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Jul 15, 2007 10:39 PM

Nashville - best coffeehouse in Downtown?

What's a great independent coffeehouse (no chains) in Downtown Nashville area with great coffee drinks and comfy seating? If they roast beans, that's a plus, because I'd like to take some home. This is my first time in Nashville, so I have to try "the best in the city"

I will also take recommendations for good coffee places that happen to be in interesting walkable neighborhoods.

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  1. On another website, someone recommended the Hillsboro Village area for Fido coffee shop and Provence Bakery. Anyone know anything about these places.

    I'm going this weekend; hope to hear from someone soon.

    4 Replies
    1. re: CookieEater

      It has been a number of years, but used to go to Provence regularly. It was wonderful. Good coffee, great breads & had nice cheese & olive selections. Was a broke student at the time & could make a meal of coffee and a basket of odds & ends of bread slices that was inexpensive and yummy. Had real butter, good quality jams & honey too. Parking in back (sometimes hard to find in that area) and nice, sunny, comfy atmosphere. BTW, place across the street is very popular pancake place if you decide you want a breakfast spot. Can't remember the name, but it is on a corner. Won't be hard to find!

      1. re: CookieEater

        Provence has good bread and pastry, and some sandwiches, cheeses, and prepared salads. All are tasty. I find the place a tad on the pretentious side, but that's just me.

        Fido has an edge in the coffee department (a larger selection of drinks, better selection of brews, roast their own beans), doesn't have the pastries, cheeses, or prepared sandwiches, but will cook you a good, imaginative hot breakfast or lunch. The atmosphere there is funkier.

        I would actually recommend a third choice, Portland Brew. To my mind it's the best coffee and most comfortable surroundings in the city. There isn't one downtown or in Hillsboro Village, but there are branches in East Nashville, Sylvan Park, and on 12th South. Portland Brew also roasts their own beans, and to my taste they do a much better job than Fido/Bongo Java: the taste is cleaner and the beans never turn mushy. They always have a couple of varieties of Indonesian coffees (my favorite) on sale as beans, and almost always at least one on sale to be drunk there. My friends who are into the more creative coffee drink combinations tell me that Portland Brew does a better job of them than Fido. They also have good pastries and cookies, though not up to the standards of Provence. They also go for a funky atmosphere.

        1. re: nm1

          This sounds great. This is also in the Hillsboro Village area, which was recommended to me on another website. It's also fairly near my hotel. Perfect! I will report back.

          1. re: CookieEater

            If you're not strictly downtown (and all the places mentioned so far are in midtown/Hillsboro Village), I would put in a plug for Frothy Monkey on 12th South. They carry really high-end teas and coffees, all organic, and source most of their food from organic providers. It's been two years since I ate there, but it was amazing, which you can't usually say about coffee house sandwiches, soups and salads.

      2. Though I haven't lived in Nashville for several years, I have great memories of Cafe Coco, over on West End. I never had a drink there that I didn't like, and I found the outdoor seating to be very comfortable as long as it wasn't too hot. Plus, it's open twenty-four hours. West End, so I am told, is still a happenin' neighborhood, especially among the twenty-something set.

        I hope you enjoy your visit :)

        1. Just remembered, decent coffee & light meal/pastries at a great indie bookstore, Davis Kidd. Its a short drive from Hillsboro Village area. If you like a good bookstore you'll be very happy.

          5 Replies
          1. re: meatn3

            Of all these, if you are looking for strictly downtown coffee shops, Provence is your only real choice, with an outpost in the pblic library on Church street. That said, the Portland Brew on Murphy road, Fido in Hillsboro (as well as another Provence), and Bongo Java on Belmont are all 5-10 minute drives. Also, the Portland Brew on 12th avenue South is a very simple, short drive from downtown, and you will pass right by Frothy Monkey. Though Cafe Coco is close, I have found the service to be a bit slow and indifferent, and the attitudes of the servers (and some patrons) to be offputting and far from welcoming.

            1. re: notgreg

              We liked Provence for its location next to the used bookstore. Also a really nice airy place to beat the heat. We had brought in our leftover desserts from Swett's so I didn't get to try their pastries, but the coffee was good.
              I bought coffee beans from Portland Brew, haven't tried it yet. We did pass Frothy Monkey but I thought it might be overkill to visit 3 coffee places in one afternoon. I thought the Portland Brew on 12th South was really dark and lonely inside and not good for people watching. But the sales guy was nice.

              1. re: CookieEater

                Everyone has their own local favorite, but in my opionion hands down Portland Brew (I prefer the 12th South location) is the best coffee and they roast their own beans (you can smell it in the neighborhood around 11am through the afternoon!) Service is also good and it's not overpriced. And, as mentioned above, it's an easy shot from downtown. They also have sandwiches, etc. Regarding people watching, if you can get a seat on the small front patio there's lots of activity -- dog walkers, regulars, visitors, etc. but I do agree that the inside is dark. My experience at Frothy Monkey has been that's a more "frou frou" coffee place -- definitely more expensive and into lots of drinks that could double as a dessert.

                Fido in Hillsboro Village has expanded their food menu to include more choices/unique items other than just sandwiches and also serves beer now, just fyi so could double as a dinner place. I would agree with notgreg and skip Cafe Coco -- it's more of a 24 hour hangout and not a destination coffee house.

                1. re: jcr05

                  Drinks as dessert...maybe I should've stopped by Frothy Monkey after all! SO likes regular coffee, but I'm all about the whipped cream. Maybe next time.

            2. re: meatn3

              As a follow up to that, David Kidd bookstore is now in Green Hills Mall and has a much more corporate feel since the move (they are a TN based 3 with 2 or 3 locations across the state)......unless you just want to go to the mall, or want a "fancier" lunch with your coffee, I wouldn't kill myself to get there.