I'm leaving. In just a few days, in fact! When I wake up on December 4, I will wake up as a Nashvillian. I've lived in the Northwest my whole life, I've lived in Seattle proper for more than a decade, and I've worked at The Stranger since before I could legally go to the Cha Cha when it was on Pine Street. I started here on my 20th birthday, and I'm 33 now. I am freaking the fuck out. I've survived nine music editors; I was here before Slog was a thing. I can't remember when I wasn't referred to as "Megan Seling from The Stranger," and I have no idea what it feels like to not get 8,000 e-mails a day from bands, publicists, and restaurants that want press, plus weirdos who want to scream at me for dissing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (THEY'RE TERRIBLE, GET OVER IT.)
But change is good. It's time for something new. My husband grew up in Nashville, I have been to Nashville a dozen times, and I can confidently say that it's an awesome city. It's not Seattle, but it's great. I'm going to love it there.
And I will say this: When it comes to food—sharpen your pitchforks—Nashville has better chocolate (Olive & Sinclair, y'all!) and more innovative coffee options (to say nothing of having a hockey team). I had a salt-and-black-pepper latte at Hot & Cold in Hillsboro that redefined all the expectations I'd ever had of my coffee drinks. And have you ever had a Loveless Cafe biscuit? You guys! THEY ARE MIRACULOUS LITTLE CARB CLOUDS. I will send you some.
Nashville also has Las Paletas (avocado popsicles worth moving 2,000 miles for), the Wild Cow (incredible vegan food in the South? Yes!), and, of course, Noshville. Who doesn't want to eat at an authentic New York delicatessen–style restaurant called Noshville? They have free all-you-can-eat pickles and lemon meringue pies that are bigger than your head!
I digress. I will have more than enough time to bask in all of Nashville's culinary offerings soon enough, so with my last weeks in the region I've called home for more than 30 years, I've been doing my damnedest to get one final dose of all my favorite NW things, including favorite foods.
I'm absolutely certain I will not find a Nashvillian counterpart to Tacoma's MSM Deli. It looks like an unassuming mini-mart, stocked with beer, soda, chips, and cigarettes, but behind that counter they make the best sub sandwich you'll ever eat. The bread is chewy and soft—the perfect texture, really. On paper (screen?), the rest of the sandwich sounds as unimpressive as the place itself—sandwiches come with your choice of meats and cheeses, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, onions, pickles, avocado spread, and mayonnaise. Pretty standard, right? No. Something happens in the way they make it, in the way the ratio of ingredients combine—it's so much more flavorful than any other sub sandwich I've ever had. I've rented a car just to go to MSM. I've waited for more than an hour to get a sandwich, without regretting a single second.
Speaking of sandwiches, there's no Paseo in Nashville. There are no Paseo black beans, there are no stubby pieces of corn on the cob slathered in butter and herbs, there's no Paseo Tofu con Gusto covered in garlic and whatever that sweet and tangy red sauce is. I will PayPal you $50 a month to fetch and send me a Tofu Delight with two stars and a side of rice and beans. Deal? Deal! I'm kidding. (Kind of. E-mail me and we'll work something out.)
When you send the sandwich, throw in a Rachel's Ginger Beer, too, because the locally made, preservative-free soda has to be kept refrigerated, so I can't very well just buy a case and take it with me. Sigh.
Also, does Nashville put cream cheese on their hot dogs? What if I go get a hot dog and they don't have cream cheese? Can you even eat a hot dog without cream cheese?
And let's talk about pho for a second. According to the almost-never-helpful Yelp, there are 20 places to get pho in Nashville, but none of them are Than Brothers, and none of them say anything about a free cream puff.
But that's not all! I will also miss, dearly:
La Isla's Pasteleon. It's pretty much lasagna made with thin slices of sweet plantains instead of noodles, and my husband and I love it so much that we served it for dinner at our wedding.
Caffe Ladro's Vegan Oat Bar. It's a giant rhubarb-filled square of oatmeal crumble, and it's the best.
Zayda Buddy's Breakfast Pizza. Scrambled eggs, spinach, Mama Lil's peppers, cheese, and tater tots on a thin, crispy pizza crust. IT IS THE FOOD OF HEROES.
Cupcake Royale's Deathcake. I guess their annual dose of death by chocolate is shippable, but I won't be able to get it with a scoop of their salted caramel ice cream! WAAAAAH.
Poppy's Dessert Thali. More than just the thali itself—which is always amazing, go get it and share with your favorite person!—I will miss the little "nutter butter" squares that are one of the most delightfully textured things I have ever put into my mouth. The dense, cookie- like bottom is crispy like a Butterfinger, and it's coated with a generous layer of caramel that's been cooked down to near burning then sweetened back up with white chocolate. Tip: You can buy them without the thali for $1—it's the best way to spend a buck (or 20) in Seattle.
Full Tilt's Ice Cream and Pinball. I did a search for pinball in Nashville, and the internet recommended I go to either a bowling alley or Coyote Ugly. There's no pinball–ice cream hybrid, there's no Shorty's, there's no Narwhal, there's no Add-a-Ball or John John's Game Room. Has Nashville even heard of pinball? What am I doing?!
I don't care how good the chocolate is. I'm gonna miss the shit out of you, Seattle.