Nashville is brimming with famous institutions throughout the city with reputations that precede them. Some live music venues have withstood the test of time, and we have restaurants with menus that have people driving from out of state, but there are lots of hidden gems tucked away throughout Music City that live a humble existence. In this article, we’ll give a shout out to bars, restaurants, shops, and venues that have earned the right to go from backup singers to headliners.
Dirty Little Secret at Dream Hotel
Located in Printer’s Alley, Dirty Little Secret is an intimate entertainment theater. They feature live performances and DJs that keep the music going from 8pm to 2am Thursday through Saturday.
Photo: Dream Hotels
Hidden Bar at Noelle
Visit the Hidden Bar at Noelle to channel Moulin Rouge vibes and bask in the très chic French ambience. Inspired by the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, you can visit between 6pm-1am Wednesday through Saturday for a bonne nuit.
Owned by Nashville’s resident Santa Clause, Santa’s Pub is a double wide trailer located in Berry Hill that offers nightly karaoke and good vibes. It’s a cash only bar, so be sure to bring your wallet. Don’t worry though, beer starts at just $2 so you can have a fun night out without breaking the bank.
Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar
Another Printer’s Alley gem, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar is known for impressive blues music with delicious cajun food. With New Orleans inspired menu items and bluesy music, this bar keeps Mardi Gras going all year with performances seven nights a week.
Van Dyke Bed & Beverage
A new boutique hotel in East Nashville, Vandyke has a ground floor bar that has arrived in Nashville with a bang. All of the rooms of the hotel are designed after a different spirit (rum, whiskey, etc.) so their bar surely won’t disappoint.
Photo: Van Dyke Bed & Beverage
Skulls Rainbow Room
If you are looking for a speakeasy, Skulls is the place to go. They serve up jazz performances nightly and have an illustrious musical history. Etta James and Elvis Presley have graced the Skulls stage.
Wedgewood Houston is a growing neighborhood in Nashville, and many great bars and coffee shops are popping up. Bastion has made quite the splash, with a retro vibe and eclectic decor, it’s become a favorite hangout for locals.
Big Al’s Deli
When you are driving to Big Al’s for the first time, you have to look carefully or you’ll miss it. Once you eat there, however, the memory will forever be imprinted in your brain. Don’t let the size of this joint fool you, the flavor is larger than life.
Rudie’s Seafood and Sausage
Rudy’s brings New Orleans to Nashville with their shellfish-centric fare and sausage dishes. They serve fresh oysters that will have you in disbelief you’re in a landlocked state.
Photo: Rudie's Seafood and Sausage
Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint
Located in Germantown, this cozy burger joint is jam packed with beer and good eats. Swing by for a cold beer, fresh burger, and fried oreos.
Earnest Bar and Hideaway (formally known as Hemingway’s)
A newer restaurant on the scene, Hemingway’s is another Wedgewood Houston locale that has taken off. Known for a carefully curated menu and superb bartending, check out this hip spot.
Slim and Husky’s
For gourmet, hand-crafted pizzas (right in front of your very eyes), check out Slim & Husky’s. They strive to bring together the community through something that bonds us all: pizza.
Old Made Good
Old Made Good, or OMG, features hand selected vintage items for sale. To add some quirkiness to your wardrobe or some history to your home, stop by to check out their collection.
Bits and Pieces Boutique
This Germantown shop has women’s and men’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, and gifts. You can score some unique finds in this cute boutique and then grab some lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Vinnie Louise has affordable fashion with two locations in Nashville: east Nashville and 12 South. They offer clothing that’s perfect for going to concerts, hanging with the girls, or a night on the town.
Shop the Mill Boutique
Part of the burgeoning Nations neighborhood, Shop the Mill stamped their mark on this growing Nashville area. They have plenty of pieces to spice up your closet.
For more amazing vintage finds and western wear, Goodbuy Girls keeps an impressive stock of unique pieces to add personality to your look.
Station Inn features live bluegrass and Americana music that will have you tapping your feet through the week. Located in the Gulch, this treasure is worth a visit.
Douglas Corner Cafe
The Douglas Corner Cafe has hosted some impressive names, from Alan Jackson to Garth Brooks. They still host an open mic night on Tuesday nights to give new talent a chance to shine.
Known for their iconic sign that lists the impressive performers that have stood in the Exit/Inn spotlight, this venue is home to music “outsiders.” They proudly provide a stage for many genres: rap, punk, rock, metal, synth-pop, etc.
12th and Porter
Celebrating 32 years of music, it can be easy to drive by 12th and Porter without realizing the talent taking place inside. Attached to a tasty restaurant, it’s a great place to grab dinner and then head next door for a show.
The Nashville Palace
The Grand Ole Opry often steals the spotlight from this legendary location that once was home to the shows “Hee Haw” and “Nashville Now.” Many Nashville legends got their start at The Nashville Palace, so be sure to stop by after touring the Grand Ole Opry.
Heather Brown, a Nashville Guide writer
Hailing from the Old Dominion, I've easily adapted my "Virginia is for Lovers" slogan to the "Nashville is for Music Lovers" lifestyle. After moving to Music City from Oklahoma City, I've explored middle Tennessee through the lens of artists' paintbrushes and urban canvasses. I've enjoyed eating, sipping, and dancing my way through Tennessee's capital while pausing periodically to strike a pose throughout the journey.