In late April we needed to be in Knoxville, TN for my bestie Megan’s wedding and since we were already making the drive down south, Austin and I decided to extend our trip a few days to pitstop in Nashville before heading home. I had never been to Nashville and though Austin had visited the city before it was on business so he hadn’t had a chance to explore.
I wanted to put together a guide for vegans that pairs some of the must see stops in Nashville with the vegan food choices in those general vicinities.
Let’s start with the Gulch area, which is were I took the photo at the top of this post with the new Taylor Swift commissioned #WhatLiftsYou mural. Right next to this mural is a really cool graphic mural which is also a great spot for pictures, and across the street is the original black and white #WhatLiftsYou mural. As you can imagine cute murals made specifically to be posed with can garner quite a sizable crowd so I recommend hitting up those spots as early as you possibly can. After you get your Instagram shots be sure to check out JuiceBar for a refreshing juice, smoothie, or healthy grain bowl. I had the Mint To Be smoothie and it was very refreshing!
If the urge to eat strikes you while your meandering along the main drag in Nashville, checking out all the honky tonks, Mellow Mushroom is a great option. Mellow Mushroom is a chain so there isn’t a authentically new culinary experience to be had here, but the MM on Broadway actually functions as a honky tonk as well so you can continue to soak in the Nashville live music while still indulging in a vegan cheese topped pie. For me personally, I had never even heard of Mellow Mushroom – apparently there aren’t any in the state of Maryland – so it was fun to check out a new-to-me pizza chain.
Whether or not you’ve seen the actual Parthenon in Athens, Greece or not the full scale replica in Nashville is certainly worth a visit. Not only is it a massive, lovely display of architecture, but its also located in the most laid back park. If you weren’t just a short drive from Avo, I would recommend packing a picnic and spending half a day here just soaking in the atmosphere.
As mentioned, Avo is just a few minutes away from the Parthenon by car, located in a small center of converted shipping containers that surround a volleyball court. If it sounds odd that would be because it is, at least on the surface, but the reuse/recycle vibe of the shipping containers feels super appropriate coupled with a 100% plant based restaurant. I ordered the kale caesar salad to start my meal and it is hands down the best salad I’ve ever had. I followed that up with zoodles and pesto, which I loved so much I’ve recreated it a few times a home. Austin and I shared the blueberry cashew cheesecake for dessert. My tongue wished we would have ordered a second slice but I truly didn’t have even a millimeter of room left in my tummy to even consider that desire practical. If you only have time to hit up restaurant in Nashville this is the one you cannot miss.
If you have the capacity in your trip to hit up two dinner spots I would highly recommend adding Graze to your list as well. Graze is located in a more residential part of Nashville so there’s not really a destination to pair with this outing, but the szechuan brussels are well worth the drive. I still dream about those brussels sprouts. We also got the loaded potatoes and the mac & chorizo, both of which were insanely good.
My final recommendation is a quaint little coffee spot that’s pretty close to the I-40 and I-65 making it a great place to stop before you head home from your trip or onto your next destination. Falcon Coffee not only had delicious lattes, but the entire menu is plant based. I had the spinach and vegan cheese empanada and regret not getting a second one for the road. The flakey crust was perfection. This would also be a great place to station up if you have time to kill before a flight or bus as the cafe itself is pretty spacious so you can be on your laptop and still feel like you have a bit of privacy.
There were several other vegan spots we wanted to check out but they either weren’t open or stopping there didn’t fit in our schedule. If we get a chance to go back definitely expect a part 2 to this vegan travel guide.