Lower Broadway. It’s that special place where the city's music lovers, wannabe cowboys, tourists, and bachelorette parties converge in a four-block area of glorious neon and ol'-fashioned honky tonk. And as much as many locals would love to avoid it like the plague, let's face it, chances are you'll eventually heed the siren's call of its many drinking holes -- and when you do, we want you to be fully prepared, so we’ve rated every single one of them...
Author’s Note: Venues have been graded on a 10-point numerical scale, where 10 is “You haven’t experienced Music City unless you’ve been here,” and 1 is "You haven't experienced true horror unless you've been here.”
Your typical honky tonk with a particular abundance of elderly couples visiting Nashville because of their deep love for country music. With music playing from 10am-3am, it’s a decent stop for a quick drink.
Rating: 5 if you’re a regular, 7.5 if it’s your first stop on Lower Broad (which it often is)
Probably one of the most popular bars on Lower Broad, Tootsies really is pretty great. It’s three stories high with a bar and a different live band playing on each level, plus a rooftop area with a great view of the city. And, there’s something for everyone at Tootsies with classic honky tonk playing on the lower level and often more mainstream music on the top level. Despite the three levels, it’s always very crowded -- consider yourself warned.
One of the few bars that is non-smoking on Broadway, Second Fiddle is a run-of-the-mill honky tonk with a smaller stage than Legends and Tootsies, but with a similar vibe.
Priding itself on having the best "hillbilly music" in Nashville, Layla’s is really pretty similar to the other small honky tonks but with a pleasantly relaxed vibe.
Robert’s Western World is a steel guitar store turned Western wear & boots store turned honky tonk with old boots still lining the walls of the bar. The owner just so happens to also the be lead singer in its main act: Brazilbilly (which is a tribute to the owner's love of hillbilly music and his homeland of Brazil).
Rating: 4, 6 if you’re a big fan of freshly fried bologna sandwiches
Don’t be intimidated by the crowd that's barely able to fit in the doors; the Stage is the ultimate honky tonk with a "larger than most" dance floor and a great vibe (ya know, if you’re into the whole cowboy thing). The staff isn’t known to be the friendliest, but you’re there for the good music anyway.
Oh, you got dragged to Lower Broadway by all of your honky tonk-loving friends and you need an escape to watch the game? This is your spot. Bailey’s is a classic sports grill with a few pool tables, lots of space, and a small stage in the corner that typically features some country music (ya know, so that they fit in).
Rating: 5, but only a 2 if you’re wearing cowboy boots and looking for good music
If the sound of the same three Jimmy Buffett songs playing on repeat doesn’t make you go clinically insane, then you might have an okay time here drinking sugary, colorful drinks.
You’re bound to find the largest population of locals on Broadway under the Tin Roof taking shots served in paper medicine cups. With a stage in the front and a stage in the back of the bar, there’s always great music playing and it’s often more than just honky tonk.
If whiskey’s your drink, then this saloon is your spot. Besides that, it’s just another classic honky tonk joint.
It’s a Hard Rock Cafe. Need we say more? It’s conveniently located at the end of the road so it’s easy to just skip over.
Hipsters and cowboys unite in this unique venue that’s part restaurant and part (a much smaller part) honky tonk. Locals rave about the food and the atmosphere at Acme Feed & Seed.
Bootleggers Inn has more of a relaxed, saloon vibe to it with Mason jar chandeliers hanging across the bar, a small stage, and limited seating. It’s also your go-to spot on Broadway for Tennessee White Whiskey (if that’s your cup of tea).
Home of the only mechanical bull on Lower Broadway, you really can’t pass up a visit to the Tequila Cowboy. There are several key rooms inside this large venue, including a rock bar AND a top-40 dance club.
Rating: 6, 10 if you’ve had a lot to drink
Bar after bar of listening to striving country artists and you’re bound to catch the bug and want to just jump up on stage yourself (after some whiskey, naturally). WannaB’s, an extension of the Tequila Cowboy, is the spot to get up on that karaoke stage and let the world hear your harmonious wailing. Hey, everyone’s got to have at least a few moments of regret to take home from Lower Broadway.
Rating: 7 in terms of a good time, 1 in terms of good music
As far as Broadway goes, this is just your average, run-of-the-mill bar. Lots of beer and good food.
You need to be a major fan of both country music and large, packed crowds to step foot into Honkey Tonk Central. It’s multiple stories of packed honky tonkers and about 10 bachelorette parties happening simultaneously.
Merchants is really more of a fine dining and cocktails kind of experience and the furthest thing from a honky tonk, but it’s still an amazing place to stop in for a relaxing drink in between dancing. While you’re there, you can have them shine the new boots that you bought just for this special trip to Lower Broadway.
Rating: 9 if you want a great meal free of screaming country music, 1.5 if you stumbled in thinking it was still a hotel and a place you could pass out
You’ll probably be pretty confused when you walk into Paradise Park. It’s like someone smashed together a junkyard, a diner, and a honky tonk. Either way, it’s a good stop on your Broadway tour for a late-night burger.
This bar is part dueling pianos, part comedy bar, and part karaoke. Just be careful, without knowing what has happened, you might find yourself singing on the stage and attempting to do some kind of dance that you just made up.
Classic honky tonk with a little mix of rock & roll.
The Wheel is a country lovin’ smoker’s dream. Classic honky tonk downstairs, cigar bar upstairs.
A somewhat smaller bar with a just-okay atmosphere. This is a great spot to get away from most of the loud and rowdy tourists.
Directly across the street from the Bridgestone Arena, this is a popular bar for Predator’s fans. It's got great food, multiple levels with a rooftop patio, and several stages with live music. Do yourself a favor and order the ribs.
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