Third Man Records’ vintage recording studio // © 2015 Melissa Karlin
Feature image (above): The 404 Hotel in the Gulch neighborhood // © 2015 Melissa Karlin
Don’t like country music? Well, Nashville may be the genre’s epicenter, but that doesn’t mean honky tonks and the Grand Ole Opry are the only reasons to visit the city. With amazing bars, restaurants, shops and more, the city is abuzz with fantastic things to do, eat and drink that have nothing to do with country music.
Bond Coffee Company, Garage Coffee Company and Frothy Monkey
Sometimes, you just need a coffee break. Enter Bond Coffee Company in the Gulch neighborhood, which features a vast open space with a “stay in there all day” kind of atmosphere.
In downtown Nashville’s Marathon Village, Garage Coffee Company offers a respite between boutiques and tastings. At various locations across the city, Frothy Monkey offers bagels, salads and sandwiches, plus a wine bar that frequently hosts tastings and events.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Art lovers will appreciate Frist Center for the Visual Arts, a museum dedicated to fine and decorative arts housed inside of a beautiful art deco post office. With no permanent collection, the space features a rotation of world-class exhibitions, bringing some major exhibits to Nashville.
Marathon Village and Corsair Artisan
The aforementioned Marathon Village is a former car factory building that has been converted into offices, storefronts, cafes and tasting rooms. Among them is Corsair Artisan, which offers tours of its award-winning distillery. A tasting session is included in the tour.
Corsair Artisan’s technique for making spirits in small batches lends itself well to their experimental nature. They can play around, submit their work to a contest and, if the batch is well received, increase production. The triple-smoke whiskey and quinoa whiskey are particularly incredible, and be sure to try unique flavors such as the exclusive Chocolate Mole Stout.
Past downtown Nashville along the Cumberland River is Pinewood Social. This space is an adult wonderland with two bars, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a bowling alley with vintage lanes, an outdoor patio with spaces for ping-pong and bocce ball and even two dipping pools. The various areas of the social gathering space feel like completely different bars. And when it comes to cocktails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Rolf and Daughters
Situated inside a 100-year-old Werthan Factory building in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, Rolf and Daughters offers a unique combination of Italian, southern and haute cuisine. There are upscale flavors with a neighborhood atmosphere.
The 404 Hotel
The 404 Hotel in the Gulch is the perfect hideaway from the country music bombardment of downtown. With a minimalist design aesthetic that leans a little French, the boutique five-room hotel offers a cool, refreshing getaway in a central location. The property also offers full-house bookings for larger groups.
The 404 Kitchen
The 404 Kitchen, connected to The 404 Hotel, is on a similar playing field with its approach to food, but is truly fine dining. With an emphasis on elevating what has always been great about southern cooking, their interpretations and use of local produce is satisfying.
Though I formerly disliked okra and its slimy texture, I was convinced to try it, and theirs was otherworldly. Trust in the team at The 404 Kitchen — they know how to craft a flawless meal.
Third Man Records
If you prefer rock ’n’ roll to country, find your tribe at Third Man Records, Jack White’s label and recording studio. The adjacent shop‘s bright red-and-yellow interior offer exclusive vinyl recordings made next door and pressings from The White Stripes and other Jack White endeavors.
One of the best things about the shop is its vintage recording booth. Visitors can sing a song and have their tunes pressed immediately.
Two Old Hippies in the Gulch
To continue on the rock music trail, visit the Gulch’s Two Old Hippies. With a diverse array of clothing, books, jewelry, guitars and a stage where local artists can perform, this shop is like a small hippie commune — if hippies were into commercialism.