East Nashville, the edgy, up-and-coming area east of the Cumberland River, is buzzing with cool eateries (and shops and galleries). FATHOM contributor (and local southern belle) Anna Watson Carl reveals the best spots in the neighborhood:
Best B&B: The Big Bungalow, a cozy B&B in historic Edgefield with 3 guest rooms (book the Valentine's suite with an in-room tub) and a full Southern breakfast (grits, bacon, and 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
This is 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 Artisan Foods, the casual European-style bakery and cafe from East Nashville farm-to-table pioneer Margot McCormick, always has at least an hour's wait for brunch, and for good reason: the food's incredible. Though you'll always find croissant French toast on the menu, and locally roasted Drew's Brews coffee in individual French presses, the rest of the menu changes seasonally.
Best Art Gallery: Art and Invention Gallery, home to art workshops, exhibitions, and the annual Tomato Art Fest (voted Nashville's number one festival).
Best Shop for Gifts: Alegria sells 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 sells ecofriendly everything, from clothing to cleaning products to homemade apple pie.
Best Tacos: Mas Tacos Por Favor
Formerly housed in a truck, this tiny taco shop serves 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 Cocktails: Holland House Bar & Refuge
Sister to West Nashville's speakeasy Patterson House, Holland House serves up good old-fashioned cocktails, as well as original creations like the "Paloma" (tequila reposado, lime, rosemary-infused agave, and house-made grapefruit soda). No worries about going hungry -- the menu features locally raised meats and farm-fresh produce, as well as homemade charcuterie ("Tennessee Pate" and duck rillettes).
Wine Bar: Rumours East
Sip and swill at this bar-cum-gallery for local art. Then move to the beautiful back garden.
Best Meal: (tied) Margot Cafe & Bar and Eastland Cafe
Margot Cafe & Bar: The Provencal menu changes daily, but features just-picked veggies from the restaurant's own garden, a fantastic wine list, and some of the best desserts in town. Snag a seat on the second floor for the best views.
Eastland Cafe: The menu's eclectic, nouveau American (largely sourced locally). The space has big comfy booths, an outdoor patio, and fun bar scene. Go early for the special $5 food and drink menu.
Both: Don't forget to make a reservation!
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 due to their popular $10 Pie & Pint deal. Local bands perform nightly.
Best Vegetarian 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 expanded to include a gluten free menu as well.
Best Wine Shop: Woodland Wine Merchant
This beautifully curated wine shop offers a unique selection of wines from small producers and organic wineries. They also have a top-notch staff to help guide you to just the right bottle.
Best Buzzy Newcomer: Boutique Burger Bar (locally-sourced, grass-fed mini burgers).
Photo: Jeralyn Gerba. Inside Mas Tacos Por Favor