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Downtown Music and Food (Self Guided), Nashville

Walking the busy streets of Downtown Nashville is a music lover's and/or food lover's joy. In fact, there are dozens of places that offer both! The food is great and music is even better. There are places with country music, of course, but also others with a more eclectic (sometimes quieter) vibe. If you ever visit Downtown, follow this walk to have a good time with good food, good drinks, and good bands.
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Downtown Music and Food Map

Guide Name: Downtown Music and Food
Guide Location: USA » Nashville (See other walking tours in Nashville)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.7 Km or 0.4 Miles
Author: mary
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Tootsies Orchid Lounge
  • Robert's Western World
  • Honky Tonk Central
  • Acme Feed & Seed
  • Wildhorse Saloon
  • B.B. King's Blues Club
1
Tootsies Orchid Lounge

1) Tootsies Orchid Lounge

Despite being neither a singer nor a songwriter, Hattie Louis Bess – better known as Tootsie – has been inducted into Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame. Founder of the most celebrated honky-tonk bar ever conceived, she purchased the building standing right behind the Ryman Auditorium in 1960. Originally called Mom's, the name was changed to Tootsies Orchid Lounge when a painter painted the lounge purple. Today, the exterior color remains unchanged.

History was made at Tootsie's. In the early days, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Mel Tillis, Kris Kristrofferson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller and other famous country musicians hung out here (the former received his first songwriting gig after singing at Tootsies). At her funeral in 1978 (she was buried in an orchid gown), Roy Acuff spoke and Connie Smith sang some of Tootsie's favorite hymns. A 60-minute documentary, "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Where the Music Began", was released in 1996.

Plastered throughout the bar are pictures and memorabilia of past and present individuals who have influenced country music, along with pictures of hopefuls and never-wills who came to Music City chasing their dreams. Tootsie was known to slip $5 and $10 bills into the pockets of luckless singers, writers and pickers.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am–3am
2
Robert's Western World

2) Robert's Western World

When visiting the honky-tonks in downtown Nashville, Robert's Western World is a fun place for a quick look in. The club, located on Nashville's Lower Broadway, reinforces the many themes of country music while showcasing the different desires and expectations of the country fan and of the typical Nashville tourist. A special emphasis on "traditional" country is reinforced through the performing bands' selected catalog of hits from the "classic" era and the continued reminder to patrons that they are indeed listening to the sounds of "real" country in a "real" honky-tonk in a "real" music city.

The wall décor, featuring shelves of cowboy boots, neon beer signs, decorative markers of rural authenticity, and photos of country music's most iconic performers such as Ernest Tubb, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Minnie Pearl, Marty Robbins, and Roy Acuff; the costuming of the club's performers, which combines the myths of country music industry with those of Western film; and countless references to WSM (The Legend), the Ryman, and the Grand Ole Opry (which is only 15 feet from the club's rear entrance), affirm to fans that authenticity is heard not only in the interpretation of country songs but also in the performers' image, the venue's location, and the city's placement and history.

Try going on a Thursday – it is certainly less crowded, and you'll get to see some of the regulars, which makes the experience one-of-a-kind.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am–3am; Sun: 10:30am-11:45am (Morning Gospel) / 12pm–3am
Last call for Honky Tonk Grill: 1:45am; Bar last call: 2:30am
Open to all ages until 6pm; 21 and older afterwards
3
Honky Tonk Central

3) Honky Tonk Central

If you came to Nashville looking for the hopping, rowdy, loud, unfettered party experience then this giant, multi-storied venue is one of the places you will want to visit. Seemingly a favorite stomping ground for the endless parade of bachelorette parties that roll through town, the place gets quickly packed and usually hosts pretty good bands that play the more modern variety of country music. If you don't like crowds or if you don't tolerate loud noise, you might feel a little overwhelmed after a while, but it all depends on what you came for. They have TVs all over with usually some sport or another, so watching the game, enjoying the music and having a couple of drinks would be a good plan. Those looking for something a little tamer where they can have a conversation without shouting over the din might want to pass.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Wed: 11am–3am; Thu-Sat: 10am–3am
4
Acme Feed & Seed

4) Acme Feed & Seed

A favorite with tourists and locals alike, Acme Feed & Seed has one of the most prominent locations in Nashville – right in the core of downtown with views of Broadway and the riverfront. The huge Victorian-era white-painted brick warehouse with red and white checkerboards was once Acme Farm Supply before the popular business closed in 1999. The building sat mostly vacant until 2014, when plans were hatched for Acme Feed & Seed.

Each of the three floors is filled with interesting artifacts, the first being more of a "family hang" with (rather eclectic) live music and the second having that younger, fresh-out-of-college vibe. The roof offers one of the best views in town. The menu offers creatively-named bar food with an emphasis on Southern cooking, such as the Local Yokel – essentially a chicken tinga burrito served with rice and beans. There are tons of great beers on tap and a very friendly and knowledgeable serving staff.

Tip:
This place is unique in that you stand in line to place your food order, then have a drink at the bar and listen to live music until they bring your food. Then you can stay where you are or move upstairs to several floors of seating. From the second floor, the large windows provide a nice river view across the park.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11am–CLOSE; Sat, Sun: 10am–CLOSE
5
Wildhorse Saloon

5) Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is a boot-scootin', beer-drinkin' place to see and be seen, though almost exclusively by tourists. When it originally opened in 1994, promoters drove a herd of cattle through the streets of downtown Nashville. The huge dance floor is often packed with cowboys and cowgirls line dancing to the greatest country hits, just like they did in the early-to-mid-1990s. Free dance lessons are offered every day (times vary per season).

The Wildhorse books big-name acts many nights of the week, including country music, roots rock, and classic rock stars. The establishment is owned by Gaylord, the same folks who own the Ryman, Opryland, and the Opry. Because of its downtown location, open bar, large atrium, and permanent stage, the Wildhorse is also often used as a formal banquet hall. The only downside here is that you have to squeeze up to the bar to order food, which is otherwise good and reasonably priced.

Opening Hours:
Wed: 4:30–10:30pm; 11am–10:30pm; Fri, Sat: 11am–12am; Sun: 12pm–10:30pm
6
B.B. King's Blues Club

6) B.B. King's Blues Club

If you need to get that country twang out of your head, a good dose of the Memphis blues will do it. B. B. King’s Blues Club is a nice, intimate place to start for a night of the blues, with some R&B, jazz, and rock 'n roll acts for good measure. The club is a satellite of King’s original Beale Street club, and although most of the entertainment is local or regional, a nationally-known performer is featured about twice a month.

The venue also offers a variety of the South's most delicious comfort foods influenced by flavors from New Orleans all the way to the Mississippi Delta, including authentic Memphis-style barbecue. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night meals, it is not nearly as crowded as some of the other music venues in Nashville, so you can eat and actually carry on a conversation while enjoying the iconic décor.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 11am–11pm; Fri, Sat: 11AM–1am, Sun: 10am–10:30pm

Walking Tours in Nashville, Tennessee

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