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Nashville itineraries

Country music is three chords and the truth.
– Harlan Howard

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A Few Days In

The Best of East Nashville

by Anna Watson Carl

East Nashville, the edgy, up-and-coming area east of the Cumberland River, is buzzing with cool eateries (and shops and galleries). Here are a few of the favorite local spots.

Best B&B: The Big Bungalow, a cozy B&B in historic Edgefield with three guest rooms (book the Valentine's suite with an in-room tub) and a full Southern breakfast (grits, bacon, Elvis French toast). An added perk for music-lovers: Ellen hosts regular jam-sessions with local musicians in her living room. A true Nashville experience.

Best Coffee Shop for People Watching: Bongo East, the spot to spy on musicians, writers, and artists hanging out (laptop not necessary) with a cup of locally roasted Bongo Java coffee. 

Best Brunch: Marche, a casual European-style bakery and cafe from farm-to-table pioneer Margot McCormick, always has at least an hour wait for brunch (for good reason: the food's incredible). Though you'll always find the croissant French toast, and French presses filled with locally roasted Drew's Brews coffee, the rest of the menu changes seasonally.

Best Art Gallery: Art and Invention Gallery, home to exhibitions, art workshops, and the annual Tomato Art Fest (voted Nashville's #1 festival)

Best Shop for Gifts: Alegria, for all sorts of funky accessories, jewelry, bags, and handmade leather items.

Best Vintage Shop: Hip Zipper Vintage, it's a wardrobe stylist's dream, with a huge selection of dresses, old denim, shoes, and accessories.

Best All-Around Shop: The Green Wagon, a cheery little general store that sells ecofriendly everything, from clothing to cleaning products to homemade apple pie.

Best Tacos: Mas Tacos Por Favor, the little food truck is now a rustic taco shop serving super-fresh Oaxaca-style tacos, grilled corn, soup, and agua frescas (including hibiscus, watermelon, and pineapple-cilantro). Go on Fridays for fantastic fish tacos.

Best Meal:
Margot Cafe & Bar and Eastland Cafe (tied)
Margot Cafe & Bar: Daily-changing Provencal menu, just-picked veggies from the restaurant's own garden, fantastic wine list, and some of the best desserts in town.  Snag a seat on the second floor for the best views.
Eastland Cafe: Eclectic, nouveau American menu (largely sourced locally), big comfy booths, beautiful outdoor patio, fun bar scene.  Come early for the special $5 food and drink menu.
Both: Don't forget to make a reservation!

Best Vegan Food: The Wild Cow. East Nashville's vegetarians and vegans rejoiced when they finally got a restaurant of their own in 2009.  The cozy eatery has now expanded to include a gluten free menu as well.

Best Cocktails: Holland House Bar & Refuge, the sister to West Nashville's speakeasy Patterson House, where old-fashioned cocktails are poured next to original creations like the Paloma (tequila reposado, lime, rosemary-infused agave, and house-made grapefruit soda). You will not go hungry here, as there's a menu of locally raised meats and farm-fresh produce, as well as homemade charcuterie (like Tennessee Pate and duck rillettes).

Best Wine Bar: Rumours East, an eclectic wine bar and art gallery with rotating exhibits from local arts. Sip and swill as you please (there are 24 wines by the glass), then head to the beautiful back garden patio.

Best Wine Shop: 
Woodland Wine Merchant, a beautifully curated wine shop offers a unique selection of wines — mostly from small producers and organic wineries — and a top-notch staff to help guide you to just the right bottle.

Best Bar to Meet the Locals: 3 Crow Bar. Whether you want to play a game of darts, do shots of Jack Daniel's, watch the football game on TV, or hang out on the patio with a local Yazoo brew, you won't find a friendlier bar in the neighborhood.

Best Live Music: Family Wash, housed in a former laundromat, this popular bar is packed on Tuesdays for their popular $10 Pie & Pint deal. Local bands perform nightly. 

Best Foodie Items: Drew's Brews hand-roasted coffee (sold at spots all over town), and bean-to-bar chocolate makers Olive & Sinclair

Best Buzzy Newcomer: Boutique Burger Bar,for locally-sourced, grass-fed mini burgers.

See the locations for this trip. (Gmap)

About the author: Anna is the author of She lives with her husband and two cats in Manhattan. She travels for the culinary inspiration.

Anna is the author of You can follow her on Twitter at @theyellowtable. She lives with her husband and two cats in Manhattan. She travels for the culinary inspiration.

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