If you stroll the lower Broadway strip at 11 am, you might see revelers riding and sipping on Pedal Taverns, students in slogan tees sloshing around flatbed trucks and day drinkers filling music bars. But a maturing wine industry is hiding in plain sight (as well as in a few spots that are literally hidden). Here’s your guide to finding wine around town, in between a little two-stepping at honkytonks.
Sips Around the City
Though a whiskey and beer thoroughfare, Broadway isn’t a total wine wasteland. Break for lunch and a bottle upstairs at Merchants, where the wine list complements steak and seafood dishes. The Patterson House, a speakeasy underneath The Catbird Seat, offers creative cocktails and wines by the glass. Get there early. Perhaps the best place to enjoy wine and music together, however, is City Winery. Founded by Michael Dorf, it’s Nashville’s first fully operational urban winery, tasting bar, restaurant and music stage. Though better known for its whiskey collection, The 404 Kitchen also has a strong wine program. Grab a bar seat at Etch for a “sommelier pick” from Greece or Croatia. Take a tour of French bubbles or skin-contact wines at Folk. If you wander downtown and need a break, catch the elevator to Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill in the Fairlane Hotel for a restorative glass of rosé on the patio.
Dine to Wine
Don’t go to Music City on a diet; both hot and haute cuisine demand an eager stomach. The Catbird Seat, hidden behind an unmarked door, offers an experience based on sensory stimulation. Enter through smoke and lights, then sample mind-bending dishes underscored by natural-leaning wine pairings. Bastion’s food, though less intellectual, doesn’t skip a creative beat and is arguably more delicious. Another clandestine spot, diners here play bingo with their food, checking boxes with descriptions that intrigue. With a reputation for fabulous pasta and bread, Rolf & Daughters upholds a wine program that deserves accolades for its offbeat, natural focus. In Germantown, Henrietta Red specializes in seafood, stocking the city’s best raw bar. Pro order: wood roasted oysters in Calabrian chile with Corsican Vermentino. Beloved Southern restaurant Husk categorizes wines by soil type.
Nashville Classics, Old and New
In Nashville, food and music are intertwined. For a taste of history, check out Robert’s Western World. The venue supplies a quintessential honkytonk experience complete with ice-cold PBRs and a fried bologna sandwich, chased down with a MoonPie and whiskey. It’s almost impossible to get a consensus on hot chicken, but key outfits are Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Prince’s Hot Chicken. Whichever you choose, expect to wait. For tender biscuits and gravy, line up at any of the three Biscuit Love locations as early as you can. Doughnuts never go out of fashion, though the seasonal offerings of the 100-layer version at Five Daughters Bakery changes each month. Fans of TV show Nashville won’t be disappointed with an evening of intimate music at The Bluebird Café. Pinewood Social encourages lingering across its Crema coffee outpost, restaurant, bowling lane, outdoor games area and pool. Its latest addition is the 42,000-square-foot Downtown Sporting Club.
Neighborhood on the Rise: East Nashville
Referred to by locals as “East Nasty,” this neighborhood’s laid-back artsy vibe is accessible to visitors via two of the city’s coolest small inns. Debuted recently in the Five Points neighborhood, the Vandyke Bed and Beverage houses a hip bar. Nearby, Urban Cowboy B&B’s Victorian exterior belies the wild, Western interior that fosters cocktail-fueled socializing between locals and guests. For a jolt of caffeine in airy industrial digs, Barista Parlor does excellent single-origin pour-overs with buttery-breakfast-biscuit sandwiches. Enjoy Tennessee-raised-beef burgers among string lights and boxwood trees at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden. Shopping for a new guitar? Strum strings at Fanny’s House of Music.