The Very Best Sports Bars in Nashville
Nashville is in the unique situation where we are not only a town full of rabid fans of our own sports teams like the Preds, Titans, and Nashville SC football team, but we’re also a favorite destination of fans of visiting teams that just want to get the hell out of Cleveland or Starkville or Winnipeg for a weekend to root for whoever is wearing their jersey colors that weekend. All that means is there’s a lot of sports to be watched in a whole lot of bars. These are the best of the best.
M.L. Rose has a few locations (Melrose, Sylvan Park, and Capitol View) and they all have their own unique charms, but for game day, we’re partial to the Sylvan Park location on the west side of town, by virtue of its huge outdoor seating area stocked with giant Jenga blocks. M.L. Rose’s burger is what put them on the map, but their 90-craft-beer selection is also one of the biggest in Music City. If the weather isn’t cooperating, consider the one in Melrose, where Jenga is swapped for arcade classics.
East Nashville is generally thought of as a place people go to get away from the sports bar crowd, but there are a few interloping bars among all the speakeasies and clubs. For watching sports, the best known is Beyond the Edge, which has 125 beers for you to choose from and plenty of food options (there’s something about those wings). They’ve also got two-for-one specials on beer on weekdays and other deals on selects beers after 7 every night except for Saturday, so they’ve got you covered no matter when the game starts, or how late overtime runs.
Daily drink specials? Check. Huge outdoor seating areas? Check. Something called a “mimosa bucket”? Check plus. Crow’s Nest is one of Green Hills’ better sports bar spots, with two levels and lots of outdoor seating that never puts you too far from any screen while still maintaining an easy, relaxed vibe (at least until the game gets heated). Oh, and those mimosa buckets? You can, and should, get one. They’re available Saturday and Sunday from 10am to close, and they’re as good as they sound.
Double Dogs is a solid, family-friendly option in Sylvan Heights and Hillsboro Village, with plenty of screens and beer specials for fun, low-key game day hangs. The real plus to Double Dogs is the audio boxes at every booth that let you tune into whatever game you want so you won’t be fighting for the volume control with the other patrons, of whom there will be plenty. And while they’ve got 100 beers to pick from and plenty of food options, don’t sleep on their beloved buffalo mac & cheese, which, even in a town with tons of solid options for mac & cheese, still manages to stand out.
The Kung Fu Saloon isn't as much a sports bar as it is a “whatever you want us to be” bar -- but it's a great spot for both sports fans and their friends who might otherwise be enticed by Skee-Ball, any of the 20 arcade games, or maybe even the karaoke. When the weather allows and the patio is hopping, Kung Fu is one of the best indoor/outdoor hangs in town.
Most sports bars cast a wide net, but Von Elrod’s prefers to excel in a couple specific areas: 36 beer taps, each one excellent in its own right, and the real star of the show -- the hand-cranked sausages. Von Elrod’s knows quality is more important than quantity, and every last crumb that comes out from their kitchen is mouth-wateringly excellent. Not into sausage? Not a problem. Go for the fried cheese curds, the deviled eggs, or their gorgeous, charcuterie plate-inspired snack boards. With food this delicious, the game may have a tough time competing for your attention.
When Sam’s opened a location in the Belle Meade neighborhood, the crowds were so big that people parked their cars on the side of the highway and walked a block to get to the sports bar. You don’t understand. People in Belle Meade just don’t do that! Apparently that’s what access to multiple television screens showing all the big games, slow-cooked ribs and chicken, fantastic burgers, and perhaps the best wings in town will do to the 1%. Don’t worry, they’ll serve the rest of us, too.
This powerhouse chain of sports bars already had a rabid following at their locations in Brentwood, Franklin, and Bellevue, but when they opened their latest outpost downtown on 5th Avenue, that really pushed them over the top. A 48-foot LED video looks like something out of Vegas or the command deck of the Enterprise, and the bar features a beer tap for every foot of screen. In addition to all those beers plus wine and cocktails, the food menu is a double threat. In addition to classic Southern comfort food like meatloaf and fried chicken, Corner Pub also serves some pretty respectable tacos and fajitas courtesy of their Mexican sister restaurant, Esquina Cantina.
If Broadway Brewhouse had never accomplished anything other than being one of the innovators of the Bushwhacker, that boozy frozen chocolate concoction that has become the start of so many bad ideas, they would have a special place in Nashville’s heart. Not resting on their frigid laurels, they also serve up some really novel chicken wings including jalapeno molasses-glazed and fiery habanero sticky versions. Add in a wall of craft beer taps and games on the tube over the bars, and you’ll understand why Broadway Brewhouse is a Nashville institution.
The front of this SoBro emporium is dedicated to an immense tasting room and gift shop featuring Ole Smoky Moonshine, but once you power through that space it opens up into a wondrous shrine of delights. There are multiple bars serving beers from Ole Smoky’s corporate cousins at Yee Haw Brewing plus food from White Duck Taco Shop and Prince’s Hot Chicken truck. Then there are the screens. The glorious, humongous screens playing the biggest games on the biggest displays around. Inside or out in the amiable beer garden/adult playground, it’s virtually impossible to turn your head and not see one of those screens. That’s exactly how we like our sports bars, visible from space.
Germantown and Sylvan Park
When Lulu closed after less than a year of being open at 313 Jefferson Street in Germantown, diners wondered if that location right at the foot of the Jefferson Street Bridge could support a restaurant. It turns out that the neighborhood was secretly begging for a casual sports bar, and Neighbors backed right into the spot like a hermit crab finding a new shell. Like at their original Sylvan Park restaurant, the new Neighbors smokes all their meats in house, ranging from brisket to ribs to pulled pork, and serves them alongside bar snacks, sandwiches and lots of cold beer. Add in a focus on sports, especially local teams, and that’s a sure recipe for success!
With more than 20 televisions and plenty of free parking, The Mainstay is one of East Nashville’s premiere sports bars. Almost in the shadow of the Titans’ home at Nissan Stadium, The Mainstay supports all of Nashville’s major teams. Their menu is a little fancier than typical sports bar fare, but the prices are right in line with what you’d pay for far inferior food. Convenience, conviviality and bargain prices combine to create what should really be a neighborhood mainstay for years.
Sandwiched on the second story of the popular Downtown Sporting Club between the ground level Paradise Park Trailer Resort burgers and beer joint and the boutique hotel on the third floor, The R.E.C. Room is a unique venue for watching sports. Offering a view of Broadway below through windows that run the length of the block, guests can choose private booths where they can control which game they watch on personal televisions. There’s a quirky stadium seating setup with chairs ringing an astroturf floor for cornhole and a huge television showing the biggest games of the day. You can join in the competition with ring toss, shuffleboard and foosball, or get your heartrate up flinging axes in DSC’s dedicated lanes. Your hourly fee includes a trained throwing coach to keep you safe and teach you how to hit the bullseye.
There aren’t many sports bars in Music City where you can actually listen to live music, but the modern tavern Barlines at the Omni Hotel has got you covered on that front. A large video wall can show multiple games or one huge display, and live bands perform on a stage in front of the screens. They thoughtfully time their sets around the action, so you can get the best of both worlds. A full menu of Southern food classics plus beer, wine and spirits completes the experience.
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Chris Chamberlain is a contributor to Thrillist.