Travels: A food and music-filled trip to Nashville, 2017

(Attention: If you are only interested in the “food” section of this post, please scroll down to the bottom.)

This is the fourth year that Drew and I have attended CMA Fest in Nashville, TN, and I believe this one was the best yet! (minus a new complaint I’ll explain soon.)

We arrived Thursday morning around 9:30. After finally finding a parking spot and walking to the entrance of the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage (the biggest free stage, where Old Dominion was beginning the show), and waiting in line for about 45 minutes to get security checked, we finally made it to see the last two songs of Old Dominion. =(

Throughout the four day festival, we spent a lot of time at the Riverfront Stage, but also ventured out to the new Budweiser Dome, the new Crackerbarrel Stage,  and the usual Park Stage and Hard Rock Cafe Stage.  Here are some pics of just a few of the great acts we saw:

Chevrolet Riverfront Stage:

Bretty Young

Budweiser Dome Stage:

Maddie & Tae
Deana Carter
Lauren Alaina

Crackerbarrel Stage:

Danielle Peck

Park Stage:

Clare Dunn

Music City Center Stage:

Post Monroe

We also enjoyed a bit of time each day inside of FanFairX, where my complaint comes in. Years before, you can get in line to meet artists at their “meet and greets”. If you were there early, you could probably make the cut. However, this year, you now have to win a technology-based doorprize to be able to get in line to see these stars. So, I won nothing and got ZERO pics or autographs this year. Not cool, CMA Fest, not cool.
The best I could do was stand on the side and take embarrassing pictures of stars.

Kellie Pickler

However, there are a few stages in FanFairX as well, and we got to see a few great artists here as well, in the lovely air conditioning.

Hunter Hayes

One of my favorite things about CMA Fest is always enjoying the many “freebies” we come across. Here’s a blog post specifically showing all that we got this year:



In a very particular order, least favorite to favorite, here are the full blog posts of all four dinners we had while in Nashville. And yes, this was the best food weekend here yet!

Fresh to Order:

The Wild Cow:

Thai Esane:


The only other restaurant I have drastically enjoyed in Nashville is Mas Tacos, which we visited last year.
If you have any other suggestions for places I MUST try during our next Nashville trip, please let me know in the comments!



Food Review: Life-Changing Ramen at Otaku Ramen in Nashville

Of all of the fantastic restaurants I have tried in Nashville (Mas Tacos, Thai Esane, and more) this one is my ultimate favorite.
Here’s the breakdown:


Located in the Gulch, a very nice and modern part of downtown Nashville, I feel like this is the perfect location in Nashville for this restaurant.  It is very modern on the inside and it has the best ramen I have ever had in my life.

When you first walk in, it seems small and crowded, but there are other rooms around the restaurant that include where we were seated. This room was actually a closed-in patio, full of modern benches for seating.  On each table, was a large mason jar full of extremely nice, thick, paper napkins as well as chopsticks. (A story about that later.)



The drink menu seems a little pricey. For example, a 16 oz Sapporo for $7?! However….our waiter immediately told us they had a special at the moment for this Sapporo for only $3.50. Much better! So, we got one each. We also split a large warm sake, the cheapest one, for $10. That seemed a little pricey as well, compared to the Little Rock area restaurants. But, hey, we were on vacation.

Food menu:

A simple, one-page menu is all you find here. However, even with only seven options for an entree, it took me a long time to decide which to choose. Also, the pictures helped a lot!


We skipped out on any “snacks” or appetizers and went straight to the ramen.

Tennessee Tonkotsu, $14
Description: pork bone broth, pork confit, mayu (black garlic oil), woodear (type of mushroom), scallion, and egg.

Life. Changing. I can’t describe it any better. The broth was phenomenally fatty and porky. I mean, you can’t go wrong with pork bone broth. The pork confit was to die for. It was so tender and flavorful. My only complaint was I wanted more of it.
The woodear was very tasty and the scallions added a nice freshness.
The egg, I actually ordered an upgrade to the “soy egg”, which cost extra, but was worth it. It was perfectly cooked in soy sauce, so it had a wonderful salty, umami flavor, with the yolk a little runny. Scrumptious!
This was the best ramen I have ever had and is definitely one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. I will definitely get this bowl every time I come here.

Spicy Miso, $14
Description: pork bone broth with miso and korean chili, ground pork, kimchi, menma (Japanese condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), bean sprouts, scallion, and egg.

Well, this one was also phenomenal! That delicious pork broth did not taste quite as fatty this time since the miso and korean chili really amped up the spice, but in a good way. It was perfectly spicy for me. It made my nose run a little, but didn’t burn my taste buds.
The ground pork was better than I expected. It was still very flavorful and it was a nice added texture.
I hate kimchi on its own, but in this bowl, it was pretty tasty. It gave a little brightness and sourness to it.
I honestly have no idea what the menma did for the dish. I have never tried that before, so I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like.
The bean sprouts and scallions were a nice, crunchy addition as well.
We ordered the egg as it came this time, no “soy egg”. It was still tasty and perfectly cooked. Though, we regretted not upgrading this one as well to a soy egg.

Drew and I kept switching bowls, and going between the spicy one and the fatty one was perfect. Strongly recommended.

The service was great! Our waiter was very helpful in answering questions and helping us decide what to order. He was quick with drinks and water refills.
Then, as I was getting up to leave, my purse knocked over the mason jar of napkins and broken glass went everywhere! I was so embarrassed and started to try to clean it up, but the wait staff refused to let me and graciously told me it was fine and I was free to leave. I’m so sorry, again!

Overall, this place is perfect. I will return here for every Nashville trip, for sure. I can’t wait to try other ramen bowls, though I’m afraid to digress from the great ones we had this time?