East Nashville has long been known as a haven for the city’s creative community, but in recent years, it’s also become Nashville’s premier cocktail destination.
Located directly across the Cumberland River from downtown Nashville, the perennially popular neighborhood is now home to some of the best bars in town, including the second location of New York’s acclaimed Attaboy. It comes as no surprise then, that when local restaurateur Doug Martin and his business partner Justin Prine were planning a new hotel for the area, they decided to dedicate the property entirely to booze.
Opened in April, the Vandyke Bed & Beverage is a rather explicit homage to drinking. All eight rooms and suites are inspired by and named after a type of alcohol, from the brightly colored Rum to the retro-inspired Beer. The decor, dreamed up by Nashville interior designer Brooke Prince, takes the theme even further, but without venturing into kitschy territory. The Tequila room features desert plants like agave and cactus, plus white-oak shelves that recall aging barrels, while the Champagne suite is outfitted with round light fixtures meant to evoke bubbles. In the Gin room, Prince even added quirky touches like abstract wallpaper reminiscent of juniper berries and a framed print of a T-rex that references the gin-based Green Dinosaur cocktail.
No matter how creative, however, the Vandyke’s rooms are really just a side hustle to its bar program. In fact, if guests need to check in after the concierge has left for the evening, they’re referred to the bartenders, who help them get settled between mixing drinks. As much as owners Martin and Prine wanted to open a hotel, they also wanted to create a gathering place for visitors and locals alike, so they put the focus squarely on common spaces like the street-level bar, the cozy interior courtyard, and the lush rooftop patio—a rarity in East Nashville. They also brought in Freddy Schwenk, who oversees the bar program at Nashville favorite Geist, to create whimsical cocktails like an Old-Fashioned spiked with cream soda and a version of the Cosmopolitan made with leftover fruit from the kitchen. With such top-notch drinking options on site, guests may find themselves wanting to stay put, but then they’d miss out on all East Nashville has to offer. The Vandyke sits within Five Points—a hub of local businesses that’s essentially the heart of East Nashville—and serves as the perfect launch pad for exploring the neighborhood.
Right across the street, for example, visitors will find Five Points Pizza, touted as the best place to get authentic, New York–style pizza this side of the river. Next door is Margot Café & Bar, an East Nashville pioneer that’s beloved for its daily-changing menu of French and Italian fare. If they’re on offer when you visit, don’t miss the smoked salmon hush puppies.
Some newer neighborhood favorites include Stay Golden, an Instagram-friendly coffee shop and restaurant where you can pair flash-chilled cold brew with chilaquiles made with local eggs, and, a 15-minute walk away, Lyra, a Middle Eastern spot for dinners of smoky baba ganoush and shuwa-spiced lamb ribs. There’s also Peninsula, chef Jake Howell’s paean to the culinary traditions of the Iberian territories, where dishes like chicken gizzards brightened with tumeric and passion fruit led to a “Restaurant of the Year” nod from Eater in 2018.
For a change of pace from the Vandyke’s cocktail list, head a half-mile away to two-year-old drinking den Attaboy. Much larger than the New York original, the East Nashville outpost features booths for groups and hidden corners for couples on date nights, but no menu—simply tell your server the flavors you like and your ideal drink will materialize in minutes. Also worth checking out is Chopper, a tiki joint that opened in May with a giant, blue-eyed robot lording over the bar. Belly up and order the Raffles Hotels, a tequila-based riff on the Singapore Sling. No one will blame you if you spend all your time in East Nashville eating and drinking, but those looking for something slightly more active can add shopping to their itinerary. For womenswear, go to Natalie Busby and browse the flattering, fabulously minimal collection of slouchy linen trousers and wear-everywhere T-shirt dresses in soft Tencel. Natural wellness boutique Lemon Laine is a bit farther east but well worth the walk for its selection of niche skincare brands as well as for its oil bar, where you can make appointments to customize essential oils and serums to your skin type.
Those serious about their knives should stroll over to Coutelier, a New Orleans transplant that stocks good-looking, hard-to-find knives from Japan in addition to all sorts of cooking equipment. Just don’t forget to check your luggage on your flight home.
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