It’s no secret Nashville has been making its way to the top of travelers’ bucket lists. Spots like the historic Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with globally-recognized restaurants and shops, make it a must-visit for everyone—it even landed a spot on our list of best places to travel this year.
But in a city that’s brimming with delicious restaurants and more places to catch live music than one could possibly see in a single trip, deciding exactly where to go and what to do on a first-time visit can be a bit overwhelming.
So we headed to the Country Music Awards with Budweiser to meet with musicians like Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldridge, Cole Swindell, Kix Brooks, LANco, and more to check out Nashville from their points of view.
After all, who better to give the ultimate guide to Music City than some of country music’s favorite stars? Read on for their top picks of places to eat, drink, and listen to great music when they’re in town.
“We live really close to this spot called 12 South. It’s about a mile-long strip of cool shops and coffee shops and restaurants. There’s a big sign that says, ‘I believe in Nashville’ that everyone gets his or her picture taken in front of.” – Thomas Rhett
As one of Nashville’s hottest neighborhoods right now, 12 South is a one-stop spot to experience some of the best things this Tennessee town has to offer. With plenty of shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars all within walking distance, you could wander around this area of Music City all day.
Robert’s Western World
“It’s one of my favorite bars in the world. It’s one of the bars down there that’s actually what it would have been like to walk into a bar back in the 60s and 70s when it was old-school Nashville. They keep that authentic vibe.” – Brett Eldredge
If you’re going to Nashville’s historic Broadway, a stop at Robert’s Western World is practically mandatory. With live music, drinks, and a unique menu, this honky tonk is dedicated to honoring the country music legacy that gave Music City its name. Not sure what to order? Go for Eldredge’s pick, the Recession Special, a combo that will get you a fried bologna sandwich with a moon pie and a PBR.
“I’ve been living in Nashville for nine years, and there is so many great restaurants, bars, places to hang. One of my favorites has to be Silo; great food, great drinks, and great staff.” – Cole Swindell
Set in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Nashville, Silo is the perfect place for a locally-sourced meal with serious Southern charm. The space includes a community table and bar with an extensive bourbon and wine list along with delicious small plates such as carmel-bacon popcorn and hot chicken with white bread and pickles. While Silo may be known for its delicious dinner, Sunday brunch is also not to be missed at this locale.
“Our favorite place to eat in Nashville is definitely the Frothy Monkey on 12th south. A lot of people don’t know this, but they have really great salads for dinner in addition to being a fantastic local coffee shop—the best lattes in town. It’s kind of like Cheers and it’s also where we met.” – Haley & Michaels
As one of the first coffeehouse concepts in Nashville—particularly in the now-popular 12 South neighborhood, the Frothy Monkey offers much more than a cozy atmosphere and traditional lattes (though those are delicious too). The menu focuses on local ingredients and original dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Jed’s Sports Bar & Grille
“They’ve got great wings, great burgers, lots of TVs, a great sound system. You’re not going to miss out on any action there—you’re going to hear everything.” -Clayton Anderson
Whether you’re in town for work or play, you don’t have to miss the game. Jed’s Sports Bar & Grille belongs on any sport-lover’s list. Boasting the title Nashville’s Biggest and Best Sports Bar, this restaurant has plenty of big-screen TVs so you don’t miss a play. Not into the game? You can still head to this spot for local beer, front yard cornhole, trivia, foosball, and darts.
Grimey’s Record Store
“Our favorite places to go are definitely Grimey’s Record Store [to] check out some music, and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken—you’re going to need some water!” – LANco
A Nashville staple, this independent record store not only sells both new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and more, but they are home to some amazing (and free!) in-store performances from local and international bands.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Add some serious heat to your vacation with a trip to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. With heat levels ranging from “Southern” to “Shut the Cluck Up,” this fried chicken spot is the place to go for Nashville-style hot chicken.
Clyde’s on Church Ping-Pong Bar
“My favorite spot in Nashville right now is probably Clyde’s. It’s a Ping-Pong bar. It’s got Ping-Pong tables, really great food and drinks. It’s just a really cool vibe.” – Brett Eldredge
This restaurant and bar’s motto? “Good food. Good drinks. Good times.” And that’s just what Eldredge goes there for. Located in the downtown area of Nashville, this spot is known for its delicious pulled pork and laid-back atmosphere. Sit back, relax, and hang out for the afternoon—and, of course, challenge your friends to a Ping-Pong competition.
“It’s right in the heart of downtown, and it seems a lot of the acts are coming there because the acoustics are so great and it’s right on the river.” – Thomas Rhett
Nashville’s newest music venue has made quite the impression. It offers a more intimate vibe than the well-known Bridgestone Arena, and you can catch your favorite acts with the city’s picturesque skyline in the background.
“My favorite place in Nashville is no secret, but it’s called Losers. It’s a lot of fun. I played there for a little bit in my early stages; it’s kind of my home. So go check it out, you might even run into me there.” – John Pardi
As Nashville’s quintessential dive bar, Losers is the perfect stop for a cold beer, bar food, and live music—and you never know who you’ll run into while you’re there.
“If you’re going to go somewhere real small [to listen to music], Cannery Ballroom or Exit Inn are two really cool small little clubs you can go and catch a lot of new artists and listen to some music.” – Thomas Rhett
Set in Music City’s historic Cannery building—originally a flour mill, then a place to grind coffee, and finally a restaurant before becoming a music venue in the 80s—the Cannery Ballroom is now one of Nashville’s primary spots to catch artists like Bon Jovi, Chris Stapleton, and Adele in an intimate setting.
If you’re thinking of heading to Nashville but aren’t quite into its country roots, this is the place for you. After all, it’s called “Music City,” not “Country City,” right? Exit/In is the premier location for those who reside in Nashville but want to catch DJs, rap, rock, punk, metal, and more.
“My place that I go to way too often is this little Mexican restaurant called Bar Taco. It’s a really awesome kind of street taco, Mexican fusion spot. My wife and I go there very often.” – Thomas Rhett
Located on 12th Avenue South, this Mexican restaurant brings upscale street food to a relaxed sit-down atmosphere. Rhett’s favorite drink on the menu? The jalapeño margarita.