Three Crow Bar covers one corner of East Nashville’s Five Points, with an exuberant clientele that reflects the diversity of the neighborhood. Catch a game on one of the televisions, join in on the weekly and highly competitive team trivia contests, shoot a game of darts, or just shoot the breeze at the bar. Steamed sandwiches on the limited menu.
The intimate rock club The Basement — which resides under Nashville’s flagship record store, Grimey’s — boasts some of the best sound in Music City. The Basement’s full calendar of singer-songwriters, rock ’n’ roll bands and soul outfits — not to mention the friendly staff and full bar — keep the place packed to the brim most nights.
The Country Music Hall of Fame is the first obvious stop in town for country music fans. Because the museum’s collections and stories are so well presented, and because the exploration of country music runs so deep, even verging into blues and gospel at times, there’s plenty for all music fans to appreciate. That is especially true with their new-this-spring exhibit, Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City, which runs through December 2016. Permanent exhibits include plaques honoring Hall of Fame members, over 3,000 items relating to the history of country music, plus a library & media center. Instrument demos, songwriter sessions, Appalachian clogging, line-dancing, TV tapings, live broadcasts & other events take place at various times. $24.95; $22.50 sr. citizens & students; $21.50 military personnel; $14.95 ages 6-12; free for children 5 and under.
Everyone has their favorite meat-and-three, but Arnold’s tops a lot of lists, as evidenced by the cross-section of Nashvillians who line up daily for the fried green tomatoes, peppery roast beef, turnip greens, bread pudding and chocolate pie. The dining room has fewer tables than customers, so be prepared to share. And a warning to vegetarians: to the delight of carnivores, even most of the veggie-based sides are stuffed with ham bones, bacon and other meat drippings.
If you’re able to catch a show at the Ryman while you’re in town, take it. There’s a reason they call it the Mother Church of Country Music — with the stained-glass windows, the pews instead of traditional theater seating, and the undeniable vibes of rich history wafting through the air, concerts at the Ryman feel more like you’re experiencing some kind of spiritual revival rather than just catching another concert. It’s not just for country fans — Foo Fighters, Dave Chappelle, Neutral Milk Hotel and Janelle Monáe have all played there, too.
Tours are available 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (self-guided, $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 4-11; guided backstage tours, $30 for adults and $25 for children ages 4-11). Check ryman.com
for information on closures.
Four generations of Nashvillians have settled into the cozy booths of this family-owned, diner-style restaurant opened in 1945 by John and Evelyn Rotier. Not many places offer American cheese and crackers as an appetizer anymore, but Rotier’s does. Meat-and-three “Night Plates,” short orders from the fryer, and head lettuce salads are staples, but the most popular item remains the patty melt: a cheeseburger served either grilled or on French bread. Special mention goes to the best milkshake in Nashville. It’s the real deal, delivered icy-cold in the classic aluminum milkshake cup.
Though it’s been around since 1925, it’s in the past decade that Nashville’s last historic neighborhood theater has come into its own as one of the country’s leading arthouse cinemas — a movie lover’s magnet for foreign and indie films, repertory tributes to everyone from Barbara Stanwyck to Robert Bresson, and raucous midnight screenings with accompanying drink specials (eww, David Cronenberg’s Videodrome). Patrons have included Nicole Kidman, Jack White, Reese Witherspoon, punk auteurs Harmony Korine and Gaspar Noe, and dudes dressed as mummies.
When he purchased the 53-year-old Loveless Cafe in November 2003, new owner Tom Morales faced a major challenge: how to preserve the history of a legend and honor the memories of generations of fans, while restoring faded glory and modernizing the infrastructure? The result is better than anyone could have hoped for. Architect Seab Tuck kept much of the original building—which has been degreased, painted and polished—while adding on to make room for new bathrooms, a new kitchen and expanded seating. Breakfast is still offered daily until 5 p.m. The staples remain—country ham and eggs with red-eye gravy; sausage, bacon and steak; three-egg omelets; pancakes and waffles—and all seem to have a new lease on life. At dinner, meat-and-three classics lead the cast: the excellent skillet-fried chicken, rich chicken and dumplings, country ham dinner, and a meaty, moist meatloaf. A stellar supporting cast includes homemade sides like mac and cheese, field peas, slow-cooked flat green beans, chunky mashed potatoes and skillet-fried shoepeg corn. Making sparkling debuts are the smokehouse platters, which include turkey, pork chops, ribs, pan-fried Bucksnort trout and barbecue shrimp in a big bowl of delectable grits soaked with a spicy red sauce. Save room for a slice of pastry chef Alisa Huntsman’s blue-ribbon pies, among them fresh berry, chocolate pecan, coconut cream and peanut butter.
When it comes to destination dining, Margot is where you want to set your compass. As much as residents in the restaurant’s East Nashville neighborhood would like to keep this jewel to themselves, they would have to secure the perimeter of Five Points to stem the flow of devotees who stream over the river from points near and far to taste Provence and Tuscany in this charming, renovated brick building. From the open kitchen on the first level, intoxicating scents waft through the first-floor dining room, over to the half-moon bar, up to the mezzanine and out to the enclosed patio. Chef/co-owner Margot McCormack sets the bar high, changing her menu nightly based on what comes freshest to the kitchen door that morning. Business partner Jay Fein is in charge of the French/Italian/German wine list, and servers offer informed assistance. Margot’s Sunday brunch—to order, not a buffet—is all the reason many need to get out of bed early and beat the crowds.
Margot McCormack of Margot Café renown strikes another chord with Marché Artisan Foods, a gorgeous lunch-and-grocery spot that could have been plucked from the high-rent sidewalks of New York or London and set down in the alley behind Margot Café. Floor-to-ceiling windows douse the dining room with sun, which gently bounces from marble tabletops to potted palms, to glasses of Perrier, flutes of bubbly and bottles of Orangina. In this light, a palette of edible colors—salmon pink, beet purple, arugula green—splashes across the canvases of oversized white plates. With regional products and French- and Italian-inspired flavors consistent with the big-sister restaurant next door, Marché offers a lighter opportunity to explore McCormack’s creative and vegetarian-friendly style—during the day. A simple breakfast roster includes breads, pastries, cheeses, cereals and French toast, while lunch revolves around soups, salads, omelets and sandwiches, with an occasional quiche or crêpe thrown in. Like at Margot, the menu changes with the chef’s whim and the availability of seasonal products.
Cop a squat on the grass along Woodland Street, where residents--with canines and kids in tow--flock to the mustard-yellow VW minibus-turned-mobile-kitchen for hot dogs of the all-beef and tofu varieties. Bring your own lawnchair or borrow a picnic blanket and watch the bustle of Five Points. You won't be alone.
Bartender/entertainment booker/musician Jamie Rubin owns this cozy East Nashville interpretation of a neighborhood pub. Hungry diners will want to try the hefty shepherds pie, available in a meat and a vegetarian version, or the roasted chicken with roasted garlic gravy and mashed potatoes. Live music is featured nightly.
Eastside boasts the Crunkest Fish in Town, and Donald Boatright's got a good argument, particularly when it comes to the Giant King, nearly two pounds of beautifully fried fish filet bulging out of two slices of white bread; for less than $7, it can easily feed a couple of commoners.