Arnold’s Country Kitchen
605 8th Ave. S., The Gulch
Opened in 1982 and still family-owned, Arnold's is only open for lunch on weekdays, but we heard so much about the fried chicken and Meat & Three options that we paid a visit—it was well worth it for an all-around authentic experience. Their James Beard award for American Classics is well deserved.
1812 21st Ave. S., Belmont
Bongo Java is another major hangout in Nashville. When we passed by on a sunny day in the winter, there was a crowd sitting at the tables on the front porch, happily chatting the afternoon away. Bongo Java serves a great brunch. GP got their fabulous tofu veggie scramble on several mornings to arm her for a day on the set of Country Strong.
Christie Cookie Co.
2606 12th Ave S., 12South
For a sweet treat in 12South, this new outpost of Christie Cookie’s offers fresh-baked cookies, brownies, and cakes, as well as ice cream sandwiches. We love the integrity with which their goods are made—they don’t use preservatives and use ingredients like chocolate made from sustainably-farmed cocoa beans.
15 Hermitage Ave., Downtown
These specialty coffee roasters (they roast their own beans in the back of their shop) can be found all over Nashville, but their brick-and-mortar is more than worth a visit. The bright, white-washed cafe is outfitted with free WiFi and the requisite hipster crowd, and there's also a wide front porch that offers an excellent view of the downtown skyline. All of the espresso drinks are excellent, as are the avocado and ricotta toasts. It's a no-brainer if you need a cozy desk to hunker down with your computer for a few hours.
516 Hagan St., Wedgewood-Houston
This Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood standby is usually full of locals, who feast on crunchy baguettes with butter, mushroom and ricotta toasts, pickled veggies and salads, and authentically French croissants. Grab a box of chocolate chip pecan cookies on your way home for the perfect late-night snack.
Drew’s Brews Coffee
Drew is the man behind the brews at the best coffee shops and restaurants in Nashville. A quirky character and a true craftsman (he lives in an ex-motorcyle gang meeting place that he is rehabbing); he hand roasts his famous coffee beans and writes each label himself.
Five Daughters Bakery
1110 Caruthers Ave., 12South
Between raising a family (they actually do have five daughters) and growing their small business, Five Daughters owners Isaac and Stephanie Meek definitely have their hands full. Isaac comes from a family of bakers—his grandfather baked cakes and his father owned a pizza shop—and he's made this fledgling bakery famous for a 100-layer donut, which tastes like an overly decadent cronut and takes three days to make. Between those magnificent creations and their sister sweets, like paleo donuts (grain, dairy, and sugar-free) and arguably the best cupcakes in town, it's no surprise that they sell out both here and at their Franklin and East Nashville locations, every day.
Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse
2509 12th Ave. S., 12South
Always bustling with students, freelancers, and passersbys, this cozy shop sprawls through asmall house including a porch, which is lovely in the summer. Come early for coffee, workthrough the afternoon and finish the day with their stellar dinner options. There are several other locations throughout the city, including Downtown and the Nations.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
5209 Charlotte Ave., Sylvan Park
Hot chicken is a must in Nashville, and even though they have three locations (Melrose, Midtown, and West Nashville), Hattie B's always has a line out the door and around the corner. If you're patient, it's totally worth the wait for Nashville’s famous hot chicken, which comes in several heat levels: mild, medium, hot, damn-hot, and shut-the-cluck-up. Pro tip: place a pickup order online to skip the line.
High Garden Tea
935A Woodland St., Five Points
Leah and Joel Laravell are longtime herb and tea obsessives and the partners behind High Garden Tea. Leah brews her own tonics and tinctures inspired by old Appalachian remedies, and the rustic, cabin-style shop is the kind of place where you want to linger for hours (something the Laravells heartily encourage). Shelves and counters are stocked with herbs, spices, and whole-leaf teas, and everything is sourced from organic and ethically wildcrafted sources. There are also house-made kombucha and cactus kefir available, and the owners host monthly workshops for those looking to learn about herbalism, tinctures, and the simple beauty of a good cup of tea.
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