Historic Germantown comprises a scant 18-square-block area: it’s bound by Jefferson Street on the south, Hume Street on the north, Rosa Parks Boulevard on the west and Third Avenue North on the east. Unlike so many urban Nashville neighborhoods, where demolitions abound and history goes in the dump, the visionaries of Germantown decided it was important to manage its growth and retain its character. Touché, Germantown.
While wandering the streets of Germantown, I began to see Germantown as an alchemy of old, new, chic, industrial chic and just plain industrial. If you’re the type of person who loves the thrill of a treasure hunt, head to Germantown. By simply strolling the streets, you will discover charming, historic homes that date back to the 1800s, churches that have brought together the neighborhood’s residents for many years, nods to long-time residents and renovated buildings (such as the old firehouse repurposed into the Neighborhood Resource Center).
With its rich history (dating back to its 1850s establishment by European Immigrants) and unparalleled growth, Germantown continues to morph and change into one of Nashville’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It has a bounty of architectural treasures and is one of the best examples of urban mixed-use done right. Today, let us help you explore this ever-growing neighborhood in North Nashville.
As I headed towards the river to Peter Nappi, I wondered how many of you have never ventured this far down to discover the lofts and warehouses that boarder Germantown on the east. Go back there next year, and it will look completely different! For now, this area is home to Peter Nappi, a luxury leather goods brand that designs their shoes and accessories in Nashville and has them handcrafted in Tuscany, Italy. Since opening their doors in 2011, the brand has only risen in popularity and has received accolades from some of the top publications in fashion and travel. Located in a space formerly used as the boiler room of an old meatpacking plant on the easternmost border of Germantown, Peter Nappi is neighbor to Nashville Jazz Workshop, Tennessee Craft and the Nikki Mitchell Foundation.
Just a few blocks from Peter Nappi and the old meatpacking plant, Germantown’s restaurant scene is continuing to thrive. Before the year turned 2000, nary a restaurant could be found in Germantown — but those in businesses drew crowds from across the city. Mad Platter, who opened their door’s in 1989, helped kickstart the neighborhood’s dining scene and Monell’s was quick to follow. In 2003, Germantown Café joined the neighborhood and four years later, City House followed suite. In 2012, both SILO and Rolf & Daughters opened their doors and all of a sudden, Germantown was home to the best eateries in town.
With so many restaurants opening, it’s important to note Germantown Café continues to be one of our favorites. If you want to enjoy an intimate meal with a great environment to visit with your friends, this is the place for you. Its loyal patrons continue to come back for more, and we continue to hear rave reviews about the shrimp and grits, crab cakes and coconut curry salmon. To read about how much we love this place, click here. Additionally, SILO’s commitment to “elevated Southern cuisine” speaks to its understanding of good food in a casual atmosphere and cannot go unmentioned. Proprietor Clay Greenberg, an experienced chef and graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, served as executive chef at Virago. Menu items do offer a little “twang,” and lots of sophistication. Pork chops, butter beans and soy, sorghum sauce or cast-iron scallion/jalapeño corn bread keep us coming back for more.
In the past few years, more restaurants have opened than we can keep up with:
5th and Taylor, the brainchild of Daniel Lindley, a five-time James Beard Award finalist for the Best Chef: Southeast Category, created buzz. Originally from Chattanooga, Lindley aspires to pay homage to his memories of the traditional Sunday supper. Look for creations like cracklin’ corn bread with goat cheese butter and onion jam, hot smoked trout, chicken and dumplings, ramps and porcini butter. Enjoy these eats in the repurpose 6,000-square-foot warehouse that speaks to the preservation of the history of the neighborhood.
312 Pizza Company is over-the-top delicious, and stands up to its claim to be an authentic Chicago joint. When you order, be prepared for a tiny wait because everything is made from scratch and cooked once the order is placed. Deep dish can take up to 45 minutes, and the thin crust about 35 minutes. It’s worth the wait, though. What I like about 312 is its proximity to the ballpark. With a quick step outside, you’ll see the entrance to the Sounds stadium!
Butchertown Hall, a concept by Terry Raley (the guy behind The Pharmacy in East Nashville), opened and quickly became a neighborhood favorite. Once again, there is a nod to this immigrant Germantown neighborhood where butcher shops line the avenues. The menu inspires you with offerings like crispy pork belly, molé, pomegranate, charred grapes, hearth-roasted oysters, lime, chimichurri, chili rojo, steak arrachera, hill-country barley and a huge selection of regional and local beers.
Christie Cookie Co. invested in Germantown 15 years ago by locating its corporate headquarters there. With no real clientele, they buzzed their customers in the lobby. Now, as the neighborhood has evolved, Christie Cookie offers a welcoming store with everything from fresh-baked muffins to, of course, cookies.
A jewel of a shop for Nashville, Tempered Café and Chocolate has lots more than just chocolates! They also offer French-pressed coffee and traditional French breakfast pastries, sandwiches, quiche, beer, cocktails or a cheese, wine and truffle pairing. Yum! If after you visit Christie Cookie Co. and Tempered your sweet tooth is still there, head to The Cupcake Collection for homemade cupcakes.
Flavors of Mexico arrived in Germantown along with Little Donkey. This casual eatery offers dips, tamales, soups and salads, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, bowls and quesadillas in addition to southern-inspired dishes such as a cheeseburger and fried chicken. Don’t forget to order a cocktail — the Tequila Mockingbird is our favorite. Nestled between Cochon Butcher and Little Donkey, The Juice Bar serves up fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, light snacks and treats. It offers a healthier option for those looking to eat clean. Cochon Butcher is a butcher shop and sandwich counter with origins in New Orleans. This butcher house specializes in house made meats, terrines and sausages that are avaliable for pick up. You can also stop in for a hearty sandwich and a cold beverage.
Germantown is also home to markets that allow you to purchase fresh meats, produce and more. Little Fish Co. has been in business for more than 50 years and continues to sell a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood. When planning your next dinner party, you can find the entire menu — appetizers, cheese, meats, breads, sauces and pastas — at Lazzaroli. SB TIP: Lazzaroli makes fresh mozzarella every Saturday morning. Get in line! And of course, the Nashville Farmers’ Market has no shortage of fresh goods, and delicious restaurants. Open year round, they welcome farmers, artisans, restauranteurs, shop-owners, crafters and flea merchants to sell their goods.
While eateries seem to be the most talked about businesses in Germantown, there are plenty of retail shops worthy of a mention.
Inside Abednego (pronounced Ah-BED-nah-go and named from a biblical character from the book of Daniel who was saved from a fiery death by divine intervention), you’ll find wonderful gift items, affordable jewelry and unique clothing for both men and women. For gifts and home décor at a bit of a higher price point, head to Wilder, which continues to be one of Germantown’s most stylish and uniquely curated shops. Owners Josh and Ivy Elrod pride themselves on creating a space that is sophisticated and rich in artisan goods, where you will find everything from furniture to home accessories. And, each has a story of its own.
We took a quick peek inside The Dress Theory, a lovely boutique showcasing gorgeous wedding gowns. As the front door states, The Dress Theory has locations in Seattle, San Diego and now, Nashville. Voted Seattle’s Best Bridal Shop 2013 and 2014 by Seattle Bride, The Dress Theory is a wonderful resource for Nashville brides-to-be!
Kiddos in the family will love a trip to the recently-opened Rich Hippies store. This being their second location, Rich Hippies has become masters at curating (and creating) the best in kidswear and accessories. And for folks of all ages, Pieces Boutique is filled to the brim with summer dresses, tops, wearable jeans and tons of jewelry and accessories.
One last business worth of a visit is Crossroads Campus: Pet Shop and Adopt. You’ll be amazed when you see the stocked shelves of this neighborhood pet shop. Crossroads Pet Shop is a not-for-profit whose mission is to find homes for rescued dogs and cats and provide mentoring to young people with on-the-job training. Emmylou Harris is a tireless spokesperson for the cause. Crossroads also offers nutritional food and treats, tons of toys, collars and leashes, dog grooming and a dog self-wash.
With a sweeping view of Nashville’s skyline from the south and its proximity to the Bicentennial Mall, First Tennessee Park is one of Nashville’s newest prized possessions. Once there, head to The Band Box for a Porter Road Butcher dog and a frozen Field of Dreamsicle, play a round of mini golf and cheer on the Sounds.
As mentioned, the Bicentennial Mall sits adjacent to the park. From the mall, a greenway can take you over to Morgan Park (dating back to 1909), which is another great green space in the neighborhood. The greenway isn’t the only walkable path in Germantown. The tree-lined brick streets that house everything from single-family homes and townhouses to duplexes and apartments (with more to come!) are easy to stroll.
Make plans to check out Germantown soon, and you’ll see why it’s such a great area of town! A good time to go is during the annual Oktoberfest German Beer Festival Fair, which is held each fall! After you have explored Germantown, head over to the neighboring Buchanan Street: A New North Nashville Hot Spot.