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