Best Place to See Eddie George off the Field: Eddie’s Room
So you got shut out of Adelphia Stadium last season and it’s not looking good for 2001? Well, haul yourself up out of your La-Z-Boy and head on down to Eddie’s Sports Grille on game day. Chances are, after he rips off another 100 yards on his way to the Football Hall of Fame, he’ll head over to his downtown restaurant to polish off an Eddie George #27 porterhouse steak, so named for buff Eddie’s uniform number and the weight of this particular cut of meat. Fans can keep an eye on Eddie through the glass walls of Eddie’s Room, a private retreat furnished with comfy sofas and chairs, video games, and a wealth of audio-video equipment where the superstar running back kicks back with his buds.
Best Place to Show Your Bebe and Assert Your Inner Bachelor: 6º
Do you wear anything larger than a size 6? Do you have a few gray hairs on your head? Are you a charter member of the old New Nashville, as defined so eloquently by Scene writer Matt Pulle in his recent cover story? If so, do not embarrass yourself by showing up at Nashville’s hottest new hipatorium past your bedtime. After-work cocktails or an early dinner are OK for the Modern Maturity set (which in the world of 6º is anyone over 35), but you’ll definitely want to get your rapidly aging butt out of there before the camera-ready New New Nashville set makes its splashy entrance. Thoughtful discourse optional, but cell phones, beepers, hair, and Bebe wear are a must.
Best Mid-Century Garage Longing to Be a Bar or Cafe: 2601 12th Ave. S.
Otherwise known to passers-by as George’s Transmissions, this ’40s-era auto shop is just crying out to be turned into an eating and/or drinking establishment. Its charming facade is largely (and somewhat miraculously) intact, including an oddly charismatic anthropomorphic socket wrench prominently adorning the front of the building. Property manager Wade Horton, at 479-6635, is handling rental inquiries. It’s hard to say exactly where George himself is these days, but the good money in the still rising 12 South area is in comestibles as opposed to combustibles.
Best Traffic-Beating Way Into Green Hills 16: Behind the Hampton Inn
On your way to the movies, you can score your own small, satisfying victory over Nashville’s increasing gridlock by turning into the drive beside the Hampton Inn (on the side facing the former Green Hills branch of the public library). Follow the zigzagging route behind the hotel, bear left, and you’ll emerge at the bottom level of the theater’s parking garage. Best of all, you’ll encounter nary another vehicle on the way...at least not until anyone else reads this.
Best Place to Get Mowed Down While Jaywalking: West End Avenue between Borders and Centennial Park
It can be a hair-raising experience trying to make it across these four lanes to the concrete island, not to mention the additional lanes of traffic flowing into West End from Elliston Place, where drivers are much more focused on merging with other cars than watching for a pedestrian. Walk-Bike Nashville is an organization dedicated to cleaning up downtown sidewalks and helping update Metro codes regarding pedestrian activity. Visit the Web site at www.walkbikenashville.org to learn how Nashvillians can work together to solve local pedestrian problemslike how to take a book from Borders across the street to read in the park without risking life and limb.
Best Place to Wreck Your Car: Hillsboro Road at Richard Jones and Abbott Martin
“Take a left at FUBAR, and if you escape with your life, you’re home-free.” That’s the sort of directional advice you’re likely to hear these days in Green Hills concerning a so-called intersection that’s Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. Actually, this horrendous six-lane stretch is a masterpiece of perverse engineering that can be laid at city and state, public and private doorsteps. While north-south traffic grinds relentlessly along State Route 431 (i.e., Hillsboro Pike), east-siders on Richard Jones Road must compete with commercial patrons of Wild Oats Market, Grace’s Plaza, and Walgreen’s for dominance at one stoplight, while west-siders on Abbott Martin Road have to face off against Hillsboro Plaza’s patrons at another. Add to this mongrel mix a twice-a-day public-school zone, two worse-than-irrelevant pedestrian crosswalks, and several more sidewalk cutouts providing rogue vehicle access to the clotted traffic stream. Yessir, this is where clever motorists should be scheming to wreck their cars: Imagine how many responsible parties there may be to sue.
Best Slacker Street: Long Boulevard
Comprised largely of recent college grads, aging frat boys, and wannabe rock stars, Long Boulevard won’t exactly launch any hot new businesses. In fact, if you see anyone walking this West Nashville street before 10 a.m., call the police. It must be a thief, because the real residents are all still dozing. In an ideal world, Long Boulevard would be more like Belmont Boulevarda cool, eclectic neighborhood of diligent homeowners and considerate renters. Instead, however, it’s a glorified frat row.
Best Recreational Facility: Belle Meade Boulevard
One of the marvels of city life is the way some local institutions just happen. Belle Meade Boulevard is, after all, just a streetand a fairly busy one at that. Yet without any particular design, it has emerged as one of the city’s most trafficked recreational facilities. If you stand out on the median on a warm summer evening, you’ll see a steady stream of walkers, runners, and cyclists going up and down the Boulevard in peaceful coexistence with the traffic. At times, it even seems to get better use than many of the city’s traditional parks. Such a thing could never be planned, but it happened.
Best Upcoming Recreational Facility: Shelby Street Bridge
Finding all the dollars to finish out the project has delayed the ultimate completion, but the old Shelby Street Bridge is going to reopen soon as a strictly pedestrian facility, modeled after a similar pedestrian conversion in Chattanooga. The appeal of such a place is non-intuitive, and the Shelby Street Bridge would probably never have been saved if it hadn’t been a throw-in project for the stadium. But once completed, the bridge will be a link in the greenway system and a pleasant place for strolling or sitting and watching the river flow.
Best Park That’s Not Open Yet: Beaman Park
This 1,500-acre tract of raw wilderness in the northern part of Davidson County is such a remarkable and fragile ecosystem that original plans for horse trails within the yet-to-be developed greenway are being reconsidered. (Equine poop might introduce weeds and grasses that could be harmful to significant rare plant species living within its borders. Among those is the Eggert’s Sunflower, listed by the federal government as endangered.) In 1996, during Mayor Phil Bredesen’s tenure, Sally Beaman provided the money for Metro to buy the park, named in honor of her late husband Alvin G. Beaman. It has yet to be developed because of municipal budget constraints. Hikers, nature lovers, and horticulturists alike, however, are hopeful that Mayor Bill Purcell ultimately will find money to fund gentle development of the greenery. In the meantime, Nashvillians who want to see the wooded terrain by joining any of the regularly scheduled hikes or who are interested in helping the greenway’s dedicated patrons secure adjacent land areas to grow the protected area are invited to call Nancy Dorman, Friends of Beaman Park president, at 299-9586.
Best Multi-Use Park: Elmington
Consider this fact: Although Elmington Park is only 13 acres, you can do or see the following there: Watch a lacrosse game. Play in the sand with your kids. Have a tennis match. See the Nashville Kangaroos play Australian Rules Football. Watch a kiddie soccer game. Observe the strange joustings and medieval swordplay of Dagorhirians. Play softball. Watch baseball. Socialize your dog with the giant afternoon pack that forms there. Water your dog at the spigot. Have a picnic under a shade tree. Meet new people. Lie in the sun. Watch the clouds. Do nothing.
Best Public Golf Course: Hermitage Golf Course
Home of the Sara Lee Classic since 1988, rated one of the most 20 difficult local courses in the Nashville Business Journal, and awarded four stars by Golf Digest magazine, The General’s Retreat golf course at Hermitage already had a reputation as one of the premier places to play in Tennessee. But when Hermitage opened its second course, The President’s Reserve, in May 2000, it became a must for any golf enthusiast. With six sets of tees to accommodate golfers of every level, this 7,140-yard monster was constructed next to 300 acres of natural wetlands along the Cumberland River. But don’t be fooled: The President’s Reserve is as challenging as it is beautifulit also made the top 20 in difficulty, with a course rating of 74.2. So if you have a sunny day to enjoy, want to play 36 of the best holes in Nashville, but don’t want to go broke in the process (greens fees start as low as $47), Hermitage is waiting for you.
Best Historical Sight You Can’t See: Fort Negley
Perhaps a city on a hill cannot be hid, but a Civil War fortress sure can. Many Nashvillians don’t even know that the prominent, wooded hill between the Cumberland Science Museum and Greer Stadium contains what represented the key to the defenses for the Union Army that occupied Nashville after early 1862. (Because it served as a rail hub to supply the Western theater of operations, Nashville became the most heavily fortified Union-held Southern city, except for Washington, D.C.) Walk along the 8-foot-thick limestone walls of the tumbledown fort, and you wonder why the city fathers who so love building projects haven’t cleared the brush, restored the structure, and turned it into a Battle of Nashville museum. Maybe it’s because they still think the wrong side won.
Best Historic Renovation: Downtown Presbyterian Church
If a Hollywood film crew shooting in Nashville had to find an Egyptian temple set quick, they might consider Downtown Presbyterian Church. Though the National Historical Landmark building only predates the Civil War, its sanctuary is fit for Cleopatra herself. Completed in 1851, when a quirky architectural style called Egyptian Revival was in vogue, the church features brightly painted temple columns, ceilings edged with papyrus and lotus flowers, painted ceiling panels of a blue-and-white sky, and stained-glass windows lush with palm trees. The sanctuary has always been stunning, but a just completed $1.2 million restoration has made it truly spectacular. The official unveiling, marking the building’s 150th birthday, is April 29.
Best Place to Play Chess: Bongo Java
This one’s sort of a “gimme”everyone goes to Bongo to play chess. They play it outside on a warm spring day; they play it inside when it’s chilly and dark. There are friendly pick-up games. There are hardcore match-ups between dudes who bring their state-of-the-art chess clocks. There are chess aficionados, chess groupies, and chess hangers-on. It’s a great place to go in search of Bobby Fischer. And you can drink Bob Bernstein’s high-octane coffee if your game needs a lift. Of course, if you want to branch out a little, you can also find yourself a game of backgammon or euchre.
Best Neighborhood Coffeehouse: Fido
Fido is the Cheers of Hillsboro Village, a locally owned hangout where everyone knows your name. The coffee can be very good at places like Starbucks, but walking in there feels rather cold and impersonal. In contrast, Fido is that rare Nashville eatery that’s intimate and urban all at once.
Best Place to Walk Your Dog: Radnor Lake
Some of us are dog persons, some of us are not. But for some reason, Radnor Lake makes dog persons of us all. There’s a sense of open seclusion there. High trees rim the placid lake. Dogs run freeonly happily attached to their leashes. It’s a good stretch of Fido’s legs for as far as you want to goand the dog walkers get a good workout as well. Children smile and securely pet the doggies. Dog owners greet each other with immediate familiarity, discussing breeds, temperaments, and lineages, or exchanging care tips. In short, it’s a dog’s life.
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