American coffee has a well-earned reputation for being, well, rubbish. Thankfully, Music City is hip to the bean, with many cool places to caffeine up. Our pick is Barista Parlor in Golden Sound. This spacious, slightly industrial looking, cafe is hipster, but welcoming, with a fine selection of drip brew coffee to choose from in a variety of flavours and intensities. As the name suggests, coffee rather than food is their bag, but their biscuits should not be overlooked. And no, we're not suggesting Tim Tams for brekky...
Here they use the term "biscuit" to refer to a sort of hearty golden scone. Barista Parlor's are up there with the best we've had. They're deliciously fluffy yet filling. We went for the bacon, egg and cheese option - you can't beat the classics. Stick around long enough, easy to do with the free wi-fi, and you'll see the servers choosing records to play. No Mp3s here.
There's two "must eats" in Nashville; ribs, which we're saving for dinner, and the city's speciality, Hot Chicken. Legend has it this dish was created when a spurned wife wanted revenge on her philandering husband. She seasoned his chicken dinner with more hot spice than normally recommended for human consumption but - plot twist - he loved her fiery concoction of spices. Thus Nashville Hot Chicken was created. Party Fowl, which you'll find downtown, is great. Its style is best described as "American" with plenty of TVs and neon signs on the walls, but you're not there for that, you're there for the food. For lunch, their Hot Chicken Cuban Sandwich with mouth-wateringly tasty piggy chips is an easy recommend. There's also an ever-changing craft beer menu to wash it down with. Warning: opting for "Nashville hot" when ordering is best left to the true locals.
They take their barbecue and meat seriously in the South, but rather than recommending some obscure, hard to get to place, we're gonna suggest heading to Nashville's famed Broadway. You're going to want to check out the bustling neon strip of honky tonk bars while in Nashville anyway, so make life easy and grab dinner too. Follow the neon pig's head sign to Rippy's Bar & Grill. Leave the crowded downstairs bar to the tourists and head up the stairs. You still get live music - bands play upstairs as well - but you also get breathing room and space, a rarirty on the strip. Don't muck about, order the Half Slab of Rippy's Signature Ribs. Nashville style ribs don't come flooded in barbecue sauce like elsewhere in the world. Instead, the sticky, sweet tangy sauce is baked right in and truly heavenly. The meal comes with two sides, I went with the yummy mac & cheese and house coleslaw, and again, you'll find a range of craft beers to choose from.
For a cheeky afternoon beer wet your whistle at the Filling Station in the 12 South neighbourhood. This is more a craft beer retail shop than a bar, but there are tables out front to enjoy the sun. Being just around the corner from Draper James, Reese Witherspoon's clothing and lifestyle store, it's the perfect place to banish your partner to if you want some quality shopping time without nagging male inturruption...
If it's Tuesday then you're in luck! Honky Tonk Tuesday is the most authentic Nashville experience you will ever have and so surreal it's like being in a David Lynch movie. Only on Tuesday night at the American Legion Post 82, their version of the RSA, in East Nashville. From there it's a brief walk to late night dive bar Mickey's Tavern. There's motorbikes parked outside, a jukebox, pool table, dart board, an outdoor deck with booths and craft beer so cheap that when I closed my tab I told them they hadn't charged me for two of them. Oh, how they laughed...
• Karl Puschmann