Nashville Guide: Food Paradise Part 2

And now for the second part of my Nashville food guide. Seriously, there are so many good eats in that city and I have barely scratched the surface.

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Right across the street from The Pharmacy Burger is Mas Tacos. Is there really any reason to ever leave East Nashville? On our first visit we saw someone we recognized as we walked to the door. Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods. I was so excited to see a celebrity filming a TV show where I was eating! The novelty soon wore off and chaos ensued as the crew rushed around filming. I decided I would rather eat in peace and quiet than worry about the possibility if being filmed eating elote with corn all up in my grill and cheese all over my lips. Mas Tacos handled all the excitement with grace and the food was still wonderful. My favorite item is the chicken tortilla soup.

Mas Tacos Seating

Pork Taco

Taco Soup


Camera Crew Mas Tacos

Menu Mas Tacos

Andrew Zimmern Mas Tacos

Las Paletas

We picked up some Las Paletas popsicles and Korean shaved ice at Hot and Cold in the 12th Ave South neighborhood (a cute shopping area near Vanderbilt University with a variety of restaurants and coffee shops). Sadly, that shop is now closed, but you can still find these delicious popsicles at other locations.

Las Paletas

Korean Shaved Ice

Desano’s Pizza Bakery

Great pizza. I loved the peppadews on the San Gennaro pizza. You can even buy them at the cash register and take some home for your own pizza making adventure.

Desano's Pizza Bakery

Pizzas at Desano's

Hattie B’s

There isn’t anything more comforting than hot fried chicken on a rainy November day. So simple and so satisfying.

Hattie B's Door

Hattie B's Interior

Hattie B's Chicken Plate

There are some other good places that I should feature. They were fun to try, but nothing that would motivate us to make the 3 hour drive up to Nashville. These honorable mentions include:

Pied Piper Creamery

This place was super cute. They had children’s toys, which kept the little one happy, but the ice cream wasn’t anything  out of this world. Let’s be honest though, have you ever had BAD ice cream??? Probably not.

Pied Piper Creamery

Baja Burritos

For me this was your basic casual dining Mexican place similar to Chipotle or Cafe Rio (for you westerners). My fish burrito was really good, even if it didn’t totally knock my socks off.

Baja Burrito Fish Burrito

Baja Burrito Tot

Marche Artisan Foods

I had heard so many good things about this place, but between the really long wait, another long wait at the table with a unhappy, hungry toddler, and the fact that my food (a savory pork crepe) was served cold, I was not super impressed. For that price point I think they could make an effort to make it look a little more appetizing too. I saw a lot of food around me that looked incredible, so maybe I went on a bad day or just ordered the wrong thing….I would be willing to give them another chance.

Marche Restaurant Interior

Marche Pork Crepes

Pleeeeeeaaaaaaase bring me some foooooood! Little ones experience hunger much more intensely than we adults do. I never used to worry about slow service (as long as the food made up for it), but as a parent the terror is real! I have since learned to stock my bag with snacks for while we are waiting so that we aren’t those obnoxious customers. But seriously…look at that face.

Marche Unhappy Customer

Nashville Guide: Food Paradise

Every time we go to Nashville the top thing on our to do list is to eat…and eat and eat and eat and eat. I look back at the pictures and wonder if we did anything BUT stuff our faces. Let me explain…We live in a food wasteland here in Mississippi. Now before anyone takes exception to that comment, I know there is A LOT of good food here. There are a lot of places close by that have some great southern cooking. I’m talking greasy, buttery, gut busting comfort food like no one else can do it. Fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, fried chicken, BBQ, pecan pie, banana pudding…all that good stuff. When it comes to variety you have to travel around a bit. We live in a small, small town, so even to get to some of that good southern cooking we have to drive an hour or more.  If you want good Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, modern concoctions? Forget about it! That’s why it’s so refreshing to go to Nashville and be able to get whatever you want all within one wonderful, food-abundant city. I will start with some of our favorites…

Biscuit Love

As mouth watering as these pictures look, they don’t do the food any justice. Everything we tried was SO good. The chicken was perfectly JUICY, seasoned and spicy and the biscuits are the best I have ever had. My favorite was an item not on the menu, the nasty princess, which is a combo of the east nasty and the princess. Hot chicken smothered in gravy on a biscuit. I want to reach into my computer monitor right now, pull it out and devour it. The bonuts (biscuit donuts with berry sauce and lemon mascarpone) are also worth a try, if you have the appetite!




The Pharmacy

My favorite burger of all time is the farm burger with tots. On a nice day the outdoor seating is lovely, like between September and May. Stay inside during those other months! There is nothing like soul crushing humidity and heat to kill a perfectly healthy appetite.

The Pharmacy Sign

The Farm Burger

Outdoor Seating

Five Daughters Bakery

When we walked in and saw the price, we asked ourselves if any donut is really worth $4.50.  I wouldn’t be getting these every Saturday, but the answer is yes. Yes, once in a while, a donut is worth that much. The fillings and glazes are high quality, with unique flavor combinations.  My favorite was the Maple Cardamom.

Five Daughters Bakery Donuts


Jeni’s Ice cream

Similar to the donuts, this ice cream is a bit of a splurge, but the flavors are unique and it is not your average ice cream, with flavors like “sweet corn and black raspberries” and “goat cheese and red cherries”.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Cone

Stay tuned next week for part two!

Washington: Friday Harbor and San Juan Island

In the last post I talked about how chill and quiet life on Orcas Island is. If you want something a little more hip and happening, try San Juan Island. I’m not suggesting it is a booming metropolis or anything, just that there is a little more going on.  Friday Harbor has a few more shops and  restaurants to choose from.  It is right where the ferry comes in so you could just walk onto the ferry and visit for half a day without having to pay to get your vehicle there (which can be expensive, especially during the summer season). It’s also the best island for whale watching…supposedly….We almost felt a little older than our years–antiquing, visiting a used bookshop and a lavender farm–but we enjoyed ourselves.


We were lucky enough to go on a sunny day. I couldn’t get enough of the harbor. It was so beautiful.



Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor 2

Friday Harbor 3

How cute is this used book store? Pretty adorable, I would say.


Serendipity 2

We had lunch at the Hungry Clam. World famous fish and chips? I don’t know about that, but it was a good lunch and, when you have English blood in your veins, it’s kind of a requirement to have fish and chips when you are at the ocean.

Hungry Clam

Hungry Clam 2

Next we headed to Lime Kiln Point State Park. I don’t know what a lime kiln is, but this is supposed to be the best spot on the island for Orca sightings. We looked and looked and looked, but didn’t see anything. Sometimes we THOUGHT we saw something off in the distance and convinced ourselves it was a whale, but most likely it was just a wave crashing. We did see this little fella, though. Don’t worry I wasn’t creeping up on him (at least not TOO close). I used my telephoto for this picture.


Lime Kiln Point

There is a nice hike to the lighthouse if you want to get a closer look or just stretch your legs a tiny bit.

Lime Kiln Hike

San Juan Kayakers

Next we headed to American Camp at the southern end of the island (there is also a British Camp) and hiked down to Grandma’s Cove, a nice secluded beach. You can find the trail head on the south side of the visitor’s parking lot at San Juan Island National Historic Park.

Grandma's Cove

Grandma's Cove 2

There is also a lavender farm on the island with a store where you can buy all things lavender. My favorite were the food items (of course) like lavender hot chocolate and fudge sauce. Rumor has it that if you go on a busy Saturday they sell lavender lemonade.

Lavender Farm

Lavender Farm 2

And don’t forget, no trip to the island is complete without getting ice cream while you are waiting in line for the ferry. There is a place right across the street (to the left).



Washington: Orcas Island

Orcas Island Sunset

On one of our visits to Seattle, my parents were nice enough to dog-sit our fur baby so that we could get away for a romantic weekend alone. OK. To be honest, we are really not the “romantic” type, but you would be surprised by how hard it is to get away together once you have a dog. ESPECIALLY if you are college students and can’t afford to board your pet all the time. It was really great to go on a mini vacation and explore, just the two of us. It was also a nice change of pace from our normal vacation mode. As mentioned in a previous post, we like to move around and see everything at turbo speed in order to fit the maximum amount of activities into a short amount of time because, number one, we are cheap, and,number two, we don’t get a lot of time off. Well…Orcas Island is not the type of place you go when you want to move quickly.  It is the largest of the San Juan islands, located of the northwestern corner of Washington state. To get to the islands you must take the ferry from Anacortes, so the islands are pretty quiet and isolated…at least they were for us. We traveled there in the middle of the week in May and the place was dead! It was actually really nice! We spent most of our time there driving and admiring all of the beauty the island has to offer. Most of the two days we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. We hardly saw any other visitors at our hotel or in Eastsound, the small town where most of the shops and restaurants are located. It was so peaceful and GORGEOUS and a nice change of pace from how we usually approach sightseeing.

The Ferry ride is a great introduction to the islands. If you’re lucky enough to go on a clear day (haha, good luck with that in the pacific northwest) be sure to find a nice spot on deck to admire the scenery.

Seattle May 2012 058We stayed at the Resort at Deer Harbor. I don’t normally recommend specific lodging, but we were really impressed with our stay. The staff was above and beyond friendly. They gave us so much good advice. The private cabin was awesome. We loved watching movies from our bed AND couch, as the flat screen rotates. which was nice and cozy when the weather was a bit frigid out. Also, the room had a beautiful view of the harbor, private hot tub, and fireplace. It’s a very quiet and peaceful location. Most of the restaurants and shopping are in Eastsound, which is about 10-15 minutes away so we had to suffer an arduous drive across this AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL island whenever we wanted a bite to eat. It was AWFUL, I tell ya (if you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm, let me clarify, it was a really pleasant drive so we barely noticed the distance).

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As an added bonus you also have a window so you can see into the shower from your bed, which really comes in handy…never. Seriously though, this feature makes no sense. What if you are traveling with a friend…or parent…or sibling. Why would you want this?


Seattle May 2012 085The first night we drove to Eastsound to grab dinner. There aren’t a lot of budget options, but we found some pretty good pizza. Plus, there was a gelato place across the street. How convenient!

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Seattle May 2012 115

The next day we just drove around and explored the island.

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We visited Moran State Park, which is the highest point on the islands. You can see for miles and miles and miles and…you get the idea. All the way to Canada. Have I mentioned that this island is lovely? Well, it is. Just lovely.


untitled-1934A haunted house?





The next day my parents and my brother Christopher met up with us. We went kayaking with Chris while my parents explored. For someone with weak, spindly arms it was a pretty killer workout. Maybe don’t start out with 3 hours if you have the arm strength of a grandma. No, that’s not fair. My grandma has WAY stronger arms than I do.She kneads bread dough and gardens, while I do…nothing. Let’s just say I couldn’t raise my arms above my shoulders for a few days/weeks. Anyway, it was cool even if our guide was evil and made us go faster than my muscles knew how.







Canyonlands: Islands in the Sky

I probably shouldn’t have tried to fit Arches AND Canyonlands into one trip. That is way too much southern Utah beauty to pack into a two day camping trip, but to the dismay of many past travel companions I am a “Type A” vacationer. Sometimes this motivation to cover everything in a very short amount of time has the side effects of exaustion, burn out, and lack of relaxation, which some people actually WANT when the go on a vacation. Go figure. I wish I could transfer this quality to other areas of my life…I would be a much more productive person if that were the case.

Anyway, because of my over planing, we were only able to fit in a small taste of the park. In the evening we hit Mesa arch and some scenic views of the sunset and the next day we hiked whale rock. Even though our time in the park was short, we experienced so many breathtaking views that a trip to the needles (another area of the park) is in order for our next southern Utah road trip. Here are some photos.


Arches National Park

Today I was pulled over and given my first ticket by a very grumpy police woman (why was she so grouchy? She wasn’t the one getting a ticket!) It was a really traumatic experience, made more awful by the fact that I had left my wallet at home (whoops, no license!) and the pregnancy hormones were raging something fierce today, which resulted in a humiliating bawl-fest and once the flood gates were opened nothing could stop the barrage of tears, not even an early morning bowl of rocky road ice cream I might have eaten to calm myself.  I decided I would cheer myself up by blogging about one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Arches National Park is amazing! It’s actually embarrassing how long I lived in Utah before I planned a visit. The pictures I had seen of this place, no matter how beautiful, did not do it justice. There is something about being there and getting the whole 360 degree experience. Not only are there arches and massive, red rock formations, but also contrasting green rock, flat desert, and snow capped mountains off in the distance.

Arches ViewArchesAfter we found a place to set up camp, we headed to the park for an evening hike to delicate arch. My photography teacher had warned me that it would be next to impossible to get a good picture of the landmark because there are constantly tourists posing in front of it. He was absolutely correct, but it didn’t bother me! Being one of about…a billion amateur photographers, I’m pretty sure I can’t produce a picture of this landscape that someone else hasn’t already done better, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

Delicate ArchThe highlight of the trip was the Devil’s Garden hike. There are 8 arches along the trail and some really unique scenery.

Devil's Garden HikeDevil's Garden Hike 2Devil's Garden Hike 4One of the arches along the trail is Double O arch. It is a massive arch and there were people climbing on top of it (yikes!) We climbed up to eat lunch with a view, but my intense fear of heights prevented me from climbing over the arch.

Double O ArchDouble O Arch 2Devil's Garden Hike 3Double O Arch 3We also saw Landscape arch on the hike, which to me looks more delicate than delicate arch. Apparently, a few big pieces of it have fallen off so the trail no longer goes underneath it. We saw a bunch of hikers bypass the fence and explore the underside. Not this girl! I admired it from a safe distance. I mean…look how thin it looks on that one side.

Landscape ArchThere are plenty of other opportunities for climbing around along the trail. Notice how none of these pictures are of me. It might have something to do with the whole heights thing.

Arches 3Arches 4Arches 5Arches 6We headed back to our campsite at Big Bend campground (just outside of Moab, on the Colorado river), DEVOURED some tin foil dinners, and got some rest before our next adventure in…Canyonlands.

Big Bend CampgroundBig Bend Campground 2Big Bend Campground 3

Chattanooga: Surf and Turf

We spent an entire day in Chattanooga at the aquarium and the BBQ festival.  I guess it isn’t surf and turf in the traditional sense because you don’t actually EAT the fish at the aquarium, but you get the idea…The aquarium has two sections, freshwater and saltwater.  We started out our day on the freshwater side.

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Couldn’t pass up this photo of Brandon reading up on the Volga River (he lived there!)

The aquarium is pretty large, so we decided to take a break and headed to the BBQ festival.  We hoofed it across town and noshed on some mighty fine foods.  It was awesome.  They sell sample tickets for a dollar each and you get to try EVERYTHING.  Allow me to repeat myself…It was awesome.

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This is my “I have a huge amount of pulled pork in my teeth” smile.

untitled-1926After eating enormous quantities of food we decided to take a taxi back to the Aquarium (rather than drag our full bellies over the sidewalk for a over a mile in the southern humidity).

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I love that Brandon and Eric are totally committed to their pose, while my father in law is like “Pssh, it takes a lot more than a shark to scare me”.

Chattanooga Aquarium 7

Chattanooga Aquarium 8

Chattanooga Aquarium 9

Chattanooga: Ruby Falls vs. Racoon Caverns

Our Chattanooga trip was a weekend of cave exploration.  First, was the aforementioned Scary Gnome Cave at Rock City.  After Rock City we headed to Ruby Falls and on our way out of town we hit Raccoon Caverns.  Today we are going to compare the two cave experiences side by side in the ULTIMATE CHATTANOOGA CAVE SHOWDOWN.

We will start with Ruby Falls.  A little way down lookout mountain (on the way back from rock city) is a curious castle like structure that is the entrance to Ruby Falls.

Ruby FallsAfter waiting in line for a little while, Kenneth from 30 Rock takes your ticket and guides you into the elevator (no joke…Brandon and I instantly looked at each other and said “Kenneth!” in unison).  Basically you walk in a long line of people through a dark underground hallway that somewhat resembles a cave until you arrive at Ruby falls.  It is not your typical cave tour experience with awesome cave formations.  The main attraction is Ruby Falls, a 145-foot tall underground waterfall with a (wait for it…) A LIGHT SHOW!

Ruby Falls 2My favorite experience at Ruby Falls was when I was trying to take a picture of the falls. I couldn’t get a good one because the crowd in front of us were constantly holding up their iphones and taking video.  I turned to Brandon to tell him of my troubles and a man walks around me, stops two feet ahead of me and holds up a gigantic ipad. Ha!  That’ll teach me to complain!  In the end I just went with the iphones and incorporated them into my photo.

We couldn’t leave without an awesome photo op!

Ruby Falls 3

Next we have Raccoon Mountain Caverns.

Raccoon Mountain CavernsRaccoon Mountain Caverns 2

Our tour group was a lot smaller than it was at Ruby Falls. We were guided through the caves by an adorable young man who was very knowledgeable and patiently answered all of our cave questions. There were all kinds of formations and large open caverns within the cave.  They even offer a more intense expedition into the unlit areas of the cave, but you have to make advance reservations.

Raccon Mountain Caverns 3Raccoon Mountain Caverns 4

Both experiences were pretty cool, but if you’re looking for a more authentic “cave-ey” experience, Raccoon Caverns wins by a landslide!

In the end no Chattanooga Cave Experience is complete without a trip to Lupi’s Pizza.

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Chattanooga: Rock City

For memorial day weekend we decided to head to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  It was on my top three list of southern cities that I wanted to visit this summer (along with New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia).  It is one of the most picturesque big(ish) cities I have ever visited.  Imagine a lush, green city, the perfect mix of modern and southern charm, set on a bend in the Tennessee river, surrounded by mountains (or tall hills to someone from Utah).


Upon arriving we drove strait up to Rock City. We didn’t even make a pit stop at our hotel.  We just headed strait up Lookout mountain. How could we not after passing “See Rock City” billboards for hundreds of miles.  It was obvious to us that this place was kind of a big deal. There were so many advertisements we turned it into a road trip game.  Every time we saw a sign we would punch each other in the arm.  It got kind of violent.  I might suggest turning it into a less contentious game by…say…eating a piece of candy, or a carrot stick if you’re a health nut. Still, we prefer punching.

Rock City

Rock City is an attraction on top of Lookout Mountain (close to downtown Chattanooga).  There is a path that winds through large rock formations and gardens leading to a Lover’s Leap, a viewpoint that looks out over seven states.

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My In-laws are pretty photogenic!

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As with most tourist attractions, Rock City is a bit overpriced for a stroll through the woods.  On the other hand…it’s just something you have to do while you are on vacation.  The experience is totally unique and the view from the top is amazing!

Rock City 6Rock City 7Rock City 8Spoiler Alert: we didn’t jump.

After Lover’s Leap the path leads you through what Rock City calls “Fairyland Caverns”.  I call it “The Dark Hallway Strait Out of my Worst Nightmares.”  It is a cave filled with back lit figurines of gnomes and fairytale stories.  This picture explains it better than I ever could with words.

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And on that note, we left Rock City.

The other day I went to Amish country in Tennessee with my mother-in-law.  On our way out of town I got a punch in the arm.  Rock city will forever be a part of our road trips.


Oxford, Mississippi and Willam Faulkner

For my second installment of “Awesome Adventures with my Mother-In-Law” I will be telling you about my trip to Oxford, Mississippi.  We started out early in the morning with our fellow adventurers, Gwen and Camile, in our trusty Nissan Altima (which turned out to be not so trusty as the day progressed, but I’ll get to that later).  Oxford is home to Ole Miss, all things William Faulkner, and a ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHOCOLATE FACTORY. That’s right.  Chocolate covered apples, strawberries, and cinnamon bears are the perfect way to start a girls day out.  Take it from me. We also drove around campus, which was absolutely gorgeous.  For some reason I ended up only taking pictures of things with the Ole Miss logo plastered on, like stadiums and water towers…
Ole Miss 1Ole Miss 2

Oh well!  Next we headed to the Square for lunch and some window shopping.  We visited Square Books, which was one of the coolest book stores I have ever been to. We ate at Boure and it was delicious.

Oxford Mississippi SquareLunch at BoureSquare BooksThese people in Oxford really take their Faulkner seriously.  There is even a statue of him in the square sitting on a bench and smoking his pipe.  To find out what all the fuss was about we headed to Rowan Oak for a tour of his home, where I learned everything I never knew about the author…which was nothing before this trip.  I am a little ashamed to admit that I have never read anything by him.  I am EVEN MORE ashamed to admit that wandering around his house inspired me to start reading “As I Lay Dying” and half way through I found out that there is a movie being made…and I thought, why not wait for the movie?….

Here are some pictures of his beautiful home.

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As we left Oxford, feeling pretty good about our fun day and our peaceful stroll through Rowan Oak, something was amiss.  My mother-in-law’s poor little car was sputtering a bit.  We got on the freeway and it would not go over 20 miles per hour. So we turned back to Oxford, where the car completely gave up at the top of a hill.  I should say “close to the top”, because we ended up getting out and pushing it the rest of the way and into a parking lot.  Imagine three girls in sandals and shoes with no traction pushing a car uphill.  Yeah…we rocked it!  We ended our adventure by napping on the couches in an air conditioned hospital lobby (hey, shopping and eating all day is hard work!), while waiting for our knight in shining armor to come and rescue us.

Rowan Oak 5

Thanks Mom for sharing a great adventure and having such a good attitude about your car giving up the ghost two hours from home! 🙂