We think East Nashville's got the right stuff. Its low-key vibe, neighborly feel, and down-to-earth personality make this community a great place to escape the city without leaving town. Pop into any of the shops and eateries that have sprung up here over the past few years, and the person behind the counter is likely to be the owner. Here's our guide to where it's at.
The irresistible feel and smell of the South American leather bags and belts has seduced many a customer at Alegria. Don't miss the jewelry by Lou Zeldis, an artist from Bali whose whimsical silver works are sold in Neiman Marcus. Clothes hounds should make a beeline to The Hip Zipper, where the vintage clothes are clean and chosen with a selective eye. At NitWit and Kids you'll find sassy gifts and a pleasing mix of new and vintage clothing, all with a little attitude.
Have a sandwich or a salad at the Red Wagon Café, a popular local lunch spot with colorful walls, lots of character, and a refreshingly diverse crowd. The temptations are baked fresh each day at Sweet 16th, a great local bakery that makes scones; muffins; cakes; and Mamarangues, a mixture of chocolate and toffee. Dinner can't get much better than Margot Cafe, a local bistro infused with warmth and flavor. The menu reflects seasonally available ingredients, and the service and food are tops.
Among the first creative sparks in the Five Points District, artists Meg and Bret MacFadyen converted an old garage into an art studio and named it the Garage Mahal. That garage now fronts a sweet store called the Art & Invention Gallery, a gold mine of fine art, jewelry, artisan crafts, and gifts. Open weekdays by appointment and Friday through Sunday, the gallery hosts several art shows each year, including the Tomato Art Festival in August. "Everything floor to ceiling is tomato," Meg says.
See It for Yourself
Visit the Greater Five Points Merchant's Association at www.eastnashville.org/directory.php for links, addresses, phone numbers, and hours of these businesses and many more.
"Nashville's New Hot Spot" is from the May 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.