The Best Music Venues in Nashville

Updated On 04/20/2017 at 04:21PM EST Updated On 04/20/2017 at 04:21PM EST
Little Big Town at the Ryman Auditorium | Terry Wyatt /Getty Images Entertainment
FUENTE at Mercy Lounge | Elise Denton
Facebook/The Basement
Flickr/Bob Muller
Beach House at Marathon Music Works | Flickr/Stacey Kizer
William Wild at Basement East | Brian Massengale
Creative Jen Designs/Shutterstock
The Delta Saints at Exit/In | Melissa Madison Fuller
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1. Mercy Lounge/The Cannery Ballroom 1 Cannery Row, Nashville, TN 37203

This Downtown bar and concert venue is one of Nashville's premier destinations for concerts, parties, shows, and events, and it's available to rent out for wedding receptions, corporate events, and other private functions.

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2. Flyte World Dining and Wine 718 Division St, Nashville, TN 37203

Manned by award-winning Chef Matt Lackey, this Downtown resto's menu utilizes artisanal ingredients sourced from Middle Tennessee farms, and their wine selection features some of the most unique varietals from around the world.

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3. Jackalope Brewing Company 701 Eighth Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

This rustic Gulch brewery is well-known for its flavorful and unique ingredients combos in its unpasteurized, unfiltered beers. You'll want to check out the Love Bird, a wheat beer infused with raspberries and strawberries; the Thunder Ann, made with apricot and mango to highlight the citrus notes of American pale ale; or the Bearwalker Brown Maple Brown, brewed with pure maple syrup used during the conditioning phase.

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4. Ryman Auditorium 116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219

This National Historic Landmark is a Nashville institution and a quality spot to watch various musical and theatrical performances throughout the year.

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5. Merchants Restaurant 401 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

This Downtown eatery opened in 1988 in the old Merchants Hotel, where legends like Hank Williams and Pasty Cline would stay while passing through. The menu is sectioned into parts, with more burgers and sandwiches downstairs and larger items like prime beef culotte and carnaroli risotto upstairs. And a great craft cocktail menu is offered on both levels.

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6. Robert's Western World 416 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

Robert’s Western World, located in the heart of Lower Broad’s Music City, is one of the originators of country music in the area. Born in the early 90s, Robert’s is still a bustling with locals and visitors craving honky tonk music and a menu to match -- the Recession Special, a fried bologna sandwich served with chips and a PBR for a whopping $5, is a fan favorite. Located just steps from the Ryman Auditorium, Robert’s is your best bet for a cheap, cold beer, moon cakes, and live music to finish a classy evening at the Grand Ole Opry.

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7. The Basement 1604 8th Avenue S, Nashville, TN 37203-5061

This Nashville rock venue, located below Grimey’s New & Preloved Music record store, is beloved as much by those who attend as those who play there. Its intimate feel lends the perfect setting for everything from acoustic to metal shows and even “secret” shows.

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8. The Smiling Elephant 2213 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204

One of the best spots for pad Thai in the city, Smiling Elephant reigns as the preferred spot for locals to fill up on their dumplings and drunken noodles. Dishes are served on levels of heat from mild and hot to Thai spicy, if you dare.

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9. M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers 4408 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

Between M.L. Rose's 34-tap craft beer program, eight of which rotate through local, seasonal, and small batch brews, and the simple, greasy American pub fare, the relaxed and decidedly cool atmosphere will make you want to hang around and have a few (especially when the fire pits get going on the patio). If you have any trouble picking what you want from the short menu, it's because you can't choose between loaded waffle fries and a fat, craft burger like the signature Nash Vegas stacked with a thick beef patty, savory pimento cheese, crispy tabasco onions, and tangy barbecue on a fluffy potato bun. The best part is that the full menu is served nightly until 1am.

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10. The Station Inn 402 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Since the 70s, the historic Station Inn has been the place to go to say you’ve heard bluegrass and roots music in Nashville. Legendary performers include, Jimmy Martin and Bobby Osborne to Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, and Allison Kraus.

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11. The 404 Kitchen 404 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Housed in a downtown shipping container, this intimate spot barely fits 40 diners, but it's worth a visit if only for its 150-strong whiskey collection that features obscure selections and mainstream brands alike. The dishes emerging from the tiny kitchen -- like the peach and tomato salad, or the rabbit with dandelion greens -- use gamey meats and peasant ingredients like squash, cornbread, and red potatoes to create an assembly of homey flavors.

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12. Rusan's Sushi & Seafood 505 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

You can slip into Rusan's for an unexpected twist in your night, with blaring house music and an overly enthusiastic staff that will not only cheer on your sake bomb takedowns, but will orchestrate the countdown. Whether you’re on a date or with a group of friends, no one can deny the bonding power of a restaurant chanted sake bomb (not to mention quality sushi).

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13. Bluebird Cafe 4104 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215

The must-have experience for all locals and visitors, The Bluebird is the only place to hear the crème de la crème of up-and-coming singer/songwriters with industry veterans who penned your favorite classics. Famous faces love to pop in regularly to catch a show or play the famed listening room themselves.

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14. Firefly Grille 2201 Bandywood Dr, Nashville, TN 37215

Executive Chef Kristen Gregory, winner of the Food Network’s Chopped, has prepared one of the best Summer menus at this local eatery. The truffle oil white cheddar mac & cheese dish is a house specialty and the fried oysters or the steampot of mussels are a must-try.

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15. The Greenhouse Bar 2211 Bandywood Dr, Nashville, TN 37215

This Green Hills drinkery is an actual greenhouse with a center bar, where you can sit on patio furniture amongst the lush landscaping inside the greenhouse or outside by the fire pit and tiki bar for some tipsy tea or mojitos with fresh, muddled mint from the garden.

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16. 3rd & Lindsley 816 3rd Ave S, Nashville, TN 37210

This Rutledge Hill music spot features an intimate, neighborhood feel as they continue hosting acts from local house faves The Wooten Brothers to household names like Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran, and Lady Antebellum.

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17. Husk 37 Rutledge St, Nashville, TN 37210

The Nashville outpost of Chef Sean Brock's Charleston-born restaurant, Husk changes its menu twice daily depending on the freshest finds in produce and protein. Self-described as “a celebration of Southern ingredients,” local ingredients (including herbs from a backyard garden) are at the forefront, and diners are encouraged to pair modernized Southern classics like shrimp and grits or a hot fish sandwich with a cocktail from the lauded whiskey list, over 60 bourbons on offer. But one thing that doesn't change: the Husk Burger. It's (one of) Brock's culinary masterpieces: two Tennessee-raised beef patties are ground with bacon, griddled with onions are tucked onto the patty then smothered by American cheese, topped with pickles and mustard on a squishy sesame bun.

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18. Pinewood Social 33 Peabody St, Nashville, TN 37210

This waterfront spot in Rolling Mill Hill has the layout of an MTV Cribs home -- just look at its six vintage bowling lanes, dining room, lounge and outdoor courtyard. While the food is indeed tasty (after all, Catbird Seat veteran Josh Habiger helms the kitchen), people seem to gravitate to Pinewood for the social scene: it's a see-and-be-seen kind of place, which goes hand-in-hand with the pool, bocce ball field, and the strong cocktails.