tcr's Guide to Nashville

A non-definitive, Ever-changing compendium of can’t-miss eats, drinks, shops, sites and sounds


EAT & DRINK

mas tacos

mas tacos

MAS TACOS. Step up to the carry-out window and order up a bowl of chicken tortilla soup and one (or more) of Teresa Mason’s tacos on the side (I live for the avocado and pulled pork). Those little cradles of goodness are easily the best three dollars you’ll spend all week. Ridiculously addictive. Note that Mas only takes cash; there's an ATM on the premises for those who come with light wallets. (East Nashville) 

Crema

Crema

CREMA. Despite all the caffeine being doled out, the vibe at Crema is consistently cool and calm. Owners Ben and Rachel Lehman run a tight ship, at both their flagship and their newly redecorated spot inside Pinewood Social. The former also hosts coffee-centric educational programs that consistently sell out. (Downtown)

little octopus

little octopus

LITTLE OCTOPUS. Between this sexy lunch, brunch and dinner joint and Otaku Ramen, both in the Gulch, Sarah and Brad Gavigan have built a little Nashville food empire in just a few years. The best way to tackle LO’s internationally influenced tapas-style menu is by ordering a bunch of dishes to share, ensuring that you get to experience as many flavors as possible. (Gulch)

Barista Parlor

Barista Parlor

BARISTA PARLOR. There are three Barista Parlors in town, each space more vibrant than the last, thanks to the creative collaboration by BP owner Andy Mumma and his buddy, artist Bryce McCloud, with the décor in each representing a different form of travel: on sea (East Nashville), air (The Gulch, which includes a roaster – an exciting new addition) and land (Germantown). 

Rolf & Daughters

Rolf & Daughters

ROLF & DAUGHTERS. This North Nashville restaurant has gotten big love from just about every food publication of note, and for good reason. Chef Phillip Krajeck’s menu reads as both inventive and familiar at the same time (the pastas are the stuff that carb-loading dreams are made of). RAD frequently hosts events with visiting chefs. (Germantown)

Bastion / photo: Nashville Guru

Bastion / photo: Nashville Guru

BASTION. Another Josh Habiger/Strategic Hospitality joint, this casual bar is playful and laid back without being sloppy. There are bleachers built into the walls, lo-fi bar games, shots and frozen drinks on the menu, and a kitchen that serves only (incredible) nachos - in short, a 180 from the environment these guys created at Catbird Seat across town. (Wedgewood Houston)

Henrietta Red

Henrietta Red

HENRIETTA RED. Nashville is on an oyster kick lately - and Chef Julia Sullivan's lovely news Germantown digs are home to some of the best in town. (Order the ones doused in green curry. You're welcome.) The space is beautiful and welcoming - at once airy and intimate, shadowy and bright. And friendly, too: I'm looking forward to tucking into a meal at the bar solo soon.  (Germantown)

Margot

Margot

MARGOT. A decade before Nashville became an international foodie destination, chef Margot McCormack was here, doing her brilliant Mediterranean bistro thing in East Nashville’s Five Points. Sunday brunches are especially packed; if you don't remember to call ahead for a rezzie, get there at 11 AM sharp to score a table or seat at the bar. (East Nashville)

Josephine

Josephine

JOSEPHINE.  Yes, it's a real cluster to get in and out of the 12th Avenue South area. But a meal at Josephine is most definitely worth a few frazzled nerves. Chef Andrew Little's menu is elegant but satisfying, with comfort dishes like steak and spaetzel, as well as some amazing vegetables (the Brussels sprouts are insane). It's really great for weekend brunch.  (12South)

PINEWOOD SOCIAL

PINEWOOD SOCIAL

PINEWOOD SOCIAL. Come for the food – chef Josh Habiger’s menu is filled with new takes on old-fashioned comfort food (the burger = beyond) – and stay for the bowling. There are six lanes in the back of this expansive hang out, as well as a karaoke bar and wading pools outside. Despite the delightful distractions, it’s a great place to have a casual meeting. (Downtown)

city house / Photo: Andrea Behrends

city house / Photo: Andrea Behrends

CITY HOUSE. Request a stool at the counter in front of the kitchen to supervise chef Tandy Wilson’s crew as they crack a fresh egg in the middle of your pork belly pizza before sliding it into the enormous fire oven. Or get a table and tuck in for CH's beloved Sunday Supper, when each week the kitchen goes rogue and ditches the regular menu in favor of a list of delicious one-offs, including a whole section devoted to pork treats. (Germantown)

Photo: PRB

Photo: PRB

PORTER ROAD BUTCHER .  The best butchers in town dwell behind the counter at this Gallatin Road space. Everything is fresh and locally sourced. The team is highly-collaborative, and always happy to give feedback on menu and preparation. My go-to when I need to impress company. (East Nashville)


SEE & HEAR

THIRD MAN RECORDS

THIRD MAN RECORDS

THIRD MAN RECORDS.  Jack White fans will be in hog heaven in the shop of this primary-colored rock clubhouse, which also features a company distribution center and public performance space (TMR offices in the back are off-limites). Don’t leave without buying a single from the in-house lable, which has recorded everyone from Courtney Barnett to Tom Jones, not to mention the Insane Clown Posse. (Pie Town)

ROBERT'S WESTERN WORLD

ROBERT'S WESTERN WORLD

ROBERT’S WESTERN WORLD. This Lower Broadway institution is open during the day, but it really comes alive at night, when the PBR is as cheap and cold and as the crowd is sweaty and hot. And yes, ordering a fried bologna sandwich at 2 am is always a good idea. (Lower Broadway)

THE RYMAN

THE RYMAN

THE RYMAN AUDITORIUM. Dolly Parton. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. REM. Gillian Welch. The National. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy performances by them all seated in the wooden pews of the Mother Church of Country Music. And yes, the acoustics really are as awesome as folks say they are. (Downtown)

grimey's/ Photo: Doyle Davis

grimey's/ Photo: Doyle Davis

GRIMEY’S / THE BASEMENT. Grimey’s is the OG of local record stores. It's a popular spot for touring bands to hold intimate in-store performances prior to gigs (that's Margo Price's spring '16 appearance above) at much larger venues or even downstairs in The Basement, a small, low-ceilinged rock club with a new-ish sister space in East Nashville. (8th Avenue South)

THE FRIST center for the visual arts

THE FRIST center for the visual arts

FRIST CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS. Nashville’s preeminent art museum is known for hosting a rotating cast of world-class international exhibits, including some blockbuster fashion and vintage car shows. Get a taste of the local scene with a visit to the Wedgewood Houston district, where galleries like David Lusk and Zeitgeist have lovely spaces. (The Gulch)

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAMe / Photo: CVC

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAMe / Photo: CVC

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME. If you love country music, you’ll never want to leave. But even those who don’t are bound to dig the CMHOF, home to such iconic visual delights as Gram Parsons’ infamous Nudie suit, embroidered with pills, pot leaves and naked ladies - you know, necessities. (Downtown)


SHOP & STAY

WILDER

WILDER

WILDER. The aesthetic topography of Nashville was changed notably with the 2014 arrival of Josh and Ivy Elrod, a pair of New York creative, now based here, in Josh’s hometown. Come for contemporary homeware, fragrances, custom furniture, art and textiles (including pillows by Electra Eggleston) – and stay for one of the couple’s great parties. Featured on The Callaway Report. (Germantown)

TWO SON

TWO SON

TWO SON. Two creative couples with four sons between them (and a few daughters, too) came up with the concept for this multi-brand boutique, which also features its own in-house collection of basics. Come for men’s wear, women’s wear and home goods, all with a chic, minimalist appeal. (East Nashville)

HERMITAGE HOTEL

HERMITAGE HOTEL

THE HERMITAGE. Elegance, thy name is Hermitage, the overnight choice for VIPs and other luxury-driven folks. Even if you’re not booked in one of the rooms, you can get a great feel of the place having dinner at the Capital Grille or a bourbon at the famed Oak Bar. Hit the men’s room on the way out. Trust us. (Downtown)

HIGH GARDEN

HIGH GARDEN

HIGH GARDEN. You can buy pre-mixed tea bags sold in hand-lettered brown paper bags or have the team mix up something for what ails you. If you need any proof that the brews and tinctures here work, just take a look at owners Joel and Leah Larabell’s glowing skin and sparkling eyes. (East Nashville)

 

HEY ROOSTER

HEY ROOSTER

HEY ROOSTER. Courtney Webb provides east-siders with beloved home provisions they never knew they couldn’t live without. Especially appealing: artisan pantry and apothecary provisions from near (Handy Dandy, Golden Apothecary) and far (Brooklyn’s Claudia Pearson, Austin’s Wildsam). (East Nashville)

URBAN COWBOY

URBAN COWBOY

URBAN COWBOY. Save for some killer AirBnBs, East Nashville has long suffered from a dearth of charming overnight accommodations. Enter UC, the southern outpost of the popular Brooklyn b&b, located in a stately Queen Anne manse conveniently kitty-corner from the fabulous Lockland Table. Owner Lyon Porter aims to open in early March. (East Nashville)

I+W

I+W

IMOGENE + WILLIE. The popular scope of Nashville’s fashion offerings stopped at Western boots and cowboy hats before this denim company came to town five years ago. Go to the flagship for terrific blue jeans as well as legendary backyard parties featuring excellent live music: more than one Grammy winner has played Supper & Song. (12South)

HIGH CLASS HILLBILLY

HIGH CLASS HILLBILLY

HIGH CLASS HILLBILLY. Nikki Lane, Americana’s most fetching chanteuse, spends free time on tour hitting up antique stores for vintage scores. Her taste is distinctive – and right on target for anyone looking to add fringed and  spangled Western wear or a perfectly worn-in moto jacket to their closet arsenal.  (Inglewood)

Photo: Emil Erwin

Photo: Emil Erwin

BUCHANAN STREET. Nashville’s most vibrant new shopping destination, Buchanan is the retail home of native brands including Emil Erwin, Otis James, Nisolo and Salemtown Board Company. Also there: the studios of Annie Williams, Sonadora, Golden Apothecary and Camellia Fiber Company, which welcome visitors by appointment or chance. (North Nashville)

THE 404 HOTEL

THE 404 HOTEL

THE 404 HOTEL. There are five immaculately appointed rooms here, each with 22-foot ceilings and sweeping white walls graced with the photography of local artist Caroline Allison. “Invisible service” means you don’t have to see anyone unless you want to. Have dinner at The 404 Kitchen, home of chef Matt Bolus. (The Gulch)


MAKERS & DOERS 

Otis James

Otis James

OTIS JAMES. In 2010, Otis James started sewing ties out of a shed in his East Nashville backyard; they were a hit, locally and, after he won Garden & Gun's 2011 Made in the South award, nationally. Today, Otis has expanded his offerings to include caps, handkerchiefs and other small woven goods, which he makes individually in his North Nashville storefront. (www.otisjames.com

HAN STARNES / Photo: Laura Dart

HAN STARNES / Photo: Laura Dart

HAN STARNES. There is nothing fussy about designer Han Starnes' wonderful women's wear, sewn from specially-made textiles and hand-knits. Last year, Han moved from a shared work space in Germantown to a backyard studio at her home in East Nashville. There, she and a small team fill orders for an international roster of small boutiques and an online clientele who look to her for comfortable, chic separates that are designed to last a very long time. (www.hanstarnes.com

Emil erwin

Emil erwin

EMIL ERWINEmil Erwin is not a person. Emil Congdon, however, is. He and his wife Leslie run this high-end leather goods company, which came to national attention  when it nabbed G&G's Made in the South award in 2010, the same year the company's collaboration with Imogene + Willie hit J. Crew stores. Today, Emil produces his bags, belts and home goods out of a white, minimalist studio/boutique in North Nashville. (www.emilerwin.com 

elizabeth suzann

elizabeth suzann

ELIZABETH SUZANN. Just three years ago, Elizabeth Pape was sewing her sophisticated women's wear, made from high-quality all-natural fabrics like silk and line, out of her guest bedroom. Today, she has a staff of 15 that operates out of a 10,000-square-foot production studio/showroom in South Nashville and has a worldwide following. The company is undisputedly one of local fashion's great success stories. (www.elizabethsuzann.com

J+TJ

J+TJ

JAMIE + THE JONES. TCR has a soft spot for Jamie Frazier and Hannah Jones, the two BFFs who started J+TJ when they were seniors at O'More College of Design - the same year that the two longhaired lovelies did their joint internship with us. Their designs are notable for being tactile and, in many cases, hand-marbled. Their Nashville-made separates are sold locally in East Nashville at Sisters of Nature and Two Son.  (www.jamieandthejones.com

Isle of printing

Isle of printing

ISLE OF PRINTING. Artist Bryce McCloud is a beloved and respected pillar of the local creative community — and not only because he's a kick-ass artist with a seemingly endless amount of energy and a limitless imagination. The love folks have for him and his team at Isle of Printing comes from their choice to pursue projects that encourage communication and stir compassion. (See: the Our Town project.) He's currently in the process of adding a retail component to his studio in Pie Town (a name he coined); it should open this summer. (www.isleofprinting.com)