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Mar 25, 2010 01:33 PM

Moving to Nashville may be in my future, basic questions need answering.

For work related reasons, I may be relocating to Nashville. I know nothing of the restaurant/bar/cafe scene. Is there a neighborhood where many decent restaurants, bars, cafes and grocers are all walking distance? I have a car, but am coming from Boston and before that I lived in New York, Seattle and San Francisco so I dont mind the work commute if food, coffee and booze are within easy walks of my home.

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  1. You might want to consider The Gulch in Downtown Nashville, some good buys available in brand new new high rise luxury condos. If you want a more established area you might try Green Hills or Hillsboro Village in the south part of Nashville around the Vanderbilt campus. These are the best walking areas in Nashville which otherwise is not that "walker friendly" a city. The restaurants in these areas are some of the best in Nashville too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mnastri

      Thanks, I'll do some research on these area. It has been awhile since I needed to drive for an espresso on a day off.

    2. OK, first, Nashville is smaller than all the places you mention, with fewer restaurants, bars, cafes, etc. It's very much a car culture city, sadly, and there are few areas where you can walk to all the amenities you mention.

      In addition to the areas mnastri mentions (which don't have grocery stores you can walk to, unless one has gone into the Gulch recently), you could look at East Nashville which is walking distance (and walking friendly) to some fine restaurants, lots of bars, a number of welcoming coffee shops, and truly pathetic groceries. Or Inglewood, slightly north of East Nashville, not as walkable, with a smaller number of decent bars/restaurants and a better grocery a short ride away. (Both these areas are mostly houses rather than apartments, as is Green Hills. Lots of dogs and children.)

      One of the advantages of the city's small size is that there are good grocers in easy driving distance wherever you are, and there's a farmers' market that is full of local meat, cheese and produce most of the year.

      4 Replies
      1. re: nm1

        Re: Grocery Stores
        The Harris-Teeter on 21st is in walkable distance from Hillsboro Village. And isn't TJ's in Green Hills?

        1. re: decolady

          Yeah, and you can walk there from the Green Hills mall or the Hill Center. But there aren't a lot of living places withing walkable distance when carrying groceries. I think one could probably live near enough to the Green Hills Kroger to make walking it feasible.

          1. re: nm1

            Green Hills Mall is across 440 from the Harris Teeter. That's way too far to walk with groceries and not really comparable, imo. We lived in Village @ Vanderbilt for several months last summer and fall. Most of the time my spouse walked back and forth to Harris Teeter to do our grocery shopping. I would venture to say that many living spaces in Hillsboro Village are closer to that grocery than we were.

            And the TJ's is just around the corner from the Green Hills Kroger so it might be doable, too for a Green Hills residence.

        2. re: nm1

          I would second the East Nashville recommendation, especially if the Hillsboro Village/Green Hills options are out of your price range (as they are for us, even though I rented in Hillsboro Village in college). We live off Eastland Ave in E. Nashville and are loving the convenience of Eastland Cafe, Silly Goose, Wild Cow, Rosepepper Cantina, Mitchell Deli, Nashville Biscuit House, Las Maracas, Allium, and most recently, Holland House. Yeah, the grocery store options are not great (although improving), but you'll find a little more character and adventure in E. Nashville (as well as a really strong neighborhood-y vibe, check out our massive neighborhood listserv here: We also lived Downtown at the Viridian for 2 years and liked it, but didn't love it. East is our favorite part of town, by far.

          Rosepepper Cantina
          1907 Eastland Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

          Nashville Biscuit House
          805 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

        3. Hillsboro Village, SW of Vanderbilt, is very much a walkable, browsable area such as you seem to be looking for, and the adjoining urban neighborhoods are not radically unlike the ones you're used to. We were for twenty years residents of the immediately adjacent Hillsboro-Belmont neighborhood, which was at the time both quite affordable and convenient to shops, stores and gathering places. This was ten years ago, but we return for a visit every year, and have seen no major change in the area's qualities. It would still be our neighborhood of choice if we were to move back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            Thanks all. The rest of the internet seems to agree with Hillsboro Village. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

            1. re: KilgoreTrout

              I too agree with Hillsboro Village but you'd be remiss if you don't check out the gulch.

          2. I second East Nashville. Since you are coming from Boston you may want to check out this place. It's in East Nashville and I believe it's owned by a Boston native. There are many other restaurants in this area and it's close to downtown.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Ross B

              Thanks again. I guess the grocery store is not as big a deal, as I do have a car. Any previous threads I should dig up? I have noticed on the Boston board, general questions such as mine tend to bring up comments like "we did this one months ago, search out ..."

              1. re: KilgoreTrout

                KT, welcome to Nashville. I am not recalling another thread on this subject, per se, but there could certainly be one. The thing is, unlike Boston (which I often hear referred to as a walking city) and other places in the northeast, most places in the south are not geared toward walking and the residents here don't think in that mindset. The Hillsboro Village/Belmont area, Green Hills, and East Nashville are all nice places to live. I can't speak to the downtown area as I haven't paid much attention to it. Check them all out and see which suits you better. They all have a different "vibe", for want of a better word, and you are likely to prefer one more so than the others. We like several of the West End restaurants, too. (Will be staying over tomorrow night to go to the Tin Angel, for instance). Like WO, I lean toward the Hillsboro Village area.

                If you come to check things out before the move, I would recommend that you come while school is in session. Vanderbilt University and Belmont University are in close proximity and there will be a totally different feeling and crowd, depending on whether the majority of the students are there or not.

                Tin Angel Restaurant
                3201 W End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

            2. I will add my voice to the Hillsboro Village chorus as probably being closest to what you are looking for. It's still not going to be dense mixed residential-and-retail, but you'll have the strips of retail surrounded by residential. Harris Teeter (and a hardware store) are in the general area and walkable. HT isn't a huge grocery store, but perfectly adequate and somewhat upscale. Keep in mind that because it's Hillsboro Village, because it's in the Eakin Elementary School district, and because it's Vanderbilt (and to some degree Belmont) area, this area ain't cheap.

              Just north of Hillsboro Village is the midtown area. A lot of people don't think about this as residential, but in fact there are several condo buildings, some with a little character. This is the area bounded by 21st/Broadway/West End extending a few blocks east. There are lots of cool restaurants in this area, lots of nightlife.

              As for Green Hills, it has the best Kroger in town, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods, but "walkable" it's not. In fact, GH is one of the LEAST walkable areas, and suffers from some pretty serious traffic congestion. There are some very nice residential areas -- some of the most expensive in the county -- surrounding the retail area, but it's not pedestrian-friendly.

              East Nashville is another one to look at, but there is no decent grocery store, and only certain parts of East Nashville would probably fit the bill. Again, pockets of retail surrounded by swathes of residential, so whether you can walk to your neighborhood cafe would depend entirely on what neighborhood you were in. The prime areas for this sort of life were gentrified 10 or more years ago, and are thus the most expensive. More up-and-coming areas that are more affordable are further from the sorts of bars-and-shops strips you're looking for, and are also edgier, with drug dealing and gang activity on certain blocks/streets. So, with East, you have to be very, very careful about choosing.

              You might also look at 12South. Another older section that has undergone gentrification. Closer to Belmont, again not cheap but there may be some bargains. No grocery store but pretty close to Green Hills and some quaint shops and restaurants.

              The Gulch, I agree would be an area to look at, as well as Germantown. Germantown again would be edgy but really old and urban at the same time, with the bonus of being very close to the (admittedly currently mediocre but improving) Farmer's Market. Another even more avant-garde idea is to look at downtown proper. There aren't that many places to live, but there are a few, and there's even a small HG Hills market on 4th I believe.

              I agree, "walkable" unfortunately isn't in the vocabulary of most Southern cities, mostly I believe (amateur sociologist here) because they didn't suffer the population pressures of Northern cities and thus spread out more readily than up. Nashville has only fairly recently embraced mixed-use zoning. In fact, up until a few years ago, residental property was FORBIDDEN downtown. That said, I would say keep an open mind about neighborhoods and don't discount something because a cafe isn't in walking distance. Some neighborhoods are very walkABLE, it's just 100% residential. I used to live in the Whitland area and it was LOVELY for walking, it was just all houses.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TLF

                Just adding about 2ยข worth more here: unless you (can afford to) live in Belmont-Hillsboro or Hillsboro-West End within a few blocks of Hillsboro Village, Nashville should be treated as a car-oriented town with walkable destinations. There's just one person we know who walks almost exclusively, an elderly bachelor with a (very rare) inexpensive apartment on 18th who does all of his shopping in the Village or at H-T. Our style was always to drive to a good parking lot or parking place and then hoof it through the immediate area, even Green Hills - Mrs. O and I actually lived in Green Hills for our first year together, and though it is not particularly pedestrian-friendly it is navigable on foot MUCH more than at the wheel. Learn where the good (and free!) parking is and then get your exercise.