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If the Scene’s Best of Nashville issue has become a kind of almanac charting a year of city growth, here’s how the crops ran in the 1989 edition: The best politician (in a tie) was then-Mayor Bill Boner. The best local actor was Fred Thompson. And the readers’ winner in six restaurant categories, including Best Coffee? Shoney’s.

Then folks started planting. The streets downtown surged with new vigor. A tornado hit the East Side, and it only rebuilt with a swagger in its step. We got major pro sports, a Super Bowl-caliber symphony orchestra, and a library worthy of our ambition. And that just opened the floodgates: to new residents, new businesses, a new status beyond the city limits.

In this 25th running of the annual Best of Nashville Readers’ Poll — supplemented with our own ornery, opinionated and dearly beloved choices — we celebrate the riches our hometown has come so far to produce. So pour a frosty Yazoo, cue up the new Sturgill Simpson, and prepare to spend the next several hours digging into one gloriously overstuffed cornucopia.

How does the Nashville of 2014 measure up against the Nashville of 1989?

Below, a snapshot of the Music City of a quarter-century ago, culled from the winners in the 1989 Best of Nashville Readers' Poll. (With apologies to David Byrne.)

How Did I Get Here?

1989 Best Boss, Best Entrepreneur: Phil Bredesen

1989 Most Trusted Nashville Politician: Richard Fulton

1989 Best Reason to Get a Major League Sports Franchise: To attract local attention, respect and money

1989 Best New Restaurant: The Merchants

1989 Best Inexpensive Breakfast (also Best Inexpensive Lunch, Best Coffee, Best Power Breakfast, Best Salad Bar, Best Restaurant to Take the Kids): Shoney's

1989 Best Place to Hear Live Music: Bluebird Cafe

Letting the Days Go By

1989 Best Telephone Booth: Dalt's

1989 Best Store Window Art: Castner-Knott Downtown

1989 Best Candidate for Renovation: Union Station Shed

1989 Best Metro Council Member: George Armistead

1989 Best State Legislator: Sen. Douglas Henry

1989 Best Place to Shop and Avoid a Crowd: Fountain Square

1989 Best Way to Spend Cash Burning a Hole in Your Pocket: Tower Records

1989 Best Restaurant When Somebody Else Pays: Julian's Restaurant Français

1989 Best Oriental [sic] Restaurant: Golden Dragon

1989 Best Upscale Restaurant: Arthur's

1989 Best Upscale Italian Restaurant: Mario's

1989 Best Burgers: Fuddrucker's (Editor's note: Fuddrucker's?)

1989 Best Barbecue: Whitt's

1989 Best Pizza: Pizza Hut

1989 Best Fried Chicken: Mrs. Winner's (at No. 2: Loveless Cafe)

1989 Best Deli: Nathan's Delicatessen

1989 Best Health Food Restaurant: Slice of Life

1989 Best New Food Fad: Frozen yogurt

1989 Best Rock Group, Next Local Act Most Likely to Make It Big: The Questionnaires

Once in a Lifetime

1989 Best Weatherman: Bill Hall, WSMV-Channel 4

1989 Best Newspaper Columnist: Jerry Thompson, The Tennessean

1989 Best Sportswriter: John Bibb, The Tennessean

1989 Best Country Singer Who Could Use a Hit: Tammy Wynette

1989 Best Guitarist: Chet Atkins

Same as It Ever Was

1989 Best Suburban Blight: Traffic

1989 Best Intersection to Avoid: Harding Place and Nolensville Road

1989 Best Street to Avoid: Hillsboro Pike

1989 Best Idea Who Time Is Yet to Come: Mass transit (a monorail)

1989 Best Local Trend: The resurgence of downtown

1989 Best Bassist: Edgar Meyer

1989 Best Neighborhood Restaurant: McCabe Pub

1989 Best Ice Cream Sodas: Elliston Place Soda Shop

1989 Best Men's/Women's Restroom: Hermitage Hotel

1989 Best Local Landmark: The Parthenon

1989 Best Sportscaster: Rudy Kalis, WSMV-Channel 4

1989 Best Local Theater Group: Tennessee Repertory Theatre

1989 Best Reason to Live in Nashville: The people

Special thanks to artist Rachel Briggs for illustrating the Best of Nashville cover and section headers.

Rachel Briggs is an art director and illustrator based in Nashville. Formerly art director at American Songwriter, Rachel has since been designing for local projects including the Poetry Sucks! series and Fond Object Records, as well as numerous show posters, album packages, music videos and set designs for artists including Little Big Town, Pokey LaFarge, Jason Isbell and Old Crow Medicine Show. Her work can be found online at


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