SEAC 2015: An Nashville Insider’s Guide

The 72nd annual meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference is being held in Nashville from November 18-21, 2015! The TCPA is pleased to be a part of this event, including acting as the main sponsor of the student reception on Thursday afternoon. To help conference attendees get the most out of their time in Music City, Nashville resident, TCPA Board member, and TDOA Archaeologist Sarah Levithol prepared this Nashville Insider’s Guide, complete with a handy Google Map. Have a great time in Nashville!

Nashville Insider’s Guide

Nashville, referred to often as Music City and the Athens of the South (don’t call it Nashvegas), is a fun and active city with an endless amount of things to do, places to explore, and delicious food to eat. While it may have started as a country music mecca, it has certainly grown in the last few years into a true eclectic music town home to the likes of Jack White, The Black Keys, Young Buck, The Civil Wars, Sheryl Crow, Peter Frampton, Ben Folds, Kesha and so many others. While visiting be sure to check out not just the Honky Tonks along Lower Broadway which will be blasting the country favorites, but also the more vibrant and up and coming music scene at places like The Basement, The Mercy Lounge, Cannery Ballroom, The End, Marathon Music Works, 3rd and Lindsley, and Exit/In to name a few. Be sure to pick up a copy of the Nashville Scene, which is free and available all over town. It’s a great source for local news, events, music, and restaurants.

Nashville also has an awesome art scene with tons of galleries and great rotating exhibits at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts. In fact, the city was just voted the second most vibrant arts community in the USA, coming in ahead of New York, Boston, and San Francisco.  The Frist, located just uphill from Lower Broadway is free for college students with a valid ID on Thursday and Friday from 5-9 pm. Art galleries are distributed throughout the downtown area and other neighborhoods. A good concentration can be found on the second floor of the Arcade, which is downtown and also has some good food options. A good listing of galleries can be found here. This is also a good resource for some of Nashville’s art in public places.

Music City has also more recently seen an explosion in the amount and variety of restaurants. While there are still the meat-and-threes that have served the city for years, such as Arnold’s Country Kitchen and Rotier’s, there have been innovative new comers, such as Top Chef All Star winner Richard Blais and his new restaurant Flip Burger, and 2010 James Beard Award winner Chef Sean Brock and his restaurant Husk. There are so many new restaurants, and new ones keep opening every day. Be sure to indulge in Nashville staples, such as meat and threes and BBQ, but also sample some of the more innovative cuisine being offered. There are a few culinary tours offered in Nashville also, check them out here and here. Food Trucks have exploded in Nashville recently and there are so many great ones. They are constantly moving around so it is best to check their locations on this website . You can also track them via the app! Several set up for lunch on Deadrick Street, right outside the hotel. For the hot sauce junkies, the famous Nashville Hot Chicken is a must try. The original and 2013 James Beard Award Winner, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, is way too far to walk to from the hotel, but is definitely worth the drive. Don’t fret, though, as there are plenty of places that offer the staple closer to the conference. Some words of wisdom on hot chicken: While it is delicious and addictive, it is HOT, so be cautious when selecting you heat level and be sure to NEVER touch your face while you are eating. Also be ready to pay for it the day after, so don’t plan on traveling long distances within 24 hours of your meal. Nashville also has a very vibrant bar and nightlife scene. For a good listing of happy hours look here and  here. Several of the more expensive restaurants have really great happy hours with discounted appetizers and specialty cocktails. Many are close to the conference hotel.

As far as transportation goes, Nashville has several options. Taxis are usually easy to catch throughout the downtown area. Uber and Lyft are great for cheap and easy rides if you have the app. Several bus stops are located right outside the hotel, and the central station is just two blocks north. For more information visit the Nashville Metro Transit Authority’s website. There are also several places to rent bikes. Nashville B Cycle is the most accessible with 25 stations throughout Nashville with bikes available for rent. You can get a 24 hour pass for just $5. The closest station is just two block northeast of the hotel at Public Square Park. You can also use bikes for free on the Greenways by stopping at any Green Bikes location. Green Fleet in Edgehill Village also rents bikes for the day and also does tours of the city via bike.

This guide is split into sections according to neighborhood in order of proximity to the conference hotel. Recommended things to see/do and places to eat and drink are noted in each section and marked on the accompanying map. It is by no means a comprehensive list, and only covers a roughly 4 mile radius from the conference hotel. Another good resource can be found here.  Also keep in mind that most restaurants do take reservations, and it is highly recommended that you make reservations where possible, and do so in advanced. Many of the more popular restaurants do fill up quickly, especially on the weekends. Many restaurants allow you to make reservations online at the Open Table website.


The downtown area has much to offer for food and entertainment. This is the area in which the conference hotel sits, and is very walk-able and bike-able. Music venues include: The famous Ryman Auditorium  (which you can also tour during the day; shows going on during the conference: Joe Bonamassa and Opry at the Ryman), Bridgestone Arena  (hosts concerts and the Predators hockey team; Events going on during the conference: Dead and Company concert), The Municipal Auditorium (Also houses the Musicians Hall of Fame), and almost every single bar/Honkey Tonk on Broadway and 2nd Street. Top picks among these are Acme Feed and Seed, Robert’s Western World, Paradise Park Trailer Resort, Tootsies, Second Fiddle, and the Stage. The Tennessee State Museum is also just down the way from the conference hotel and is free all the time, but does accept donations. There are many great exhibits about TN history and it has an exciting new Mississippian statuary exhibit, Ancestors. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center , which shares the building with the State Museum, has some great shows during the conference. They include Neil deGrasse Tyson, REAL Voices, Randy Rogers Band with Wade Bowen, and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.

If you are looking to get away from the Honkey Tonks, Printer’s Alley also has some great choices for bars and live music, such as Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie, Fleet Street Pub, and Ms. Kelli’s Karaoke Bar. For a bar with a good beer selection, check out the Flying Saucer (located just behind the Frist and the Union Station Hotel), Broadway Brewhouse (on Broadway), and Beer Seller (behind Hooters on 2nd, down a flight of stairs). These bars also have decent happy hours. If you want fancy cocktails, you can’t go wrong with the Oak Bar. If you are looking for a great patio with a view, head to Acme Feed and Seed, Honky Tonk Central , or The Bridge Bar.

As for food, there are many choices. For breakfast go to Frothy Money, The Perch, Provence Café, or Puckett’s Grocery. For lunch time, the Arcade is a good place to go as there are so many options. Printer’s Alley also has some good lunch options, such as Fleet Street Pub and Back Alley Diner. Rae’s Gourmet Sandwiches is a good lunch choice for salads and sandwiches (and close to the hotel). Other great places include Nashville Street Tacos, Oscars Tacos, Jack’s BBQ, Demos’ (good, fast, and affordable steaks and pasta), Piranha’s (they have a doughnut burger and Pittsburg style sandwiches with fries on them), and Puckett’s Grocery (southern style and open for all meals). Most of these are also good dinner choices. For a fancy dinner you can check out The Capitol Grill or Oak Bar in the Hermitage Hotel. More casual options are Puckett’s, Acme Feed and Seed, Demos’, and Piranha’s.


This area, which is South of Broadway, is also mostly within walking distance of the conference hotel. Some of the areas further south may be best accessed via car, taxi/Uber/Lyft, bike or bus. Notable attractions in this area include The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Hatch Show Print Shop (in same building as the Hall of Fame), the Music City Walk of Fame, The Schermerhorn Symphony Center (Shows during the conference: Sibelius’ Second Symphony, Saint-Saëns’ “Egyptian” Piano Concerto), and The Johnny Cash Museum. Fort Negley Park is also part of this area, and is a great example of the preserved Civil War earthworks in Tennessee. You could walk, but it may be a little far for some. For those with children, the Adventure Science Center is an awesome place to let them loose for a little while. A little further out is Third Man records (Jack White’s label and store) along with Grimey’s Record store and The Basement music venue. The Listening Room Café is a great place to eat and catch some local music and is also within walking distance. Some other great music venues in this area, which are all conveniently clustered together, include The Mercy Lounge, The High Watt, and Cannery Ballroom (Family of the Year, Brandy Zdan, Matt Hires, Jane Lee Hooker, Shakey Graves, and Drive by Truckers will be playing at these venues during the conference). These can be walked to, but it is not advisable to do so at night. 3rd and Lindsley is also a decent music venue with acceptable food that is within walking distance (Granger Smith, Butch Wax, and Tim Akers will be playing here during the conference). City Winery offers a great music venue and a good bar and restaurant (David Bromberg Quintet, The Earls of Leicester, Ashley Monroe, and Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts will be playing here during the conference). They have a great wine bar as well.

For lunch, check out the Peabody Corner Food Court, which has multiple restaurants including one of the closest places to the conference to get Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken at 400 Degrees. Some delicious coffee can be had at CREMA, and the Hermitage Café serves up cheap, classic diner style eats from breakfast to late night (a great greasy spoon place, they only take cash). Fantastic burgers can be had at Gabby’s Burgers and Fries, which is only open for lunch during the week and on Saturdays. Great restaurants choices for dinner include Etch, the Farm House, Salsa, Pinewood Social, The Southern Steak and Oyster, and Husk. Several of these also have good happy hours with discounted drinks and appetizers. If you are in the mood for fancy cocktails, Etch and The Southern are good options. If you are craving wine, check out City Winery.

 The Gulch

This area of town is newly developed and includes many restaurants, bars and shopping options. The majority of Nashville’s Breweries can also be found in and around this area. If you like beer you must check out Yazoo, Jackalope, and TN Brew Works breweries. Most do tours on Saturdays. The best blue grass venue in Nashville, The Station Inn, is also located in the Gulch and really is a must see for any music lover. Tickets are sold at the door only and you have to get there when they open the ticket booth to be able to get tickets for most shows. Some sell out quickly. The Station Inn is also a smoke-free, all ages venue for those interested in taking their families out for live music. Concerts during the conference include The Howlin Brothers, The Farewell Drifters and IIIrd Tyme Out.

The nightlife in this area is good with bars including The Pub, Hops and Crafts, Bar Louie, and Whiskey Kitchen. The Pub and Hops and Crafts are best for beer and Bar Louie is great for cocktails. Good happy hours can be found at The Pub, Saint Anejo and Party Fowl. For your personal beer, wine, and liquor supplies, head to Frugal McDougal’s for the best selection and prices in town.

Great food can also be had in the area. For lunch, Arnold’s Country Kitchen is a must (only open for lunch and only on weekdays) and Burger Republic serves up good, but expensive burgers and shakes (some are alcoholic). Barista Parlor is good for coffee, and Biscuit Love Brunch is good for breakfast/brunch. For dinner (or lunch) check out Sambuca, 404 Kitchen, Chauhan Ale and Masala House (they also have lunch), Watermark, Adele’s, Ru San’s (sushi place with a lunch buffet on weekdays), Prima, and Party Fowl.



This historic neighborhood is another blossoming area of Nashville that has seen rapid growth lately. Notable attractions include the Bicentennial Mall (which tells the history of Tennessee), the Nashville Farmer’s Market, and the new First Tennessee ballpark.  The Marathon Motor Works building is also considered part of this area, although it is just west of downtown. It’s a historic car factory that has been restored into shops and artist space. Antique Archaeology, the store front for the show American Picker’s on the History Channel, is here, as are two distilleries, Corsair and Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. These distilleries do have tours and tasting rooms and are fun places to hang out for a little while. This is also the site of the Marathon Music Works venue, which is a great live music venue (Metric and Azealia Banks will be playing here during the conference).

The food scene in this neighborhood has really exploded with many great options. For lunch, you can’t beat the Nashville Farmer’s market where you will find several great options, including many international places. El Cochon Butcher is a great option for a delicious sandwich and Red Bicycle is great for coffee and crepes.  For true southern fare, hit up Monell’s, where you are served delicious food, family style and in massive quantities. Their fried chicken is great and they serve a huge breakfast on the weekends. Other great restaurants include Germantown Café (great brunch), SILO, Mad Platter, Garden Brunch (They only have Brunch and be sure to get the Bananas Foster French Toast if you go), City House, 5th and Taylor, Rolf and Daughters, and 312 Pizza (Chicago style Pizza). Most of these have some kind of a happy hour.


East Nashville

East Nashville is one of the earliest neighborhoods of Nashville, and has become a very trendy side of town. While it may look close to downtown on the map, walking here from the hotel is not recommended. Biking would be fine, but a cab or ride share is better, especially at night. Notable places of interest include  Shelby Bottoms Park (which may be the best park in the metro area and worth a look and a bike ride), Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. (which is delicious and gives tours of their small operation), several art galleries and boutique clothing stores, and Nissan Stadium (where the Titans play). The nightlife scene in the Five Points area is fun with great bars like 3 Crow, Beyond the Edge, Rumors East, The 5 Spot, The Crying Wolf, 308, and Red Door East. For fancy cocktails head to Holland House Bar and Refuge, and for wine check out Rumors East. Barista Parlor is great for coffee and breakfast, as is Bagel Face Bakery. Thai Phooket is a good choice if you are craving Thai, and Two Ten Jack has a good, but expensive bowl of Japanese ramen. Terrific food can also be had at The Wild Cow (vegetarian), Eastland Café, Riverside Grill Shack (great burgers), Marche (has an awesome brunch), Edley’s BBQ, Calypso Café, The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden (great burgers and atmosphere), Five Points Pizza, Mas Tacos, and Lockeland Table.

Edgehill/Music Row

At the end of Demonbreun Street you will find the famous Music Row where the majority of recording studios and some major record labels are located. You can walk here from downtown, but it is a little far (about 1.5 miles). Several tour companies do group tours of the studios, such as RCA Studio B. There are also several bars/restaurants at the circle. The circle is another popular nightlife area, especially with college kids. Notable bars and restaurants include Tin Roof, South, Two Bits (which has free video games and a good happy hour), Dan McGuiness Irish Pub, and Desano’s Pizza. Great Thai food from Thai Esane is not too far (it’s also close to The Gulch area). Edgehill café is a great coffee place with good food and Legato Gelato has excellent gelato.

Vanderbilt/Midtown/West End/Elliston

This part of town, as you may have guessed, is dominated by Vanderbilt University and is also reachable on foot (about 2 miles away). The campus is actually quite nice and is also considered an arboretum. For restaurants, you can’t go wrong with Mellow Mushroom, which has good pizza and happy hour specials. San Antonio Taco Company has decent “gringo” tacos and cheese dip.

In and around Vanderbilt is Midtown, which extends up Broadway and Division Street. This area has a lot of bars and restaurants, and is frequented by college students. Fun bars include Broadway Brewhouse, Winners, Losers, Red Door, and Patterson House (a great speakeasy with fancy and expensive cocktails). Some good restaurant choices are Union Common, Two Boots Pizza, Tavern, Soulshine Pizza, and the very popular and expensive Catbird Seat. This area is home to another of Nashville’s Hot Chicken places, Hattie B’s, which is delicious and has local beers on draft. On Sunday’s they serve a chicken and waffles brunch.

On the other side of Vanderbilt, you will find the West End Area (also about 2 miles from the hotel). The main attraction in this area is Centennial Park and the Parthenon (a full scale replica of the one in Greece). This park is a great place to hang out on a nice day and the Parthenon is a neat place to tour. The statue of Athena is impressive and they really did a great job replicating what the temple would have looked like. Both the Parthenon and the park host events throughout the year.

For bars, Jed’s is a great sports bar, and there is also the Corner Bar, Hurry Back, and Gold Rush in the Elliston area. Also on Elliston are Café Coco (good for coffee and live music), and Jimmy Kelly’s (great steak house). There are some small and fun concert venues on this side of town, such as Exit/In and The End, which constantly have local talent playing. For food, check out Sitar for Indian food, Elliston Place Soda Shop for lunch (an old time soda fountain), Cori’s Dog House for awesome hot dogs with regional themes, Woodlands for awesome vegetarian Indian food, and Rotier’s for their awesome French bread burger and meat and 3 choices. A bit further down Charlotte Ave you will find the new Flip Burger by Top Chef winner Richard Blais, but you will definitely not want to walk here. On Chruch Street (which turns into Elliston Place) you can also find some good Asian Fusion at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, which is owned by Nashville native and former Top Chef contestant Arnold Myint. This area is not too far of a walk, but should probably not be attempted at night. Two great night clubs, Tribe and Play, can be found right next door to this restaurant. They have a great dance party atmosphere and are considered the best gay-friendly party spots in Nashville. WKND, Canvas Lounge, and Blue Gene’s are also good LGBT friendly bars that are right down the road.

Hillsboro Village

Just down from Vanderbilt is Hillsboro Village, which has a great selection of local boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For fun shopping go to Pangea, Posh, and Book Man Book Woman. For bars, head to Sportsman’s Lodge, The Villager (smoky but good for darts), and Cabanas (this is a bit more of a trendy bar). For food you can’t go wrong with Jackson’s (also good for brunch), Fido (great for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Pizza Perfect, and Kay Bob’s. The Belcourt Theater is a nice place to catch a movie, if you have time, and is always playing artistic and limited release films. Both Hot and Cold, and Fido have great coffee. Pancake Pantry is good for breakfast, but always has long lines and is not really worth the wait.

 Belmont/12th South

This side of town begins at Wedgwood and extends to Interstate 440. Basically it is everything behind Belmont University. While it is very residential, there are some great places to eat and drink here. Along Belmont Blvd, you will find PM (sushi), Chagos Cantina (which has great drink specials), and the amazing Martin’s BBQ (some of the best BBQ in town). Just a few blocks to the east is the 12th Ave South area, which has recently seen a lot of development. Several great bars and restaurants with good happy hours are here, such as 12th South Tap Room, the Flip Side, Mafioza’s, and Edley’s BBQ. Other restaurants to check out include Epice (fancy Lebanese food), the Cookery (hires and trains homeless people how to work in a kitchen and has great food), Josephine, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and Las Paletas (Mexican popsicles). Portland Brew and Frothy Money are good for coffee and breakfast. There are also a few cute shops over here and Sevier Park is a nice place to hang out on a sunny day.

Melrose/8th Ave

This area of town is a little further out so you need to arrange some sort of transportation if you want to check it out. There is a great beer tap room here called Craft Brewed. They always have a great selection of craft beers and it is a very chill atmosphere. M.L. Rose is not a bad bar either and their pool hall across the street is an institution. Fancy cocktails can be had at The Sutler as well as good food. Sinema, which is just down from The Sutler, is housed in an old movie theater and serves up some fancy and good food. Fenwick’s 300 is an interesting take on a modern diner. There is also good sushi to be had at Koi and excellent Thai food at the Smiling Elephant (if you go, note that it is a small place that gets very busy and does not take reservations). If it is cold outside, head to Love, Peace & Pho for some delicious Pho soup and then grab an excellent coffee at 8th and Roast. If you want a laugh, head to Zanies Comedy Night Club where Nashville natives Keith Alberstadt and Nate Bargatze will be performing during the conference.