With yesterday's delays we had some miles to make up today, but had a night in Nashville waiting as our reward for making the push.
We saw some beautiful scenery crossing the Smoky Mountains as we crossed Virginia, and driving through them in Tennessee as we logged almost 900 miles. We stopped in Bristol, VA/TN for a later lunch and found ourselves at Burger Bar, a downtown Bristol fixture since 1942 with a big sign advertising Bristol's Best Burger. We were greated by friendly staff and a 1940s style diner that I'm sure looks very much like it did the day it opened.
I had a pretty basic bacon and cheddar burger made extraordinary by the hand formed fresh beef patty, high-grade bacon, and perfect seasoning. When I eat at this type of diner I try the burger the way it is served before I add condiments, and for a burger to be "Fat Boy Approved" it has to stand on its own. This burger did with no problem at all. The beef perfectly cooked, juicy without grease running all over, high quality toppings, and a great bun that held up without being too crusty.
After completing our meal we found out that Joe Deel, one of the owners was there and when our waitress handed him the card I left with the check he came out to talk with me for a few minutes. What I wish I had known before I ordered is that much of what they serve every day isn't on the menu. Regulars know to ask what they have fresh when they sit at the counter, and it has been known to range from fresh organic produce to venison. If I make it back I'll be sure to ask Joe what he wants to cook me instead of even looking at the menu. This is hometown hospitality and tradition done right, and Bristol's Famous Burger Bar is earning a permanent place in Fat Boy Heaven as a result. Whether you are in town for races at the Bristol Motor Speedway, or traveling through to learn more about Bristol's role in country music history make sure you stop in and see the Deel's and tell them the Fat Boy sent you.
As we left Bristol a torrential thunder storm hit out of nowhere, not an uncommon occurance this high in the Smoky Mountains. Visibility was so bad that traffic on the Interstate literally pulled over to wait it out or crept aong with 4-way flashers helping fellow travelers see them on the road. It passed almost as quickly, and we made the trip the rest of the way into Nashville without issue.
We checked into our hotel and quickly changed out of our travel clothes to go out and explore Nashville. Coop had never been here, and was blown away when we got down to Broadway, where the majority of the honky tanks in town sit side by side in a three block stretch near the Ryman Auditorium and the Nashville Convention Center. After walking the strip we decided nothing special was going on anywhere else, so we might as well hit the oldest of the bars. On Broadway, Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. The place was packed and we waited on line for about 20 minutes before getting inside. Once there we got drinks at the bar from the friendly and efficient staff and found a spot to stand and enjoy the performance of Anthony Orion and the Goodfellows.
It was a great night at an amazing bar, and even after a long day on the road we couldn't pry ourselves away until last call. Now we can't wait to get back to Nashville with more time to explore.