Let’s catch you up with what was 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 Thirty Club
Dining/music venue with Justin Timberlake on board as a partner. (See description under Fifth and Broadway near the bottom.)
Live Music at Church Street Park
Following a little renovation, the park across the street from the Downtown Library features this weekly programming:
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.
@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.
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
Martina McBride: The Power of Her Voice
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.
@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.
@1508 Gallatin Pike, Madison. Friends rave about this new entertainment complex in a former Kmart. Yes, it’s a 16-lane bowling alley with the latest technological enhancements but it’s also Chark’s Lane-Side Diner featuring modern food offerings in a cool retro atmosphere. One of the owners has brought along his famous Shepherd’s Pie from the now legendary Family Wash restaurant and music venue. And speaking of music, there are two stages which are gearing up to kick off 2022 with a full slate of performances.
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.
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.
The Continental in the Grand Hyatt, 1100 Broadway. Acclaimed chef Sean Brock adds his creative touch to traditional American cuisine for an evening of fine dining. It’s practically a parade of elegant offerings with Nashville’s only prime rib cart as well as an ice cream cart. The prix fixe menu changes monthly with prices ranging from $85 to $100.
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.
Flatiron Wedged into the little triangle where Broadway meets Division (across from the Aertson Kimpton Hotel), Flatiron offers a tasty but compact menu of starters, salads, sandwiches and entrees including salmon, NY Strip and Fish’n’Chips. They’re big on weekend brunch with Steak Hollandaise and French Toast Sticks along with creative cocktail choices.
Locust offers an intimate dining experience for the dumpling lover. The open-kitchen design adds to the artfulness of the culinary delight.
Shep’s Deli Green Hills has Noshville and now East Nashville has a bagel and latke outlet to call its own. Pancakes, blintzes, omelettes and even a Jewish burrito (corned beef). Breakfast items continue throughout the day, joined by hot and cold sandwiches, hot entrees and salads. And a rare treat in Nashville–egg creams..
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, described as an “elevated honky tonk,” opened earlier this summer. New on the scene is a 400-seat retro supper club that’s a little bit speakeasy, a little bit Vegas, located on the second floor. The ala carte menu is extensive with an emphasis on steaks, seafood, sushi and such. Capping things off is the rooftop bar with a DJ keeping things lively.
The Showcase @FifthandBroadway It’s easy to miss The Showcase but seek it out if there’s live music happenin’. The rooftop stage is huge with a honkin’ big sound system. Outdoor tables and seating for hundreds. You must buy beverages onsite but you can bring in food from any of the vendors in Assembly Food Hall. Note: admission may be charged for special concert events.
Known collectively as Assembly Food Hall, it’s actually two halls offering an eclectic mix of dining options including local favorites and chains.
- Blanca Cocina & Cantina–Modern Mexican
- Boqueria–Spanish tapas
- Elixr Coffee–and things that go with coffee
- 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
- Blue Sushi Sake Grill–Omaha-based seafood restaurant. Vegan options too.
One floor up is Sixty Vines, a more upscale dining experience serving brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert and pairings. The name comes from the selection of nearly 60 wines on tap. Entrees include pizza, pasta, seafood, chops and steaks as well as shared plates. Bringing a group? See if the Greenhouse dining area is available.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood The name of the restaurant is a pretty good clue of what you’ll find on the menu but beef lovers will also be rewarded with prime cuts. Among the temptations are Norwegian salmon, Georges Bank scallops and South African lobster.
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 upstairs in Assembly Food Hall.
Boqueria is the newest addition to Fifth and Broadway, featuring Spanish-influenced dishes. Unlike many places in that area, it also has a happy hour with specials on drinks and tapas.
- 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