We’ve compiled a list of the top restaurants, boutiques, spas, and candy shops, as well as local luthiers, stationers, herbalists, chocolatiers for you and your special someone to have the best Valentine’s experience the East Side has to offer.
ROCK & ROLL ROMANCE
Every rocker knows that a good day begins with a proper breakfast, and there’s no better place to find one than amongst the salvage yards and tire stores of Dickerson Pike. Charlie Bob’s Restaurant has long been a haven for the hungry and hung over, where patrons can indulge in traditional diner fare and a daily meat-and-three menu far from the crêpes and freshly pressed juices of 5 Points. The no-frills atmosphere maintains the same kitschy vibe that it did when it opened its doors back in 1952, with the original drive-in carport still standing in the parking lot. Couples can cozy up in vinyl booths and enjoy $5 bloody marys and mimosas every Saturday and Sunday. Order the hefty Thumper Breakfast, and you’ll be raring to go like a couple of little rabbits. Whether you’re a Sid and Nancy or a Johnny and June, Charlie Bob’s has everything you need to get your motors running before you head out on the highway.
Roll Over Beethoven
Cruise down to Inglewood’s Riverside Village to score some vinyl or a vintage item at Fond Object. Located on the corner of MacGavock Pike and Riverside, Fond Object houses an ensemble of gifts for every rocker, from new and used records, CDs, cassettes, and books to a cache of vintage clothing and furniture. The finely curated vinyl selection at Fond Object features ample offerings of Classic Soul and R&B, so you and your music enthusiast can play DJ all night long.
After you’ve gotten your long play fix, head to one of East Nashville’s music supply stores to get your B.B. a Lucille of his/her very own. Fanny’s House of Music has kept East Side musicians strapped in style for nigh on seven years. The shop specializes in rare vintage guitars that are made to be played. Find gems like a 1930s Gibson tenor arch-top acoustic or a 1960s Fender Music Master, as well as a menagerie of ukuleles, mandolins, pedal steels, and Peruvian hand-woven Original Fuzz guitar straps. Fanny’s also offers music lessons for aspiring artists and a large selection of men’s and women’s vintage clothing to ensure your valentine shines on stage.
New(er) kid on the block, Eastside Music Supply, has carved out its own niche in the neighborhood. The shop stays open late and offers full-service repairs for local musicians who find themselves in a jam. Inventory includes names like Scale Model guitars crafted by East Nashville luthier Dave Johnson, and an eclectic selection of pedals including vintage-styled Tomkat fuzz pedals. If shopping for music supplies isn’t your bag, the store also offers gift certificates that can be used toward both retail and repairs.
At the Hop
After shopping and bebopping, refuel with an American classic at one of East Nashville’s most famous (or infamous) watering holes. The Edgefield Sports Bar and Grill is a destination for locals looking for one of the best burgers on the East Side. Well-seasoned, hand-shaped, and grilled-to-order, Edgefield’s burgers come styled with a variety of accoutrements and a side of classic crinkle fries. And though you won’t find a milkshake to split with your steady, the spot does offer a fine selection of tallboys and a weekly vinyl night. Belly up to the bar and strike up a conversation with a native, throw a game of darts with your sweetheart, or play a tune on the multifarious jukebox.
Eddie Van Halen’s FrankenStrat may be sweet, but giving the gift of a handcrafted FrankenHeart from Chocolate FX is even sweeter. Winner of the Writer’s Choice award for Best Chocolate Shop in the Nashville Scene, Chocolate FX is redefining the chocolate trade with its rock & roll, sci-fi, and horror-inspired confections. It’s where sugar-craved couples go for an assortment of sweets in wild and wacky patterns like skulls and leopard print. Owner and chocolatier Andrea Smith handcrafts and paints every one of her European-style chocolates, truffles, and caramels. Thrill your beloved with Smith’s hand-cast FrankenHeart or a Heart Box loaded with an assortment of her luxurious bonbons.
Pamper Your Pompadour
O.Liv Body Bar on Main Street has a number of services tailored for rockers on Valentine’s. Their signature On the Rocks hot stones massage for couples uses a blend of high-grade oils for an hour of mutual hot rock bliss. If your mane needs taming, opt for the Rockstar Massage that includes a hot stone rubdown plus a hot oil and herbal hair treatment — because pompadours and bouffants need a little love on Valentine’s, too. (On Feb. 4, O.liv Body Bar will host their annual Dirty Girl Valentine’s shebang with mini-manicures, more affordable services, giveaways, and cocktails for the ladies.)
Reading is important, rockers. Don’t just tend to your hair, tend to your brain at Eastside Story — Nashville’s only all-local bookstore. Give the gift of Third Man Books’ Language Lessons, Volume 1 — a collection of poetry, prose, vinyl, and original artwork coedited by local author/poet Chet Weise and Third Man’s Ben Swank. Or, snag a copy of Based On: Words, Notes, and Art from Nashville, a special anthology of short stories, songs, visual art, and music, curated by the store’s proprietor, Chuck Beard.
Located adjacent to Eastside Story, Hello Boys is East Nashville’s hippest haberdashery, where guys go for the finest selection of vintage and contemporary men’s clothing and accessories. Owner/operator Gavin O’Neill will assist you in finding all the best B’s — bolo ties, blazers, leather belts and boots — to ensure your babe’s got swagger like Mick Jagger.
Skip over to East Nashville’s favorite motorcycle lifestyle shop, Moto Moda, to score an iconic Schott or RDS leather jacket for him or her. The store also offers a collection of sterling silver, Southwestern-inspired rings and cuffs by Nashville designer Chad Barela and mixed-medium necklaces by Bone and Hide for the ladies.
After you’re good and gussied up, get your portrait made by Nashville-based photographer Giles Clement. Clement is best known for his tintype and wet plate portraits, yet he is famed for his film photography, as well. Book a session with Clement online. Have your portrait placed in a vintage locket from Old Made Good for an extra-special gift for your betrothed.
Rockers can feel right at home at the Holland House Bar and Refuge, where modern twists on classic favorites can be found from the drink menu to the drapery. With plush velvet sofas, crystal chandeliers, and exposed brick walls, the atmosphere echoes the glamour of Old Hollywood while still maintaining a contemporary vibe. The restaurant’s proprietary cocktail list features classic ingredients shaken into modern concoctions, and the continental food menu boasts influences from Spain and the Middle East. Look for seasonal Valentine’s specials both Friday and Saturday night, and a special four-course prix fixe menu Valentine’s evening. Seatings for Valentine’s dinner will take place from 5-10 p.m. and are reservation only, so make yours sooner rather than later.
In the Midnight Hour
Before your evening ends, make a late-night stop at Mickey’s Tavern for a dart game and a couple rocks glasses of fine whiskey. The dimly lit neighborhood haunt invokes the ghosts of East Nashville past, when Slow Bar, Radio Café, and the Alleycat Lounge were the go-to spots for imbibing locals. Whatever the night calls for, patrons can make it their own at Mickey’s — pound a tallboy, devour a hot ham and cheese, or sip a 23-year Pappy Van Winkle neat. Couples can shoot a game of pool under the glow of the red Christmas lights or slow dance to the classic jukebox until the bartenders make last call. ♥
AN ACTIVE AFFAIR
Breakfast of Champions
Whether you’re carb-loading or starting your morning with lean protein, Tower Deli is a one-stop full breakfast spot for fit couples who are on the move. The New York-style deli offers a little something for everyone in the morning, including local produce, fresh-squeezed juices, Bongo Java coffee, and fresh fruit. Carb-up with a local doughnut from DOH Nashville or a local toasted bagel from Bagel Face. Or, beef-up with an egg-white omelet or Tower Deli’s popular breakfast burrito. With the friendly staff, lightning-fast service, and lots of available parking, Tower Deli is a super breakfast spot for couples headed to the gym or in a hurry to explore the outdoors.
Tour de East Side
Biking is a splendid way for couples to take a tour of the neighborhood, and Eastside Cycles has the best rentals to ensure you cruise in style. Rent an Electra Townie for the morning, or get both your hearts racing on the shop’s classic Electra Hellbetty Tandem — a cherry-red bicycle designed for lovers. Eastside Cycles is also where to purchase sweet rides like off-road Canondale trail bikes and Schwinn suburban riders, as well as custom bikes and accessories. Visit the store or call the shop for more information.
Hit the Bottoms
Take the Hellbetty down to Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park, where workouts can be enjoyed in the peace and quietude of nature. The Bottoms boast 960 acres of preserved wetlands, hardwood forests, wildflower meadows, and streams that host an abundance of biodiversity including native Tennessee wildlife and plant species. The winding, paved greenway is where walkers, joggers, bikers, and skaters exercise in the outdoors. Go off-road to explore the park’s secluded trail systems or savor a tranquil view from one of the many romantic boardwalks.
The Couple That Climbs Together . . .
Does your partner’s love have you climbing the walls? Free those urges at Climb Nashville, where challenge-seeking couples go to test their endurance. Climbing not only builds muscle and flexibility, but is a fun date idea for fit couples to get a workout together. The indoor climbing facility houses more than 4,000 square feet of space, so you and your bae can boulder all night long. Or, start off slow with one of the top ropes where you and your honey can holster up and take turns being the climber and the belayer.
Before hitting the showers, visit the Turnip Truck Natural Market for a post-workout smoothie to share with your sweetie. Bulk up with add-ins like hemp or whey protein, or boost your immunities with spirulina or turmeric powder. Stay hydrated with a refill at the Turnip Truck’s new filtered water station with reverse osmosis, deionized, or high pH water choices. The market also offers a full selection of vitamins and supplements to keep you both on top of your game.
Meal planning is easy for active East Nashville couples with shopping options that offer locally produced food. While at Turnip Truck, shop for the freshest produce grown by local Tennessee farmers to create veggie-heavy meals with your loved one at home. Or head to Porter Road Butcher where you’ll find locally raised cuts of meat like pastured chicken and premium grass-fed steaks. For Valentine’s weekend, Porter Road Butcher will also offer their “Sweetheart Steak” —a 2-inch thick boneless ribeye butterflied into a perfect heart shape, for you and your beloved to get down together, Paleo style.
Gear for Gifts
Nashville Running Company provides top-of-the-line sneakers and gear for joggers and outdoor-lovers. For cold winter running, clothe your special someone in Breath-Thermo gear by Mizuno. The line offers tops, bottoms, socks, and hats that generate heat while simultaneously wicking away moisture, so your running buddy will stay warm and dry.
Treat Those Tired Muscles
Spa massages are certainly relaxing, but lifters, bikers, and joggers need a much more vigorous rubdown. East Nashville’s Tyrus Aurthur, L.M.T., is trained in a variety of pain-relief techniques including deep tissue massage, sports massage, and trigger point therapy, and his massage studio is conveniently located on Gallatin Pike. Schedule an appointment for your favorite athlete with Aurthur online to get those muscles worked out right.
After a long Valentine’s weekend filled with physical activity, pamper your better half with soothing balms and salves made locally on the East Side. Double N Urban Farm and Apothecary is a half-acre urban farm located in the heart of East Nashville, where owner and herbalist Nicole Mattingly crafts body care products from her organically grown herbs. Select a jar of Epsom salts with dried rose petals and geranium for a relaxing bath, or rub your lover down with the Fire and Ice salves that treat aching muscles and joints. Visit the Double N Apothecary Etsy store to make your purchases or find their products at Mitchell’s Deli and Old Made Good. ♥
Wake and Bake
Artists, caffeine seekers, and health-conscious consumers love to rise and shine at The Post East. The Post has a little something for everyone, with daily offerings of housemade traditional, vegan, and gluten-free baked goods and pastries, plus breakfast and lunch menus and a full brunch menu on Sundays. Split a slice of the traditional or vegan quiche du jour, or one of the gluten-free muffins in flavors like spicy coconut and cacao nib. For more vigorous appetites, select something off the full breakfast menu like the popular polenta Benedict with a side of house-made pecan sausage. For carnivorous couples, share a plate or two of the remarkable biscuits and gravy — a lesser-known delight. The cathead-style biscuits are baked by queen pastry chef Nicole Wolfe, and the house-made sausage gravy is a far cry from traditional diner fare.
Though the food is a heavy draw, The Post is best known for their cold-pressed organic juices in hues as vibrant as the flavors. Try the popular Synergy — a zippy pineapple, lime, and mint blend to optimize your health and satisfy your taste buds. The Post opens every day at 7 a.m. and hosts live bands for their Bluegrass Brunch
Be a Conscientious Consumer
East Nashville hosts a number of boutiques that specialize in all-natural and fair-trade wares, so you can feel good about the gifts you give. Thrive Store is the spot to score stellar body care and bath supplies with all-natural ingredients. Thrive’s signature Rejuvenating Herbal Bath Bag with orange peel, rosebuds, and lavender is fragrant and soothing. Light some of the shop’s handmade beeswax candles in multicolored recycled glass votives and you’re looking at one groovy bath time.
Take a trip to Sisters of Nature to find a fair-trade gift for your favorite soul sister. The shop specializes in women’s clothing, accessories, and fragrances, and boasts progressive brands like Nisolo and FASHIONABLE that create positive life opportunities for women in developing countries. Sisters of Nature is also the only shop in East Nashville to offer a full self-wrap gift station and a personal profile for each customer, so ladies can have an accessible wish list at the store, making shopping a snap for their significant others. Add a sweet pink jar of Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish to your list so you can buff out any unwanted signs of hippy feet.
Support Your Local Artisans
Spending your dough on mass-produced gifts is a real bummer, especially since East Nashville is filled with so many talented crafters, designers, and artists. Keep your dearest warm this February with a one-of-a-kind wool scarf by local artisan Cathie Cargill of Fiber and Bone. Cargill hand knits unisex scarves and hats using all-natural fibers and materials in unique colors and sizes. Follow Fiber and Bone on Instagram to make your purchases, or visit the Etsy store to place a custom order or purchase a ready-to-ship piece.
When it comes to vintage shops, Old Made Good is unlike the rest, not only due to its expansive size, but its unique and eclectic ensemble of repurposed art, home goods, vintage clothes, and original pieces of jewelry. Owner and artist Ashley Sheehan gets all handmade and avant-garde with her inventory, restoring old paintings into new pieces and collecting interesting vintage finds. Old Made Good also carries locally made body products from places like Double N Apothecary and Little Seed Farm. Get your valentine one of Sheehan’s naughty needle points to hang on his/her wall or one of her handmade necklaces with an engravable plaque to inscribe whatever pet name you like.
Soup for the Soul
For lunch, grab a table at El Jaliciense, where locals go for authentic Mexican cuisine in a warm setting. The family-owned outfit serves house-made Mexican favorites like tacos, fajitas, and a guacamole that has patrons raving, but it’s the traditional Jaliscan soups and stews that really showcase the Oleas’ family recipes. The birria, a spicy stewed barbecue beef, is made by the Oleas’ matriarch, Leticia Gonzalez, and prepared with a secret blend of authentic spices. Try the caldo de res — a healthful beef soup loaded with tons of vegetables, or Gonzalez’ special hominy-laden pozole available on Saturdays and Sundays only.
Satisfy your wacky sweet tooth at Wild Cow with raw vegan chocolates that are as nutrient-dense as they are delicious. Dessert chef and chocolatier Allison Osborne of RAWr Vegan Desserts creates Valentine’s treats that are rich in antioxidants and lightly sweetened with ingredients like dehydrated fruits and dates. Try RAWr’s white chocolates with organic rose petal and peppermint or the dark chocolate hearts with dehydrated ruby red grapefruit and beets.
Wanna Take You Higher
If you’re looking for a departure from the typical dinner and a movie, take your date to High Garden Tea where couples get snug over steaming pots of brew. Herbalist Leah Larabell along with husband Joel built their romantic apothecary-style tea shop as a team, with wooden tables hand-carved by Joel and over 100 teas designed and hand-blended by Larabell herself. Order a tea flight and sample four of High Garden’s teas for $10, or share a pot of one of the shop’s proprietary blends such as the Red Velvet — a red tea blended with cocoa and hibiscus. To get your blood pumpin’, snag a bag of Pimp Juice tea for him or Venus tea for her (both intended to lift moods and increase circulation) and you’ll be ready for a night of hot and steamy tea making.
High Garden Tea will open on Valentine’s night to host a special Tea, Cheese, and Chocolate Pairing for both couples and singles. Graze a sumptuous spread from the Bloomy Rind and Chocolate FX, and taste a few of Larabell’s special teas to match. Purchase your tickets in advance by calling the store.
Finish your day nurturing your favorite yogi with a Partner Thai Yoga Massage at Kali Yuga Yoga. The workshop teaches couples how to press, stretch, and rock each other’s bodies through a number of directed positions until nirvana is reached. Unlike typical European massages, Thai yoga massage is interactive, where both participants remain fully clothed and take turns as the massager and massagee. Deep stretches are reached through assisted yoga poses, acupressure, and heavy muscular compression using hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Thai yoga massage can strengthen both physical and spiritual connections and be as healing to the giver as it is to the receiver. The class will be held at the Kali Yuga Yoga studio on Friday and Saturday night from 6:30-8 p.m. Visit their website for more details. Preregistration is strongly encouraged. ♥
THE FOOD LOVERS
Possibly the most popular portmanteau amongst food fetishists, brunch is where every memorable food adventure begins. Start your romantic weekend tucked away with your favorite bon vivant in one of East Nashville’s European-style eateries, where long languid brunches are la joie de la vie.
Late-morning meals with flutes of bubbles is a religious rite amongst the food-loving set, and on weekends followers go to worship at the altar of Marché Artisan Foods. The graceful bistro serves rustic dishes prepared fresh from the open kitchen, with a full beverage and wine menu and daily baked breads and pastries. The café’s myriad selection of desserts, which includes bombes, crème brulees, cookies, tarts, and cakes created by deity pastry chef Tom Huber, can make for a difficult decision if one possesses a sweet tooth. Start your meal with Marché’s elegant cheese plate and a glass of wine or savor the tartine with seasonally paired fruit. Indulge with the popular croissant French toast and a cappuccino made with Drew’s Brew espresso to wash it down. Couples can toast with a fresh-squeezed blood orange mimosa or a bloody mary prepared with a house-made mix. Brunch is every Saturday from 8 a.m to 4 p.m and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Expect robust crowds and heavy lines at the walk-up counter.
If the bustle of 5 Points is not to your taste, veer off the beaten path to Porter House Bistro, where chef Andrew Bryant fills growling gullets with classic French fare. The brunch menu features standards such as eggs Benedict with variations like fennel and citrus house-cured salmon. The popular croque madame is served with a 62-degree egg on house-made challah, and omelets are true to the classic style served with only two ingredients and sans browning. Porter House Bistro’s Valentine’s brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Expect to find pastry plates of house-made profiteroles, galettes, and danishes, as well as steaming bowls of fresh mussels, sweet crêpes, and other seasonal and sexy specialties. (Porter House Bistro will also offer a prix fixe Valentine’s menu for both Saturday and Sunday night. Reservations are strongly recommended.)
Bar and Pantry
True food lovers enjoy feeding their minds as much as feeding their faces. While at Marché, peruse the fine selection of books authored by local food writers who are steeped in the cuisine of Nashville. Give your gastronome a copy of Jennifer Justus’ new book Nashville Eats, an ensemble of stories and recipes born and bred in Music City, or Timothy Charles Davis’ Hot Chicken Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the hottest chicken joints in town. Marché also offers a selection of original letterpress and designed cards from local stationers Sawtooth Print Shop for a special Valentine’s card.
Head north up Gallatin Pike to Hey Rooster General Store for an eclectic mix of gifts for your gourmand. Select a sack of Soberdough brew bread to combine with your favorite bottle of beer and bake for an easy meal. Grab a jar of Coop’s Hot Chicken Paste, or a whimsical tea towel by illustrator Claudia Pearson to keep your favorite chef’s hands nice and dry.
Give the mixologist in your life the gift of hammered copper mule mugs, small-batch bitters, or choose from a collection of stainless steel bar tools from Welcome Home. The home goods store also carries the ever-popular cube, sphere, and highball ice molds to keep you and your best drinking buddy sophisticatedly sipping. Welcome Home also carries fun vintage items such as cut-glass coupe glasses and crystal decanters for the boozer who enjoys a little throw back.
A Study in Chocolate
A darling amongst pastry chefs near and far, Olive and Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolate is featured on some of the most impressive dessert menus in Nashville and beyond. The shop is where sugar-lovers flock for handcrafted chocolates and confections, and where knowledge seekers can take a tour of the chocolate factory in the back. Immerse yourselves in the chocolate-making process, and taste your way through the experience with the famous Bourbon Nib Brittle — the 2014 Gold Winner for Best Confection by Specialty Food Association. Tours are $5 and offered on Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 5pm. Visit their website for further information and to reserve your spots.
Artify Your Kitchen Arsenal
Culinary artists know Art and Invention Gallery is where to score the most beautiful collections of functional handmade pottery and other kitchen accessories. Equip your favorite cook with a set of one-of-a-kind artisanal bowls by potter Christina Cohn or a full set of hand-carved cherry serving utensils. Owners Bret and Meg MacFadyen will also host their annual Valentine-Making Workshop for couples and friends to create their own glittered works of art. Participants are encouraged to bring bottles of wine or food if they like, and to purchase tickets in advance by calling the gallery to reserve your spots. If getting artsy is not to your taste, purchase a whimsical card for your valentine by Nashville stationer Lisa Sarmento.
An East Side Valentine’s guide would be remiss without mentioning the indubitable romance of Margot Café and Bar. The rustic, provincial cuisine has marked the restaurant as an institution among sensualists, and has been considered to be the crown jewel of the East Nashville food scene since its opening in 2001. Nominated for Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation, and dubbed “the Alice Waters of Nashville,” chef Margot McCormack maintains a steady flow of followers with her seasonal menus that change daily. Margot’s Valentine’s menu is set to be an elegant departure from the heavier winter peasant fare of stews and braises. Expect sexier a la carte offerings like raw oysters, foi gras, and shrimp bisque both Friday and Saturday night. And though there’s not a bad seat in the house at Margot Café, the view from the mezzanine is recommended for optimum romance. Reservations should be made for Friday and Saturday night well
Nominated for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, Lockeland Table’s reputation has risen to the top in a city booming with new culinary faces. The warm atmosphere coupled with chef Hal Holden-Bache’s cuisine has sparked a buzz amongst locals, but also earned the restaurant a cannonade of national praise. But don’t let the many awards and accolades intimidate you — Lockeland Table is as approachable as any neighborhood restaurant goes. The dinner menu features comforting bites like wood-fired pizzas and chicken liver pate, along with heavy-hitting crowd pleasers such as the house-smoked bone marrow and Hereford steaks served in the signature chimichurri. Experience neighborhood camaraderie during the restaurant’s community hour on Saturday from 4-6 p.m., with food and beverage specials and a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Lockeland Design Center PTO.
Lockeland Table will open on Sunday for normal business hours and offer a five-course prix fixe Valentine’s dinner menu thoroughly designed to wine and dine epicurean couples. Be sure to make your reservations in advance.