Explore the Hip Neighborhoods of Nashville
Nashville’s patchwork of hip neighborhoods can easily be missed by the casual tourist, but they offer some of the best dining and shopping in Music City.
Historic East Nashville, across the Cumberland River from Downtown, has experienced a renaissance as one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. It’s an eclectic mix of vintage retail, coffee shops, vegan and organic restaurants, quaint houses lovingly restored on tree-lined streets, and a burgeoning population of young professionals.
Five Points is the epicenter, and a good place to start your exploration of the smaller pocket neighborhoods on Porter, Eastland, Woodmont and Riverside.
This crossroads is home to the Idea Hatchery, an incubator for small start-up businesses and galleries. Discover local art, whimsical gifts and original furniture at Art & Invention, vintage and contemporary clothing at Hello Boys, Moss Clothes and the Goodbuy Girls, and leather goods and gifts from around the world at Alegria. In this artisan community, East Side Story is a bookshop that showcases local authors and encourages story reading and writing (watch TripTales for more on East Side Story later in February).
Voted ‘Best Brunch in Nashville’ by Bon Appetit, Marche Artisan Foods is a casual, European-style café and marketplace popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s also the spot for gourmet groceries and baked goods. Close by at Five Points is the Treehouse Restaurant, where imaginative cuisine of tapas, veggies and homemade cheeses is served into the wee hours.
Clustered on Eastland, the Silly Goose is recognized for its organic food, wraps, sandwiches and salads, and the Wild Cow for its vegan and vegetarian fare. Their names are a reflection of the fun atmosphere and décor inside. Don’t pass up Jeni’s for the best ice cream for miles around. Taste samples are freely given!
For an out-of-the world coffee experience, stop at the Barista Parlor, where the art of coffee making is taken to new heights. It’s quite amazing to sit at a communal table surrounded by old barn inspired vintage Americana, watching the baristas pour handcrafted coffee through glass filters as though in a science laboratory. You can even buy an Otis James ball cap for $125 (made locally by artisan tie and accessory maker in Marathon Village).
Nashville’s Gulch District, which housed the city’s downtown rail terminal for the first half of the century, is now filled with renovated warehouses, boutiques, upscale restaurants and a vibrant nightlife that has attracted young urbanites. High rise condos with ground floor retail stores enjoy superb downtown views. In the heart of the Gulch is the Station Inn on 12 Avenue South, one of Nashville’s most notable Bluegrass venues where well-known artists may drop in on any given night. Enjoy fine dining at Watermark, or dance the night away at Sambuca, a rocking dinner club with live music. For vintage, Bohemian, retro and hipster, Urban Outfitters and Two Old Hippies offer unique apparel, memorabilia and gift items for every taste. Definitely worth a look!
12South Neighborhood has a funny, quirky young vibe, described by some as “where East Nashvillians move when they have kids.” Offering a mix of art galleries, coffee shops like the Frothy Monkey, clothing and vintage shops, this is also the home of Imogene + Willie, Nashville’s high quality custom, hand-made denim jeans company that preserves a family heritage in a renovated old service station. You can wear a pair of these on your hips starting at $225.
Pick up designer cowboy and western gear from Katy K’s Ranch Dressing boutique and on a sunny day sit outside on the patio of Edley’s Bar-B-Que for a combination of meat-and-three and traditional barbecue. For the “best burger on the West Side” try Burger Up with its warm atmosphere of salvaged wood, communal seating and Edison light bulbs. The wildly diverse and quirky Urban Grub in a reclaimed once-shabby self-service car wash makes a point of offering menu items not found elsewhere in the neighborhood. You can count on a variety of interesting selections.
Sylvan Park is a quiet neighborhood on the southwest side of town. Park Café features a fusion of Asian, French, Italian and American cuisine served in the intimacy of seven small dining rooms, keeping it on the top list of many Nashville celebrities. Neighbors is a true popular neighborhood bar, with good food, craft beers and an outdoor patio. For Italian lovers, it doesn’t get much better than the cozy warmth and comfort food at Caffe Nonna.
Germantown is Nashville’s oldest historic district and the city’s first residential suburb, with architecture dating back to the 1830’s. It was named after the influx of German immigrants in the mid 1850’s, and was home to many prominent families. The neighborhood was revitalized and placed on the National Historic Register in 1979 and now celebrates Oktoberfest every year. The diverse and vibrant neighborhood, in sight and walking distance of the State Capitol, also encompasses the Nashville Farmers’ Market adjacent to the Bicentennial Mall. The Farmers’ Market sells fresh produce year-round and hosts special events like cooking classes, supper clubs and dance parties.
Voted #3 Best New Restaurant in America 2013 by Bon Appetit, Rolf and Daughters is a neighborhood restaurant in the historic 100-year-old Werthan Factory, blending Italian and Mediterranean influences with Southern ingredients. Celebrities have been known to fly in from Los Angeles exclusively to dine there.
The intimate Mad Platter was one of the first local restaurants in the heart of historic Germantown, and serves seasonal, fresh food and an award- winning wine list. City House is a chic and rustic farmhouse-style restaurant in a brick house built in 1901. If you’re looking for history and ambiance, Germantown is a treasure trove.
Share with us your favorite finds as you explore these neighborhoods and get acquainted with the trendy subculture renaissance sweeping Nashville.