Nashville
Overview

In addition to spawning a self-titled TV show, Tennessee’s second biggest city and capital is known by many names, ‘The Music City’ and ‘The Athens of the South’ among them, but what you should be calling Nashville is top of your list for 2016. So much more than just a country lovin’ Southern town (although it is that too – hello, Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum and nearby Dollywood!), Nashville’s cool quotient is going up daily. While there is seemingly 24/7 live music wafting from open doors downtown, trendy new restaurants and shops will also compete for your attention. Perhaps this perfect mix of classic Americana and current culture is why the stars have invested heavily in local real estate – Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman (as well as Taylor Swift and her cats), all own homes in the area. When one of the city’s more famous residents (whether it be a megawatt singer or a Nashville cast member) shows up at Fido for a custom crafted coffee in the happening Hillsboro neighborhood, Nashvillians don’t bat an eyelash – this is an industry town that emerging indie musicians of all genres still flock to, armed only with a guitar and a dream, hearts set on a record deal.

This intimately sized city (5-15 minute drive can get you from most point As to Bs) is strewn with enchanting classical and neoclassical architecture, though each neighborhood retains its own unique charm and personality, defined in large part by a massive culinary explosion that has recently proliferated into a full-blown foodie lifestyle – Nashville is literally the place on the tip of the tongue of every chef worth his salt. Tons of new spots are slated to open this year (an izakaya/ramen joint, a donut fancier and a gourmet burger/beer place among them), joining the ranks of established artisanal popsicle shops, wood-fire specialists and speakeasies. Perhaps the most talked about restaurant is Husk, combining archetypal Southern dishes like catfish, cheddar biscuits and shrimp and grits with internationally beloved ingredients such as kimchi, oxtail and bone marrow. While big city chefs like NYC’s Jonathan Waxman, who recently opened the buzzy Adele’s, come stake their claim, there is still room in Nashvillian’s hearts – and stomachs – for Low Country classics: chicken and waffles (Loveless Cafe), BBQ (Martin’s, Jack’s, Peg Leg Porker), and the local delight, hot chicken (Prince’s, Arnold’s Country Kitchen). If music is what you came for, no trip is complete without hitting up the Grand Ole Opry and the historic Ryman Auditorium, two of the most cherished stages in the country. For a modern slant, try The 5 Spot – GQ christened their Monday night ‘Keep on Movin' Dance Party' the ‘Most Stylish Party in America'. Now you’re speaking our language, y’all!

With 2016 bringing the openings of both the Ace Hotel and an outpost of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels, there will be no shortage of places to see and be seen in Nashville – but don’t overdo it on the sartorial front. This city’s ethos is relaxed authenticity with just a hint of classic - it is not your twinsets and Jack Rogers nor your ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots South. Sightseeing in scorching summer calls for cotton sundresses and in milder Spring, think an MIH or Stella McCartney denim dress with See by Chloe flats. Fall and winter create perfect jeans weather, pair them with pretty plaid and chambray shirts (we rely on J. Crew and Madewell) or perhaps a vintage band tee topped with an Iro leather moto jacket at night. For dinner at The 404 Hotel’s hot 404 Kitchen in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, an Isolda off-the-shoulder dress with Rag & Bone ankle boots will do the trick. After a few days in the country’s coolest ‘It’ city, you’ll be singing ‘Please don’t stop the music’...and/or going on a juice cleanse.

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING

As Nashville makes its mark on the culinary map, there’s an endless laundry-list of places to have you eating through the city and unbuttoning your pants to lick your plate clean.  A century-old-factory building-cum-intimate, rustic eatery, Rolf and Daughters is the place that put Nashville on the food map. Located in the hip Germantown area, owner and acclaimed chef Philip Krajeck created a menu that draws inspiration from Northern Italy and the Mediterranean and is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The specialty here is all-things pasta – from dough to sauce, it’s all made from scratch. Sinema is all that glitters and glows, as it should, set in a 1940’s movie house and since been restored for a dramatic, glamorous Old Hollywood setting.  The latest project by Top Chef alum Dale Levitski, serves striking presentations of eclectic American cuisine.  And girls, don’t forget to take your #SinemaSelfie in the swanky powder room downstairs – a popular (and oddly interesting) movement, to say the least.  You’ll find a cluster of concept restaurants on M Street in The Gulch – brought to you by M Street – and, of those, Moto and Kayne Prime are two that continue to stand out amongst some of the best in Nashville. At the neo-Italian restaurant Moto, the blueberry lasagna (GF optional) is a must even if blueberry is not your flavor of choice.  If you crave a steak, Kayne Prime has one of the best steaks in the country.  We’re guilty of sticking to a NY Strip (hold the pepper!) and eating the entire 14oz cut on the regular.

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Start with the tuna, a personal pizza-size of crispy rice topped with tuna. Adele’s, a project of Celeb Chef Jonathan Waxman (the man behind Barbuto in NYC and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters), is an old auto-repair shop that’s been transformed into a chic open-air, industrial space. Here, get the heirloom bruschetta to start and you must have the JW Chicken for your main. Adele’s also has a top-notch tap beer selection, custom cocktails and well-selected wine list, which makes the bar an attractive place to grab a drink before heading downtown. If you’re in the mood for some Mexican, Bajo Sexto Taco is Jonathan Waxman’s newest addition in Nashville. Husk, an outpost of the Charleston original continues to shine, as it showcases executive chef Sean Brock's inventive take on Southern cuisine. Husk prides itself on their promise that “if it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door”. Through this proposition, Brock is able to explore the reality of Southern cuisine and reinvent the style with his own touch. Loveless Café is an old favorite for Southern country comfort foods like chicken & waffles… It’s the place to go for some of the best jam in the world to complement their buttery biscuits that are, let’s just say, music to your thighs. City House is another oldie but goodie that has withstood the new wave of restaurants. The menu drifts towards Italy, but is anchored in Tennessee tradition with items like “belly ham” to replace prosciutto and grits to stand in for polenta. A hard-to-get rezzy with just 22-seats, The Catbird Seat, offers a chef-driven tasting menu.  FYI – plan ahead as reservations open up thirty days in advance at exactly 12:01AM on the dot.  

Other hot, new restaurants that have a #VacationStyle stamp of approval: 5th & Taylor offers a thoughtful taste on American cuisine brought by James Beard-nominated chef-owner Daniel James Lindley; Le Sel, which means salt in French, offers a New French menu that features a raw bar, something you don’t find much of in Nashville.  Based on the buzz, it’s gotta be good. 

For the best brunch, Marche Artisan Foods is the go-to located in East Nashville. Biscuit Love, which started as a food truck in an Airstream, opened a brick-and-mortar to-die-for biscuit restaurant in The Gulch.  For lunch, hit up the centrally located Fido in Hillsboro. It’s a great coffee shop/resto for a light and delish casual launch. Other brunch and lunch spots worth tasting: the sandwich-savvy and farm fresh Butcher & BeeThe Pharmacy for great burgers and beers on tap, Mas Tacos Por Favor (tacos, please!), and AMOT Eatery (gluten-free). New-wave doughnuts are a recent craze in this Southern city, with bakeries & pastry shops popping up left-and-right. Perfect to grab-and-go, Five Daughters BakeryDOH Nashville, and Utterly Nashville are at the top of our list. In the heart of Downtown Nashville, at the new 21c Museum Hotel, lies Gray & Dudley offering comfort food sourced from Nashville area producers and craft purveyors. Enjoy inspired and playful food, and drinks in art-driven surroundings at this hip new restaurant.

With all there is to eat, again and again, you can’t leave Nashville without having some BBQ or Fried Chicken.  Get your hands dirty at lunch at the some of the best: Butchertown HallMartin’s BBQ JointPeg Leg PorkerJack’s Bar-B-Que, and the infamous Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (an all-time favorite of Justin Timberlake).

NIGHTLIFE

Head downtown to Lower Broad and it’ll immediately be apparent that there is no shortage of bars with live music and a crowd to please. Start at Rippy’s – make sure to scan the scene upstairs – and slowly but surely make your way down Broadway to hit all the hot spots.  Places worth stopping for: Tootsies, The Stage On Broadway, The Big Bang, and while your still somewhat sober, you must go to Acme Feed & Seed.  A newer hot spot favored by locals, Acme Feed & Seed is where hipsters and cowboys unite in a unique space that’s part restaurant and part honky tonk. For the older crowd seeking a more sophisticated spot, head to the new upscale cigar lounge BLEND Bar.  Serving a vast selection of Davidoff Cigars and premium, handcrafted spirits, BLEND Bar is just as great for non-smokers thanks to a state-of-the-art ventilation system. 

While out-of-towners hit the Broadway honky-tonks, locals belly up at the must-not-be-missed, Patterson House, arguably one of the best speak-easy’s in the country.  With a 30-stool bar and a small handful of intimate tables under vintage chandeliers, Patterson House is prime for pre-dinner drinks – emphasis on the plural – to beat the crowd. We suggest getting there before ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere time’; otherwise go much later in the night at your own risk.  The cocktails are truly a form of art here: served with a large sphere of ice, each individually made with a custom-brass mold to ensure a slow-melt factor so you don’t need to worry that your cocktail will get watered-down. Attaboy, a top-shelf NYC cocktail bar, has made its way to East Nashville. Knock on the door, wait for it to open, and a host will welcome you to this slick speakeasy focusing on high-end mixology. Once you're in, there's no menu. Staff will ask a short round of questions to pick exactly what type of drink each customer desires.

 And last but not least, there is no better way to end a late night other than at Lonnie’s for some legendary karaoke that has attracted an array of celebrities to its humble, gritty stage. 

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Explore

Explore

The Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s former home, is one of the most magical places to ever watch a concert. All the greats have played at this small intimate venue, from rock ’n’ roll to country.  Even if you could care less about country music, the Country Music Hall of Fame is a must-see: the wide-ranging impact of Nashville’s legacy is on display.  Another top cultural venue is the Frist Center of the Visual Arts, whose spring exhibitions include a major Spanish collection of Old Master Works. A final must for music is The Bluebird Café, a 90-seat music club where performers are picked up by the bigwigs in the industry and you’ll most likely get lucky to catch an established singer/songwriter perform. Enjoy what Nashville has to offer outside of the landmark sightseeing and head to Pinewood Social for some bowling, brunching, and boozing – a cool concept space with an inventive menu and an Airstream trailer that serves as a bar.  Grab a coffee and listen to some talented local musicians at Barista Parlor. For a mid-day treat (mid-shopping on 12th South, perhaps), cool down and pop into Las Paletas.  Don’t be fooled by the minimalist space of just a freezer and a chalkboard – that freezer holds magic: magic that you’ll taste with every last lick of these Mexican popsicles.  The gourmet treat comes in a dozen flavors under the sun from Mexican caramel to chocolate wasabi and hibiscus, as well as your usual suspects like coconut or vanilla – and they are made with real ingredients and no artificial flavors or preservatives. Down the block (with other locations in East Nashville, Hillsboro Village and The Nashville Farmers’ Market) is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is the kind of ice cream that you want to put your face in, gallon-deep.

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For a little R&R, Nashville’s got you.  True to its name, Escape Day Spa is the best place for lack of a better word – to escape – in Nashville for an incredible massage, maybe a half-day, or even the full day at the spa.  Or if you’re in need for some re-hydration, N2SKIN has an unbelievable facial that won’t break you, or your bank. It’s so good that we’ve even thought about booking a flight just for their facials.  Keeping on the beauty note, Darryl Allen Salon has the best blowouts in town. If the weather permits, spend an hour outdoors at Percy Warner Park, the park where the stars all go to workout – and for those who love the show Nashville, it’s close to Rayna’s home. 

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SHOP

Where to Shop

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There are a few gems you will want to pop into to break up all the eating and drinking in Nashville.  Make your way to Green Hills: the go-to neighborhood for shopping. With boutique after boutique on the main street, the one boutique to not miss is H.Audrey. Owned by Holly Williams and one of the few great places to shop in Nashville, H.Audrey has a carefully curated selection of contemporary brands like ATM, Brochu Walker, DOMA, IRO and Nili Lotan. Though a small store, the selection is always changing – H. Audrey also carries limited jewelry collection from mostly local brands, perfect for finding a one-off piece that you won’t find elsewhere.  Not far from the main street of boutiques is Jamie, the crème-de-la-crème stand-alone store. Upon entering the heavy wooden doors (post ringing a bell), you’ll enter into the shoe salon and an upscale designer-haven with custom curated collections of European and American clothing and fine accessories.  Bring your Black Card to Jamie and be ready to spend: from Brunello Cucinelli to The Row, Rosetta Getty and Kimberly McDonald. On the contemporary front, Jamie carries brands from Tibi and Lisa Perry to Mother Denim. It’s a party in the front and business in the back – so head to the back of the full-service boutique for the in-house salon that offers a limited spa menu. On the up-and-coming 12th South, the chic Emerson Grace has a mix of contemporary labels like A.L.C, Rag & Bone, Shaffer LA, Schutz, Soludos. Housed in an old gas station Imogene + Willie is famous for their custom-made blue jeans which would make for a great “I got my jeans custom in Nashville” bragging rights, but if you’re not on the market for jeans, their antiques-looking statement jewelry is a sure win. Scout out Two Old Hippies, this cool Nashville outpost of Aspen’s original, where they sell famed guitars out of the “Vault Room”.  Cadeau is a very cool home furnishings and accessories shop, with insta worthy moss-covered walls with one-of-a-kind furniture for some chic finds.  For those in the market for cowboy boots, hoof-it in honky tonk on downtown’s Broadway. But if you’re in the market for some really good Italian-made boots Connie Britton style, Peter Nappi knows best. 

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