Tag Archives: Nashville

Next time in Nashville: where to shop!

For our next trip to Nashville (or Austin):

NYTimes March 2017:

NASHVILLE — The novelist Ann Patchett, who lives in this city, has said that she brings out-of-town visitors to two places: the Parthenon, the replica of the ancient Greek structure in Centennial Park, and United Apparel Liquidators, or U.A.L. as devotees know it. Both are temples of a sort.

The small clothing chain has three stores in the Nashville area. The flagship is also in the city, in a strip mall of no distinction, half-hidden between a nail salon and a Chinese takeout place. Ms. Patchett took the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert, shopping there one day last year, and during a literary talk that night, they dished about the Christian Dior flats that Ms. Gilbert purchased.

“They were so beautiful,” Ms. Gilbert told the audience, “I was licking them in the store.”

Better still, Ms. Patchett noted, the designer shoes were “10 percent of what they had once cost.”

Technically, U.A.L. belongs to the booming retail category known as off-price. But where discounters like Nordstrom Rack and T. J. Maxx have a bargain-basement atmosphere and leftover-seeming merchandise, U.A.L. feels like a designer boutique. Imagine walking into Jeffrey in New York or Fred Segal in Los Angeles and discovering it’s having an everything-must-go fire sale.


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Nashville restaurant recommendations from a Pinewood Social server.

Our young server at the trendy Pinewood Social restaurant/fun house was so enthusiastic about her new hometown – Nashville – that she eagerly offered us a handwritten list of her favorite places to eat in town, even broken down by category.
Here it is: (I couldn’t always read her handwriting so some of these may not be correct spellings…)

Italian: Rolf and Daughters, Moto, Mafraoza’s
Breakfast: Fenwick’s, 300, Sky Blue (which we went to in East Nashville!)
Deli/Sandwich: Duke’s (also a bar), Mitchell
Mexican: Mas Tacos, Rosepepper, Sait Anejo
Ramen: Twoten Jack
Dessert: Five Daughters (we went there too – pricey rich donuts); Jeni’s (ice cream)
Bars: Patterson House, Bastion

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Nashville farmers market, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, original Barista Parlor and unexpected trip home via Kansas City 

Hanging at our Airbnb Lilypad.

Hanging at our Airbnb Lilypad.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen looked slightly swollen compared to my first visit three years ago. Turns out it is in the middle of an expansion. Fortunately it was open and still serving terrific meat and three sides, albeit in an lighter, less cramped space. Everything was delicious – fried chicken, roast beef, trout, kielbasa mains and sides including mashed potatoes, cauliflower casserole etc. The chess pie with meringue was too sweet for all of us. I guess one sign of nashvilles popularity is the fact that two of the places I visited three years ago have expanded (on site like Arnold’s or new location like the Family Wash).

WHile the rest of the gang went to the Country Music Hall of Fame, I explored neighborhoods some more, stopping at the farmers market in Germantown which has an indoor food court with a cool store called “Batch” that sells small batch food makers’ goods and a jam-packed international foods market. We ended up at the original Barista Parlor coffee house in east Nashville, playing scrabble and dealing with screwed up flights home. OUr flight was messed up by air traffic control issues in LA, of all places, that led our plane to arrive late and leave late from Nashville, too late for us to make our connection in St. Louis. Which is how we ended up flying unexpectedly to Kansas City and driving a rental car through the dark and fog ack to Des Moines.

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Road trip to Franklin, Leiper’s Fork, Arrington Vineyard – Pucketts, two locayions

We got lucky  with the weather for our road trip south into Tennessee walking horse country. Following winding two lane back roads in and out of hollers, often along roads lined with fences, past Confederate battle sites, gracious old southern horse farms and garish McMansions, we stopped for a great lunch at Puckett’s – outstanding mufaletta sandwich with dirty rice, fried catfish poboys, gumbo, key lime pie in a fun old space full of music triangle memorabilia. The Sunday brunch for $17 was more than all but one of us could manage. Quite a deal.

We walked around the square (more like a circle) in tony downtown Franklin and found a few stores open (with some good sales) and Civil War sites. Also stopped in the visitors center where we got a helpful map of back roads to quaint Leiper’s Fork which was much more lively on a Sunday than when I visited on a weekday. The general store, also owned by Puckett’s, is wonderfully scruffy, with shelved lined with large cans of collard greens and bags of black eyed peas. Well heeled bikers on bicycles and motorcycles) sat at outside tables, enjoying the sun and warm temps (low 60s). A little girl walked a baby pig on a leash in a little store beside the market. Four guys on guitars played oldies inside the market by the front counter.

Onto Bailey Road south (gorgeous) and a few other roads east to Arrington Vineyards, a beautiful spread atop a hillside with great views of horse farms nearby. PLace is owned by a country singer (Kix Brooks). Good wine too. Such a fun day!

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Pinewood Social, The 5 Spot, edleys BBQ, Parnasis Books, Hattie B’s, Germantown, The Family Wash

img_0906Somehow I got to talking with An owner/manager of the trendy Pinewood Social, a “scenery” space inside an old trolley car barn that has a restaurant, retro bowling alley, pool and lively bar and he ended up sending over a birthday whiskey to Dirck and free appetizers to our table, which was a nice touch. Next stop, the 5 Spot, an east Nashville club where we found ourselves at a mad 1980s dance party full of mostly young women dancing exuberantly to the music of my youth.img_0912

In the morning, Dirck and emma shelled out a stunning $27 for six donuts at Five Daughters Bakery which was outrageous. They were good but not that good and most were not only topped with frosting but frosting filled too. Way too sweet. The best one was simply sprinkled with sugar and flakey doughy inside. We walked around our Lockeland Springs neighborhood past more renovated bungalows and new interesting very modern homes. Also lots of small entrepreneurs including a homemade chocolate corner store around the block.img_0913

  1. Lunch was at Edleys BBQ in the 12south neighborhood, across from Reese Witherspoon s clothing store, which is uber preppy, sort of a cross between Talbots and LIly Pulitzer and seems to attract a lot of Reese lookalikes who pose for photos beside a wall mural on the side of the building.Good brisket at edleys. No ribs at lunch, only dinner. We explore the Germantown neighborhood north of downtown which has more cool old homes, these ones often brick and historic, plus new condos and small independent pricey shops with names like”rich hippie.” I wandered into one seemingly abandoned old brick building in a desolate spot by between the river and railroad tracks and found myself in this cavernous shop Peter Nappi, selling incredibly expensive Italian leather shoes.
    Germantown store

    Germantown store

    Also went to a very high design coffee place called Barista, co-owned by then Black Keys’ drummer and finally found the restaurant Rolf and Daughters inside an old factory. Such is life in Nashville.

    Germantown coffee

    Germantown coffee

TOnight we tried the hot fried chicken at Hattie B’s in midtown which was fun and faster than Prince’s. MIld was hot enough for me. DIrck had medium heat and Noah dared rather hot which was too much for me. We ended up at the Family Wash, another music place which had us confused at first because it’s in a different location than when we last visited 3-4 years ago. They  specialize, oddly, in Shepards pie.

Hot chicken

Hot chicken

And low key live music. we found the original local on greenwood near The Porter Street Bistro where I had. Good brunch during my last trip here.

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lilypad, Sky Blue Cafe, Art & Invention Gallery, the Pharmacy – East Nashville 


Very fun day with all six of us here in East Nashville to celebrate Dirck’s 60th. We are staying in a sweet little two-bedroom Airbnb cottage on Lillian Street (aka the “lily pad”) with a foldout couch and air mattress for the two youngest in the living room.  The place is cozy with hipster cool decor, lots of old accents, thin wood slat floors, exposed brick and white subway tile and funky light fixtures in the neat little kitchen.

img_0409We walked east along Fatherland Street (kinda creepy name) lined with small fixed up bungalows and Victorians to Sky Blue Cafe, a little neighborhood corner spot with hearty creative brunch entrees (delicious  pancakes, omelettes, home fries bowls) and then walked over to the 5 Points area and visited a few shops I remember fondly from my last trip here several years ago, including Arts and Inventions, a crafts gallery (where I first discovered the fanciful birds painted y local Vicki Sawyer, who has gone on to major merchandizing…I spotted her products last month in Pasadena!) img_0897Other highlights include a few vintage clothing stores in the area, 5 Points pizza, the turnip truck market and a coolly named hotdog truck “I dream of Weenie” in an old VW camper. img_0411Last night I had an excellent brat at The Pharmacy, which also serves very fresh tasting and hefty burgers and sweet potato fries. We got birthday cupcakes at Nashville Sweets. Also visited a small shopping area with inviting small shops along Fatherland, including the wonderful Her Book Store, which was not exclusively for her…I bought a book  for a him.)img_0407

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Huntington gardens, Nickelodean Building (The Loud House!) and Armenian chicken- Burbank and near

img_0735Loved my maiden voyage to the Huntington Collections and Gardens in San Marino near Pasadena, a spectacularly situated series of landscaped gardens (Japanese, Chinese, children’s, Australian….) and galleries (my favorite was an exhibit of early American folk art).

img_0739 img_0745My sister-in-law Heather (named here for her bemusement) and I drifted through one lovely setting after another, catching up, enjoying the greenery, flowers, huge trees, even the dramatic white-grey clouds over the mountains off in the distance. We had a light delicious bite of scallion pancakes and mushroom-stuffed spring roles by the reflecting pool outside in the Chinese garden and enjoyed the excellent gift shop (where I discovered that a Nashville painter Vicki Sawyer, whose whimsical bird portraits  I bought several years ago at an east Nashville gallery, has become a brand- I bought napkins, coasters and cards with her birds on them!)

Of course the best sight of the day was my four-year-old niece who knocked on the door of my guest house in lovely Burbank in the morning. img_0759Other highlights include seeing my brother and his fun new digs at the new Nickelodeon building. (He writes for the hit kids show “The Loud House”) and dinner from Zankou zof takeout chicken, hummus, tabbouli, rice with my cousin Scott!img_0762


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Nashville – the new “it” city. Who knew?

Can’t say that I knew Nashville was such a hip place when I signed on a few months ago to tag along when my husband goes there this weekend for a conference. But it did seem like an interesting place when I visited for a half day some 25 years ago and it seems like I’ve been reading a lot about it lately, in part due to the new TV show “Nashville.” But here comes the NYTimes pronoucing Nashville as the latest “it” city – following on the heels of Austin, Portland, Seattle etc. see below!

I also found a list of restaurant recommendations for East Nashville that I wish I’d seen earlier….(also see below)
One year in, still worth the weight.

BOLTON’S SPICY CHICKEN AND FISH 624 Main Street, (615) 254-8015.

THE CAT BIRD SEAT 1711 Division Street, thecatbirdseatrestaurant.com.

CITY HOUSE 1222 Fourth Avenue North, (615) 736-5838, cityhousenashville.com.

LAS PALETAS GOURMET POPSICLES 2905 12th Avenue South, (615) 386-2101.

MARGOT CAFé 1017 Woodland Street, (615) 227-4668, margotcafe.com.

MAS TACOS POR FAVOR 732 McFerrin Avenue, (615) 543-6271 myspace.,com/mastacos, @mastacos on Twitter.

NASHVILLE FARMERS’ MARKET 900 Rosa Parks Boulevard, (615) 880-2001, nashvillefarmersmarket.org, @nashfarmmarket on Twitter.

January 8, 2013

Nashville’s Latest Big Hit Could Be the City Itself


NASHVILLE — Portland knows the feeling. Austin had it once, too. So did Dallas. Even Las Vegas enjoyed a brief moment as the nation’s “it” city.

Now, it’s Nashville’s turn.

Here in a city once embarrassed by its Grand Ole Opry roots, a place that sat on the sidelines while its Southern sisters boomed economically, it is hard to find a resident who does not break into the goofy grin of the newly popular when the subject of Nashville’s status comes up.

Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat in his second term, is the head cheerleader.

“It’s good to be Nashville right now,” he said during a recent tour of his favorite civic sites, the biggest of which is a publicly financed gamble: a new $623 million downtown convention center complex that is the one of the most expensive public projects in Tennessee history.

The city remains traditionally Southern in its sensibility, but it has taken on the luster of the current. On a Venn diagram, the place where conservative Christians and hipsters overlap would be today’s Nashville.

Flush with young new residents and alive with immigrants, tourists and music, the city made its way to the top of all kinds of lists in 2012.

A Gallup poll ranked it in the top five regions for job growth. A national entrepreneurs’ group called it one of the best places to begin a technology start-up. Critics admire its growing food scene. GQ magazine declared it simply “Nowville.”

And then there is the television show.”Nashville,”a song-filled ABC drama about two warring country divas, had its premiere in October with nine million viewers. It appears to be doing for the city of 610,000 people what the prime-time soap opera”Dallas”did for that Texas city in the ‘80s.

“You can’t buy that,” Mr. Dean said. “The city looks great in it.”

Different regions capture the nation’s fancy for different reasons. Sometimes, as with Silicon Valley, innovation and economic engines drive it. Other times, it’s a bold civic event, like the Olympics, or a cultural wave, like the way grunge music elevated Seattle.

Here in a fast-growing metropolitan region with more than 1.6 million people, the ingredients for Nashville’s rise are as much economic as they are cultural and, critics worry, could be as fleeting as its fame.

“People are too smug about how fortunate we are now,” said the Southern journalist John Egerton, 77, who has lived in Nashville since the 1970s.

“We ought to be paying more attention to how many people we have who are ill-fed and ill-housed and ill-educated,” he said.

Many will argue that the city’s schools need improvement, and although it remains more progressive on social issues than Tennessee as a whole, the city, with its largely white population, still struggles with a legacy of segregation and has had public battles over immigration and sexual orientation.From an economic standpoint, it has been a measured rise. When the housing boom hit the South, Nashville, long a sleepy capital city with a Bible Belt sensibility, did not reap the financial gains seen in cities like Atlanta, whose metropolitan region is more than three times its size.

But Nashville’s modest growth meant a softer fall and a quicker path out of recession. By July 2012, real estate closings were up 28 percent over the previous year. Unemployment in Davidson County, which includes Nashville, is about 5.7 percent, compared with 7.8 percent nationally, and job growth is predicted to rise by 18 percent in next five years, said Garrett Harper, vice president for research with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

He and others attribute Nashville’s stability and current economic health to a staid mix of employers in fields like health care management, religious publishing, car manufacturing and higher education, led by Vanderbilt University.

By some estimates, half of the nation’s health care plans are run by companies in the Nashville area.

“Health care is countercyclical,” Mr. Harper said. “It inoculates the city against a lot of the winds that blow.”

But the music industry is the bedrock of Nashville’s economy. In the past two decades, country music has grown into a national darling. The city has attracted musicians and producers whose work moves beyond the twang and heartache.

On a recent evening, Nashville’s once-seedy honky-tonk district was jammed with young hopefuls pulling guitars out of Hondas, a bus from “America’s Got Talent” and Aerosmith fans heading to the Bridgestone Arena.

It is not uncommon to see the power couple Keith Urban andNicole Kidmanshow up at a popular restaurant, or to pass Vince Gill on the street.

Music celebrities are attracted to a state with no income tax and a ready-made talent pool. But they also just like it.

Jennifer Nettles, of the country duo Sugarland, spent 17 years in Atlanta and has been dipping in and out of New York and Nashville for years. She recently bought a farm here, had a baby and is settling in with her husband, Justin Miller.

“Part of what is really attractive about Nashville right now is that it isn’t Atlanta, and I love Atlanta,” she said. “There’s a bit of charm and a richness a city the size of Nashville allows for.”

As if to underscore Nashville’s position in the nation’s musical hierarchy, the city hosted the annual Grammy nomination concert in December. It was the first time the show was not held in Los Angeles.

But to be a truly great city, some skeptics argue, it has to be a place that tends to its residents first and tourists second.

The city’s politicians are banking on the tourists. At the center of the plan is the Music City Center, a huge convention center whose main section is shaped like a giant guitar laid on its back.

It sits on 19 downtown acres and is attached to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and an 800-room, $270 million Omni Hotel, which is expected to open in the fall.

To pay for it all, the city offered generous tax breaks and based public financing on increased hotel and rental car fees and taxes. To lure the hotel, for example, the city discounted property taxes by more than 60 percent for 25 years.

The idea was to help the city land bigger conventions, like the National Rifle Association conference, which will bring 48,000 people to the city in 2015.

But using generous economic incentives and relying on conventions has been called an outdated economic strategy.

“This was probably a good idea in 1985. And probably a good idea in 1995, said Emily Evans, a member of the region’s Metropolitan Council. “But in 2012, the momentum for that kind of economic development has passed.”

She once called the convention center a “riverboat gamble.”

“In giving away your tax base for the purpose of expanding your tax base in the future,” Ms. Evans said, “you make it difficult to deliver on the fundamentals, the things that make your city livable, like parks and roads and schools.”

Mr. Dean, a former city lawyer who became mayor in 2007 and led the city’s recovery from historic floods in 2010, said the project, which got under way during the recession, has been a fight every step of the way.

“The gains for the city are real and tangible,” he said.

The mayor has orchestrated more than a dozen tax incentive deals over the past few years. Most recently, he arranged a $66 million incentive package to help the health care giant HCA Holdings move part of its Nashville operations to new midtown high-rise buildings.

He acknowledges that more needs to be done on transportation and education, but in the meantime, he, like most of Nashville’s residents, is enjoying its ride.

“I love the rhythm of this town and the pace of it and the tone of it,” said Mr. Egerton, the writer. “I think Nashville is a big unfinished song.”

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Bluebird Cafe in Nashville – saturday show sold out fast….but lots of other options!

By the time I remembered to try to reserve a table for this Saturday night’s shows (both the 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows)  at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville (10:40 a.m. on the preceding Monday) the show was already sold out (reservations were accepted as of 8 a.m.). Wow – that was fast. Maybe we’ll try for Sunday or Monday – which don’t have advance tix sales from what I can tell. But other places sound like they have great music – and music that’s probably more my cup of tea (alt-country vs. country) including the 5 Spot in East Nashville. (Other options: Family Wash (alt-country),  Layla’s Blue Grass Inn or Wildhorse Saloon – for line dancing and lessons at 9:30 p.m.

I’m starting to develop a game plan for our visit: we arrive Saturday – and since that’s the one day my husband is conference-free, I figure we’ll do some of the famous country music sights, try to catch some live music Saturday night in East Nashville and eat at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (since that’s the only day it’s open that works for my husband’s schedule.) Not sure about dinner. There’s a few places with potential in East Nashville, including a vegetarian restaurant Wild Cow and Marche Artisan Foods. I had hoped to eat at a bunch of down home rib and/or fried chicken southern cooking spots but some are only open for lunch or are closed on Sunday/Monday. And one can only eat fried chicken so many times during one day (or one weekend). Sunday seems like the day to explore the shops and galleries in East Nashville, since they’re closed on Monday. (And I’m hoping to go to the gospel country music service at the Cowboy Church Sunday morning.) Then maybe dinner at the The Loveless Cafe (more fried chicken) or Monell’s (ditto)

Monday seems like the day to go on a tour of Belle Meade Plantation and it’s the only day I can have lunch at Arnold’s Country Kitchen (which is only open on weekdays for lunch). There are live music options Sunday and Monday nights at the 5 Spot (especially it’s Monday night “Movin’ Dance Party”) and the Bluebird Cafe….

This is the blurb to go with the photo above:

GQ Calls The 5 Spot’s Keep on Movin’ Dance Party ‘the Most Stylish Party in America’

Posted by on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Don’t adjust your monitors: The 5 Spot’s little old Monday night Keep on Movin’ Dance Party — a weekly soiree I once referred to as Nashville’s “Best Hipster Meat Market” — can be found gracing the pages of the April 2012 issue of GQ. A featured called “The GQ 100″ (billed on the cover as “your ultimate source for the best clothes, shops, trends and smart tips on how to pull it all together”) doesn’t appear to be online anywhere, but in the picture you see above, you’ll find that The 5 Spot’s parties landed at No. 92 on the list:

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Collecting string – so to speak – on Nashville

It’s looking like I might tag along on my husband’s business trip to Nashville in January so I’m starting to collect some string on the place. I’ve only been there once – very briefly during a road trip with my dad in 1989, although long enough to go to the Grand Ole Opry and to a really cool old roadhouse for dinner. I found two Nashville ideas  in a recent issue of an inflight magazine during our trip to Peru (and since I’m starting to write for inflight magazines I like them more than ever!) Here they are:

– Arnold’s Country Kitchen for roast beef, onion rings and tomatoes…and one of my husband’s favorites, chicken fried steak. also known for fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, cornbread (grilled or baked) and banana pudding. 605 8th Avenue South; 615-256-4455

– Layla’s Blue Grass Inn for live music!

Southern Diner Restaurants: Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville, TN


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