Food & Drink

19 Reasons to Cross the River: East Nashville’s Best Bars & Restaurants

Published On 10/27/2015 Published On 10/27/2015
Brita Britnell/ Thrillist

East Nashville. This city’s own Brooklyn. Home to the city's booming hipster population and refuge for all of the self-proclaimed foodies. It’s true that crossing the Cumberland can prove to be challenging at times (that is, when literally anything is happening at Nissan Stadium), but it’s worth it; after all, East Nashville wasn’t named one of the Best Food Neighborhoods in America for nothin’.

Pepperfire

1000 Gallatin Ave

It should come as no surprise to you that we start our list out with some good ol’ Nashville Hot Chicken. There are, in fact, several places to get good hot chicken in East Nashville but Pepperfire is hands down the winner. Its hot chicken is served just like it should be: extra spicy, on top of a piece of white bread with pickles. For all you wusses out there, they do serve a mild version of their chicken called “Southernfied.” (And for the non-wusses: you can get the XX Hot! chicken. But don’t be a hero, try the regular stuff first.)

Brita Britnell/ Thrillist

Sky Blue Cafe

700 Fatherland St

Easily one of best spots for brunch in the whole city, Sky Blue’s banana- and Nutella-stuffed french toast pancakes are worth a trip across the river alone. The cafe itself is small, with rather limited seating, but the inevitable wait pays off.

Two Ten Jack

Two Ten Jack

1900 Eastland Ave

We’re particularly keen on Two Ten Jack’s ramen dishes, but truthfully their entire menu is pretty solid. This Japanese-inspired neighborhood pub serves lovely sushi, authentic ramen, and delicious yakitori. Sometimes it can be hard to get a seat on the weekends so we recommend making a reservation well ahead of time.

The Pharmacy

The Pharmacy

731 Mcferrin Ave

The Pharmacy is always on the shortlist for the best burger in town. We’re just here to say that they have the best burger in East Nashville. One of their most popular numbers is the Farm Burger, which sees a Tennessee beef patty topped with country ham, applewood-smoked bacon, and a fried farm egg. As is the theme, the Pharmacy can have some hugely long wait times, but don’t forget that you can always look for a seat at the bar or grab a drink in the beer garden.

Mas Tacos

Mas Tacos

732 Mcferrin Ave

This street-style taco joint serves all the traditional varieties you could reasonably want, as well as pulled pork, tilapia, fried avocado, and even quinoa & sweet potato-filled tacos. And in the cooler months, their tortilla soup is tough to beat. While they’re open for lunch AND dinner during the week, Mas is only open for lunch on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Be warned.

Marché Artisan Foods

Marché Artisan Foods

1000 Main St

Marché is a European cafe meets southern comfort food. The atmosphere is bright and airy, and all of the staff is ridiculously friendly. They make a mean Bloody Mary, and one delicious bowl of cheddar grits. Their kitchen really prides itself in using seasonal and local ingredients, which means that their menu changes quite often.

Five Points Pizza

Five Points Pizza

1012 Woodland St

Five Points Pizza is the closest thing you can get to New York-style pizza in the Nashville area. Their crust is thin, flaky, and topped with some of the best house-made tomato sauce you’ll find. And while their pizza is truly amazing, the star of this pizza joint might actually be their garlic knots -- they’re so soft, cheesy, and plain delicious you’d be forgiven for making the trip just for them.

Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea

Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea

1886 Eastland Ave

If you’re looking for a cozy spot to get some work done, or are simply looking for a good cup of joe, Ugly Mugs is your place. This little coffee shop has a ton of coffees, lattes, and teas, as well as lots of different breakfast and lunch options. They bring in food from some excellent bakeries in Nashville, and for lunch you can get freshly made paninis and other cold sandwiches.

A Matter of Taste Eatery

AMOT Eatery: A Matter of Taste

1100 Fatherland St

This East Nashville eatery has gained lots of praise recently for its all-gluten-free menu which, much to our delight, actually tastes good. It serves everything from sandwiches, to nachos, to pizza, and has a phenomenal weekend brunch menu.

Treehouse

Treehouse

1011 Clearview Ave

The Treehouse gets its name from the literal treehouse that’s out back; it’s a fun little fort-like room built up into the tree with mismatched pieces of wood, and everything that childhood dreams are made of, plus one of the perks of being an adult: alcohol. Both the cocktails and the dinner menu are superb, but the actual treehouse is rather hard to get seated in, and you need to have at least 6 people in your party to have a shot.

The Wild Cow

The Wild Cow

1896 Eastland Ave

For all of our Vegan and Vegetarian friends, the Wild Cow has you covered. They have a truly amazing menu that’s been a favorite of locals for the past six years. Some of their dishes are so delectable that you would never even realize that they’re completely meatless.

Brent Hofaker/Shutterstock 

3 Crow Bar

1024 Woodland St

There’s always something going on at this bar, including their great trivia night every Thursday evening at 8pm. One of our favorite things about 3 Crow is the way in which they have managed to incorporate alcohol into so many of their delicious menu items, such as the beer cheese nachos, hot wings marinated in Yazoo beer, the kickin’ tenders marinated in tequila, and PBR-battered onion rings. They also happen to serve one of the best bushwackers in all of Nashville.

Village Pub & Beer Garden

Village Pub & Beer Garden

1308 McGavock Pike

This warm little bar has the cozy vibe of a small town English pub. They pride themselves in serving mostly local craft beer, and they have suds from all of the good breweries throughout the city, but it would be a mistake to ignore the food -- after all, they serve something called a “stuffed pretzel sandwich” which is easily one of the best sandwiches in Nashville. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: a giant pretzel bun cut in half and stuffed with meat and veggies.

Brita Britnell/ Thrillist

The Crying Wolf

823 Woodland St

Apart from being achingly cool, Wolf has a beautiful little patio area, as well as indoor seating that’s dimly lit, relaxed, and intimate. Their menu is also worth noting: lots of delicious burger options to choose from and chili tots that will blow you away.

Holland House Bar & Refuge

Holland House Bar & Refuge

935 W Eastland Ave

Dimly lit and surrounded by crystal chandeliers, the Holland House was named as one of the most romantic restaurants in America. Their outdoor patio, recently extended, is one of the most beautiful in Nashville, and is a great spot to enjoy one of their excellent house cocktails.

Brita Britnell/ Thrillist

Mad Donna’s

1313 Woodland St

Downstairs at MD’s is more of a casual dining spot, while the upstairs has the larger bar and often has live music playing. It’s especially popular for its weekend brunch menu, which includes two-for-one mimosas and a lifesaving build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.

No. 308

No 308

407 Gallatin Ave

Walking into No 308 is like walking into a bar that epitomizes everything you’ve ever heard about East Nashville. At any given time you’ll find local beer drinking hipsters sitting next to thriving musicians, while being tended to by barkeeps who all take their mixology a little too seriously. That said, it pays off: this is an absolute must-try spot for cocktails (one of the owners was named as one of the greatest bartenders in America this year), and although some of their drinks are on the pricey side (well over $10), they also have lots of cheaper options as well as “shared jars” which can easily be split with friends.

Brita Britnell/ Thrillist

Olive & Sinclair

1628 Fatherland St

Olive & Sinclair is an artisan chocolate shop and factory where they make all of their own stone-ground chocolate bars -- after eating them, you’ll wonder why people bother to grind their chocolate with anything else. On Saturdays only, you can tour the factory for $5, PLUS you get lots of free chocolate samples.

QDP

The 5 Spot

1006 Forrest Ave

Probably one of the most notorious bars in all of East Nashville, the 5 Spot was a popular hangout for locals looong before its feature on ABC’s Nashville. This bar is where EN residents go for some of the best, most down to earth, local music in the city.

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Brita Britnell is a proud resident of East Nashville who thinks it’s dangerous to have this many great places in your neighborhood. Follow her at @BBritnell.

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1. Pepperfire 2821 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216 (East Nashville)

Offering a great mix of flavors, like pepper and cumin, and a respectable level of heat, this East Nashville resto is beloved by locals, but it's not as known among the tourists coming to town in hopes of a hot chicken fix.

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2. Sky Blue Cafe 700 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This East Nashville eatery is a solid bet for a quality breakfast, with a myriad of options from the average bacon and eggs to more creative dishes like Stuffed French Toast Pancakes, not to mention a variety of coffees and more.

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3. Two Ten Jack 1900 Eastland Ave #105, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This East Nashville Japanese-inspired pub offers skewers, sushi, and kodawari ramen, and you can wash it all down with a craft beer, glass of wine, cocktail, or a few shots of sweet sake.

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4. The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden 731 McFerrin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This beer garden also boasts an old-school soda fountain, allowing you to hop between pilsner and egg creams all night long.

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5. Mas Tacos Por Favor 732 McFerrin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This East Nashville Mexican spot is a solid bet for all sorts of South-of-the-border goodness, from a wide selection of tacos to a variety of tasty soups and more.

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6. Marché Artisan Foods 1000 Main St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

Head to this cafe where you'll see a variety of different dishes for dinner (the menu changes monthly) and if you go in the morning, you'll see lines of hushed East Nashville residents wearing sunglasses (even when it’s cloudy) stretch out the door to get inside and sit down to a revitalizing brunch of inventive pastries, delicate crepes, or steak and eggs that will put a little lead back in your pencil. Thankfully, there’s also a wide variety of gourmet coffee drinks and international teas, plus wine and more.

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7. Five Points Pizza 1012 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

Five Points Pizza is the closest thing you can get to New York-style pizza in the Nashville area. The crust is thin, flaky, and topped with thick house-made tomato sauce. True to NY style, there are NO SUBSTITUTIONS allowed on those slices. The walk-up window at Five Points Pizza is perfect when you need some extra fuel to continue your crawl from bar to bar in East Nashville. But the unsung heroes are the garlic knots: soft, cheesy, and so damn good you’d be forgiven for making the trip just for them.

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8. Ugly Mugs Coffee and Tea 1886 Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

With locally-roasted coffee (Drew's Brews) and regular live events that support Music City artists, this casual cafe is perfect for catching up with friends or getting some work done.

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9. AMOT Eatery 1100 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

This East Nashville restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner inspired, of course, by Southern cuisine. Although the South has never been good at embracing the gluten-free lifestyle, AMOT Eatery made it happen with an entire menu full of fare like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits and (yes, really) red velvet crepes that you can chow down on without sweating over the calorie count — all artfully presented in modern, rustic environment.

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10. The Treehouse Restaurant 1011 Clearview Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

This quirky American eatery boasts a treehouse bar out back, where customers can relive their childhood while sipping on house margaritas. The menu features an array of small plates plus some large format dishes for sharing -- unless you want to try to tackle that 32oz dry-aged rib eye on your own. There are late-night options as well, including some of the best ramen in the city.

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11. The Wild Cow 1896 Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

One of Nashville's most well-known vegetarian and vegan restaurants, The Wild Cow is constantly inventing creative dishes like lentil bowls, chipotle seitan tacos, and tofu buffalo grinders for the city's herbivores. The kitchen sources all of its (mostly organic) produce from local farms and makes all sauces, dressings, and broth from scratch, so if you ask where your food came from, your server will likely know.

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12. 3 Crow Bar 1024 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

Located in the center of Five Points in East Nashville, 3 Crow has two-for-one Sundays and a widely popular Trivia Night. They also host the best Bloody Mary competition in town during the annual Tomato Arts Fest.

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13. Village Pub & Beer Garden 1308 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37216

Known for its stuffed pretzel sandwich, this comfortable pub and restaurant serves craft beer and English-inspired eats. Guests can also drink and dine on the wraparound patio, which is open all year. We highly recommend stopping by this pub if you are ever in East Nashville.

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14. The Crying Wolf 823 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206 (Nashville)

Featuring all the staples of a hipster haunt -- taxidermy animals, chevron bar top, sprawling patio designed for the consumption of cheap beers -- The Crying Wolf is a East Nashville destination. Burgers are definitely the focal point of the food menu, seconded by a tot-obsessed appetizer list. While you're sure to see plenty of trendsters sipping PBR, the bar also boasts a pretty legit collection of whiskeys (including a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for good measure).

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15. Holland House Bar & Refuge 935 W Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

Holland House Bar & Refuge in East Nashville actually used to be a grocery store, but now, with two maple bars, more than a dozen chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling and a gorgeously lit back patio, you'd never think produce was sold here. Many rooms can be reserved for private parties, and the opulent decor is perfect for when you want to impress. With creative mixologists who love going off the menu for drinks, you'll never be bored at this Nashville popular spot.

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16. Mad Donna's 1313 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206

This bistro does inventive takes on diner favorites like Mardi Gras mac & cheese with Cajun spices and andouille sausage. Drag queen bingo nights and endless drink specials are also on the menu. If you go for brunch, you get access to a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, so go for brunch.

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17. No. 308 407 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

It may be tiny, but No. 308 packs a punch with its roster of extensive cocktails and fun, dive-like ambiance. Apart from being knowledgable, the bartenders here mix up bespoke house-made syrups infused with soda carbonation that pair seamlessly with the wide variety of whiskeys on offer.

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18. Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. 1628 Fatherland St, Nashville, TN 37206

Modern European technique meets Southern flair at this bean-to-bar chocolate factory, located in the heart of East Nashville.

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19. The 5 Spot 1006 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

A Nashville staple, this popular bar is known for their great, consistent live entertainment and daily cheap drink deals.

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