Dude — college! Not only are you out of your parents' house, dependent only on your wits and backpack, but you've gotta make your own decisions. While, ya, it can be pretty awesome — Skittles and Sparks for breakfast? Why not! — it can also be pretty daunting. Let us show you around a little, from live-music hot spots to cheap eats.
Luckily, you chose to pursue an education in Middle Tennessee, where cheap eats are an art form. Take it from us, we've got a bachelor's degree in being broke. For instance, we know that if you study the recording industry at MTSU, odds are half of your friends will work at Sir Pizza on East Main and you'll end up eating a flatbed's worth of that cube-cut pie.
Or if you end up at International Market (2010 Belmont Blvd., 297-4453) near Belmont with a sackful of quarters, you're going to leave with a stomach full of delicious Thai food and probably enough left over to ease you through that inevitable Tuesday-morning hangover. And we also know that Hog Heaven (115 27th Ave. N., 329-1234) next to Centennial Park might look like a hobo haven, but the pulled turkey sandwich with white sauce is proof of the existence of God.
Hmmm, what else do we know (besides LSD and macro-economics class DO NOT mix)? Nuttin But Wings (2605 Jefferson St., 320-0550) over by TSU and Fisk does actually have things besides wings. But that's graduate-level research, and you must be well-versed in basics — the Nuttin But Hot and Honey Gold wings, specifically — before advanced study. Also, if you happen to find yourself at Cafe Coco (210 Louise Ave., 321-2626), the funky all-night coffee shop off Elliston Place, and you see country star John Rich, duck. (Long story.)
Speaking of coffee, the Bongo Java empire is your new best friend. Not only do they roast their own ultra-excellent beans, but they cook up some mean grub to boot. Their original store (2007 Belmont Blvd., 385-5282) has all the caffeinated concoctions and great breakfast options you want, while Fido (1812 21st Ave. S., 777-3436) in Hillsboro Village has some of the tastiest, most locally sourced food around. (Plus, Bongo's shop on Vanderbilt's campus, Grins, has some hella tasty vegetarian offerings.) Speaking of herbivores, Woodlands (3415 West End Ave., 463-3005) near Vandy is the spot for veggie-friendly Indian cuisine and a staple of our broke-ass diet.
Being all grows'd up as you are, now where in the hell are you going to rock out? If you're holding this magazine, you've been in Nashville long enough to know we've got music seeping out of every sidewalk crack. Frankly, it can be a bit overwhelming to keep track of all the sounds and scenes beyond the belt buckle of corporate country — overwhelming but exciting, fer sure.
For starters, head to Elliston Place — or the Rock Block, as locals call it when they feel like rhyming — which is home to the legendary Exit/In (2208 Elliston Place, 321-3340) and the not-quite-as-mythical yet still revered beer joint The End (2219 Elliston Place, 321-4457). Despite the neighborhood nomenclature, you'll find way more than just rock blaring from both sides of Elliston, from indie to hip-hop to jamtronica and jazz. Before they hand you that outrageously expensive receipt they call a diploma, odds are you'll have logged more hours on Elliston Place than you have on your own couch.
The other major axis of awesome is the Eighth Avenue South corridor. The Basement (1604 Eighth Ave. S, 254-8006) below Grimey's, your new favorite record store, has live music that ranges from indie-rock legends like Lou Barlow and Mitch Easter to the latest and greatest local bands at their vaunted New Faces Night. Getting co-owner Mike "Grimey" Grimes to put you on NFN is a rite of passage for any band worth half a fart in this town.
Up the road a bit, past Frugal McDoogal (701 Division St., 242-3612) — your new favorite liquor store — is 1 Cannery Row, home to the Mercy Lounge and Cannery Ballroom and the central hipster hang in the heart of the city. In the next month alone they'll be hosting Chromeo, The Felice Brothers and Crystal Castles, to name but a few. The Mercy Lounge also hosts weekly Rock N Roll Team Trivia — it's like Thunderdome for music nerds — and 8 off 8th, a high-speed super-showcase that's required for aspiring bands.
Beyond the fold, there's 12th & Porter (114 12th Ave. N., 320-3754), which lately has been splitting its time between commercially aspirant locals and boss electronic shows. Across the street is Mai (125 12th Ave. N., 251-1889), where you'll find the best in local, national and international dance music. If you want to get dry-humped by someone with questionable taste, there's a variety of clubs in the Second Avenue North/Lower Broad neighborhood, but if you're looking for something experimental and avant-garde you'll have to track down semi-secret non-venue venues like Little Hamilton, Open Lot or Glenn Danzig's House — which is not actually where Glenn Danzig lives, just so you know.
For more aggro sounds like metal and punk, you'll need to hit up the diviest dive that ever dove, Springwater (next to Centennial Park and Hog Heaven); The Muse (835 Fourth Ave. S., 251-0190), where germophobes might want to bring latex gloves and baby wipes; or Rocketown (601 Fourth Ave. S., 843-4001), our local all-ages, Jesus-loving place for people with pointy hair to congregate. If laid-back unpretentious trad-rockin' is more your style, make your way across the river to visit East Nashville's many fine establishments, including fooBar (2511 Gallatin Ave., 226-7305), The 5 Spot (1006 Forrest Ave., 650-9333) and the Family Wash (2038 Greenwood Ave., 226-6070), where you can always find a klatch of locals making their own fun.
But remember, no matter where you rock out, make sure you go to class the next morning. They don't let you stay in college if you don't show up. Trust us.
–SEAN L. MALONEY
The following is an insider's look at some of Nashville's top places to drink, socialize, see and be seen, drink, schmooze and drink. Why isn't this all of the top places? Because I haven't the time and neither do you. Go study or something. For now this is a short, to-the-point list that should last you through the fall. I've gone ahead and categorized this list by yearbook superlatives in order to confuse and delight you.
Disclaimer: This list is not comprehensive. It is completely biased and lacks any scientific evidence of any sort. Also, I wrote it in my underwear. What makes me an insider? Because I say so. And for the next 700 words I'm the boss of you.
Whiskey Kitchen, 118 12th Ave. S.
Whether you are stopping in for one drink (yeah, right) or you're camping out in a booth for the night's entirety, this is a top choice for a Friday or Saturday.
Why Go? Because statistically speaking, 87 percent of everyone inside is good-looking, staff included. You won't hate that.
Most Likely to Succeed
Dan McGuinness, 1538 Demonbreun St.
It's hard to dislike a place that consistently draws this kind of crowd and has no cover charge. The two may be related, but I can neither confirm nor deny that. What I do know, however, is that if you like live DJs and dancing on a patio, you will not be disappointed.
Why Go? Because if you hate it, you have Tin Roof and Red Rooster right down the street. And if you hate both of those, chances are you're a grad student.
The Melrose Neighborhood Pub, 2535 Franklin Road
For starters, don't call this bar by its full name or you will be sorry. And so will I. Melrose is hands-down the best place to be on a Thursday night due to their 2-for-1 special and relaxed vibe. A recent addition provided more room and a patio, so you don't have to spend the whole night playing "Who Just Grabbed My Butt?"
Why Go? Because I would never lead you astray.
Paradise Park Trailer Resort, 411 Broadway
It's as simple as this: If you are looking to get rowdy and dance, skip on down to downtown and pop into this piece of paradise. (That last part sounded like a good jingle, didn't it?) Oh, and because every class clown had an idiot sidekick, check out The Stage while you're at it.
Why Go? Because college is about making mistakes.
Best School Spirit
Sam's Sports Bar & Grill, 1803 21st Ave. S.
This is the place to go to drink beer and watch people in uniform kick and throw things victoriously.
Why Go? I'll just say this: happy hour M-F 3-7 p.m., trivia, good food, lots of TVs, karaoke, spacious seating, face painting, trampolines. Happy? (If you did not figure out that the last two things on this list are fabricated, save your parents their money and drop out of school now.)
Most Likely Never to Leave Nashville
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, 422 Broadway
So I remember this award going to the person in our senior class who we thought would never leave our hometown. And according to Facebook, we were right. In that case — because it was Plymouth, Minn. — staying local was a bad thing. In Tootsie's case, it is a good thing. With two incredible honky-tonk bands playing both upstairs and downstairs, a clientele that knows how to party, and cold beer at your fingertips, this is the place to be if you head downtown. The fact that it's historical and legendary is just an extra.
Why Go? Because you'll thank me later.
Broadway Brewhouse, 1900 Broadway
The midtown location of this bar is a solid choice no matter what night you're going out. Good beer and great place to meet guys/girls.
Why Go? So you can pronounce it "haus" all night and annoy everyone you're with.
Hollywood Disco, 1907 Division St.
While you will certainly wish you could forget your experience at this strip-club-turned-dance-club (turned back into a strip club, if we're being honest), you will at least have the comfort in knowing you probably threw out some killer moves on the light-up dance floor. Where dignity goes to die, this club boasts an all-ages night, a free hot-dog bar, random 40-year-old women and the stench of shame and regret.
Why Go?Because no matter how hard I try to stop you, you'll end up there at some point this year and I'll be left shaking my head saying, "I told you so."
Remember the artists and theater techies and honor students who went on to make a bunch of money and lead really fulfilling lives? Here are the bar versions of them: a little unique, offbeat and delightful to know.
Holland House Bar and Refuge, 935 West Eastland Ave.
The Patterson House, 1711 Division St.
Red Door East, 1010 Forrest Ave.
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