By Annie Adams
Nashville has quickly transformed into the new Southern hot spot, and is now a must-see destination for many travelers. Drive the short six miles east of Broadway’s honky-tonks and bright lights, though, and you’ll find yourself in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods that is having a renaissance of its own.
Donelson has been a proper neighborhood since its first suburban-style homes were built in the 1930s, but the last decade has brought new life to this charming corner of Nashville. Labeled “hip” in 2009 due to the creation of a neighborhood non-profit organization that promotes community advancement, the area has come to life with a crop of new businesses complementing a decades-old community and spirit.
For those staying in downtown Nashville, Donelson is easily accessible by an inexpensive Uber ride (average fare $11, uber.com), or by train on the Music City Star (tickets and schedule at www.musiccitystar.org). Get off the train and simply walk across Lebanon Pike to the Donelson Plaza to begin your adventure.
Start your day with breakfast at Phat Bites, a local sandwich emporium with delicious new takes on old favorites. Go savory with their Time Warp, a breakfast sandwich featuring a unique pesto hollandaise sauce, or sweet with their “Berry Garcia” Belgian waffle topped with caramel honey, whipped cream, and berries.
For lunch, head back to the plaza for local fare and craft beer at Homegrown Taproom and Marketplace. The majority of their ingredients are sourced from the Southeast, and they strive to elevate standard comfort food dishes. Munch on their bacon popcorn while waiting for your entrée of Buffalo Mac and Cheese, and sip on a beer from their excellent selection of 24 rotating taps.
Burn off those calories by heading to the Donelson Bowl, just a quarter mile from Phat Bites. Here, the retro lanes, updated jukebox, and cheap beer pitchers make for a fun afternoon away from the crowds of downtown.
If you visit on a Friday between May and October, the Donelson Community Farmers Market is a must visit. They are a producer-only market, featuring goods grown and created by local farmers and artisans ranging from free-range eggs, meat, and cheese to fresh pasta and handmade soaps. Each week the market features a different local musical act and a selection of food trucks.
If you haven’t yet had your fill of delicious food, walk next door to McNamara’s, an Irish restaurant that features traditional Irish music performed by the owner and his house band most nights. They also feature hit songwriters and renowned local performers throughout the year. If live music isn’t your thing, head upstairs to their sports bar for a pint and a game of darts.
Nashville is a great tourist destination, but if you make the trek to the Athens of the South, be sure to take the short trip east of downtown to experience life like a local off the beaten path in Donelson.
2730B Lebanon Pike
117 Donelson Pike
Homegrown Taproom and Marketplace
2720 Old Lebanon Road
Donelson Community Farmers Market
2730 Lebanon Pike
Open Fridays May through October
McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
2740 Old Lebanon Road
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