From concert halls to bars, Nashville abounds with music venues that attract guitar-toting songsmiths from all over the nation. Many of the city’s best music havens also serve food, so sit back and check out local, national and emerging talent—all while enjoying fried catfish, Angus beef burgers and more.
Tiny Place, Huge Cred: The Bluebird Café
Head to the iconic Bluebird Café, and dine where Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and other chart-topping artists were first discovered. Opened in 1982, the intimate, 90-seat venue is located just outside of downtown and features walls lined with black-and-white photographs of renowned pop, rock and country performers. From baked brie to fish and chips, and smoked pork sandwiches to spicy black bean burgers, the menu offers something for everyone. No matter which night of the week you show up, The Bluebird will have a line out the door. It’s best to make reservations in advance, but keep in mind it’s first-come, first-served on Sunday and Monday nights (though any wait is well-worth it!).
Puckett’s (Not So Grocery) Grocery & Restaurant
Located in the heart of downtown and up the hill from the famed Ryman Auditorium, Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is more a restaurant and live music venue than a grocery store. In fact, you can’t really do any grocery shopping here at all. Acoustic-based bands and solo singers step on stage seven nights a week. The menu specializes in Southern comfort food: fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and fried catfish. Plenty of non-fried dishes make the cut as well, including traditional veggie sides like green beans and mashed potatoes that will remind you of Grandma’s home cooking. If you’re there during dinner, order a signature entree such as shrimp and grits or filet mignon.
Locals Delight: The Family Wash
The Family Wash in East Nashville, off the tourist radar across the Cumberland River from downtown, serves up pints, pies and live music. Named after a laundromat that housed the original location, “The Wash,” as locals call it, moved to bigger digs in 2015 to accommodate more patrons and a bigger stage. This locals’ favorite is known for its shepherd’s pie and eclectic lineup of hip indie and Americana acts. Other popular menu items are the chicken pot pie and the grilled cheese sandwich served with tomato soup—comfort food at its finest. The Wash is also East Nashville’s unofficial community center.
Honky-Tonk Heaven: Robert’s Western World
You can’t visit Nashville without experiencing one of its legendary honky-tonks downtown on Lower Broadway. Chief among them is Robert’s Western World. This is the place to hear twangy bands performing classic country. While BR549 got their start here as the house band, the venue currently features Brazilbilly as their regular Friday and Saturday band, performing traditional country tunes with a Latin twist. Order the fried bologna sandwich or the Angus beef burger. Unlike other venues that typically offer music only during evening hours, bands start playing at Robert’s late in the morning and continue until well past midnight. Another great reason to visit: There’s never a cover charge.