One thing we're not, here at the Nashville Scene, is crystal-ball readers. Twenty years ago, we didn't envision the skyline dominated by a 60-story replica of the Caped Crusader's cowl. We didn't see that the city would have an NFL team, or that the quarterback who led them to the Super Bowl in their very first season here would be gone far too soon. And never in a million years would we have foreseen periodic sightings here of that smokin' hot Australian chick from Days of Thunder—let alone that the local dude playing the president of NASCAR would end up running for president of the United States.

Craziest of all, though, would have been the thought that 20 years later, we'd still be gathering every year to toast the things we love about this toddlin' town—the local foods nobody can beat, the singers, saloons and honky-tonks that keep us honest, the people who may have found Nashville a tough place to stay, but an even tougher place to leave. Twenty years into the Scene's own full-circle trip, back to its origins as a locally owned independent newspaper, the Best of Nashville issue remains our way of bringing this sprawling city into focus—by having you tell us your favorite things about living here, and responding with a bunch of our own.

Think you've scoped out Nashville's best burger? So do we. Got an author, a teacher or a plumber you think is the city's finest? We've got one in our sights too. From arts and music to media and politics, this issue charts a plethora of people, places and things that deserve a closer look. So adjust your glasses, remove your contacts, and read on. And let's hope that when we meet again in 20 years, our vision is just as clear.

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