Berry Hill / Melrose is the Place to Be – Dead or Alive!

Whether you are planning to spend a day or a weekend (or longer!) in the Berry Hill/Melrose district, here are some suggestions for places to visit, shop and dine.

Native Nashvillians past a certain age still recall when the impossibly large and elegant 100 Oaks Mall was opened in 1968. It was the place to be seen, when Bobbi Brooks was the clothing brand to be seen in! Now that the mall has changed its focus (yes, there are still shops on the exterior perimeter, but the main focus of the mall itself is outpatient services affiliated with Vanderbilt Medical Center) the excitement has shifted to the neighborhoods adjacent to the mall – Berry Hill and Melrose.

Berry Hill has been home to an eclectic variety of shops, offices and restaurants for many years, but its popularity has surged recently. And, while it’s hard to say whether the phenomenal growth in Melrose is more directly related to the popularity of Berry Hill or 12 South (its neighbor to the west), all of the sudden the Melrose area is a fun area of town again!

Whether you are planning to spend a day or a weekend (or longer!) in the Berry Hill/Melrose district, here are some suggestions for places to visit, shop and dine:

Breakfast

If you’ve got kids, breakfast at the Pfunky Griddle on Bransford Ave. is a great way to start the day. This fun eatery provides you with all the ingredients your heart could desire to cook your own breakfast – right at the table! Then – best part – they clean up after you!

Looking for a great value at breakfast? Athens Family Restaurant on Franklin Pike has been voted Nashville’s number one breakfast restaurant, serving breakfast any time of day (and through the night Thursday through Saturday!). Order an egg & cheese sandwich for just $3.99 – or loosen your belt and get The Hercules Platter (steak, eggs, home fries, toast & pancakes) for $14.99. You even can order fancier fare, like the Crab Cakes Benedict or Eggs Viennese (a low-carb treat featuring lox and cream cheese).

If you have a taste for high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, give Fenwick’s 300 a try. One of Melrose’s newest restaurants, the “300” refers to a perfectly bowled game – an homage to the Melrose Lanes bowling alley that occupied part of the building from 1945 to 2005 (they preserved one lane in the bar area). This is a restaurant to get breakfast with a creative twist – and a custom coffee beverage created by the in-restaurant Bongo Java coffee bar. Fenwick’s 300 is located in The Melrose building on Franklin Pike.

So now you’re fed, and you’re looking for something to do…

GasLamp Antiques Mall has gotten so big and popular that they’ve now opened a second location, GasLamp II, just half a block from the original on Powell Place. With over 160 spaces, the sheer variety of available merchandise boggles the mind. This Saturday (June 27), both GasLamp locations will be hosting a Freedom Fest, serving cold lemonade and savory barbecue – and many of the dealers will be offering special summer savings.

This June 26-28 weekend is also the weekend for the monthly Nashville Flea Market at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Considered one of the top ten flea markets in the U.S., each month 800 to 1200 vendors peddle merchandise representing every category imaginable (except animals – not permitted).

You may already know where many of Nashville’s current music stars live – but have you ever taken a tour of the stars’ final resting places? Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetary, flanking Thompson Lane, is where a good many country legends are buried. Take a tour of the grounds, and you’ll find markers for the likes of Porter Waggoner, Marty Robbins, and George Jones. Head into the mausoleum to find Tammy Wynette (real name Virginia Richardson) and Jerry Reed (Jerry R. Hubbard), among others. The burial park even has a “famous grave locator” website so you can plan your tour.

When it’s sizzling outside, many Nashvillians head to the movie theater, and the Regal Hollywood 27 is a perfect place to catch a summer blockbuster while waiting for the sun to set. Located next to 100 Oaks Mall, this is really a building that you can’t miss – with an impressive neon display that beckons evening drivers on nearby Interstate 65. Many action films are also available for viewing in 3D or RPX (Regal Premium Experience).

Need to relax? I mean, REALLY relax? Try booking one of the sensory deprivation tanks at FLOAT Nashville on Greystone Road for a 90- or 120-minutes session. These tanks are filled with skin-temperature water that has enough Epsom salt mixed in to make a body float on the surface. No light. No sound. It’s the most effortless thing to do to rid the body of pain and stress. The folks at FLOAT Nashville think that, once you’ve tried it, you’ll become a regular (and enjoy significantly discounted prices)!

It’s dinnertime

I realize I didn’t give you any lunch options, but all of the breakfast places I mentioned also have lunch menus, so I’m skipping right to some suggestions for dinner.

You can get a quick, healthy, casual meal made-to-order at Baja Burrito on Thompson Lane. Think Chipotle, but more fun and authentic. This is a favorite for families with kids.

Also on Thompson Lane, The Yellow Porch has a vibe that’s somewhat more refined – you can enjoy a nice wine or cocktail while considering menu options ranging from Shrimp & Crab Stuffed NC Trout, to Cardamom & Ginger Rubbed Lamb Chops, to a well-prepared Filet Mignon.

If you’re really puttin’ on the Ritz (and have made reservations), dinner at Sinema restaurant is sure to be a memorable experience – you are likely to glimpse celebrity executive chef Dale Levitsky (a former Top Chef contender), and you just might see one of Nashville’s other celebrities. Word of caution – do not approach a celebrity trying to enjoy dinner – it’s just not the Nashville way. If you happen to catch a celebrity’s eye by accident (not because you are staring or trying to take a selfie with them in the background), it is acceptable to smile discreetly and nod – as if to say “Yes, of course I know who you are and I like who you are, but wouldn’t dream of interrupting you.”

After dinner

If it’s just the adults, why not stop off at The Sutler for a nightcap? If you’ve got energy to spare (because you spent the afternoon in a sensory deprivation tank), you can stay upstairs and catch some live music. But head downstairs for a more romantic vibe with better drinks!

Whoa – that is one very full day that offers something fun for everyone! Great job, Berry Hill / Melrose!

5 Ways to Be Cool in Hillsboro Village

Before we had The Nations, 12 South or East Nashville, Music City’s first “cool” neighborhood was Hillsboro Village.

Before we had The Nations, 12 South or East Nashville, Music City’s first “cool” neighborhood was Hillsboro Village. Within easy walking distance of Vanderbilt University, Peabody College and Belmont University, Hillsboro Village has long served as a thriving retail area, where students, faculty and neighborhood residents could do their banking, watch a movie, and visit family-owned shops and restaurants. Sadly, many of the shops have disappeared, but there’s still plenty to do in Hillsboro Village on a hot summer day. And in the summertime, when most of the college students have left town, Hillsboro Village is a great weekend destination. Here are 5 ways to enjoy a weekend in Nashville’s original “cool” neighborhood.

  • Start with brunch – If you’re early enough to beat the long line that forms at The Pancake Pantry (or at least early enough that you won’t pass out from the heat while standing in line), you can find out why this family-owned breakfast place has been attracting lines for over 50 years. Or, if your breakfast tastes run a little more adventurous (and healthy), you might opt for Bongo Java’s Fido Cafe, located in the former Jones’ Pet Shop (they kept the distinctive sign). Crave a cocktail at breakfast? Perhaps you should satisfy your Bloody Mary craving at Jackson’s Bar & Bistro, where weekend diners can order from the brunch menu until 3pm!
  • Explore the shops – These are shops that are meant to be explored. In fact, I don’t think it’s advisable to plan to purchase anything very specific, because the whole fun of this adventure is strolling through the shops, exploring the variety of available merchandise and picking up a wonderful impulse item. Don’t miss Davis Cookware – half amazing vendor of specialty coffees and teas, and half jumbled assortment of cool kitchen gadgets. While you’re in that part of the Village, shop Book Man/Book Woman – a true bibliophile’s paradise. And stop by Pangaea to explore the interesting assortment of gift and décor items.
  • Take in a movie – The Belcourt Theatre is an old-style movie theatre that has been converted to a not-for-profit cinema. Although they are known for being one of the only places in town to view limited-release movies, they also show classics. Checking out their website, I see that, on the weekend of June 20, they’re showing a Hobbit movie, a 1974 Robert Altman feature, an Indiana Jones adventure, and a really interesting-looking documentary called “The Wolfpack,” about 6 brothers who were raised in NYC but were secluded in such a manner that their only experience with the outside world was through the movies they were allowed to see.
  • Go to dinner – After the movie, you can continue walking west on Belcourt Ave. and you’ll find a variety of good casual eateries. Belcourt Taps has live music nightly, Savarino’s, Lucky Belly and The Dog of Nashville are popular for delicious, reasonably-priced food.

This next one isn’t for everyone, but I hope you’ll keep an open mind…

  • Go to church – I happen to among those that think going to Sunday service Sounds Like Fun. And it just so happens that one of my favorite Nashville churches is located in Hillsboro Village. Belmont United Methodist Church has a beautiful sanctuary, a diverse and welcoming membership, and a nice musical program. The 8:15 am service has communion each week; the 10:30 service has communion the first Sunday of each month. It’s a great way to start the week.