Helpful Info for the New Vanderbilt and Belmont Students: Stores, Transportation and More

Landing in a new city can be challenging for students (and parents). I’ve focused on Vanderbilt and Belmont but the information here is useful from students at any of our other nearby universities: Lipscomb, TSU, Fisk, Meharry, Trevecca, Watkins College of Art. (Photo credit:

Closest for basic student items

Visit family-owned Hillsboro Hardware at 2204 21st Avenue, S. Couldn’t be nicer or more helpful folks. Extension cords, surge protectors, stuff for hanging stuff on walls and a bunch more. They’ll custom-build you a desk or bookshelf too. Call ’em at 615-292-6983.

Closest big-box stores

Target (26 White Bridge Road, in Lion’s Head Shopping Center) There’s also a larger store in Nashville West.

Walmart (2421 Powell Avenue, across the street from 100 Oaks) Smaller than a superstore but has all the basics including groceries.

Home Depot  (2535 Powell Avenue, across the street from 100 Oaks) One block from Walmart.

Costco (6670 Charlotte Pike, adjoining Nashville West Shopping Center) Membership required. Good source for students seeking healthier food selections.

Click the top left box (with the arrow) to sort by categories: universities, big-box retailers, shopping centers and restaurants.

Closest large shopping centers

100 Oaks The neighborhood is called Berry Hill near the intersection of Thompson Lane and Franklin Road (what 8th Avenue S. becomes). Anchor stores include Electronic Express, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross for Less, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Michael’s and PetSmart. Closest location for Belmont students. In the adjoining 8th Avenue S. community of Melrose, you’ll find a Kroger.

Nashville West  (6716 Charlotte Pike) Anchor stores include Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, Marshalls, Ross Dress For Less, DSW Shoes, Books-A-Million and World Market. Three blocks toward town, you’ll find a Big Lots and Publix

Green Hills Mall By far, the most upscale retail center in Nashville with tenants including The Container Store, RH: Restoration Hardware, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Victoria’s Secret, Foot Locker and Kate Spade. There’s a Kroger across the street; Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are only a few blocks away.

Grocery stores

Click on the “Grocery Stores” tab in the map above to see locations.

Kroger–21st Avenue S. About a half mile from VU or Belmont. Selection dwindles as the day goes on so I’d recommend you shop early for meat and produce. Has an in-house pharmacy.

Belmont Bi-Rite–Smaller store with good sale prices on meat. Hot (and cheap) meals for take-out M-F. @ ____Belmont Blvd.

Piggly Wiggly–Almost identical to the Belmont Bi-Rite. Located at ___ West End Avenue.

Whole Foods–Has a salad bar, a gelato bar/coffee shop, hot food bar and a mini-restaurant in addition to flowers. Parking is hidden behind adjoining stores. Hill Place in Green Hills

Trader Joe’s–About one block from Whole Foods. Parking lot is usually crowded. ____ Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills

Publix–Super clean, well-stocked. Has a hot food/deli counter, a bakery, a pharmacy and a florist. Harding Road.

Costco–You see a lot of people buying organic products here but the selection is much broader than that. In-house bakery, great deals on roasted whole chickens, plus all those little sample carts.


Belmont tower
Creative Commons, Cassidy Hodges


Closest rental cars

ZipCar  You’ll find these eco-friendly cars located at 1495 25th Avenue, N., 2000 Grand Avenue, 110 21st Avenue, S., Magnolia Circle, 18th Avenue S. & Horton Avenue–all pretty convenient for students.

Budget  The closest office is 1803 Church Street. A bit of a hike on foot but at least you get to drive away.

Enterprise  The big plus is they will pick you up and drop you off. Locations at 1700 8th Avenue, S. (where this link will take you) and 3500 Charlotte Pike if you’re west of Vanderbilt.

Hertz  The closest location to Vanderbilt and Belmont is 3100 Charlotte Pike.

Electric scooters

There are at least six rental companies in town that rent them. Get the app online and connect it to your credit/debit card. It’s $1 to unlock one and 15 cents per mile. You are required to have a driver’s license to operate one. Helmets are not provided but highly recommended; local hospitals see a lot of scooter accidents. Dear students, PLEASE stay off the sidewalks in heavily trafficked areas; it’s illegal.

WeGo city bus

Formerly known as Metro Transit Authority (MTA), the cost is typically $2 per trip with free transfers available. I highly recommend downloading the Music City Transit Tracker app.

History lessons for Vanderbilt students
Credit: Creative Commons, Jim Larrison


I’m trusting you to find the chains like Moe’s, Wendy’s and Subway on your own. My criteria here are simple: locally owned, walkable, budget-friendly.

Note: The VU Commodore Card is accepted at a number of local and chain restaurants. I’ve noted if it’s accepted at the places below.

Hillsboro Village

McDougal’s–I have a long-time love affair with their chicken tenders and zippy house sauce. Perhaps the best I’ve ever had. Get ’em grilled or fried, with fries and a piece of Texas toast. Wings too. Or a salad, if you must. Free soft-serve ice cream with your meal. Accepts VU Commodore Card.

Fido–Once a coffeehouse, it’s spread its culinary wings to become a full-fledged restaurant. No clunkers here. And leave room for their homemade desserts. Why the name? The building was once home to Jones Pet Shop.

Brown’s Diner–Just south of Hillsboro Village, Brown’s is a certifiable institution. It opened its doors in 1927 and was the first Nashville establishment to gain a liquor license after Prohibition. Hand-pattied burgers are king. Fries are fine too. You can also get catfish or a short list of other entrees. Nothing fancy–just good basic food…except I’m not of a fan of their Frito pie.

Biscuit Love–If you compare it to fast-food, it’s expensive but if you gotta have a biscuit, theirs are fine. Accepts VU Commodore Card.

Grilled Cheeserie–These are not your middle school grilled cheese sandwiches. Artisan bread, clever combinations with a tasty array of side items and soups. Also has a milkshake bar.

Sultan’s Grill & Ginger Juice Bar–Concise menu of Mediterranean dishes with entrees ranging from $10-17.

Bombay Palace–Maybe the closest place to find goat on the menu. Plan on your India-influenced meal costing between $10 and $18. Accepts VU Commodore Card.

West End

Rotier’s  Another Nashville institution, it’s a combination bar and grill only open 11am-3:30pm Monday-Saturday. Assortment of burgers, fried chicken options and such. Dang, their fried zucchini with horseradish dip is good.

Cori’s Dog House  Eat your way across the U.S. with more than 30 custom-made hot dogs. Personally, I favor the Philly Beef. Good fries and onion rings.

HughBaby’s  Burgers, hot dogs, fries, shakes. Nothing extravagant–just plain good and priced right. Check out the grubburger on Fridays.

China Dragon  It’s the greatest hits of Americanized Chinese food including beef broccoli,  chop suey, spring rolls–you get the idea. Not make-you-weep delicious but consistently good.

Taziki’s Mediterranean Grill  Pricier than other places in this category but they turn out some fine entrees including grilled vegetables, quinoa bowls, gyros, kebabs and flavorful salads. We tried the grilled salmon with couscous and were impressed.

Satay Thai–It’s on Elliston Place, a few blocks north of West End Avenue. I included so you’d have a Thai option. Expect to pay $7-12 for an entree. VU Commodore Card accepted.

Edgehill Village

Taco Mamacita–It’s almost local with its older incarnation started in Chattanooga. Adventurous taco options with two tacos and a side for $9.99. If the weather’s nice, sit outside and people-watch.

Bella Napoli Pizzeria–Their lunch line-up includes a variety of salads, paninis and pizzas in the $5-10 range. At dinnertime, the range is more $10-20.


Frothy Monkey–To call it a coffee house vastly understates its ability to turn out delicious food items ranging from omelets to elevated dinner specials. All their bakery items are made from scratch.

Burger Up–Just because it isn’t my favorite burger spot doesn’t mean it can’t be yours. Grass-fed burgers along with other sandwich options. Excellent fries.

Portland Brew–My friend Tobin camps out there three mornings a week. Limited menu and coffee with moxie.

Five Daughters Bakery–Famous for its 100-layer croissant-style doughnuts, this is definitely not a Krispy Kreme. A variety of extravagant selections such as Chocolate Ganache with Sprinkles and Maple Glaze. Even offers paleo items. Expect to pay $4 or more.

The FlipSide–Chicken in a wide variety of forms is the main attraction but you’ll find a few other sandwiches and a Saturday/Sunday brunch.

Belmont Boulevard

Bongo Java–The granddaddy of Nashville coffee houses is alive and well (and full of Belmont students). The food menu is concise but what they do, they do well. Check their calendar for special events upstairs.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que–High-profile barbecue specialists who also grill a really good burgers. It’s about a mile south of campus but worth the walk/jog/bike/drive.


Tornado siren

Tested at noon on the first Saturday of the month. Don’t freak out.

Sales tax

It’s 9.25% on most items including groceries.

Legal age

To consume alcohol legally in Tennessee, you must be 21 years old. At VU, you can be suspended for having a fake ID.

Additional links for students

Driver’s license, vehicle registration and other driver-related topics

Contacts for utilities, cable, phone service and more

Furnishing your place for cheap

Free live music and events for Summer 2019

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