Ten years ago, the locals will tell you, East Nashville was “the other side of the tracks.” Burdened by economic disparity, the city of Nashville was still largely segregated by class, and there seemed to be little hope for the low-income neighbourhoods on the eastern side of the Cumberland River. Today, progressive and eco-conscious gentrification has turned East Nashville into the coolest place for young professionals.
Known for its bohemian vibe and diverse artistic community, East Nashville is an area technically comprised of three sub-neighbourhoods. The East End is characterized by its Victorian residential homes, while Edgefield draws urban developers intrigued by the area’s history, and Lockeland Springs is arguably the best place in the south to eat a delicious farm-to-table meal.
In general, Nashville is a great town with a lot to offer. Even with Music City’s iconic history and booming cultural influence, it maintains an impressively laidback feel. If you step off the beaten track and avoid the touristic destinations, you’ll likely find the locals friendly and inviting.
Despite the high population of A-listers who call this town home, it’s rare to see any celebrity being hounded; in Nashville, your Uber driver might have co-written with your favourite country musician the night before. And if you only have one weekend to get the true Nashville experience, you’ll want to head east of the river.
There is no better neighbourhood than East Nash, perhaps nationwide; it recently ranked in the top coolest neighbourhoods in America, above Brooklyn. Here are some places you won’t want to miss.
Urban Cowboy Public House
The Urban Cowboy B&B has received a great deal of attention for its boutique feel and luxurious amenities, but even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can sip on craft cocktails and dine on gourmet seasonal offerings at the Public House bar and restaurant.
Located in Lockeland Springs, directly around the back of the converted Victorian-style bed and breakfast, the Public House is known for its relaxed ambience and provides a great place to kickstart your evening with pre-dinner drinks.
In many ways the Public House is the upscale answer to the traditional southern dive bar, with its rustic decor and barn-like slanted roof providing a safe and cozy environment to enjoy drinks and quick eats with your friends.
In the summer, the patio draws a massive crowd most nights. In the colder months, guests gather around a fire pit. The menu changes daily and seating is limited. Arrive early and be sure to try the old-fashioned; they do it with a splash of cognac.
Star Struck Vintage
Hidden away in an unconventional location near Gallatin and Eastland Avenues, this thrift store is a bit hard to find at first, but once you track it down, you’ll be glad you did. Just look for the white building with the mural and the Spanish roof.
A favourite stop of touring celebrities, Star Struck lives up to its name. It’s not difficult to see why it grabs the attention of locals and tourists alike — this place is stocked full of vintage concert tees, dresses from the 1920s to the 1980s, and stunning leather jackets in mint condition.
Star Struck, predictably, tends to get pretty busy, but glancing through the racks of this chaotic little shop is like a never-ending treasure hunt and you can easily lose hours in here. You’re almost guaranteed to find something that suits your authentic and original style to take home with you.
Five Points Pizza
Ask anyone in the know and they’ll tell you where to find the best pizza in East Nashville. Five Points is a fast-paced New York-style pizza joint that has reached almost legendary status among pizza lovers.
Whether you’re a purist who only likes pepperoni and cheese or you’re a little more on the daring side, Five Points’ menu includes daily specials alongside traditional staples, including plain cheese pizza.
If you’re a New Yorker, you know that the mark of a great pizza place is its ability to make a plain cheese pie a delicacy, and Five Points delivers in that regard. The garlic knots are also insanely popular, thanks to the perfect ratio of olive oil and pecorino romano.
A consistent fan favourite is the pesto pizza, which includes fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, red onion, and homemade pesto. As you might expect in an East Nashville restaurant, there are a few vegan options on the menu. For dessert, try the chocolate chip cannoli.