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Exploring Nashville (and eating the best kale of my life)

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My trip in Nashville would not have been complete without a trip to the rest of Nashville. Before this, I had already spent one day in East Nashville, and my evening scouring the Opry Mills Mall and gorging myself with Chuy’s Mexican food. Ugh, so good. But now it was time to see what the rest of Nashville had to offer – the downtown, and two more cool neighborhoods.

Downtown Nashville

Our second day of exploring Nashville took us to the touristy part of town – the Tennessee Titans stadium, and then downtown’s Broadway strip, filled with anything and everything country. I kid you not, I even went to a place called Honky Tonk Central…where my mom knew all the lyrics to country’s biggest anthems.

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We arrived for a quick pick-me-up around 2pm and they had three floors of live music. And great live music, might I add. We sat in the back so as to not draw attention to ourselves – none of that “oh you’re from out of town, let’s get you up on stage” business, although I’m pretty sure anyone on Broadway in Nashville is probably from out of town.

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You know you’re in the heart of America when you no better than to ask for anything whole-grain or organic. These chips looked highly radioactive, but the queso dip was on fleek.

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Hillsboro Village

After a few rounds of “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” it was time for me to head to the next cool part of town, Hillsboro Village. Of course, there’s East Nashville [A Day in East Nashville], but if you’re on the other side of town you’ve got Hillsboro Village and 12th Ave South. I wanted some college town vibes, so I headed to 21st Ave, which to me seemed like the main drag of Hillsboro Village. The street reminded me of a small downtown of a small city – no chain restaurants, simply mom-and-pop, independent stores like…

Pangaea

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Pangaea is one of those stores filled with eccentric knick-knacks – from colorful quilted pillows, to vintage Nashville postcards (which I now regret not buying), to scented candles, to decorative books. Even the person at the cash register had a blue mohawk (I think it was blue?). Afterwards, I walked across the street partly to check out this cool little café, Fido, and partly to take shelter from the sudden downpour.

Fido

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And I must say, thank you to that downpour, because Fido was, once again, one of my favorite places in Nashville. Filled with Vanderbilt students, creatives, and Nashville locals, Fido is the place to be for a quick beer, a study session, or just a place to cozy up in a corner and read the paper.

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I met up with a Nashville local-turned-friend, Asher, who gave me the low-down on Nashville and pointed me in the right direction for some dinner. I explained to him that I had been to nearly every place East Nashvillians thought was “cool” in East Nashville, and that after eating twice at Nashville Biscuit House, it was time for something healthy, vegetarian, organic, and/or all-natural. He pointed me to…

12th Ave South

The third up-and-coming Nashville neighborhood, like most other Nashville neighborhoods, is centered around one street. East Nashville’s main drag is Gallatin Ave, Hillsboro’s is 21st Ave, and 12th Ave South is centered around…12th Ave South. Asher pointed me to Burger Up, claiming they have the best burger in Nashville.

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So I admit; I didn’t get the burger, but I was in a kale and sweet potato fries mood, and I have to say that IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST MEALS I HAVE EVER EATEN. I’m telling you: Nashville gave me surprise after surprise.

burger-up-2 burger-up-4 burger-up-3Please please please, do yourself a favor and eat here. All the servers looked like they were from a GAP commercial – rocking that effortless cool look. Now, back to the food. The sweet potato fries – omg. Those babies were roasted to perfection and the kale salad tasted like it was just picked from the garden and drizzled with roasted hazelnuts, tart cherries, and a citrus vinaigrette my mom even asked the waitress about.

I didn’t make it anywhere else on 12th Ave South, but I will say that every one I talked to mentioned the Frothy Monkey breakfast joint, dinner place, and coffeehouse; it sounded like it was many things to many people. Please let me know if you go there!

What else do you recommend in Nashville?

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