One of Nashville’s favorite neighborhoods, Sylvan Park is confined by Richland Creek, Charlotte Avenue and the railroad tracks. With a growing restaurant scene, one adorable boutique, locals who love their community and ample opportunities for exercise, Sylvan Park is a desirable place for many. “Sylvan Park is a lovely, quiet and safe place to live,” says Steve Swartz, membership secretary of the Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association. We couldn’t agree more — here’s what’s to love.
The neighborhood’s continued growth is tempered by the community’s laid-back energy. Families, young professionals and empty nesters come looking to weave themselves into the fabric of the community. Each business owner supports their community and each community member supports neighborhood businesses. Take a look at this eatable, shop-able, walkable neighborhood.
WHERE TO EAT
On the Charlotte end of Sylvan Park, Miel, Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, Bajo Sexto, Hattie B’s, Coco’s Italian Market and Thistle Stop Cafe (currently closed for renovations) draw diners for everything from ice cream cones to fine French cuisine. These restaurants dot the map on Charlotte Avenue from 52nd to 46th. East of 46th, you will find M.L. Rose, FLIP Burger, Farm Burger, Double Dogs, Castrillo’s Pizza and Salt & Vine. Although technically Sylvan Park, this area has seen so much growth that it is beginning to stand alone. It is the restaurants on Murphy Road/46th Avenue (from dose. to Vegan Vee), though, that are undeniably in Sylvan Park.
dose. opened in 2009 to bring the neighborhood great coffee, freshly baked goods and tasty lunch options. Their breakfast menu is a favorite at StyleBlueprint for their gluten-free treats, especially the cinnamon scone. Down the road, where Murphy Road meets 46th Avenue, Star Bagel also serves breakfast. Known for their — you guessed it — bagels, Star Bagel is the oldest locally owned and operated bagel shop and bakery cafe in Nashville. In addition to their breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches, they offer salads, soups and coffee drinks. If you continue towards Charlotte Avenue, you will find the neighborhood’s newer breakfast option, Vegan Vee, a dedicated vegan and gluten-free bakery that creates delicious (whether you are gluten-free or vegan or neither) muffins, donuts, cupcakes, rolls and cookies. They only open their doors on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but you can find their treats sold around town.
McCabe Pub, Park Cafe, Local Taco, Edley’s Bar-B-Que, Caffé Nonna, Nonna’s Pizzeria and Neighbors open their doors for lunch and dinner. These restaurants sit near the newly constructed roundabout and welcome Sylvan Park locals and visitors. McCabe Pub has held court in the neighborhood since 1982. They have Southern favorites, such as meatloaf, chicken fingers, catfish sandwiches, homemade soups, casseroles, hand-cut salmon and of course, burgers. Their bacon burger is aptly named the Best Bacon Cheeseburger in Town.
“We have been very lucky over the last 35 years to be nestled in one of the best neighborhoods in the city,” Stefanie Dean Brown, co-owner of McCabe Pub tells us. “You can’t get a better location in town than Sylvan Park these days. Its proximity to Music Row, Belmont, Vanderbilt and downtown has always made it desirable. Our father was raised in the neighborhood and attended Cohn High School, and my sisters and I were raised in this restaurant, so we’ve been around to watch the change. The Pub has always been a home away from home to many customers — a place where you will always see someone you know or they know you — whether having a business lunch or dinner with your family. I think our customers really represent the best of Nashville, that small town yet big city feel. The neighborhood (and Nashville) has visually changed a lot over the last few years but we think its heart has stayed true. It now definitely consists of many more young families than it ever has in my opinion, but that’s pretty cool because it means Sylvan Park will be ‘home’ to a few in this next and current generation. And, we hope we can stay part of that for many years to come by keeping our hearts true as well. We aim to continue to do what we do well everyday and promise to bring in a few new things here and there just to keep you on your toes.”
Edley’s Bar-B-Que is officially the new kid on the block. With locations in 12 South and East Nashville, Edley’s decided to call Sylvan Park home as well. Local Taco and Neighbors are two more casual eateries in the neighborhood, although Neighbors is known more for their cold beers than their cuisine. We got wind that they recently hired a new chef and will be revamping their menu, so stay tuned for changes at the neighborhood bar. Speaking of menu changes, Local Taco just got a redo. You will find old favorites, such as the local tacos, as well as new offerings, such as fajita bowls and chicken tortilla soup.
Next door, Caffé Nonna and Nonna’s Pizzeria are bringing Italian flavors to the neighborhood. Celebrating their 15th year in Nashville, Caffé Nonna continues to serve salads, lunch sandwiches, pasta, pizza and Italian entrées. Nonna’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar is Caffé Nonna’s next door neighbor and sister restaurant. This cozy spot serves delicious pizzas that pair with selections from their extensive wine list.
Park Cafe is the neighborhood’s most upscale restaurant. The menu is comprised of salads, appetizers and entrees flavored by American and European ingredients. The restaurant plays on Southern traditions in dishes like shrimp and grits, but it also offers exotic interpretations of Southern staples. Park Cafe is perfect for any occasion, from a romantic date night to a casual social outing with friends. And their happy hour menu means you can dine on a dime.
WHERE TO SHOP
There are some of the city’s best shopping destinations on the edge of Sylvan Park on Charlotte Avenue — Fabu and Oak Nashville in particular — as well as one of the city’s top art galleries, LeQuire Gallery. In Sylvan Park proper, though, you’ll find non-traditional shopping in the form of The Produce Place, Import Flowers, Billy’s Corner, Love at First Sight, Jack’s Market, Elle Gray, Stained Glass Emporium and Scout’s Barbershop. Since their opening in 1988, The Produce Place has been a favorite among neighborhood residents for their locally sourced produce, convenient to-go options and selection of dairy, meats and breads. The Produce Place first opened in the spot Caffé Nonna now calls home and moved into their current location in 1991. You will recognize products from local vendors, including Noble Springs Dairy, Olive & Sinclair, Benton’s, The Corner Market and Tru-Bee Honey. The relationships with local farmers, produce growers and vendors is what makes the place so special. Their down-the-street neighbor, Import Flowers, has been offering selections of fresh cut and hard-to-fine flowers, available for wholesale and by the stem. Lou Farrell owned Import Flowers for many years before his son took the reins. You will find them both in the store welcoming everyone from DIY brides to a young girl from the neighborhood buying roses for her grandmother. On Saturday mornings, Lou says the shop is swarming with area residents, making it a community gathering place. When driving by, you will recognize the building for its iconic flower murals.
Formerly known as the Sylvan Park Shell and International Deli, Billy’s Corner will repair your engine and fill your growler. Yes, this auto repair shop and gas station has 10 taps for growler fill-ups and a large variety of packaged beer, but they also have some great breakfast and lunch items as well. You’ll frequently see Bill Hance, the store’s owner and namesake, rocking away with some pals on the front stoop. Grab a seat and enjoy some conversation. Across the street, is Jack’s Market, a local convenience store staple for everything from a gallon of milk and six pack of beer to laundry detergent and over-the-counter medicines.
If it’s not groceries and flowers but puppies and kittens you are in the market for, head to Love at First Sight. Nestled between Jack’s Market and Neighbors, this pet adoption center, which opened in 1995, was started to raise awareness for pet adoption. An afternoon with the kittens at Love at First Sight is an afternoon well spent, and if you adopt one, you’ll have a vet home at Murphy Road Animal Hospital, which is directly across the street and whose medical director is a co-founder of LAFS.
Elle Gray is the neighborhood’s only boutique. When the well-loved Willow Tree closed their doors, Elle Gray opened for business. “I had been looking for a place for two years,” owner Chynna Grayson tells us. “I knew that I wanted to start small and wanted to be in a walkable neighborhood. I moved to Sylvan Park three years ago and spend a lot of time here. I always thought The Willow Tree’s location would be the perfect space for me. One day after work, I saw a sign in the window. It was just luck and timing.” This women’s boutique opened at the end of October and has since been inundated with customers scanning the racks of affordable clothing and accessories. “I see the same faces over and over again and a lot of it is local traffic. That is what is so awesome about Nashville. Nashvillians support local, even in the small nucleus of neighborhood,” Chynna says.
WHERE TO WALK
Much of Sylvan Park was built in the 1950s, but you’ll find Victorians and older Tudors in the mix as well. This neighborhood is made up of homes that make you stop and stare to take in the attention to detail that went into the design. A stroll down any of Sylvan Park’s streets will offer a tour of the neighborhood’s history and architecture (and cherry blossoms). Cottages, clapboard homes and stone bungalows sandwich new builds and renovations. As the neighborhood experiences growth, tension between those building the new and those preserving the old are on the rise. But one thing everyone can agree on is the love of green space the neighborhood offers. Young families and young professional make up the majority of the neighborhood’s population, but folks young and old can be found taking advantage of the McCabe Community Center, McCabe Golf Course and Richland Creek Greenway.
McCabe Community Center has a full-service fitness center, exercise classes, gymnasium, game room, after-school youth program, sports programs, art exhibits and an outdoor playground. The center is designed to cater to young and old while instilling a sense of community. The community center offers access to the Richland Creek Greenway, which circles around McCabe Golf Course, a 27-hole course and practice facility. You are sure to spot McCabe Little League players on the fields that sit off the greenway. The neighborhood baseball league primarily serves the Sylvan Park neighborhood and is largely supported by local businesses, including Import Flowers and the Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA).
Neighborhood locals also visit the Senior Renaissance Center of Cohn Adult Learning Center for extra-curricular activities, walk with their kids to Sylvan Park Paideia Design Center and check out books or catch a story time at Nashville Public Library Richland Park Branch. Walkers, joggers and bikers can be found just about anywhere in the Sylvan Park neighborhood, particularly at the Richland Park Farmers Market, which is open on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from May through December.
There’s no shortage of things to enjoy about Sylvan Park. Spend a day experiencing it for yourself, and you just may want to call it home!
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