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Welcome to Smashville: An OTF Guide to Nashville, Food, and Fun

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Welcome to Nashville! Here’s a quick run-down of good food and fun activities for those visiting Nashville during the playoffs.

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AP
AP

Hi, folks. It’s playoff time. If you’re a fan of a team coming to play Nashville in a Stanley Cup Playoff Game, welcome. Nashville is a growing city full of nice folks.

Our chants might anger you a little during the game, but Nashville is a city like no other. You’ll find that 99% of us are very nice people. Here’s some ideas on how to enjoy Music City while you’re here. I’ve tried to include as many locations and venues as possible without making this far too long.

Author’s note: This article has been updated for 2022.

Food

We are pretty proud of our food here in Nashville. We have almost anything that you could be craving, and also have things you never knew you’d actually want to try (hot chicken and waffles?). Here’s some of the top restaurants in Nashville broken down by category of food:

Burgers

  • The Pharmacy: Styled in a biergarten fashion, you can have tasty ice cream, burgers, fries, and beer in a cool outdoor seating area. Get the Cheese Burger and a German beer and prepare to be stuffed.
  • Burger Republic: With several locations around the Nashville area, you can’t go wrong creating your very own burger here.
  • M.L. Rose Craft Burgers and Beer: Another beer and burger joint, M.L. Rose is a staple of many Nashvillians. You won’t be disappointed here. The inside looks like an old-timey diner.

Not-fast-food fast food

  • SATCO (San Antonio Taco Company): Cheap, good tex-mex. The parking is awful but it’s worth a walk. Don’t forget queso.
  • Gabby’s Burgers and Fries: Get a Seamus burger and some hand-cut fries. You’ll be full until it’s game time. The folks at Gabby’s are huge Predators fans, and they even have a playoff burger on the menu now that it’s playoff time.
  • Mas Tacos: Fresh, fast, incredibly tasty tacos.
  • Chuy’s Midtown: This Chuy’s is located in the midtown area. It’s surrounded by several other food and drink locations. Yes, other cities have Chuy’s. Other cities don’t have Nashville Midtown Chuy’s.
  • Suzy Wong’s House of Yum: Also located in midtown, come here for some Asian cuisine and drinks. The crab wontons with bacon are melt-in-your-mouth good.

BBQ

  • Peg Leg Porker: A favorite of many Nashvillians.
  • Edley’s BBQ: Located off 12th Avenue, Edley’s is in a great location in Edgehill. You can pick up ice cream afterward’s at Jeni’s.
  • Mission BBQ: Mission BBQ honors public servants and military members and has some really good food. Their macaroni and cheese is savory, and they have about 9 BBQ sauces to choose from (Carolina and Memphis sauces are the best).
  • Hog Heaven: Hog Heaven is a small joint by Centennial Park. The white sauce is amazing on their brisket, but the pulled pork sandwich is a good choice for anyone who can’t decide between brisket and ribs.
  • Martin’s BBQ: The original Nolensville location has some excellent BBQ and sides. They have 5 locations around Nashville.
  • Loveless Cafe: Their meats are smoked for hours in the smokehouse. You’ll have a wait on most evenings, but they have several small shops on-site to capture your attention. Don’t eat too many biscuits before your food arrives! Loveless Cafe is a Nashville icon.

Reasonably Priced Restaurants

  • Demos’: You won’t be able to stop eating Demos’ cheese bread. My husband is a huge fan of their chicken and rice soup.
  • Double Dogs: Double Dogs has some excellent wings and is also a great location for viewing other playoff games.
  • Calypso Cafe: I had about 10 friends tell me to include Calypso on this list...it’s a must-visit for any visitors to Nashville. Once you go, you’ll know why.
  • Tailgate: With an excellent selection of beer, you won’t be disappointed at Tailgate...especially if you order a big pizza too.
  • Tin Roof: Tin Roof has great live music, food, and libations for you to enjoy. The Tin Roof is a “can’t miss” Nashville restaurant.

Fancier Restaurants ($$$-$$$$)

  • Sperry’s: This restaurant is a Nashville favorite. Give it a try for fantastic steak, chicken, and seafood in a comfortable settings.
  • Kayne Prime: Steak, wine, amazing sides? What could be better? You might even see some famous Nashvillians in this beautiful restaurant.
  • Jimmy Kelly’s: A Nashville tradition for a hearty steak dinner and excellent spirits. You can’t beat the location: an old Southern mansion.
  • Bricktop’s: One of my family’s favorites, Bricktop’s has a little bit of everything.
  • The Palm: Right across from Bridgestone Arena, the Palm has some great views of the bustling downtown area and even better food. You won’t stop looking at all the country music legends on the wall.
  • Valentino’s Italian: Located between the arena and Vanderbilt, Valentino’s has some of the best Italian food you will ever try. Plus...it’s the pre-game meal spot of the Predators.
  • Melting Pot: (TEMPORARILY CLOSED IN 2022) The standard fondue restaurant, the Nashville Melting Pot is one of the better Melting Pot locations I’ve dined in. Their service is top-notch. Also, order a Tipsy Turtle. Just do it. Don’t ask questions.

Breakfast

  • Pancake Pantry: A Nashville tradition, the line usually winds down the street and around the block. Arrive early and be sure to order chocolate chip pancakes.
  • Biscuit Love: A relatively new breakfast place with a line as long as Pancake Pantry’s, Biscuit Love will not disappoint.
  • Loveless Cafe: You will not regret eating 12 biscuits with your breakfast...maybe. You can usually get to-go biscuits, too.
  • proper bagel: You will dream about their bagels and bagel sandwiches.
  • Just Love Coffee Cafe: Located on Music Row, this cafe offers breakfast, coffee, and plenty of Broadway inspiration to wake you up.

Best Hot Chicken

  • Prince’s: The original hot chicken in Nashville.
  • Hattie B’s: The mainstream hot chicken in Nashville. Be careful which “hot” style you choose...you have to be brave to try “Damn Hot” or “Shut the Cluck Up.” Their sides are wonderful, as well.

Best Broadway Restaurants

  • Tootsie’s: Tootsie’s has drink specials and appetizers for those pre-gaming before puck drop. Make sure you hit up the rooftop bar...but....it’ll be packed.
  • Rippy’s: Rippy’s has live music and drinks for those pre-gaming. They have some tasty ribs, too.
  • Hard Rock Cafe: What more can I say?
  • Famous Saloon: Famous has a great rooftop bar and they’re usually not too crowded. Expect crowds everywhere, however. It’s the playoffs.
  • Puckett’s: Another Nashville staple.
  • Broadway Brewhouse: Good beer selection and an “okay” menu.
  • Pancho and Lefty’s: A bit of a different vibe than the rest of Broadway.
  • Acme Feed and Seed: Their burgers are amazing! This restaurant has a great view of the river and of Broadway.
  • Fifth and Broad: A collection of restaurants and shops right across the street from Bridgestone Arena.
  • Pete and Terry’s: Pete and Terry’s is on the Demonbreun side of Bridgestone Arena. They have good flatbread pizzas and nachos. It’s going to be packed as well, but if you order a drink from Pete and Terry’s, you can take it inside the arena.

Activities and Attractions for Visitors

Here are some suggestions for folks who might be staying in Nashville for a day or two..or even a weekend. There’s all kinds of attractions for visitors, from historical tours to family entertainment.

Historical

  • Country Music Hall of Fame: This is a great activity for folks who are interested in Nashville’s music history. There are tons of great exhibits here and visitors certainly will not be bored.
  • Johnny Cash Museum and Cafe: A museum and a cafe (with really tasty food) honoring the Man in Black.
  • Historic Franklin: Franklin, Tennessee is about 30 minutes south of Nashville. You will find plenty of Civil War history in Franklin. Sites like the Carter House, Lotz House, and Carnton Plantation has great tours. Franklin also has several nighttime ghost tours. There are several great restaurants in downtown Franklin.
  • The Hermitage: The Hermitage is the home of former President Andrew Jackson. Tours are offered daily and the Hermitage is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Nashville.
  • Belle Meade Plantation: Belle Meade Plantation is another historic site in Nashville. The grounds are beautiful, and tours are offered daily. You can even taste some wine and bourbon on your tour.
  • Traveller’s Rest: Another fun historical tour, Traveller’s Rest is about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville.
  • Ryman Auditorium: Known as the “Church of Country Music,” the Ryman is another great tour for music lovers. There are still concerts at the Ryman, and you can look up tour information on their website. The Ryman is literally right across the street from Bridgestone Arena.

Fun Stuff

  • Pedal Taverns: You can join the hordes of Nashville tourists riding the pedal taverns around, drinking limitless beer and shouting “woo” every ten seconds. (Nashvillians will probably mock you.) There are many companies to choose from. Some party buses/tractors don’t even make you pedal.
  • Honky Tonks on Broadway: These include Rippy’s, Tootsies, Ole Red, Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar, Redneck Riviera, Famous Nashville, FGL House, Nudie’s, The Twelve Thirty Club, Lucky Bastard, and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row.
  • The Escape Game: Located on 3rd Avenue, choose from several “games” to escape from with your friends.
  • The General Jackson: The General Jackson is a showboat modeled in the style of old-fashioned paddlewheel boats. The boat first hit the river in 1985, and the paddlewheel pushes you along the Cumberland River toward downtown Nashville. It’s a fun trip for folks of all ages.
  • The Frist Art Museum: The Frist has several intriguing collections right now. They have plenty of activities for kids and families, too.
  • Ford Ice Center and Centennial Sportsplex: If you’re looking to go ice skating, you can visit either venue. Both websites list public skate times, and skate rental is available on-site. Ford Ice Center has locations in Antioch and Bellevue.
  • The Nashville Farmer’s Market: The farmer’s market has fresh veggies, flowers, plants, and all kinds of merchants and shops for you to explore.

Non-Hockey Sports

  • Nashville Soccer Club: Nashville has a BRAND NEW MLS stadium! They’re a ton of fun to watch.
  • Vanderbilt Baseball: Vanderbilt baseball is some of the SEC’s finest.
  • Nashville Sounds: While the Sounds are a minor-league team, their in-game atmosphere at the new First Tennessee park is great for families and kids.

Breweries and Distilleries

  • Jack Daniels Distillery: A day trip to Lynchburg is certainly worth it. The Jack Daniels distillery is a must-see for any visitor to Tennessee. Moore County is dry, but you can pick up a commemorative bottle in the bottle shop and even sample some whiskey at the end of your tour. You can see where the world-famous Jack Daniels “Old No. 7” is mashed, fermented, distilled, charcoal filtered, aged, and bottled. (Roughly 1.5 hours from downtown Nashville.)
  • George Dickel Distillery: Cascade Hollow is beautiful, and many folks think George Dickel is better than Jack. You’ll have to taste and decide for yourself. In theory, you could hit up both George Dickel and Jack Daniels in the same day-trip if you’re staying in Nashville for a few days.
  • Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery: Nelson’s Greenbrier is located in Nashville off Church Street. They offer tours and tastings. It’s a growing distillery and their Belle Meade Bourbon is probably one of the tastiest bourbons I have.
  • Leiper’s Fork Distillery: Located in beautiful Leiper’s Fork (about 45 minutes from Nashville), this distillery offers tours and tastings. Leiper’s Fork is a great stop with several small craft stores, restaurants, and gorgeous Tennessee backroads.
  • Yazoo Brewing: Offering tours and tastings, Yazoo is one of my favorite local breweries. There are TONS OF BREWERIES in Middle Tennessee, so be sure to hit one of them up for some awesome local craft beer. Two of my favorites at Yazoo are the hefeweizen and the Dos Perros.
  • Jackalope Brewery: Jackalope is another great brewery in downtown Nashville. They offer incredible seasonal beers, including a strawberry-raspberry spring wheat. They also offer tours and tastings.

Just Exploring

  • The Nashville Zoo: Great for families, the Nashville Zoo has several great exhibits. The leopards are my favorite, and a baby clouded leopard was just born! You might even see me there!!!
  • The Natchez Trace: Take a drive down the gorgeous Natchez Trace and get some food at Loveless Cafe to take with you. Watch for bicycles and motorcycles!
  • Centennial Park: The Parthenon is located in Centennial Park. The grounds are beautiful and there are several great walking/running paths here. (Centennial Sportsplex is right next door for some skating.)
  • Bicentennial Mall: An open-air state park full of Tennessee history.
  • Cheekwood Gardens: This place is gorgeous in the spring and early summer. You’ll be in awe of the beautiful grounds and flowers.

*The listing of any of these venues, restaurants, activities, or locations does not imply OTF’s endorsement.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The OTF faithful have voted below for their favorites in Music City. Be sure to check the comments for additional food, activity and game day suggestions from local OTF-ers.

Poll

Which Nashville BBQ joint is the best in town?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A. Edley’s
    (41 votes)
  • 17%
    B. Peg Leg Porker
    (35 votes)
  • 7%
    C. Loveless Cafe
    (15 votes)
  • 49%
    D. Martin’s BBQ
    (97 votes)
  • 4%
    E. Hog Heaven
    (8 votes)
196 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Pick a tour for the whiskey or beer lover:

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    A. Jack Daniels
    (108 votes)
  • 9%
    B. George Dickel
    (16 votes)
  • 5%
    C. Nelson’s Greenbrier
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    D. Lieper’s Fork
    (8 votes)
  • 18%
    E. Yazoo
    (33 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Best fun activity in Nashville for tourists:

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A. Pedal Tavern
    (15 votes)
  • 14%
    B. Frist Art Museum
    (27 votes)
  • 46%
    C. Country Music Hall of Fame
    (84 votes)
  • 7%
    D. Skating at Ford Ice or Centennial Sportsplex
    (13 votes)
  • 23%
    E. Opryland/General Jackson
    (42 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Favorite Broadway restaurant for pre-game?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A. Rock Bottom
    (41 votes)
  • 4%
    B. Famous Saloon
    (7 votes)
  • 44%
    C. Rippy’s
    (71 votes)
  • 16%
    D. Tootsie’s
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    E. Tavern 96
    (15 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Best in-arena food at Bridgestone?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    A. Hot chicken and hot chicken mac and cheese
    (75 votes)
  • 9%
    B. Tacos
    (17 votes)
  • 12%
    C. Themed hot dogs
    (21 votes)
  • 24%
    D. Catfish baskets w/ fries
    (43 votes)
  • 9%
    E. Pizza
    (17 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now