East Nashville plays its own unique tune

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Travis Loller

NASHVILLE — A trip to Nashville wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a visit to the honky-tonks of lower Broad­way and a pil­grim­age to the “mother church of coun­try mu­sic,” the Ry­man Au­di­to­rium, but once you’ve hit those, con­sider a trip across the river to Nashville’s hippest neigh­bour­hood.

East Nashville started out as sep­a­rate city of coun­try es­tates, en­joy­ing a post-Civil War boom in the 1870s and 1880s, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal his­to­rian and East Nashville res­i­dent Jim Hoobler. Be­gin­ning in 1916, a huge fire, the Great De­pres­sion and flight to the sub­urbs took their toll. Restora­tion of the area’s many Vic­to­rian homes and bun­ga­lows be­gan in the 1970s and has helped turn it into one of the city’s most de­sir­able neigh­bour­hoods.

To­day, vis­i­tors can eas­ily spend a day or more sampling East Nashville’s bou­tiques, restau­rants, brew pubs and clubs. There are too many fun spots to list them all, but a good place to start is the pedes­trian-friendly Five Points neigh­bour­hood.

Here, Marche Ar­ti­san Foods (1000 Main St.) serves up a Euro­pean-style sea­sonal menu in a sunny room that is al­ways packed. In ad­di­tion to sit­down meals, Marche sells baked goods and lo­cally sourced pack­aged food. Chef Mar­got McCor­mack has an­other popular restau­rant nearby, Mar­got Café and Bar (1017 Wood­land St.), which serves rustic French and Ital­ian cui­sine for din­ner and Sun­day brunch. Reser­va­tions can be hard to get, but some­times there’s room at the bar.

A cheaper, hum­bler meal can be found at I Dream of Wee­nie (113 S. 11th St.), a hot­dog restau­rant run out of an old Volk­swa­gen bus. Across the street is the Pied Piper Cream­ery (114 S. 11th St.), where a sig­na­ture flavour is Trailer Trash— vanilla ice cream with Oreo, Twix, But­terfin­ger, Nestle Crunch, Snick­ers, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces.

New York-style Five Points Pizza (1012 Wood­land St.) of­fers a good se­lec­tion of lo­cal and re­gional craft beers.

For shop­ping, a row of tiny bou­tiques called the Idea Hatch­ery (1108 Wood­land St.) in­cludes ev­ery­thing from an all-lo­cal book­store (East Side Story) to a gourmet oat­meal shop (Haulin’ Oats) with lots of vin­tage and kitsch in be­tween.

An­other clus­ter of bou­tiques, the Shoppes on Fa­ther­land (1006 Fa­ther­land St.), is within walk­ing dis­tance. Or rent a bi­cy­cle for the trip from the nearby Nashville B-cy­cle sta­tion (109 S. 11th St.). Ba­sic rentals are $5 for the first hour, $1.50 each ad­di­tional half-hour.

Don’t miss Jones Fly Co., where work­ers tie feath­ers and an­i­mal hair around tiny hooks, mak­ing mock bug lures that an­glers use to fool fish.

For a mo­ment of calm, visit High Gar­den, sell­ing both tra­di­tional teas and herbal in­fu­sions with names like “over­worked,” “war­rior blend” and “air­way to heaven.” Take a bag to go or share a pot with a friend in the small seat­ing area. There’s a se­lec­tion of books and games for the ta­bles, but lap­tops are not al­lowed. Yes, you read that cor­rectly.

“This is not a place to es­cape, it’s a place to be,” co-owner Leah Lara­bell ex­plains.

Six blocks away is Olive and Sin­clair Choco­late Co. (1628 Fa­ther­land St.), where Scott Witherow roasts, stone-grinds and sells what he calls “South­ern ar­ti­san choco­late.” If it’s a Satur­day, you can tour the fac­tory for $5, in­clud­ing your very own hair­net.

At Barista Par­lor (519 B Gal­latin Ave.), the cof­fees have com­pli­cated back sto­ries and can be served cold with mix­ers that make them feel more like cock­tails. Food in­cludes in­ven­tive house-made “Pop’s Tarts,” dough­nuts and mac­a­roons.

Mas Tacos Por Fa­vor (732 Mcfer­rin Ave.), an east­side lunchtime favourite, serves great Mex­i­can street food and aguas fres­cas.

Af­ter all that food, burn a few calo­ries by check­ing out a free bike from Shelby Bot­toms Na­ture Cen­ter (1900 David­son St.) and rid­ing the 950-acre Shelby Bot­toms Park’s green­way next to the Cum­ber­land River. The ad­join­ing Shelby Park of­fers an­other 336 acres com­plete with nine- and 18-hole golf cour­ses.

Or travel west along the river to Cum­ber­land Park. Just a walk­ing-bridge away from down­town, this kid-friendly spot in­cludes a “spray­ground” where jets of wa­ter of­fer re­lief on hot sum­mer days.

If You Go...

MARK HUMPHREY / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

The Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, Tenn. The store, which con­tains hard to find record­ings and also

fea­tures live shows, is lo­cated on lower Broad­way, the home of honky tonks and street mu­si­cians.

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