I spent a week exploring Nashville and have compiled my favourite (gluten free-friendly) restaurants, coffee spots, shops, cocktail bars and music venues to share!
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that we spent a week in March exploring our way around Nashville. It was our first time visiting the city, but already we are talking about going back and bringing along some friends! While we were there, I received so many messages from people who are either planning a trip or hope to go at some point and I wanted to compile my recommendations in one spot. Nashville is an amazing place and I’m excited share my most favourite parts, especially when it comes to finding spots to eat that have gluten free and healthy options. I’m all for indulgence (hi, Taurus!) but feel my best when I keep things on the plant-based healthy side, and I found it pretty easy to satisfy both during our trip. We always like to do a little shopping while we’re away from our usual stores, and especially like to find unique take-homes from antique and vintage shops. Do you guys ever pop by vintage stores while away? We came home with an old horseshoe (we felt like that was a perfect souvenir from a country music mecca!) as well as a small vintage swirled ceramic vase that I love.
I have so many spots to suggest to anyone who visits! I can’t wait to hear what you guys think if you go 🙂
PLACES TO EAT
Little Octopus – this is where we ate our first night, and it was such a lovely, delicious meal to start our trip! I loved that the menu was marked with everything that was gluten free, as well as the things that were dairy free, vegan, etc. It made ordering super easy. Their wine list was really good too. Just as amazing was the stunning decor – all copper mirrors so that everything had a slightly rose-coloured glow, pretty pink banquette, light wood with white walls, pink marble tables … basically super feminine heaven – I was smitten.
The Wild Cow – vegan with lots of gluten free options, this place was great for healthy take out (we split a giant salad and the Buffalo Beans and Greens that we had delivered one rainy evening and it was mega good). We also went for lunch another day, and it was just the sort of filling, hearty, healthy fare that helps keep my digestion happy – I always seek out the super hippy vegan places during vacations to help my sensitive stomach keep on track, and this place was just perfect. Zach got a big vegan sandwich called the Buffalo Grinder and said it was really good too.
Sunflower Cafe – another very healthy and tasty lunch spot, this one was cafeteria-style. Inexpensive too! They were great about changing gloves for gluten free needs, and they had this amazing stevia-sweetened rootbeer that felt so nostalgic as a treat!
Pinewood Social – such a fun spot! We did brunch and dinner here during our trip, and it was great food, nice cocktails, airy and bright decor (think Mildred Kitchen in Toronto, if you’ve been) with a huge beautiful bar in the centre. Next trip to Nashville, we plan to go with at least another couple and definitely want to go bowling in the alley at the back of the restaurant(!!). I also bet this would be really fun in the summer, apparently they have an airstream that serves small bites and drinks poolside – doesn’t that sound amazing?
Rolf and Daughters – another special place for dinner! We ate here our last night, and it was delicious. They were accommodating for my dietary needs, which is always so appreciated, and the setting was really lovely. A great place for a date. We had ice cream for dessert here (there were dairy free options and they were really, really good!)
Butcher and Bee – so good! We over-ordered here without realizing that’s what we were doing, but it meant that we had leftovers to bring back to our airbnb and I got lunch out of it the next day, ha! A mix of middle eastern items with a Nashville twist! Literally everyone we spoke with recommended the whipped feta dip so if you do dairy, go for that forsure! We ended up ordering the hummus – with freshly baked pita for Zach and cucumber for me – as well as the carrot mezze, avocado crispy rice, green salad, plus Zach also had the cheeseburger and said it was A+.
Burger Up – we had lunch here one day and it was great! It’s also bright and airy in here, and there were lots of options for both everything-eaters and gluten-free. In addition to a bunch of burger options including veggie, they also had nice salads and other things.
E+Rose Wellness Cafe – because sometimes you just really need a smoothie!
Vui’s Kitchen – healthy Vietnamese food that is super delicious! They were the most accommodating and super careful about keeping things gluten free for me. We had lunch here one day at the Germantown location and it was really fresh and just so good.
The Post East – this is the kind of place that gluten free people will love because there are tons of options, including breakfast waffles, bread, pastries, and smoothies. We split a waffle and it was a fun treat, plus they had good coffee!
Cafe Roze – you may have seen this pretty spot on instagram? Lots of healthy options, and pretty.
Olive and Sinclair – okay, so you can’t eat a meal here but this is a chocolate factory and it was delicious, so I had to include it in my list! We enjoyed a few samples here, and left with the sea salt chocolate bar which was dairy free. If you go on a Saturday, you can do a tour of the factory too!
Other places that we wished we could have made it to include Coco Greens (they also have spa treatments that would have been fun to indulge in!), Kokos for vegan ice cream, Henrietta Red for a special dinner, the gorgeous-looking The Fox Bar and Cocktail Club for their vegan cheeses, dessert and hummus that all sound so good, EiO and The Hive for all organic breakfast, Biscuit Love (but get there early, because apparently long lines are the norm), and Mas Tacos which was suggested to us numerous times! Nashville is known for it’s hot chicken (deep fried and quite spicy, from what I’ve heard) which obviously isn’t gluten free but was on most lists of things you’ve gotta eat while in town, alongside Southern BBQ (which again, we also missed).
COFFEE SHOPS AND THE BEST TEA
Barista Parlour – our favourite place for pour-overs! The East Nashville location was our favourite – it’s decorated with these vintage motorcycles, and it has this cool industrial vibe. Great coffee and a nice place to chat!
High Garden – this place is magic! Think of it as an herbalist’s dream where they hand blend various teas, serve thoughtful therapeutic infusions, and – the dreamiest – have a sipping bar in the back where they serve flights of fermented beverages like kombucha and kefir!
Crema – another place for very good coffee!
PLACES TO GO FOR A DRINK
Attaboy – this was our favourite cocktail bar! Think Great Gatsby-esque decor with lots of gorgeous vintage touches. Perhaps the most fun aspect here is that you describe the flavours you like to your bartender, and they craft something amazing for you based on that! I ended up with an herbal lime and gin cocktail and Zach got something with bourbon – we both loved it. The staff here were also so kind, and happy to chat about what they were making. Another fun thing is that you knock on the door to be let in, kind of like a speakeasy. They have a limit on how many people can be in the bar at once so that everyone can be served in the same, very one-on-one way, and did I mention it’s beautiful? Go here, even if just for one special drink.
The Crying Wolf – we loved this place too, but it was about as different from my first suggestion as you could get. Super laid-back, a bit divey, but also super cool. We spent a fun afternoon here with their friendly bartenders and would definitely go back. A friend had suggested this place to us, and I’m passing on the suggestion to you all 🙂
Public House – located behind the Urban Cowboy bnb (a place I wish we’d stayed at for their gorgeous bathtubs!), we also loved their bar. Think cozy campfires. We left with that distinct smokey scent on our jackets but it was worth it because this was a really great place to hang out and chat fireside.
LA Jackson Rooftop Bar – located on the top floor of the stunningly beautiful Thompson Hotel in The Gulch, this was another fun place to go for a special cocktail. We went here our first night and it was the perfect way to kick off our week in Nashville.
Nashville is full of music – literally of every variety, not just the obvious 😉 You could literally find live music any day. There are a bunch that you could buy tickets to ahead if you’re a planner, or you could pop into any of the places on Broadway. I found songkick.com helpful for listing lots of options by date if you’re looking for a show.
Robert’s Western World – this Honky Tonk is located right on the Broadway strip and from what I hear, it’s like the OG. Super fun, daily live music, no cover, and cheap drinks. We had fun listening to country music and chatting with the people we squeezed into a table with here!
Honky Tonk Tuesdays at the American Legion – we didn’t make it to this but I’m passing on the suggestion because it was so highly recommended by a lovely local we met. Supposed to be really fun!
The Basement – we really liked this place! Located in the basement of one of the best record stores we’ve ever been to. Check their calendar for shows, we happened to go on a night where they had 4 or 5 different groups playing and they were all good. There’s also The Basement East location!
Ryman – an absolute classic! You need to buy tickets for shows here, but worth planning for.
ACME, 3rd and Lindsley, Bluebird Cafe, Mercy Lounge, The Listening Room, and 12th and Porter are all great venues that have live music too!
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Radnor Lake – you know how sometimes you just need a little nature? Moments after we starting walking the trail here, we came upon a little creek and the sound of rushing water was just the most calming thing. We also saw an owl! My first time outside of a zoo!
Two Son – this was our favourite store, they had stuff for me (CAP beauty coconut butter, ceramics, nice clothes including Jesse Kamm pants!) but also for Zach. It can be hard to find a shop that serves us both, but he found a great sweater and jean jacket here so it was a total win. The owner was also friendly and gave us some great suggestions!
Lemon Laine – I was so excited to check out this spot and made it a must-do during our trip! Bonus was that it is located around the corner from Wild Cow. This natural beauty shop carries a huge variety of truly lovely products, as well as supplements, home items, food and even CBD. I found some things that I have been keeping an eye out for (including Zenbunni gheenache – seriously the best). I also discovered some new-to-me brands here and came home with a new beard oil for Zach and a balm for me, both by Clary Collection. I would have loved to get a custom oil blended at the oil bar, maybe next time! The owner also runs some cool events out of the shop, and this place is just so sunny and pretty – we were told that local artists created the wallpaper in the store, which is so cool!
Downtown Antique Mall – this was such a good find. I mentioned above that Zach and I like to check out vintage shops when we’re in new cities, and honestly if we had a big truck that we could have driven home to Canada, we would have loaded up. Mid-century modern and industrial furniture, ceramics, vintage music equipment (which is Zach’s domain and favourite thing!) and just generally unique cool stuff. A very fun place to spend an hour or two exploring.
Amelia Styles – this little shop on Porter Road had a French, feminine aesthetic and the shop owner was lovely. I found two tops here that were really unique and pretty!
Apple & Oak – probably more of a shop to pop by if you’re looking for home decor (textiles, specifically) or if you took a road trip and have some extra space in your car but a nice shop, nonetheless!
Keep Shop – located in the Noelle Hotel on Fourth Ave N, this is a really beautiful boutique just inside the hotel lobby. This is a shop for splurging. Local and artisanal items that are special and unique.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts – located on Broadway, we popped into this gallery on the suggestion of a really sweet girl we met at Lemon Laine. There was a Nick Cave exhibit on while we were there (it’s available until the end of June 2018), so strange and colourful! There was also a photography exhibit of the American prison system and it was haunting and deeply sad.
Johnny Cash Museum – touristy, yes. But, it was also really a wonderful collection. Such an artist, and also the perfect way to escape the rain 😉
Record shops – there are a bunch in Nashville, which makes sense with a nickname like “Music City”. Favourites included the one at The Basement (huge!) and Vinyl Tap, which is also a bar so you could flip through records while having a beer (or gf cider!).
I regret we didn’t make it to Nisolo to check out their handcrafted shoes or to Consider the Wldflwrs for their pretty jewelry! Also Percy Warner State Park, or a show at the Grand Ole Opry.
About 20 or so minutes away, this is a cute little historic town to spend the day exploring.
Honest Coffee – located inside the atrium of a historic factory alongside a bunch of little shops and businesses. They roast their coffee onsite and make their own absolutely amazing almond coconut milk. I had a latte here and it was honestly one of the best ever.
Franklin Juice – juice! We also found this in that same historic factory.
Frothy Monkey – the perfect place for a healthy lunch, in the small downtown area.
Several cute shops line the main strip of downtown. I bought a cute jumpsuit at Heylee B’s, and wanted almost everything at Emmaline. This is a nice area to wander around. There was one men’s shop at the top of the street that Zach found a few things in too.
CITY GUIDES FOR EXTRA INFO!
I searched through quite a number of these while we were planning our trip.
Nashville Guru – for neighbourhood-specific recommendations
Nutrition Stripped – McKel’s healthy city guide
Native – a website full of good suggestions
tifforelie for beautiful photos and spots around Nashville, and local milk for some Chattanooga spots, which is a few hours away (day trip?)
Day trips to explore Tennessee, we wish we could have made it to the underground lost sea – doesn’t that sound amazing?