Nashville is one of the South’s most famous cities, sitting proud atop its rich cultural and music history. Most probably know that it’s the birthplace of country music and a vibrant sports town. But when we caught up with some of our Music City-based NC State alums to serve as guides for those heading to the city for the Music City Bowl matchup between NC State and Vanderbilt, we found out that Nashville is also home to the best restroom in America.
That’s the honor which Luanne Price Howard ’83 says was given in 2008 to the men’s room at The Oak Bar in the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville. Price Howard, a freelance graphic designer, says the Oak Bar is one of the best places in town to get a drink and unwind.
But, she says, any visitor should focus on food. And in Nashville, she says, that means getting used to “meat and three” restaurants, where a patron gets a choice of one meat and three sides. Arnold’s, located on 8th Avenue South, is one of the best in the city, Price Howard says, and the owner, Jack Arnold, is from North Carolina.
When it comes to something more unusual, Price Howard says to stop by Las Paletas, made famous by their gourmet Mexican popsicles. “Keith [Urban] and Nicole [Kidman] are rumored to go there when they want to celebrate,” she says.
Ben Schmidt ’04, a researcher in the chemical and biomolecular engineering department at Vanderbilt University, says there are other great choices for eating downtown, like Rotier’s on Elliston near Centennial Park. He says if you want burgers, check out Gabby’s Burgers and Fries and The Pharmacy Burger Parlor.
But, Schmidt says, it’s music that visitors will end up wanting to devour.
“I think visitors should just spend some time wandering through downtown and experiencing all of the music options,” he says. “There are great live country, rock, and blues bands all within a few blocks, and it’s easy to spend the day passing in and out of places. ”
Schmidt is particularly fond of The Station Inn, a bluegrass venue near downtown around 12th Avenue South and Division Street. “Last time I was there, an 11-year-old violinist performed solo and got a standing ovation from the crowd,” he says.
Brock Slagle ’98, one of the owners of BlueSky Filmworks in Nashville, says visitors should not miss out on Nashville’s old standards, like the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
But he says the best thing about Nashville is the feel of it. “I have been here 13 years and am still discovering new things about the city,” he says. “You can feel the creative juices flowing all the time, and it is obvious by the amazing things that Nashville produces.”
Price Howard, Schmidt and Slagle all plan to be at the Music City Bowl, and all feel good about the chances for a Wolfpack win.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I will be rooting for the Wolfpack!” Schmidt says. “Black and gold [Vanderbilt’s colors] reminds me too much of Wake Forest, and I’ve been against them for years. Even though Vandy trounced Tennessee, who we struggled early with in the year, I expect State to put up a strong showing and win by a touchdown.