Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN

Longtime readers may remember that we have some good friends in the Music City, and that I like to leave a blank or two in the schedule, where possible, to go where they recommend when we visit. Last month, as I’ll discuss in subsequent chapters, I made a return trip to western Kentucky to dig a little bit deeper into the region’s food, and, this time, I brought Marie and our son. I also brought our daughter for a short part of the trip; she went to spend Thanksgiving with some of her family up that way, and all four of us settled down for supper with some of our friends at one of Nashville’s oldest surviving restaurants. Elliston Place Soda Shop originally opened in 1939. It survived a landlord-induced closure scare four years ago, and we hope that it’s around for a long time to come, because it’s really good.

This part of Nashville, south of downtown and above Vanderbilt, has been getting more and more exciting over the last several years. Street parking is tough to find. During the day, there’s a pay lot right around the corner from the restaurant that only charges $2. At 5 pm, the price increases to $8, since many people will spend hours and hours here, eating and then drinking and then seeing a show at Exit/In. Fortunately, the parking machine had malfunctioned and was refusing to accept any money when we, at 5:01, wanted to give it some cash. The little strip presently includes just the Soda Shop and a music store which had once been the site of the pharmacy that originally spawned the restaurant. The third space is presently vacant; it had been the home of the old and much-loved antiquarian bookstore Elder’s, but they moved to White Bridge Road recently. I wonder whether they suffered similar landlord issues. Before Elder’s had the space, it had been a Hill’s grocery store.

At lunchtime, Elliston Place offers meat-and-two meals that have everybody raving. They have a smaller menu for supper, and so our friends Tory, Brooke, and Matt dug in to some classic burgers, fries, and milkshakes with us.

Nashville certainly has some very, very good places to get burgers. With that in mind, while I didn’t think that this burger was as quite as good as the ones at The Pharmacy or Pied Piper Eatery, it’s still really, really good. The fries are ordinary frozen ones, but wonderful underneath chili and cheese. And then there are the desserts…

Elliston Place gets ice cream from the local Purity Dairies. Our server answered my question about it, noting that they’d previously used this dairy and that dairy and the other one… “Good heavens,” I said, “either you change suppliers all the time or you’ve been working here a while.” She said that she had, and then noted that when they changed to Purity, they had to change all the interior signage. All the signage. The Purity logo appears more times on this business’s interior walls than I can count, and I didn’t notice it even once. “Well,” Marie suggested, “I guess you failed that observation roll.” What we also missed, because we didn’t look at the far side of the building, is that Purity repainted that side to incorporate their logo. (See it here!)

I really like how you get great big milkshakes here. Like The Grill in Athens GA, they bring you a nice tall glass, and then leave a great big second helping in a stainless steel tumbler. They’ll even give you a to-go cup to take the rest with you for breakfast the following morning. Their chocolate malt is the most celebrated drink on the menu, and what our friends all ordered. The girlchild and I each had orange dreamsicles and Marie just had a banana split for dinner, which took a little longer to make than would be ideal but still pleased her completely. This is a fine, fine place and I hope they never have landlord scares again.

Other blog posts about Elliston Place Soda Shop:

Wherever You Are, Be All There (Jan. 31 2015)
A Southern Gypsy (Sep. 2 2015)


You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!

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