I had no idea what to expect on my first trip to Nashville with food allergies in 2018. I’ve been twice since and each time was pleasantly surprised with how accommodating restaurants were with my long list of food allergies. Here is a guide to transportation, eateries, and accommodations in Nashville. All are positive!
Flying to Nashville
I flew JetBlue on my first two trips to Nashville. They are my usual “go-to” airline when I can make it work for time, cost, etc. I find them to be the most consistent as far as being kind and accommodating with food allergies.
On this last trip, I flew Southwest to Nashville. Since it was booked through work, I called the airline ahead to give my TSA Pre-Check number and also let them know I had a peanut allergy. When I arrived at the airport in Philadelphia and printed out my boarding pass, my TSA Pre-Check number and a peanut note were both there. It is only two hours from Philly to Nashville, so I chose my seat, wiped it down and read until we arrived. Both flights there and back were easy and unremarkable.
To read more about how I typically handle flying go here.
On my first trip to Nashville, I stayed at the Westin Hotel. It was close to our conference venue and to all the main city attractions. I was also able to eat in their restaurant, Decker & Dyer, using my chef card without a problem.
I stayed at Gaylord Opryland Resort on my second trip to Nashville for a Summit. I spoke with catering there to eat during the summit. I also packed food. For dinner, we went to Paisano’s Pizzaria & Vino in the resort and had pizza. There is also the Delta Marketplace that had allergen friendly food brands for snacks.
Below is the hotel information:
- Westin Nashville, 807 Clark Place, Nashville, TN 37203
- Gaylord Opryland Resort, 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37214 USA
Coming from the Northeast, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as food allergy awareness in Nashville. I had my chef cards in hand and was excited and ready to see what I could try in Music City. As it turns out, quite a lot!
- Merchants Restaurant– We ate downstairs off of the Bistro menu. I used my chef card and had no difficulties finding something safe to eat. It’s also located in a great spot, right at Broadway and 4th. This makes it a good option when exploring downtown.
- Trattoria Il Mulino– This is an Italian restaurant also not far from the main strip. We had delicious salads and a pizza here. I used my chef card without any problem.
- Acme Feed and Seed– Live music, delicious food and a building with history. As soon as I walked in and asked the woman who was greeting us about my food allergies, she immediately took my chef card to the kitchen.
Chef Q was amazing and answered all of my questions. I had pulled pork tacos with pickled daikon and grilled elote style corn on the cob. I felt totally comfortable eating here and enjoyed the meal!
- Hattie’s B’s– Hot chicken is something Nashville is known for, so I figured I would see if I could try it. I called ahead and talked to someone at the 8th street location (there are three in the city). He told me there were only nuts in the processing of one of the desserts and said I should be able to eat there. We decided to go check it out! I will warn you that you will likely be waiting in line. It took us about 30 minutes before we ordered.
When I finally got to the register to order, I asked Mark the manager there about my food allergies and he took my chef card into the kitchen. He returned and said I could get the grilled chicken tenders at whichever spice I chose and most of the sides. I ended up having Pimento mac and cheese and Southern greens. Mark helped ring up my order and included the allergy warning with a note to the kitchen to see him about my allergies. I felt like he understood and was very comfortable eating there. *Note: I have a potato allergy which is why I couldn’t have it fried (since it is shared with the french fries). FYI, I was told they use soybean oil in the fryer.
I am typically a wine drinker and occasionally will have beer. Rarely do I try mixed drinks, however I did decide to try the Kentucky Mule (whiskey, ginger beer, and lime juice) at a few different bars. I always check with the bartender about what goes in the drink and tell them about my allergies. It is challenging at some of these bars because music is pretty loud. I really just trusted my gut on deciding if I felt safe doing it or not. I had a one at the following bars:
- Acme Feed and Seed
- Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge– Located on Broadway in downtown Nashville, it is known as a country music institution. Even if you don’t get a drink, go check it out!
- BB King’s Blues Club– If you’re not big into country music, this is a fun option in Nashville.
I am often asked about alcohol and how I discriminate between what is safe with my food allergies since ingredients are rarely listed. Check out this blog post for more details.
To See & Do
The first time I visited Nashville I didn’t have much time to explore besides in the evening after conferences. The second time I barely left the Opryland Resort. However, on this trip I had some time to explore. Below are the highlights.
- Hatch Show Print– Very cool spot to check out one of the oldest letterpress print shops in the U.S. It is located inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
- Ryman Auditorium– Historic theater known for being the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.
- Belle Meade Plantation & Winery– We took a tour of the plantation house, roamed around the grounds and tried some very sweet and fruity wine. If you have extra time and you are there in nice weather it may be worth a stop.
- Shopping on 12th Street– Stores like Draper James (Resse Witherspoon’s store) and other fun ones like White’s Mercantile are on this street.
If I had more time:
- Johnny Cash Museum– This was recommended to me but I didn’t make it on this trip.
Overall, I’ve found Nashville to be significantly allergy aware and accommodating with my food allergies and a fun place to spend time exploring!