My entire time in Nashville, I kept thinking, “damn, that came out of nowhere” – in regards to many things: the grandeur of my three-egg breakfast at Nashville Biscuit House, the coolest coffee shop I’ve been in awhile hidden right off a highway, and just like, where the hell did this post-nasal drip come from?
Anyway, my first day in Nashville was spent cruising down Gallatin Ave through a neighborhood I had read many blogs about: East Nashville. Like most “up-and-coming” neighborhoods, it looked completely run-down. Basically, I would have had no clue I was in a trendy party of town had I not done prior research. But that’s fine by me, since my personal taste tend to lean more industrial anyway.
I was enjoying the cruise in the passenger seat, humming along to some spunky Miranda Lambert song “Little Red Wagon” – seriously#YouKnowYoureNoLongerInNewYorkWhen – when my mom and niece had had enough of looking around the cool parts of town and just wanted some damn breakfast. So we stopped at Nashville Biscuit House.
Nashville Biscuit House
Again, from the outside, you would think it’s just a typical, mom-and-pop biscuit breakfast, but Nashville somehow made it cool. Once inside you have 50% families and 50% tattooed, bearded hipsters and country belles making denim overalls look cool. Most people order the Nashvillian (eggs, grits, and bacon), but I settled for some coffee and a basic egg platter.
And if it means anything to you, even the nurse practitioner I had to see for my severe sore throat (long story), recommended “some place down the street that looks real sketchy on the outside, but that’s really charming on the inside” – which turned out to be Nashville Biscuit House.
But what day is complete without a stop at a coffee shop, even if you just had coffee at Nashville Biscuit House? If you’re looking for a cool coffee shop to chill in, people watch, get work done, or meet cool people, then I HAVE THE PERFECT SPOT FOR YOU. This place definitely made my extremely selective, elite list of favorite coffee shops around the world and personally it was what had me convinced that East Nashville wasn’t just East Nashville, but cool East Nashville. I present you, Barista Parlor!
Clearly once a car repair shop, this place now has me convinced that any car repair shop could make the best coffee shop. You’ve got huge garage doors that allow for an open layout (and lots of fresh air flow), lots of space to sit down and not be bothered, and really high ceilings.
The prices are pretty steep – ahem, $5.50 for a pour-over (with organic coffee at least!) – but as long you as you remind yourself that you’re paying for the ambiance, your nerves start to calm themselves. Yes this was the most I have ever…ever paid for drip coffee, and if you’re just stopping in and going to leave, then you may want to reconsider. People come to Barista Parlor to chill.
Nautical, yet lumberjack design influences.
And if you’re extra good, you’ll manage to sneak a spot on Barista Parlor’s own bench, where I swear…the most stylish Nashvillians hang out (…and tend to smoke cigs for hours).
Oh, and before I forget, when you order your drink to stay, the baristas hand you a little wooden guy to stick in your table or the outside benches.
Marché Artisan Foods
Marché Artisan Foods was recommended to me by about each and every local I had asked: the nurse practitioner, the pharmacist, the waitress over at Burger Up, and nearly everyone on Yelp. We made the mistake of going to this Euro-inspired organic restaurant on a Saturday at 11:30am with no reservations – so we never made it inside, but if you find yourself in Nashville, I’ve heard great things about their gruyère cheese grits. Or maybe that’s just a typical Southern thing to say.
Now we get to the recommendations from a local CouchSurfer. Right around the corner from Marché (literally a few minutes walk), you’ll find a strip of cool bars along Woodland Street. Even the CouchSurfer woman said this,
“Go to “5 points” in East Nashville, a 5 point intersection with bars and venues and shops and musicians everywhere. Check out any bar like 3 Crow, Red Door. There’s a cool spot called The Treehouse too where people jam out and it is a legit treehouse above a restaurant/bar.”
On the Northern side of East Nashville, you’ll pass by Oprah’s old high school – which literally has a sign telling that fact (the only reason I was aware of it) – and then you’ll find McFerrin Avenue, another strip of cool bars and restaurants.
Mas Tacos is one of those places where you can kick open the front door, order your quinoa sweet potato taco for $3, and sit out on the back patio. Where else have I ever been able to get a quinoa sweet potato taco? There’s that and just anything to remind me of my month of studying Spanish in Mexico and I’m there.
Friendly Nashvillians who wanted their picture taken. Sup ladies?
When in Nashville, The Pharmacy should be your go-to for all things burgers and beer. It’s located right across the street from Mas Tacos, so you could even do your Corona there and your local craft beer and sit out in the Biergarten. The tater tots and Farm Burger seem to always be a winner here, from my personal experience and from scouring the 800+ Yelp reviews.
Hip Zipper is, again, right near everything else – mainly Marché and Five Points – but still walkable from Nashville Biscuit House or even the two Northern spots, Mas Tacos and Pharmacy. I don’t know why, but I personally keep calling this place “Hot Zipper” – I even had to retype the title just now; not sure what that says about my experience here.
Once inside, it’s your typical vintage, kitsch-style thrift store. Although I didn’t buy much, I did sit on their fancy green couch and read the Nashville Scene independent newspaper.
East Nashville is clearly an emerging hipster hotbed in the middle of Tennessee. What spots do you recommend?