Off The Eaten Path Tennessee, A Podcast

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Last week was Spring Break and we started out in South Florida and ended up in Daytona, FL. Here’s a quick recap.

When I’m in South Florida, a required stop is at the BRGR Stop. When FrickFord Farms was based out of South Florida this was a twice a month stop. BRGR Stop made the Florida episode of Off The Eaten Path. Everyone knows I’m a wing guy, so I went with the Funky Buddha Hop Gun Hawaiian Glazed Wings, still as good as ever. We had a newbie in-tow which meant the whole BRGR Stop experience. The meal started with Loaded Tots – Pulled Pork, BBQ Sauce, Cheese & Bacon entwined with delicious tots. Their main course was a Junkyard Dog – grilled Kobe dog topped with housemade pineapple-jalapeno chutney and potato sticks and they combined this with a Fruity Pebbles Milkshake…. let’s just say they slept well that night.

Later in the week, we were in Daytona, FL so we made a run on the local antique malls. The best was Jeff’s Antique Mall, stocked to the gills and the most affordable antique mall that we’ve ever been to. Plenty of Coca-Cola memorabilia, Disney marathon medals, only $5.00 and a collection of 1970’s Playboys, and at only $1.00 a solid value. From there we spent time running around Canal Street Downtown New Smyrna Beach and saw some amazing local artwork. As always we (I) got hungry and The Taco Shack of New Smyrna Beach didn’t disappoint. Here’s the skinny, there’s going to be a long line and there are only 9 tables so plan for a wait, but it’s worth it. My dining partner went with the Tacos de Hector Soft corn tortillas filled w/ choice of meat, shackioli sauce, fresh pico, red onions & cilantro. For me, it was Emmy’s Empanadas Two Spanish pastries stuffed with seasoned beef, Spanish olives, and potatoes, served w/ cilantro sour cream. We stayed at the Hilton Oceanfront. The hotel is a bit dated, but they made up for it with an amazing upgrade to a two room suite which included our own 400 square foot patio on the 15th floor and it overlooked the ocean.

I love Tennessee and find myself here for both business and pleasure several times each year. When Frickford Farms left South Florida a few years ago we came real close relocating to Tennessee. So close that one of the Chateau’ Relaxo residents even owned a pair of University of Tennessee slippers. Like Florida, Tennesse doesn’t have a state income tax. For me, not a huge motivating factor. When it comes to taxes they’re going to get their money whether you’re team red or team blue.

I’ve posted about Tennessee several times, plenty of fun stuff, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga. Throw in the Jack Daniels Distillery, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Appalachian Trail. There is no shortage of things to do in Tennesse.

When it comes to Tennessee the food tour will lean towards BBQ, think Memphis and anything that FoodTV produces. There’s more than BBQ when it comes to Tennesse, but don’t ignore the BBQ, just don’t always believe the BBQ hype.

That being said our first stop is Elena’s Taco Stop, Memphis TN.

This is one of those places that it would be easy to pass by if you didn’t know it was there. The reason is that it’s tucked alongside a gas station, isn’t all great taco places? My order was a chicken burrito and it was damn near the size of my forearm. I’m a sauce and salsa guy, the reason, there’s only so many ways you can cook chicken and it might need some encouragement, plus I’ve got a basket full of chips that needs something to be dipped in. To address that, Elena’s has a salsa bar that’s worth the trip alone. There’s nothing fancy here that could take away from the quality of the food. Plus, cups or dishes for them to wash after your meal. Plan on eating, getting full and then making room for the next customer. This is now a must when I’m in Memphis.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – Memphis, TN

First I’m a fan of anyone or anything that calls themselves “World Famous”. This is D.G.F.C – Damn Good Fried Chicken! I’ve stayed across the parking lot from Gus’s for years, but never thought to try it until the hotel staff suggested it. Side Note – When traveling the hotel staff is usually best for recommendations when it comes to food and drinking establishments, they live there after all.

On this visit, I upped my game and decided to eat like a 5th grader, not a 3rd grader, and I ordered the 3-piece tender meal complete with coleslaw and fries. When my plate arrived you could see the orange iridescent sheen of spices on my tenders. Yes, they were delicious. Don’t pass on the honey mustard dipping sauce, perfect for your tenders or your fries. A really nice touch is the plastic cups, perfect for taking your drink back to the hotel.

Central BBQ Memphis, TN –

BBQ, as good as it gets. The seating area is tight but you’ll have your food and will be eating, long before it bothers you. A top-notch beer selection, including some great local choices. Everything is good but I encourage you to go with the ribs and don’t short change yourself by ordering a half-rack. The mac-n-cheese is better than your Grannies and you must try the “Nan Pudding”. You can’t go wrong with anything here.

Big River Grille & Brewing Works – Chattanooga, TN

Whenever I’m in town this is a must stop and for a few reasons. It’s within walking distance of the two hotels I stay at, Hampton Inn downtown and Springhill Suites riverfront, plus they’re a brewery. One of my best visits was during the Chateau’ Relaxo’s 2015 New Year’s Tour. We started with their Asiago Artichoke & Crab Dip and then split a California Sun pizza. To close out the evening it was beer flights of their own brew. The service is always great, the waitstaff is attentive and they know all about their beer. Plus, the beer flights are a great value and they fill growlers to go. If you like beer it’s worth the stop.

Burger Up – Nashville, TN

Burger Up was part of our 2018 Spring Break tour. We found ourselves here on a very wet March afternoon, after giving up on the long wait times at every other burger stop in a 15-mile radius. I suggest you start with the fried mac & cheese bites, everyone else does and they’re delicious! I went with the Woodstock burger which is, Benton’s bacon, Tennessee Sweetwater white cheddar cheese, Jack Daniels maple ketchup and as messy as it was, it didn’t disappoint. Chateau’ Relaxos CEO ordered the Ramsey pimento cheeseburger – house-made pimento cheese, iceberg, tomato, pickles, red onion, truffle aioli, Benton’s bacon on a jalapeño bun. I’m not a pimento cheese fan, but they swore it was award worthy. They offer a full bar with a solid selection of local beers. The staff was friendly and never let our glasses sit empty.

Slick’s Burgers – Chattanooga, TN

One of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten! My order simple… the 7oz. Slick complete with caramelized onions & cheese. A simple burger but juicy and tasty, one of the best ever. Throw in some of their Truffle Fries and you’ll be talking in your “Fat Voice” by the time the meals over. The decor is eclectic, you place your order through the window of an aluminum travel trailer then grab a seat and view the neon mixed with Americana themed signs in the dining area. This was a business lunch so we didn’t partake, but their beer menu looked outstanding.
If you’re in “Chat-Vegas” and want a burger…. stop in.

Bar-B-Cutie – Nashville, TN

Stopped in because it was close to the hotel…ordered the Pork Plate with Fries & Brunswick Stew. The fries were the standard frozen crinkle type, pretty standard for a BBQ joint, but the selection of sauces helped that issue. The Brunswick Stew got a big thumbs up. Test time, when it comes to Brunswick Stew do you want Lima Beans or not?  The pork was moist with just the right hint of smoke. The variety of BBQ sauces had everything, from mustard to vinegar based, and they had them all right on the table.

This is just a small sample of Tennessee’s food offerings. If you can endure the long lines and relatively short operating hours, Hattie B’s Nashville’s Broadway location can’t be beaten. If you’re in Memphis, B.B. King’s Blues Club won’t let you down. And you can eat at those places, I’ve done it, just like your next door neighbor did. Then the two of you can talk about how great it was, just like everybody. I can assure you that you’ll garner more neighborhood street cred when you tell Biff and Buffy that Central BBQ runs circles around anything they can find on the USA Today best BBQ list.

There you have it, thanks for listening and safe travels.

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