NASHVILLE — As metro areas across the country deal with population booms, Nashville has been particularly engulfed by new arrivals. The 14-county region grows by more than 100 people every day, with nearly 73,000 new residents arriving between July 2014 and July 2016, per the Tennessean.
Add a booming tourism industry, and you’ve got a city that’s becoming uncomfortable crowded.
In the past few years, Nashville’s legendary downtown Broadway strip has become more of a tourist trap than ever. Most locals shy away.
There’s one place in particular that has not turned them off, though: Acme Feed & Seed.
The four-floor venue features a killer trio: arguably the best food, the best live music and the best rooftop view on Broadway. Longtime Hollywood chef Tom Morales, a Nashville native, restored the centuries-old building less than a decade ago. There are bits and pieces from the 1800s all over the place, and landing spots for everyone: honky-tonk enthusiasts, the sports-bar crowd, concertgoers and rooftop relaxers, among others.
SEC Country visited Acme for a closer look at what makes it such a unique presence on the downtown strip. Here’s what we found:
Rule The Roost ($12): There are roughly 1,000 different places to find hot chicken in Nashville. Usually, that means a hefty thigh-and-leg combo that results in greasy fingers and internal combustion (depending on your spice order). If you’re looking for less of an adventure, Acme simplifies the process for you, slapping a boneless slab of hot chicken between white-bread buns and adding green peppercorn aioli, American cheese and pickles to the mix.
(Photo credit: Ashley Hylbert)
Griot with Ti Malice & Pikliz ($12): Pepper nuts know that japaeños are child’s play; Habañeros are the real challenge. Acme uses habañero sauce and habañero coleslaw as the hook for patrons to order its not-so-standard fried pork.
Gashouse BLT ($12): The weekend brings a special brunch menu, which features a classic Toad-In-A-Hole sandwich. This selection features fried green tomatoes, arugula, rooster remoulade and … of course … bacon.
Nashville is known for Bushwhackers, a dessert cocktail that blends ice cream with vodka. Acme’s answer: the Mule Kicker ($9), a perfect summer beverage that features frozen lemonade and Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ moonshine.
(Photo credit: Acme Feed & Seed)
What the owner eats
Longtime Hollywood chef and caterer Tom Morales is constantly helping executive chef Matt Farley create seasonal offerings. The current feature is a Friday fish fry called Acme Islander (4-8 pm, 21-plus) that serves up Caribbean fish tacos, jerk fried wings and Cruzan rum cocktails, all while Grammy-winning reggae artist Gramps Morgan spins tropical tunes. This goes down on the fourth-floor rooftop.
(Photo credit: Jake Giles Netter)
The author of this piece personally spotted Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill and celebrity girlfriend — model Lily Aldridge — at this venue, and Alan Jackson‘s investment has lured plenty of rock stars onto the premises. Arnold Schwarzenegger was once seen playing shuffleboard on the second floor, and Tom Cruise spent the most recent Fourth of July watching fireworks from the rooftop. Oh, and Harry Connick Jr. reportedly enjoys the ribs.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)
Acme features a fully-functioning Internet radio station. If you stop by, you might see former Pro Bowl offensive lineman Brad Hopkins (Tennessee Titans, Houston Oilers) doing his show, Player’s Playlist, which mostly features discussion about music, lifestyle topics and fitness.
(Photo credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The best seat in the house
Grab your food basket and head up to the fourth-floor rooftop for an unbeatable view of Lower Broadway, the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium, among other things.
(Photo credit: Jake Giles Netter)
You won’t find this on the first-floor menu, but the second floor houses a sushi bar established by one of the South’s premier Japanese chefs, Sam Katakura. Though he has since moved on from Acme, his influence is still apparent in the excellent sushi selection.
(Photo by Emily B. Hall)
Acme Feed & Seed was the name of an actual supply warehouse that did business within the same walls, beginning in the 1940s. Just before the turn of the millennium, the business ceased operations, and the building — plagued by mold and pesticides — sat empty until the early 2010s, when an historic flood took out most of the downtown area. Miraculously, the flood wiped out Acme’s chemical problem, and current ownership won a competitive battle to lease the real estate.
(Photo credit: Emily B. Hall)
- Acme houses an Internet radio station with live DJs as well as a gift shop.
- Founder Tom Morales is a veteran Hollywood chef who managed catering for movies such as A League of Their Own.
- Woodford Reserve developed its own Acme-specific brand of small-batch Kentucky bourbon, and beer drinkers can snag an Acme Rooster Brew from Fat Bottom.
- Sports fans: The best place to watch games is the second floor, which features plenty of flat-screen TVs and a few arcade games for halftime breaks.
- The third floor features a 7,000-square-foot venue used for private events such as wedding receptions and concerts.
- The rooftop transforms into a dance rave most weekend nights. When the temperature drops, the staff puts up temporary walls and cranks up the indoor heating.
Acme Feed & Seed is located at 101 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201.