East Nashville: the Williamsburg of the South (or at least we like to think so). This sprawling neighborhood across the Cumberland River is a hip haven for all things local. A place where creative culture thrives, East Nashville is populated by musicians and artisans, designers and dreamers. It’s cool. It’s hipster. And yet it also maintains a level of authenticity, being genuinely shaped by the pioneers of the gig economy and the people who are still coming to Nashville with three chords and the truth (or a Marshall amp and vintage jeans, per the eastside’s burgeoning rock scene).
With all this creativity going around, East Nashville is also home to some of Nashville’s best restaurants, bars, shops and clubs. In fact, there is so much to love in East Nashville that we couldn’t fit it all in one guide.
Part 1 of this guide focuses on where to eat and drink in East Nashville, from casual to fine dining and caffeine to cocktails. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll explore all there is to do and see in our favorite little community.
Greko Greek Street Food
Street-style Greek food in a casual, urban outpost. Meats are cooked in-house on vertical rotisseries, and we love gathering in the graffiti-covered courtyard in the back on nice evenings.
I Dream of Weenie
The only thing cuter than the name of this place is the fact that they serve hot dogs out of a yellow vintage VW bus. Parked in the Five Points area, I Dream of Weenie is a gourmet hot dog stand with above average franks, such a pimento cheese and French toast. Choose between beef, turkey and veggie options.
Another adorably named eatery, Yeast Nashville is a daytime bakery specializing in kolaches – a Czech style pastry that can be filled with sweet or savory fillings such as fruits, nuts, sausage or eggs. Yeast Nashville also serves more familiar breakfast options such as eggs, biscuits and breakfast burritos.
It’s surprisingly hard to find a good sandwich in Nashville. Where fast food options abound, Mitchell is a mainstay of the East Nashville community – a place where you can drop in and get something to go without sacrificing quality. Grab a sandwich made from the best breads and artisan meats or a salad from the self-serve salad bar.
Five Points Pizza
Southern cooking is a lot of things, but no one does pizza like New Yorkers. Fortunately, we get our own slice of the Big Apple in Five Points Pizza, serving NY-style pies, slices and stromboli. Consistently voted in the best pizza in Nashville and located in the hip Five Points area, this is the perfect spot to start the night or get something to go.
Mas Tacos Por Favor
Never has the name of a restaurant so perfectly captured how we feel. One of Nashville's first food trucks to open a brick and mortar, Mas Tacos serves street-style tacos with simple ingredients and just the right amount of hole-in-the-wall. Mas Tacos is cash only, but at only $3 a piece, they will have you saying "more tacos, please" in no time.
An adorable French-feeling cafe that proves Millennial pink is here to stay. With coffee, cocktails and healthy dishes served all day, Cafe Roze is equally perfect for breakfast as it is for happy hour.
This East Nashville darling serves up everyone’s favorite tacos and margs, but it’s probably best known for its witty sign, with the most Instagrammable of sayings. We’re firm believers you can never, ever go wrong with a night at Rosepepper.
Don’t be fooled by the name; no cows were harmed in the making of this restaurant. In a region where it’s not uncommon to find meat IN your vegetables, Wild Cow is one of the few strictly vegetarian spots in Nashville. Everything on the menu comes vegan, with the option to add cheese.
Butcher & Bee
Based in Charleston, Butcher & Bee serves creative small plates, cocktails and a handful of entrees. Everything is fresh and made-from-scratch, featuring ingredients you recognize presented in a unique and flavorful way. The small plates are what shines here, and you can’t skip the whipped feta.
Upscale American food, carefully selected wines and a chic, yet laid back atmosphere is a perfect combination that Eastland Cafe does so well. A neighborhood favorite and our eastside go-to for a night out with friends, family or a date.
The latest creation from the chef of the highly-acclaimed Rolf & Daughters, Folk answers Rolf & Daughters’ pasta-centric menu with another Italian classic: pizza. Here, you’ll still find interesting ingredients (no judgment for Googling the menu under the table) and plenty of exposed brick, with a lighter and airier side than its sister restaurant.
A cute eatery in an old bungalow, Fort Louise gives you all the comfort of an in-home dinner party with food that you don’t have to cook. The menu centers around American classics, with a fantastic brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Marché is a daytime-only European bistro, serving brioche, croissants, and crepes along with a popular weekend brunch. Marché and its nationally acclaimed sister restaurant, Margot, were some of the first to bring farm-to-table cuisine to Nashville and are mainstays of the fine dining scene in East Nashville.
Though Barista Parlor now has locations across Nashville, their spot in East Nashville is the OG (original garage). This hip shop instantly made its mark on the Nashville coffee scene when it opened in 2011, sourcing single origin coffees and roasting them in house. We love the spacious interior layout and Americana vibes.
The Post East
We adore this little cafe tucked away in one of East Nashville’s quaint residential neighborhoods. Though it’s a coffee shop, it is also one of Nashville’s best spots to grab gluten-free, vegan and organic bites and smoothies.
Part tea shop and part enchanted forest, High Garden is must-visit for tea lovers. The front of the store has an assortment of fresh herbs and tea blends sold in bulk, while the back is home to a fermentation shop, with fresh kombucha, kefir and fermented foods. Grab a seat the bar and try the daily assortment of kombucha on tap.
As the name would suggest, this is a vintage-style soda parlor serving milkshakes, floats and high-end sodas on tap. If pretending you’re Sandra Dee for a day isn’t enough, you can also enjoy the on-site arcade and independent apparel shop, with graphic tees and hoodies designed in Nashville and screen printed by hand.
Rosemary & Beauty Queen
For when you kind of want to go out and kind of want to go a house party, there’s Rosemary and Beauty Queen, two bars nestled in the cutest East Nashville houses. Though the final touches are still being placed on Beauty Queen, Rosemary has been an instant hit with its great cocktails and cozy vibe.
Urban Cowboy Public House
When trendy Brooklyn bed & breakfast Urban Cowboy opened its Nashville location, everyone fell in love – so much so, that they created the Public House, a place for the locals to enjoy Urban Cowboy with no overnight reservations required. Stunning interior work from the folks at 1767 Designs, large fire pits and Southwestern decor make this the perfect spot to enjoy a spring or fall night.
Dino’s claims that it’s East Nashville’s oldest dive bar, and is there really any more explanation needed? Go for late night cheeseburgers, $3 beers and maybe even the occasional celeb sighting.
Smith & Lentz Brewing
East Nashville is home to some of Nashville’s best microbreweries, and the first one our list is Smith & Lentz. Located in no-frills digs along East Nashville’s main drag, Smith & Lentz has everything you need in a brewery: a popcorn machine, soft pretzels, a big projector screen for watching the game and plenty of cold brewed beer.
Southern Grist Brewing Co.
Southern Grist, tucked away in a residential neighborhood, is known for its experimental and creative flavors, incorporating things like fruit, coconut, cacao and vanilla into its brews (trust us, it works). We love grabbing a picnic table out front on a pretty day and sampling the flavor of the week.
Our love for this place goes to 11. Vinyl Tap is half craft beer bar, half record store, with beer holders built into the record shelves for easy sipping and browsing. It’s basically what all your hipster dreams are made of, and it’s right across from Southern Grist for the perfect one-two punch.
Walden is the bar we’ve always imagined. Beautifully designed, but laid back. Well-lit and cozy, a place for chatting with friends more than a place for getting someone’s number. And most importantly, THE COCKTAILS ARE UNDER $12, which is a small miracle in Nashville. As its muse would say, “go confidently.”
Nashville’s hottest spot north of Havana. Pearl Diver is a tropical-themed bar, with island-inspired drinks, cabanas and all the Hemingway-in-Cuba vibes. A really fun escape from the rest of the city, a trip to Pearl Diver should be on any East Nashville itinerary.
There’s no menu at this hip speakeasy, started in New York. After a cocktail consultation with your waiter, Attaboy’s bartenders will create a custom drink for you, based on your favorite spirit and flavors. We’ve yet to be disappointed, and even if surprises aren’t your thing, the atmosphere alone makes this a great place to get together with friends.
Kristen Shoates is a Nashville-based writer and marketing strategist and one of the writers at The Nashville Guide. She is passionate about telling stories and helping entrepreneurs and world changers turn their visions into reality. Kristen co-owns Sky Studios, a Nashville music lessons and recording studio, with her husband, and in her free time, loves travel, music, books, being outdoors, and any chance for a new adventure. You can find her at www.kristenshoates.com or on Instagram @kristenshoates.