Let’s catch you up with what’s new in Nashville for 2021 AND 2020 since many frequent visitors haven’t been here recently. To keep things simple, I’ve categorized things as Entertainment, Attractions, Dining and devoted the end of this post to 5th and Broadway. This massive new complex includes 20+ dining options as well as shopping, a new multi-level music venue and the National Museum of African-American Music (pictured above).
WHAT’S NEW IN LIVE ENTERTAINMENT?
Twelve Twenty Club
Dining/music venue with Justin Timberlake on board as a partner. (See description under Fifth and Broadway near the bottom.)
Up till now, the Lower Broadway honky tonk and restaurant scene has been a celebrity boys’ club–Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Kid Rock, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Florida Georgia Line. Now Miranda Lambert enters the scene with a Tex-Mex cantina featuring live music. The press materials described it as ” little taste of Texas in Tennessee. Tacos, tequila and tufted pink booths — what else can a girl ask for?” Although the decor’ on all three floors is feminine, fellas are welcome as well. The main and third floors feature live music. The second floor operates primarily as a restaurant. During my visit, I’d say ladies made up 75% of the clientele.
The Graduate Nashville, a decidedly unconventional boutique hotel at 20th Avenue N. and West End Avenue, exults in its flamboyant take on the city’s music culture. Nowhere is that more evident than this indoor/outdoor bar, named for Dolly Parton’s 29th album. Like Casa Rosa, hot pink pulses throughout the rooftop bar. It’s even made Esquire’s list for 2021’s Hottest Bars in America. Want to use the pool or guarantee a table? Call or email for reservations.
Also at The Graduate is a kitschy karaoke bar that I’d describe as Chuck E. Cheese for adults. It’s 21+ and first-come, first-serve where an animatronic country three-piece band hits on the hits while you munch on tacos and cold drinks. They’ll entertain you or you can join the band.
This year you can attend in person ($45, $65, $75) or livestream concerts for $15 each. Here’s this summer’s line-up:
July 1 Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
July 8 Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
July 22 Dailey & Vincent
Also, there’s a new courtyard stage with free performances that will get the evenings off on the right note.
July 29-31. A new three-day Christian music festival debuts this summer in Bon Aqua, TN. Michael W. Smith, Lecrae, Newsboys, Matthew West, Skillet, Mandisa and Danny Gokey are among the Christian headliners.
@3245 Gallatin Road. An East Nashville-meets-Inglewood incarnation of existing joints in New York and Detroit, it’s a swingin’ retro bar and piano lounge. With an emphasis on live karaoke featuring pianists (with the occasional drummer), the repertoire runs from Sinatra to Springsteen. Maybe a little Pearl Jam too. Cocktails reign supreme with a tight little food menu. Live piano karaoke runs Monday-Thursday, 9pm-midnight; Friday-Saturday, 9pm-1am. Burlesque is on the bill some evenings.
WHAT’S NEW IN ATTRACTIONS?
The long-anticipated National Museum of African American Music opened its doors in February. Expansive in scope, it considers everything from field hollers to the latest in hip-hop. With listening stations and multi-media centers throughout, this immersive experience is a must for anyone drawn to the music of Mahalia, Aretha, Billie, Jimi, Tupac and many others. Nashville ain’t just about country music, y’all. The museum is across the street from the Ryman Auditorium, just off Lower Broadway. TIP: If you’re flying into Nashville but can’t check into your accommodations until later, make this your first stop as they’ll hold your luggage at no cost while you tour the museum.
Opening June 9. Attention: all you pickers and players. You’ve got a new destination: 209 10th Avenue, S. It’s Disney World for musicians with extensive inventories of instruments, amplifiers and studio gear. In addition to the showroom’s inventory of 400 instruments, there are displays of historically notable guitars, a service department and an area that can accommodate up to 300 people for performances and seminars.
The museum’s not new in Nashville but there’s a frequently-changing kaleidoscope of exhibits. Current features include:
Kacey Musgraves: All of the Colors
Brooks & Dunn: Kings of Neon
Outlaws & Armadillos: Features “Waylon and Willie and the boys”
We Could: The Songwriting Artistry of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant
The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon
Unless you really know your Glen trivia, you’re going to find some fine surprises here. Played with the Beach Boys? Yep. In-demand sessions player who recorded with Elvis and Frank Sinatra? Yep. In addition to the collection which includes a number of Glen’s favorite guitars, the stage periodically hosts special concerts, writers nights and benefits. Check the website for the latest information.
Did you really come to the home of live music to hunker down with video games? Well, maybe you did…and if so, this is your #1 destination. This huge space four miles southeast of downtown holds 200+ new and vintage arcade and pinball games. It’s all-ages during the day but goes 21+ at 8pm. Food trucks rotate daily and there are multiple bars. Need fresh air? Head to the patio for cornhole, ping pong, giant Jenga and other favorites. TIP: Lines to get in can be long on weekends so reservations are recommended.
@1102 Grundy Street in the Gulch. Foosball, pinball, bocce, duckpin and pinball–name your game and order your beverage of choice. Located on the north end of the Gulch, good times will be had by all. Happy hour specials Monday-Friday until 7pm.
Reopening June 27 @925 3rd Ave. N. (adjacent to First Horizon Park). It’s a bowling alley, restaurant/bar and music venue under one roof. A venerable favorite in NYC , it opened in Nashville just in time for COVID to hit, then shuttered to wait out the pandemic. Neighbors tell me the food was better than typical bowling alley fare and the stage has welcomed highly respected recording artists.
In recent years, the designer distillery business has exploded like moonshine stills. Most offer tours and tastings. Among those new in Nashville, this one is on the west side of Nashville in The Nations. Cost is $12 for the combo tour and tasting or $6 for either individually. Although the facility and brand are new, the owners have deep roots in Nashville. In fact, DET Distributing was granted the first license to distribute beer after Prohibition.
To us, major league soccer is still new in Nashville and it’s generated a ton of excitement. As a new arrival, it’s also quickly become a serious competitor. Make sure to check the website for current ticketing and seating information. Note: all matches will be held at Nissan Stadium until the dedicated stadium is completed later this year.
Even people who aren’t baseball fans have a great time at a Sounds game. Interesting food options. Fun activities to fill the downtime. And a good ol’ “take me out to the ball game” cheerfulness. Compare to some major league sports, a trip to First Horizon Park is also affordable. Click the link above for the schedule.
WHAT’S NEW IN DINING?
Despite the pandemic, dozens of new restaurants have opened their doors or opened additional locations. Here are some of the most notable or unique:
Elliston Place Soda Shop (pictured above) was born in 1939 when Lynn Chandler bought the soda fountain business from Elliston Pharmacy. Over the years, Chandler became a local legend for provide good food that regular folks could afford. Teetering on extinction two years ago, it was purchased lock, stock and milkshake mixer. It moved into an expanded facility next door where it maintains its multi-faceted personality as a soda fountain, diner and meat-and-three restaurant. Whether you go for a malted or meatloaf or a slice of one of their fresh-baked pies, you’re going to be glad this legacy lives on. Near Vanderbilt University.
River House on the ground floor of the Bridgestone Americas headquarters builds off the success of local favorite BrickTop’s. Menu includes seafood, steaks, chops and such. Side items are ala carte. 313 Demonbreun in SoBro.
Jane’s Hideaway, located in Printers Alley and once home to Boots Randolph’s supper club, has a casual vibe. Craft cocktails and an elevated but succinct Southern-inspired menu. Live music 6pm to midnight.
Taco Bell Cantina Want bragging rights to say that you’ve visited the only Taco Bell in the U.S. that features live music? It’s also the only location in Tennessee that serves alcohol. Visit this brightly painted two-story novelty at 131 2nd Ave. N.
Whole Foods In early 2020 Publix at Capitol opened on the north end of The Gulch as the first full-service downtown grocery. Now it’s joined by Whole Foods at 1202 Broadway. Amenities include grocery pick-up and delivery, a bakery, hot food bar, floral department, cafe’ seating and custom gift baskets.
The Optimist Fish Camp and Oysters restaurant floated north from Atlanta to dock at 1400 Adams Street in Germantown. You’ll find a boatload of seafood options (and curiously chicken and dumplings).
Le Loup Enter the world of sea creatures–both on display and on the menu in this restaurant/bar from the nationally recognized Ford Fry out of Atlanta.
Locust offers an intimate dining experience for the dumpling lover. The open-kitchen design adds to the artfulness of the culinary delight.
and now, ladies and gentlemen…
The Twelve Thirty Club–Justin Timberlake is a partner in this new dining and entertainment venue located across the street from the Ryman Auditorium. The first floor is described as an “elevated honky tonk.” The second floor is a lounge with cocktails and shared plates. Not expected to open until August is their “crown jewel,” a 400-seat supper club on the top floor with a Prohibition-era vibe. It will feature DJs and live entertainment.
Known collectively as Assembly Food Hall, it is an eclectic mix of dining options including local favorites and chains.
- Blanca Cocina & Cantina–Modern Mexican
- Boqueria–Spanish tapas
- Eddie V’s Prime Seafood–surf, turf and a happy hour
- Elixr Coffee–and things that go with coffee
- Hattie B’s–locally owned and highly popular hot chicken joint. TIP: Because it’s located right on Broadway, it’s highly visible, resulting in long lines at times. If you want hot chicken but don’t want to wait, try Prince’s Hot Chicken in Assembly Hall.
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream–upscale ice cream options
- Le Macaron French Pastries–also gelato, candies and beverages
- Shake Shack–burgers, dogs, fries and such
- Slim & Husky’s–locally owned flatbread pizzeria
And yet there’s another batch of eating options:
- Coco’s Cafe’ & Dulce–locally born bistro for Italian coffee, biscotti, cannoli and such
- Coco’s Fresh Italian–pastas like Mama made
- Cotton & Snow–cotton candy and shaved ice
- Desano Pizza Bakery–Neopolitan-style pizzas fired in wood-burning ovens
- Donut Distillery–mini donuts and spiked shakes
- Hattie Jane’s Creamery–small-batch custard-based ice cream shop with middle TN locations
- Horu Sushi Kitchen–sushi rolls and sashimi
- Nobaked Cookie Dough–a gourmet treat (without the fear of botulism) from a local entrepreneur
- Oke Poke‘–sushi
- Prince’s Hot Chicken–the granddaddy of the hot chicken craze
- Saffron Kitchen–Pakistani and Indian street food
- Smokin Chikin–internationally inspired rotisserie chicken with homebase in Clarksville, TN
- Steam Boys–Chinese comfort food including bao, dumplings and noodles
- Thai Esane–locally owned business bringing the flavors of Thailand
- The Liege Waffle Co.–Belgian waffles with decadent toppings
- The Pharmacy Burger–an East Nashville mainstay expanded to downtown
- The Pharmacy Wurst–made-from-scratch German wursts
- The Philly Special–come for the meat, stay for the cheese
- Whisk Crepes Cafe–Parisian cafe for crepes and breakfast sandwiches
- Apple Store–because when you come to Nashville, I’m sure you want a souvenir iPhone
- Ariat–upscale footwear, apparel, denim and accessories
- Free People–women’s apparel, shoes, intimates, swimwear and accessories
- Hollie Ray Boutique–locally owned shop for women’s clothing, jewelry, gifts and accessories
- Molly Green–family-owned boutique for playful women’s fashion
- Revv–locally owned women’s fashion boutique
- Sephora–beauty products
- State & Liberty–men’s fashion
- The Dry House–-blowout salon
- The Nash Collection–women’s & men’s fashions and gifts
- Veseo Lingerie & Swimwear–women’s fashions