairly cheaply) and will have the added benefit of not wasting precious time looking for parking in crowded areas.