This is Part 1 of my #JenneAcrosstheUSA vegan road trip travel series: Vegan Nashville. My boyfriend and I are taking 3 weeks to drive from NYC to LA, and our route is taking us through the south! Make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates and healthy travel hacks!
It still doesn’t feel real, but I just moved out of NYC.
After 8 years living in my dream city, my partner and I felt the urge to move on to better weather, sunnier skies, and more nature: we’re on our way to Los Angeles. Instead of buying plane tickets and flying west, we thought it would be a lot more fun to drive to our new home, taking a 3-week road trip along the way.
Since I’m from the South, and there’s so much history and culture down there, we decided to head down before heading west. Our first stop was Philadelphia, where we stayed at the Sonesta Hotel in Rittenhouse Square and dined at Vedge Restaurant (one of the the best vegan restaurants in the world)—the next day we made our way down south to Tennessee.
Growing up in ATL I had been to Tennessee a few times: Chattanooga for the aquarium (which I don’t condone now), Pigeon Forge, and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But somehow we never made it to the state’s two most famous cities: Nashville and Memphis. Maxx and I are both music lovers (and he’s a musician), so we were really excited to experience Nashville, the country music capital.
Nashville also has a couple stellar vegan restaurants, and is home to some of my favorite wellness influencers: Tay Sweat, The Vegan Trainer; and McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped. We made sure to explore as much as we could in the few days we had in the state. Photos and details below!
We stayed in the beautiful SoBro Guesthouse in the neighborhood just south of Broadway (hence the name), Music City’s equivalent to Memphis’s Beale Street or NOLA’s Bourbon St. SoBro was everything we needed. Since we’re vegan travelers who like to keep our diet about 80% whole foods it’s important that we have access to a kitchen when we’re on the road. Our room in SoBro was actually a full 1 bedroom apartment with a great open kitchen! We made good use of it every day, making a meal with Tay Sweat, breakfast every day, and simple dinner salads. We were also able to eat plenty of watermelon. You know you need a kitchen to cut those things 🍉
Our apartment also came with a stylish living room large enough for yoga, a washer and dryer (really helpful during a long road trip), and amazing bedroom with a king sized bed! I loved everything, from the tropical wall paper in the bedroom, to the sweet shower, to the huge wine glasses in the kitchen.
SoBro is right in the thick of things, so you can get anywhere downtown on foot. We drove to other areas in Nashville, like the hip 12South and the scenic Shelby Bottoms. If you’re visiting Nashville you can easily get around using a cab, Uber or Lyft, or renting a bike. And if you have a car, there is free parking at the guesthouse.
Tell them I sent you!
The Southern V
For the best vegan soul food go to The Southern V. This place alone is worth the plane ticket! However, they’re only open on the weekends starting 9am. The line is long so you’ll want to get there no later than 9:30am. You’ll order from the window, then get a beeper to hold onto until your amazing food is ready. It comes out pretty quickly 💯
At The Southern V we ordered the most incredible vegan chicken & waffles, and the chicken biscuit made Nashville style with “hot chicken”—spicy!! We also got a giant peach fritter. Words cannot describe how next level this food was. I will be back soon to try their dinner! Lucky for me, Nashville is only 3.5 hours away from my hometown!
You walk into this mostly vegan cafe and you feel at home. The staff is super welcoming, the ambiance is friendly, and the food is down-home finger-lickin’ good. Before ordering we were given a bunch of samples of their different dishes. All of the food is pre-made and kept behind the counter in bins, buffet style, though it’s not self-serve.
We had a seitan BBQ bowl with collard greens, Asian-inspired coleslaw, and rice, and it was INCREDIBLE! We also had the taco bowl, which was super delicious.
They’ve got daily meal specials, discounts, and a post-lunchtime “happy hour”. This is the type of affordable but delicious restaurant I’d go to on a weekly basis.
The Wild Cow
The Wild Cow was highly recommended to us by almost everyone in town. We dropped by for dinner after a long nature walk at the nearby Shelby Bottoms Greenway. It’s so popular that we had to wait around 40 minutes for a table.
We ordered the sweet potato black bean tacos and their reuben sandwich. It was a bit pricier than the other restaurants we tried in Nashville, while the portions were smaller. Maxx and I didn’t love the food. It wasn’t bad, it was just pretty normal in our opinion. Maybe we ordered the wrong thing. Maybe our reaction was skewed by the great reviews, or by the amazing meal at Sunflower Cafe the day before.
If you’ve been here, let me know what the best menu items are, and maybe I’ll try it again when I’m in town next. I gotta admit, I was also thrown off by the fact that they have dairy cheese on the menu of a restaurant decorated with beautiful images of happy farm animals. The dairy industry is as bad as (many would say worse than) the meat industry. Sunflower Cafe also offers a dairy cheese option for diners 😢
Franklin Juice Co.
If you’re looking for a good green juice or açai bowl in Nashville, head to Franklin Juice. I met McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped here for a fun girl-date. The granola used in the bowls contain local honey, and I don’t think all of the baked goods are vegan. However the bowls can be made vegan, and are still super tasty and refreshing without the honey or granola.
Oh, and by the way, their online branding is solid!
If you love country music, Nashville is your town! I’m not a fan of modern country, but it was fun to walk along Broadway and hear the sounds of live performances coming from every direction. In the evening Broadway is loud, jubilant, and full of light coming from the cool neon signs. During the day you can stop into any bar for a drink or peruse an old record shop.
Maxx and I also went to the famous Printer’s Alley which is a short alley lined with music clubs. Instead of the city’s famous country music, I could hear the sounds of jazz and blues coming from some of the alley’s clubs.
Tour the murals & walls
I love a city that decorates its walls! Walk or bike around Nashville and you’ll find dozens of walls covered in cool colors, murals, and textures. Even the parking lot across the street from our guesthouse had a beautiful wall.
You’ll be overwhelmed by the options for photo ops here 😎
Shelby Bottoms is a 960-acre greenway and park in East Nashville along the Cumberland River. You can bike, walk, run, or skate along its tree-lined 5-mile greenway, or hike on the unpaved trails. If you’re lucky you might see any number of birds and deer.
You can pick up a bicycle at the park’s bike rental station for just $5 an hour.