City Guide: Nashville

Lower Broadway, aka the Honky Tonk Highway, is home to some of Nashville’s most popular music venues.
Lower Broadway, aka the Honky Tonk Highway, is home to some of Nashville’s most popular music venues.
An amped-up fashion and restaurant scene proves music isn’t the only reason to put Nashville on your radar.

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Music City U.S.A. stands on the twangy traditions of its iconic Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and legendary Bluebird Cafe, where aspiring and established songwriters frequently test out new material. But Nashville long ago smashed the bumpkin mold, attracting a range of artistic talent, from rock innovators to fashion designers, wider than a country mile. Local and relocated chefs have made the city a North-meets-South culinary nexus, equally enamored of charcuterie and hot chicken.

Eat

Chef Julia Sullivan, lately of New York’s Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, returned home to open Henrietta Red, which specializes in oysters, crudos, and vegetable-focused dishes – many hot from the wood oven –  in dining-centric Germantown. 
 
In the trendy Gulch district between Music Row and down-town, sleek newcomer Little Octopus reveals its affection for Jamaica and Latin America in dishes such as spicy ceviche, goat curry, grilled meats, and creative vegetable options that include a cold dish of curried mango, watermelon, chickpeas, and goat cheese.
 
Its imported Italian oven is affectionately known as Enrico, but Nicky’s Coal Fired perfects more than thin-crust pizzas in The Nations neighborhood’s former Belle Meade Hosiery Mill. Don’t miss chef Tony Galzin’s house-made charcuterie and pastas, and specialties such as roasted quail.

Drink

Perk up at Steadfast Coffee in Germantown, a micro roaster where coffee roams the beverage range from espresso to soda. 
 
The Wedgewood-Houston restaurant Bastion only seats 24, but its bar is twice as big and just as creative as the prix fixe-focused kitchen. Pair the Manzanarita (tequila, lime, apple) or the Checkpoint (Becherovka amaro, honey, black pepper) with house nachos, the bar menu’s sole food item.
 
Nearby, order a flight of three mini cocktails – choices include a Sazerac, a gin mule, and an old fashioned – to sample the house-made hooch at Corsair Distillery. The reigning World Distiller of the Year per the Whisky Tasting Club opened its latest location in Wedgewood-Houston.

Shop

The fashion industry in Nashville lags behind only New York and Los Angeles in the U.S. In a former filling station, Imogene + Willie, from husband-and-wife team Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, translates rock-star insouciance into denim, designed and sewn in the U.S. 
 
The collectibles-stuffed show-room of Peter Nappi, dealing in refined Italian-made shoes, furnishings, and accessories, frequently doubles as a set for TV’s Nashville.
 
Emil Erwin produces sleek bags, belts, bins, and even chairs from fine leather, a fitting neighbor to Nisolo (1803 Ninth Avenue N.), which designs classic leather shoes produced at fair-trade factories in Peru and Kenya. 
 
Up-and-coming musicians turn to Cavanagh Baker for sequined trench coats and floral maxi dresses. 

Cavanagh Baker in her studio in downtown’s historic Cummins Station train depot.
Cavanagh Baker in her studio in downtown’s historic Cummins Station train depot.

Where to Stay in Nashville

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The historic 122-room Hermitage Hotel celebrates the region by raising its own cattle on a 250-acre farm and stocking its boutique with locally made goods.

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The recently renovated Hutton Hotel welcomes Music City fans with 247 renewed guest rooms, a larger bar, and a restaurant with Southern flair.

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