Music City Food & Wine: The tastiest weekend of the year in Nashville

Eat Music City: Nashville’s Premier Food Festival

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Nashville is having a moment, y’all. Correction: Nashville has been having a moment, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Music City Food + Wine in Nashville

September is my very favorite month in my Southern state, and the arrival of two beloved festivals does nothing to temper that feeling. For four nights each fall, more than 165 acts take the stage at various venues around town for Americana Fest.

And for two days that very same weekend, all of the region’s most enthusiastic food and spirits lovers convene for Music City Food + Wine Festival.
Music City Food & Wine: The tastiest weekend of the year in Nashville

I attended my first Americana this year, but only caught a few brief shows, mainly because I had three back-to-back visitors, but also because I suffered from the classic Nashville quandary: too much cool stuff going on at the same time. Jade was in town for a hot minute so on Wednesday night, we attended a CMT Crossroads taping—John Legend and LeeAnn Womack, airing on Sept. 26—and then hightailed it back from Franklin to City Winery for Sturgill Simpson’s show.

City Winery in Nashville

Two very dear friends arrived on Friday from Seattle to tackle the food and wine festival—formerly known as Music City Eats—with SVV and me, and I’ll be honest, we didn’t stop eating (or drinking) for a solid 72 hours.

Music City Food + Wine

On each of the two calorie-filled days, more than 60 vendors set up shop and served up their finest fare (one dish per booth). This is an excellent way for out-of-towners to Black Hawk in and try the best of Nashville cuisine all in one weekend.

Music City Food + Wine

Music City Food + Wine  Music City Food + Wine

All my favorites were there (both people and brands): Otaku South, Olive & Sinclair, The Southern Steak & Oyster, Hattie B’s, Mason’s, Etch, The Sutler, and many, many more.

As one of the visiting chefs, Amanda Freitag, pointed out, pork was very heavily represented in many of the dishes—not sure this is an event for vegetarians—but it’s the South, what do you expect? Personally, I never tire of eating pig!
Music City Food & Wine: The tastiest weekend of the year in Nashville

Music City Food + Wine

Whereas last year, the only option was to buy a full weekend pass, this festival, there was the option to buy a Saturday day pass, a Sunday day pass or a Harvest Night pass—or you could go for the full monty and get the whole package. (Full disclosure: We were all there on press passes so got to attend the full shebang.)

Music City Food + Wine

If you’re going to survive weekends such as this, it’s important to take self-imposed breaks. We left each day around 3pm for a brief break from the heat (and the food), then reconvened at Robert’s with some other friends before the evening’s main event.

Robert's in Nashville

Last year, I missed the Saturday night entertainment, which was “Pettyfest,” an amalgamation of artists performing Tom Petty hits, because I was at the Taylor Swift concert; this year I was not missing Harvest Night. Fifteen top chefs—from Michael Symon to Ashley Christensen—each made a course, and attendees could go from booth to booth sampling the fare. My favorites were Sean Brock’s short rib, Levon Wallace’s quail, Tyler Florence’s shrimp and grits, and Andrew Zimmern’s “dead baby cow” sandwich.

Harvest Night at Music City Food + Wine

After we had filled out bellies and mingled with the chefs, we stole away to Riverfront Park for a quick hour and a half to see the Avett Brothers perform for the closing night of Americana. Those guys are some of my favorite musicians in the world, and I really wanted Kent and Canaan get to experience the magic firsthand.

Avett Brothers

Luckily, it was just three blocks from where Harvest Night was taking place, so we were able to do both.

When we got back to Walk of Fame Park, the musical entertainment for Harvest Night was just gearing up. The Kings of Leon, who are backers in the festival, curated the evening and brought on a whole host of big names to perform songs, mostly classic country covers. Those who took the stage included Michael McDonald, Jamey Johnson, Charles Kelley, Phosphorescent, Ashley Monroe, Brendan Benson, Jessie Baylin, Clare Bowen, The McCrary Sisters, Moon Taxi, The Watson Twins and several others.

Harvest Night at MCFWToward the end of the night, I spotted Connie Britton sitting in the crowd nearby, and while it’s very un-Nashville of me, I went over and said hello. I’m sorry, y’all, but it’s TAMI TAYLOR; you would have done the same thing.

To cap off an evening filled with great food, stellar tunes and the most perfect fall weather ever, guitar maestro Hunter Hayes—who I recently interviewed for a cover story—played three songs.

Hunter Hayes at Music City Food + WineAs if that weren’t enough, his whole posse of musical pals—the Kings, Charles, Hayden Panettiere and several others—joined him after he was done for a rousing rendition of “Friends in Low Places.” It was epic.

Music City Food + Wine Harvest Night

The next day, I slept in and we headed back to Public Square Park for day two of the food festival. The roster of chefs was different, and I was happy to see that many of my favorites—like Trey Cioccia of The Farm House and Matt Bolus of 404 Kitchen—were adhering to the brunch tradition. (The first day was primarily full of lunch foods.)

Brunch at Music City Food + Wine

Brunch at Music City Food + Wine

And, of course, it being Sunday brunch and all, Bloody Marys were a necessity. I might have had five, no judging.

Music City Food + Wine

Something you should know about this particular festival is that each part of the equation—both the food and the wine—carry equal weight, so don’t be surprised to find there are as many booze tents as there are food. I’m OK with that. Particularly if said libations include Eli Mason syrups. Yummmm.

Music City Food + Wine

All in all, I was impressed by the second year of the fest. It felt fuller, more organized and better attended than the last. I probably consumed 10,000 calories over the course of the festival—not to mention, all the pre-events that preceded the weekend—so I’ll be fasting for the foreseeable future and eagerly looking forward to next year, which no doubt will be even bigger and better.

Music City Food + Wine

Music City Food + Wine

Music City Food + Wine Music City Food + Wine

Music City Food + Wine

Music City Food + Wine
I attended MCFW on a media pass, but all opinions are my own.

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COMMENTS
  • September 23, 2014
    Briel K.

    It sounds wonderful but also overwhelming what with everything going on at the same time! As you know I’ve been wanting to visit Nashville for a while now. Perhaps I’ll try to save up my pennies to attend next years festivities! It doesn’t look cheap! 🙂

    • September 23, 2014

      Yes, definitely NOT cheap. I’m glad they added the day pass option to give more people a chance to attend who aren’t going to fork over $500!

  • September 23, 2014

    It sounds like a great festival! It looks like option overload (in the best way possible)! 🙂

    http://www.charactersandcarryons.com

  • September 23, 2014

    I just gained 7 lbs reading this post! This is why I can only come for a visit once every year or two… the calories! Just kidding, can I come stay with you and eat all of this ASAP?

  • September 24, 2014

    So I think we’re all clear on the fact that I’ve fully invited myself to attend next year’s festival, yes? Four of my fave people doing two of my fave things (eating and drinking, duh!) in a city that I already know is a future favorite? I’M IN.

    PS: Must hear more about this Connie encounter.

    • September 24, 2014

      Crystal! =)

      And Connie was just sitting there, doing her thing, watching Scarlett (Clare Bowen) perform, and I couldn’t HELP but say hi. I mean, you would have done the same thing, right?

  • September 24, 2014

    Nashville is one place that we haven’t been yet but is definitely high up on the list.
    There is so much amazing music history that we would love to explore.
    Great photos!!

    Also, we had friends tell us about Trash tours and it sounded pretty exciting.

    • September 24, 2014

      The Nash Trash tour! I’ve never been (since, you know, I’m a TN native and all); however, I hear it’s a whole lot of fun =)

      • September 25, 2014

        That’s it!! We have had many people tell us it’s a must do while in Nashville 🙂

  • September 24, 2014
    Abi

    Wow – talk about bringing a place alive through photos! This is fantastic. I’ve heard so much about Nashville…really hope to get there one day.

  • September 25, 2014

    You do a great job of selling the place. Actually, I think I’m a little drunk just looking at the pics. 😉

  • September 25, 2014

    This made me SO hungry. And, aside, can I just say I was having a convo with someone just yesterday about how if I ever moved back to the States, Nashville is high up on my list?!?

  • September 26, 2014

    I just told Dave last night that I really want to go to Nashville soon, you make it all too tempting!

  • October 1, 2014

    It looks amazing. The great music, wonderful food, fabulous drinks, and all in a warm-hearted Americana loveliness. I can’t wait to see it for myself one day. I’ve never been to this part of the US but if this is how you party. I’m in!

  • October 3, 2014

    Yummy looking eats–I’m stuffed just reading this! (And yet hungry at the same time…Hmmm…) I see Jackalope in the background of one of the photos–we stopped there last year when we were in town, good stuff! Unfortunately for Swede and me, we lost the Jackalope brewery poster we bought while there. #shitthatgotlostwhenwemoved

  • August 15, 2015

    YUMMY NICE, I LOVE IT.

  • March 12, 2016

    Hello
    The great music, wonderful food, fabulous drinks, and all in a warm-hearted Americana loveliness. I can’t wait to see it for myself one day. I’ve never been to this part of the US but if this is how you party. I’m in!

    Thanks

  • May 2, 2016

    That’s exactly how I felt all weekend long! “This is such a great town. I have such great friends.
    Sadly, I missed many of the dishes you posted above, no doubt, because I was too busy gabbing and not focused enough on the task at hand: EATING EVERYTHING 😉

    • May 2, 2016

      Are you going again this year? I can’t wait until September!!!

  • October 4, 2017
    Max

    NICE, I LOVE IT.

  • October 26, 2017

    The meals look nothing but delicious

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