When most people think of Nashville coffee shops, they think of Fido. Fido has been around for a while, because Elizabeth went there on another one of her trips to become more "cultured" in high school. (Apparently, "culture" had a lot to do with coffee shops in high school.)
Fido is housed in Jones' Pet Shop, but don't worry, the fur is long gone. The Pet Shop is merely responsible for the name and logo. And a few drink names and the table-order-placard-thingies.*
Fido is one of several shops in the Bongo Java lineup. Bongo Java is a local coffee and baked-goods company that roasts its own beans and makes organic food full of local ingredients. In fact, Fido is Nashville's largest buyer of local ingredients (according to one section of their website. The other section says they are "likely" the largest buyer. We'll let you make the call.).
Fido is one of the largest coffee shops in Nashville by a long shot. They have three roomy sections in which to meet, study, dine, or drink. Fido is a popular location for meetings, often of a music-business nature. The back room is typically the most quiet, though Elizabeth once happened upon some sort of scientific/philosophy forum back there. It's kind of like the back row of a classroom where John Bender from the Breakfast Club would totally hang out.
The front of the store offers a couple of window-facing bars which are perfect for people-watching and being more productive than the rest of us. These are commonly referred to as the "fish-bowl seats" (at least by Elizabeth's friend, Mary).
The decor is industrial-cozy,* with brick-covered walls, chunky metal tables and wooden chairs. Sliding wooden doors, curtains and art (by local artists) on the walls bring in the cozy factor.
Fido is a fantastic place for people watching. The crowd is diverse, but not the scary kind of diverse where you wonder if this is your first exposure to drug culture (lookin' at you, Cafe Coco). Students, moms, readers, writers--you name it. All here. We find it fun to play the "what is this group doing here?" game. Writing bad poetry? Starting a nonprofit to bring Adidas sandals back into the mainstream culture? You decide.
Parking is in the back of the building, but warning: it's a little tight. You can also park on some surrounding streets, but beware of tow-zones and valet from the nearby restaurants. If you find a parallel spot, you get a gold star. Not really but wouldn't it be so great if there was a person whose job it was to award people for scoring parallel spots? We're creating jobs here, you guys.
Also beware that if you park behind Pancake Pantry (across the street), they will give you a ticket if you don't pay (even if paying would have taken you more time than literally running into Sweet CeCe's to purchase a gift card and then literally running RIGHT BACK OUT less than five minutes later. Hypothetically.).
Fido turns off wifi during "busy hours." These hours are totally at the discretion of the baristas so there is no way of knowing when they are. Typically, breakfast time is crowded, and so is finals week for Vandy. While we were there, there wasn't a huge crowd, but the wifi was still a little spotty.
E: On this trip, I got the iced chai latte. I appreciate that Fido baristas don't overdo the ice. In fact, one barista even offered to give me a cold, no-ice chai latte once and he was my favorite barista ever. They use Tazo chai latte mix, so there are few ways to go wrong there.
Chai Taste Rating: 9
On other, colder occasions, I have had the hot chai. I don't recommend it. I've had it several times (learn from my mistakes, because apparently I don't.) and they just can't get the formula right, it seems. Once it was way too spicy, once there was hardly any taste. They do offer a large variety of hot teas (just not lattes). Also, their hot chocolate is wonderful.
L: I stuck with ol' faithful to get the full experience and got a double vanilla latte with skim milk. Bongo Java coffee never fails to take me to my happy place, and this did not disappoint. It was creamy and coffee-y and just the right amount of sweet.
Latte Taste Rating: 10
And just look at this. Now this is what I call latte art. If I say "ooo, pretty!" when I pick it up from the counter--which I did--it gets a 10 in my book.
Latte art grade: 10
Fido also serves food at all hours of the day. Because their big thing is local foods, they have a seasonal menu and a specials menu that changes each day. They have some unusual dishes, but also staples like bagels, oatmeal (which is delicious), soups, and sandwiches.
Yummy Bongo Java Coffee pictured in Nashville-themed tins, middle shelf, left
Fedora Count: 1 when we got there. We saw about 4 throughout our time there.
Newsboy Hats (not sure if this is actually what they're called, but you know what I mean. Also, are these the new fedoras?): 3
Level of uncomfortableness upon walking in: 1. For me, Laura, this place feels homey to me because I went to college around the corner and spent many an evening chatting with friends over lattes here.
We knew what to expect when we walked in, but we still give it a 1 because people always look at you when you walk in a coffee shop. It can look like people are staring judgmentally as you search for a table. Elizabeth has a theory about this: a lot of people work at Fido, so when you walk in, they look up. This is only natural, as you are essentially coming into their office. The judge-y face is merely a leftover look of concentration from their work. Just smile, or don't--they probably won't notice because of their concentration--and continue on your quest.
Level of pretentiousness: 5. Sure, it's pretentious--most coffee shops in Nashville are to some extent--but it's an approachable kind of pretentiousness, where the blue-haired barista is super nice and asks if you'd like a water to accompany your coffee. Why yes, yes I would. Thank you for asking.
At Fido, the baristas are pretty much always friendly and the drinks are made in a timely manner. They also bus tables so that you don't have to bring your cups over to a bin like you do in most shops, which is a plus as well.
Price: Average for a decent coffee shop. Double latte a little over $4, and the chai was a little under $4.
- BUZZERS. It's the way of the future for coffee shops. If all coffee shops had buzzers we could totally eliminate the warning from our previous post about being in the way whilst waiting for your drink. I fully appreciate this and will always admire Fido for its decision to go big or go home with that.
- They sell Olive & Sinclair chocolate. This is a local chocolatier that makes delicious bars of chocolate only sold in Nashville (and apparently at The Overall Company).
-Yummy desserts and muffins available at all times (observe below).
-Celebrity Sightings. Elizabeth once saw Ben Folds at Fido. Also, that one time Taylor Swift was dating Jake Gyllenhaal and brought him to Nashville, they went to Fido. Some girl took a picture to Instagram (because who wouldn't?) and got a few thousand for it from People (rumor has it). It's important to look under all fedoras (and now maybe newsboy hats?) in Fido. You never know who you might see.
L: 10. I really enjoyed coming back to Fido, even though I don't live nearby anymore. Totally worth it and if for some reason you live in Nashville, like coffee, and haven't been here, do it immediately. You won't be disappointed.
E: 9. Fido has been my go-to coffee shop for a while, but I kind of need them to get their hot-chai act together before I can give them a 10.
Are you a Fido fan? Does their wifi situation bug you or do you love it all the same?
Pssst: we're always looking for guest-posters! Have a shop you want to gush about or rip a new one? Let us know in the comments or contact us here.