When you first step into the Thistle Stop Cafe at 5128 Charlotte Avenue in Nashville, the first thing you notice is the ambiance. Perusing some of the decor and the literature, you understand what makes this place so very special. When you order food and drink, you will taste quality made items from healthy products.
The cafe is gorgeous without being pretensive. The 150 – year – old California pinewood floor, chandeliers made from teacups (from around the world, a year long project ), handmade counters, and lots of wood and antiques gives it a homey feel. At one table, a man and woman are on a first date. At another, a mom sits with four little girls of various races. Two women wearing rainbow, “gay pride” t-shirts have cappuccinos while leaning back into the soft leather couches. A husband and wife help their little girl settle into a seat at their table. The music is loud enough to enjoy but does not ruin conversation. The place is clean, fresh, and inviting.
The Thistle Stop Cafe is the brainchild and the product of Thistle Farms and Magdalene House. Magdalene is a program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is the social enterprise, where the women create and market natural bath and body products. The cafe is ran and staffed by residents and graduates of Magdalene. You can see new-found esteem and happiness in their eyes, their body language. Once upon a time, society had given up on them. How refreshing to see anyone can turn their life around, and make positive changes in the world.
The menu is varied; all items are made fresh, and are good for you without tasting like cardboard. Order the “sweet heart” sandwich: Chicken salad with cranberries, red onion, pear, and spinach, with a balsamic glaze served on toasted sourdough. You will never go back to that canned stuff again. The fresh fruit is fresh, with strawberries, blueberries, and grapes that are juicy and flavorful. Try the enchilada soup —not too spicy, but just enough, with a wonderful flavor. The cucumber water is energizing, and you will be hooked. The prices may seem steep ( $11.95 for a sandwich, $3.25 for a small cup of fruit) but considering the quality and the cause, it is worth the cost. This writer suggests the next item on Thistle’s agenda is a cook book!
Forget those mass-marketed, pretentious coffee houses and impersonal diners where you might see a friendly face. Check out Thistle Stop Cafe. Have a coffee, a panini, some quiche or cappuccino. Your money goes to a wonderful cause and you will make new friends.
For more information, including location, hours of operation, and menu, click HERE
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