My job once again provided me the opportunity to visit a U.S. city that's a top vacation destination - Nashville, Tennessee.
Though I didn't have time to do all the touristy things - one thing I did make time for was seeking out some healthy eats.
It's so exciting to me every time I realize that New York City isn't the only place where it's easy to find fresh, farm-to-table restaurants or establishments that focus on vegetarian and vegan fare.
I can definitely say with confidence that the South isn't all about fried chicken and ribs. I present you with 5 Healthy Nashville Restaurants Great for Vegetarians.
My first night in Nashville I sucked up my post-flight sleepiness and got in a quick 10-minute cab ride to Avo - discreetly located in a large storage container next to a Crossfit gym within Nashville's One C1TY mindful living development. There's a beach volleyball court just outside the doors.
Avo is the cutest little place – bright a clean inside with plants on the walls, fun light fixtures, and adorable succulents on the tables that are perfect for Instagramming with your beautiful meal avo is completely plant-based and every menu item is gluten free. Not only that, Avo uses no oven, gas, fryer or range stoves. Everything you eat at Avo is made with a blender, dehydrator, food processor and a good old knife.
Their menu is packed with options - from a build your own salad section to "lasagna," "falafel" and raw Pad Thai.
We split the raw taco appetizer - lettuce wraps filled with mushrooms and other fresh veggies.
I ordered the Pumpkin Curry Noodles as my entree. It was made with spiralized zucchini and kelp noodles and topped with a delicious, fresh pumpkin curry sauce and cashews. The sauce wasn't too much pumpkin or too much curry - it was light and delicious and refreshing if you're a fan of those flavors! I also loved the coconut shavings and cashews on top.
I also ordered organic kombucha - loved it!
For dessert, I got a slice of their dairy-free banana cheesecake. It still blows my mind that you can make "cheese" out of cashews and crust out of dates and walnuts. So good - and full of nutrient-dense ingredients.
The portions were huge and filling despite the fact that it was a completely plant-based dinner.
Locale 3 C1TY Ave. Nashville, TN 37209
Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Another day, I was browsing through delivery food options trying to find something healthy when I came across The Wild Cow Cafe, a vegetarian cafe that also serves vegan and gluten-free options.
There are a ton of different choices - salads, tacos, grain bowls and sandwiches. What I loved was how easy they made it to customize your meal.
I ended up choosing the Veggie Quinoa Bowl - it came with roasted veggies (squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, etc.) served over quinoa and topped with garlic aioli. To customize, my friend and I added sauteed garlicky kale, grilled tofu and portabella mushroom. We got the garlic aioli on the side and balsamic vinaigrette as well.
They were delivered still piping hot, with all our additions and dressings on the side. Everything was delicious and the serving size was huge. The only thing I was a little iffy on was the garlicky kale. The taste was a little overpowering, and it turned the consistency of the whole meal crunchy from all of the crushed garlic.
Later in the week, we ordered from Wild Cow again and they must have been really busy because the delivery wasn't as seamless - my friend's salad came with cheese even though she ordered it without, and my dressing didn't come on the side like I requested.
That being said - everything still tasted good. I ordered the Pistachio & Pear salad - spinach and lettuce in a Goddess Tahini dressing that was heavenly. I have yet to master making my own tahini-based dressings and was beginning to doubt whether or not I liked it - but I loved the one from Wild Cow.
The salad was topped with quinoa, roasted beets, pears, pistachios and grilled tofu. I think I liked this even better than my Veggie Quinoa Bowl! Again, the serving size was HUGE and I couldn't finish it despite my best efforts.
The Wild Cow Cafe
1896 Eastland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206
Closed on Tuesdays
Sunday-Thursday (excluding Tuesday) 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. pm
Our last morning in Nashville we walked a few blocks from the hotel for a delicious ACAI BOWL.
The Daily Juice makes smoothies, juices and bowls and though there was a long wait, the staff were super accommodating to our requests and let us more or less customize our own bowls.
I ordered the Aloha Bowl - blended berry, mango, banana, coconut milk and pineapple without the usually included coconut oil. The toppings included banana, granola, raw local honey and goji berries but I subbed the goji for hemp hearts.
Whenever I eat an acai bowl, I'm shocked at how filling it is! I was a very happy camper.
The Daily Juice
700 Old Hickory Blvd. Suite 203
Brentwood, TN 37027
Tuesday - Thursday: and Monday - 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday: 7:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m .- 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Daily Juice Menu
Though this meal wasn't exactly on the same "healthy" level as the previously mentioned spots - I needed to include it in my round-up of Nashville because it was some of the best pasta I've had in ages. There are plenty of veggie friendly options (though we sampled our fair share of meat!)
Rolf & Daughters is in Nashville's "German Town" and had a number of delicious-sounding appetizers. We sampled the broccoli (kale, currant, caper, anchovy and breadcrumbs) which was a very unique combination of flavors. We also had the sweet potato, testa, cashew and arugula - which I ordered without knowing what testa was. When the dish arrived, I thought it might be the wrong thing. But nope, it was thinly sliced sweet potato topped testa - head cheese.
No, head cheese isn't cheese. It's actually meat made from pigs' heads. Uh. Glad I only found this out AFTER eat it. I cannot lie though - it tasted pretty good! I didn't LOVE it. But I didn't eat and it think, "ew gross what is this gelatinous pig head that they put on top of my sweet potato?!"
As an entree, we went with the house specialty - handmade garganelii verde (similar to penne) with a heritage pork ragout and sarvecchio (a type of parmesan). The ragu was incredibley tender, and the fact that it was made of pork made it an instant hit with my taste buds.
I couldn't stop raving about it the rest of the week! Not to mention the restaurant was incredibly cute and trendy inside - despite my lack of photos. Here, have a picture of downtown Nashville at night instead!
Rolf & Daughters
700 Taylor Street
Monday - Sunday: 5:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
I am not a big steakhouse person. Don't get me wrong - I love a good piece of filet mignon, and loooove baked potatoes, but going to a steakhouse is almost never my first choice.
Yet I found myself at one in Nashville that may have changed my mind - Kayne Prime Steakhouse features a daily "Green Plate Special" that is constantly offering diners new vegetarian dishes with creativity and care.
On the night I visited, the Green Plate Special featured a basket or potatoes and quinoa along with a spaghetti squash dish.
Both were delicious, but the real star of my meal was the salad that I started with - the farrow salad topped with apples, butternut squash, pistachio, arugula and a sorghum vinaigrette.
Recently I've been obsessed with arugula, and whatever dressing was used on this salad was DELISH. Apparently, sorghum is a southern thing - and I was feelin' it (it's a sweetener!)
I liked it so much that my first night back, I whipped up my own version! Except I switched the grain to green ration to make it a little more salad-y.
I'd also like to give a shout out to Kayne Prime's popovers - which came out warm and tasted amazing with butter. I recently discovered that I have the necessary pan for popover baking -that might have to happen one of these days!
Kayne Prime Steakhouse
103 McGavock Street
Nashville, TN 37203
Sunday - Thursday: 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Thanks for the chow, Nashville!