And in another backyard in one of my favorite neighborhoods, East Nashville, I enjoyed summer with a supper my friend Beth cooked from her garden. The Mississippi girl filled her table on that hot July night with cool salads, grilled corn and shrimp that tasted like a Southern Living spread. A really good soul, her accent and easy way soothes mine. Many-a-memory was made at her house—like an incredible birthday party she gave me–and times we met there before salsa events.
And just a few blocks away are two other sweet spots. A couple of years earlier, I helped Kim pack up her home on Manchester as she moved to make a new one with Andy in Franklin. We’d celebrated birthdays there, too, starting at her house and carrying them–cake-in-hand–to share at MadDonna’s just around the corner where once-upon-a-time all my friends (many I met there) danced salsa to Funtopia’s tunes bi-weekly. Likewise, at April and Jason’s, we’d celebrated holidays together and the marriage of friends, Mayuresh and Madhavi.
Like Malasaña in Madrid and Camden in London, East Nashville, named one of the 12 Coolest Neighborhoods in America, is a center of all-things-hip. Dog rescuers, foodies, artists, cyclists, craft beer enthusiasts, coffee shop dwellers and vintage shoppers call 37206 home.
Ive been a fan of many restaurants in this neighborhood for years–Sky Blue Cafe and Marché Artisan Foods for brunch, Holland House for fancy drinks by a fire, Eastland Cafe for Happy Hour, Batter’d and Fried for seafood, and Jeni’s Ice Cream for a quick dessert. But the places I return to most have great food and fresh air– big backyards, patios, or decks.
At Rumours East I sat and sipped many-a- summer with friends under twinkling white lights and the throbbing golden glow of fireflies.
Next door, my shirts are still selling at Chuck Beard’s bookstore, East Side Story. I love hearing about his latest projects and live events as he continues to create and promote locally made art, books, and music.
Should you want to stay in this community which is well connected by bus and just across the Cumberland River from Nashville’s iconic 2nd Avenue, Chuck and his wife, Emily, may have a room for you. They love meeting people from around the world and rent their master suite on AirBnB. Amazing hosts, they’ll provide a heap of Southern hospitality and point you to the best new finds in the area.
A special treat this summer was dinner out with my sister, Penny, and our cousins, Sonjia and Sheila–granddaughters of Uncle Sonny whose farm I’d tried to visit in Kentucky. It had been years since we’d seen each other and catching up under the big trees in The Pharmacy‘s beer garden was so good. If you want American fare– specialty hot dogs, old-fashion soda fountain drinks, and burgers voted #1 in Nashville the last two years–this is a good pick.
At Rosepepper Cantina a group of friends and family bid me bye before I moved to Morocco. I didn’t realize I was saying farewell to Mexican food for a year. Good food and then there’s their maragaritas. Josiah makes the best in town. Here’s how he does it.
In Morocco I do get locally grown tomatoes year-round, but I hate that I missed this year’s Tomato Fest. It was voted “Best Festival” by The Nashville Scene readers the last six years. To learn more about other East Nashville happenings like the Grassy Knoll Movies and Farmer’s Market, go here. And if you want to know a secret to remember come July 4, 2016… don’t fight the crowd at Riverfront to see Nashville’s famous fireworks display. My son and I once spent hours trapped in traffic in a parking structure when the smoke cleared. In East Park across the river you’ll have the best view in town without hassle. Rather than sweating shoulder-to-shoulder, you can spread a blanket or kick back in a lawn chair and enjoy freedom.