Downtown Music and Food, Nashville

Downtown Music and Food (Self Guided), Nashville

It seems like everywhere you walk in Nashville, there’s great music coming out of every wall. Indeed, Nashville is famously regarded as the "Music City" and its Downtown is at the heart of this vibrant music scene. But that's not all. In fact, the busy streets of Downtown Nashville are as much a music lover's paradise as they are a foodie's joy, as there are dozens of places that offer both, great food and music that is even better.

There are joints with country music, of course, but also others with a more eclectic (sometimes quieter) vibe. Whether you're a fan of country or not, there's something for everyone to enjoy here, and the diverse range of dining options on offer will suit any taste and budget.

You can take a stroll down pedestrian-friendly Broadway and listen to the live tunes playing in numerous bars and honky-tonks renowned for their entertainment offerings. One such is the iconic Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a Nashville institution since the 1960s that has hosted some of the biggest names in country music. Another historic venue on Broadway, Robert's Western World, is known for its live gigs and classic Western décor; while the multi-level Honky Tonk Central features a variety of live acts every night.

Other popular options include Acme Feed & Seed – a trendy spot offering a mix of food, drinks, and live shows in a historic building that was once a feed store. Just a few blocks off Broadway, on 2nd Avenue, you will find the massive Wildhorse Saloon with its country line dancing. And if you feel like a bit of blues, just take a few steps further to B.B. King's Blues Club.

Downtown Nashville is quite easy-going, without a lot of preening or trying to impress. It’s an easy place to just be and have a good time with good food, good drinks, and good bands. Songwriting is the backbone of Nashville. Looks can go, fads can go, but a good song lasts forever...
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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
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.
Robert's Western World

2) Robert's Western World

Robert's Western World is an iconic honky-tonk bar located in the heart of Nashville's legendary Lower Broadway district. Renowned for its live country music, historical ambiance, and classic Nashville hospitality, Robert's Western World is a must-visit establishment for music enthusiasts and lovers of Americana.

This celebrated venue is housed in a building that once served as the warehouse for the city's famed shoemakers, Friedman's, before evolving into one of Music City's most beloved honky-tonks. Stepping inside Robert's is like stepping back in time, as the bar proudly preserves a retro atmosphere that pays homage to the golden era of country music.

The wall decor features 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.

Robert's Western World is revered for its authentic country and western swing music, with live performances happening every day of the week. Here, you'll find local legends and up-and-coming artists alike taking the stage, often playing classic tunes that span the rich history of country music.

Beyond the music, Robert's is known for its comfort food and wide selection of beers, but perhaps most famous is its "Recession Special," a fried bologna sandwich, chips, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, all for a throwback price.
Honky Tonk Central

3) Honky Tonk Central

Suppose you came to Nashville looking for the hopping, rowdy, loud, unfettered party experience. In that case, this giant, three-story joint on Lower Broadway is definitely the one you would want to visit. Primarily, Honky Tonk Central stands out among other honky-tonk bars and music venues in the area for its size, energy, and lively atmosphere.

Seemingly a favorite stomping ground for the endless parade of bachelorette parties that roll through town, it gets quickly packed and usually hosts pretty good bands that play the more modern variety of country music. However, if you don't like crowds or don't tolerate loud noise, you might feel a little overwhelmed after a while, but it all depends on what you came for. Those looking for something a little tamer, where they can have a conversation without shouting over the din, might want to pass.

The building that houses Honky Tonk Central dates back to 1900 and has been home to various businesses over the years, including a men's clothing store, a bank, and a music shop. Back in the 1980s, it was converted into a bar called "Dancin' in the District," which was a popular spot for live music and dancing.

In 2011, Honky Tonk Central opened its doors, offering a modern twist on the classic honky-tonk experience. The venue features multiple stages, each with its own live band playing country music and other genres. They have TVs all over with usually some sport or another, so watching the game, enjoying the music, and having a couple of drinks at affordable prices would be a good plan for anyone looking to experience the heart and soul of Nashville's music scene.

Over the years, the place has appeared on several TV shows, including "Nashville" and "CMT's Hot 20 Countdown."
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.

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.
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.
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.

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