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One of the wonderful things about Nashville is the many neighborhoods and shopping enclaves scattered throughout the city. This article will help you find some places off the beaten tourist path.
Locations of neighborhoods in this article can now be found at Google Maps (via TinyUrl): http://tinyurl.com/54q56c
Hillsboro Village is an enclave of cool little shops, restaurants, and bars set among the tree-lined streets adjacent to the campuses of both Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. The area is very pedestrian friendly, and frequented by both locals and college students.
Along the main drag of 21st Ave. you can find eclectic home furnishings at Fire & Finch, and Pangea, used and new books at BookMan and BookWoman, kitchen gadgets and an incredible selection of loose-leaf teas at Davis Cookware, and hip clothes at Posh Boutique.
There are numerous bar and dining options in this neighborhood, ranging from smoke-filled dives (the Villager Tavern), to fancy cocktail bars (Cabana). Some favorites of locals include Jacksons Bar & Bistro, McDougal’s Village Coop, Tayst, and Sunset Grill. Great coffee is available from both Fido and Bongo Java. On the weekend, the line outside Pancake Pantry stretches around the block, but moves quickly (members of the Nashville forum here on Tripadvisor report semi-regular celebrity sightings at the Pancake Pantry!).
There is little live music in Hillsboro Village, however, the historic Belcourt Theater hosts better-known acts, as well as being Nashville’s haven for indie cinema and art films.
This neighborhood is located along Woodland Street east of the Cumberland River and marks the heart of super-hip East Nashville, where the historic neighborhoods are in the midst of a renaissance. Within a small, walkable distance are some great local businesses and stores. The greater 5 Points Merchants Association maintains a website with maps and business listings.
Favorite stops of East Nashvillians include neighborhood bars such as the 3 Crow Bar, Beyond the Edge, Red Door East, Lipstick Lounge, Calypso Café, Mad Donnas, and The 5 Spot. Great restaurants include Marche Artisan Food, Cafe Margot (regularly voted one of the best restaurants in Nashville), I Dream of Weenie (gourmet hot dogs), Batter'd and Fried, homemade ice cream at Pied Piper Creamery, coffee at Bongo Java Roasting Co., and healthy treats at the Turnip Truck Natural Market.
Five Points is also just a 2-block walk from the Shoppes on Fatherland, which include additional restaurants and shopping.
Each year in July East Nashville hosts the Hot Chicken Festival, and in August, the 5-points neighborhood is home to the Tomato Art Fest. Tomato Fest was named Nashville's "Best Neighborhood Event" in 2005, and has attracted widespread attention for its celebration of the tomato ("a uniter, not a divider - bringing together fruits and vegetables").
Edgehill Village is a fairly new introduction to neighborhood shopping in Nashville. The focus of this neighborhood development is the old White Way Laundry building, which has been renovated into a collection of shops, cafes, and condos. Edgehill Village is within walking distance of the Vanderbilt Campus and Music Row area.
The Gulch consists of a low-lying area along 11th and 12th Ave. South southwest of downtown and just inside the I-40 corridor. Over the last several years, an assortment of beautiful modern condo buildings have broken ground in the Gulch, including Velocity, Mercury View Lofts, Icon, and Terrazzo. Many of these are still under development, and include spaces for business and restaurants.
The gulch is home to two excellent live music venues. The venerable Station Inn is the home of acoustic bluegrass. Across the street, City Hall is a space that hosts mid- to large-draw rock bands. Visitors to the Gulch can also enjoy fine dining at RuSan’s Sushi, Watermark, and Sambuca, hang out at the trendy Bar Twenty3, and enjoy a spa treatment at Adagio Massage Co. Just around the corner are taprooms for enjoying local beers at Jackalope Brewing Company and Yazoo Brewing Company.
Elliston Place extends between Church St. and West End Ave. east of Centennial Park and north of the Vanderbilt campus. It is home to a number of restaurants, stores, and bars, many of which cater to the college crowd.
Perhaps the best-known establishment on Elliston Place is the Exit/Inn, one of Nashville’s premier and long-standing live music venues. The Exit/Inn has been open since the 1970’s, and during that time has hosted a parade of bands ranging from Bill Monroe to G.W.A.R. More nightlife can be found at hole-in-the-wall bars along Elliston including the Gold Rush, the Corner Bar, and Aladdin’s Hookah Bar.
Small restaurants along this street include the Elliston Place Soda Shop and Samurai Sushi. For those seeking pizza or Italian food, Obie’s Pizza, Tangredi’s Italian Kitchen, and Michelangelo’s Pizza are available. Café Coco, located on Louise Ave., is one of the few coffee shops and restaurants in Nashville open 24-hours. The eastern end of Elliston Place is anchored by a large Krispy Kreme doughnuts, where you can watch the treats move along a conveyor belt as they are fried and glazed. The opposite (western) end of the street is home to local restaurant favorites Calypso Café and Rotier’s (home to the city’s best cheeseburger?). For fine dining, the fabulous restaurant Ombi is located at the corner of Louise and Elliston. Jimmy Kelly’s, a local steakhouse tradition, is also located on Louise Ave.
Shopping options along Elliston include Smack Clothing, Elder’s Bookstore, and Flashback Vintage. Musicians can browse through the gear at Rock Block Guitars (“The Little Store that Roars”). If you’re in the mood for getting fit and pampered, the corner of Louise Ave. and Elliston is home to both the Hot Yoga studio and Natural Oasis day spa & salon.
West End Ave. in the vicinity of Centennial Park is also home to numerous restaurants and stores. Those establishments will be discussed under the West End section of this guide.