M Street

One of Nashville’s biggest food and drink empires is M Street, a mini “neighborhood” where one company has spun out concepts that range from Mexican to sushi to Italian (McGavock St., between 11th Ave. S. and 12th Ave. S.; tel. 615/942-9590). Located in the Gulch, M Street includes: Virago, a pricey, swanky sushi spot at 1126 McGavock St. (tel. 615/254-1902); Whiskey Kitchen, featuring an upscale pub menu with a Southern twist (118 12th Ave. S.; tel. 615/254-3029); a very pricey steakhouse, Kayne Prime (1103 McGavock St.; tel. 615/259-0050); Moto Cucina + Enoteca, an upscale Italian at 1120 McGavock St. (tel. 615/736-5305); and Saint Añejo, a mediocre Mexican eatery, also at 1120 McGavock St. (tel. 615/736-5301). Only one of their concepts, Tavern, isn’t on McGavock, and is instead a popular Midtown hangout, especially for brunch (1904 Broadway; tel. 615/320-8580). While these concepts vary, you’ll notice a distinct style about all M Street properties, which they sum up pretty well in their own description: “M Street Entertainment Group is a lifestyle brand for guests that look for style, originality, and authentic experiences.” While I can’t 100 percent cosign authenticity, I can confirm the stylish, slick nature of their spots. If you like one of their places, you’ll probably like them all. 

Breweries & Distilleries

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The brewery list in Nashville is downright daunting, so I’m going to go full shock and awe and let you select a brewery that’s convenient and interesting to you. You can’t go wrong with any on this list.

In the Gulch, you can start at Yazoo Brewery, the original craft brewer here in Nashville dating back to 1993, that turns out approachable beers and samplers for everyone (910 Division St.; tel. 615/891-4649). A little further down the street you’ll find Czann’s Brewing Company (505 Lea Ave.; tel. 615/748-1399) and Jackalope Brewing Company, a longtime local favorite fronted by two women, which is still a rarity in the industry (701 8th Ave. S.; tel. 615/873-4313). They also have an outpost in Wedgewood/Houston at 429B Houston St. called The Ranch where you can spread out and spend some time. Between Wedgewood/Houston and near 8th Avenue is Tennessee Brew Works, one of my favorites, offering expansive double patios, clean tasting beers, and excellent food. If you’re there in the summer, you must try “Walk the Lime” wheat beer with a hint of citrus. Also in the neighborhood is New Heights Brewing Co., a small craft brewery with cream ales (which are really just the proper term for some light beers), wheat beer, sours, porters, and more, and also features an outdoor patio with a view (928 5th Ave. S.; tel. 615/490-6901). In Germantown, you’ll find a brewery named for the Tennessee state flower: Bearded Iris Brewing Company (101 Van Buren St.; tel. 615/928-7988), serves a curated variety of extra hoppy beers in their cavernous taproom and on their lovely kid-friendly patio. Just over the bridge on the East Nashville side of the river is Little Harpeth Brewing (30 Oldham St.), an environmentally friendly brewery where nearly everything in the brewery has been recycled or reused. You can tour the space on weekends and enjoy live music on Sundays. In East Nashville proper there’s Smith & Lentz Brewing (903 Main St.; tel. 615/436-2195), which serves beer crafted from different hop varieties and yeast strains, so there are interesting flavors you can try and take home. On the far side there’s East Nashville Beer Works, at 320 E. Trinity Lane (tel. 615/891-3108), a great spot to enjoy a cold one in the outdoor beer garden along with a slice of artisan pizza. In 12South, family-friendly Mill Creek Taproom (2905 12th Ave. S., #104; tel. 615/678-6165) serves pints and a menu of hearty dishes. In The Nations in West Nashville, you’ll find Fat Bottom Brewery, which has arguably the best outdoor space (The Hopyard) of any brewery in town with cornhole, a huge patio equipped with string lights, and several seating areas for the family (800 44th Ave. N.; tel. 615/678-5715). Also in the neighborhood there’s an outpost of Southern Grist Brewery (5012 Centennial Blvd.; tel. 615/864-7133), where you can order some of the city’s best pizza from neighbor Nicky’s Coal Fired, as well as nano-brewery Harding House (5025 Harding Pike; tel. 615/356-0096), which offers only a few beers and also food service from the adjacent Bare Bones Butcher, which makes the best burger in town. A little further on the outskirts you’ll find the maximum in kid-friendly spots in West Nashville’s TailGate Brewery headquarters on old Charlotte Pike (7300 Charlotte Pike; tel. 615/861-9842). It’s a bit of a hike, but it will be worth it to families who want to snack on pizza (the pepperoni/feta is a salty, tangy crowd-pleaser) or enjoy any of the movies or events on the lawn. Other excellent local beers you can try in taprooms around town include Turtle Anarchy, Honky Tonk Brewing Co., Black Abbey Brewing Company, and Mantra Artisan Ales (all of which have their own outposts as well).

On the distillery front, there are a few key players in town to check out. Corsair “Brewstillery,” a brewpub in Marathon Village at 1200 Clinton St., #110 (tel. 615/200-0320), offers craft beers along with tours of the microdistillery, which turns out interesting spirits such as triple-smoked and elderflower whiskey, barrel-aged gin, and red absinthe. For a more scientific take, check out Nashville Craft Distillery (514 Hagan St.; tel. 615/457-3036), which makes delectable drinks such as Naked Biscuit sorghum spirit and Crane City gin, a nod to Nashville’s building boom. The owner is a former DNA laboratory director, Bruce Boeko, who offers fascinating takes on the spirit-making process. For bourbon lovers, there is Green Brier, located conveniently in Marathon Village inside the city limits. From 1885 until Prohibition, Charles Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery (1414 Clinton St.; tel. 615/13-8800) was a major player in whiskey distilling in the South—years before Jack Daniel’s name ever came to the fore. But it wasn’t until 2006 that brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson even knew about their birthright, which they learned about thanks to a historical marker they found on a family road trip. That sparked a full-scale investigation that culminated in their first product, Belle Meade Bourbon. I won’t spoil all the details of their whiskey inquest here, but you should absolutely take the $10 tour and find out all about it for yourself.

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Cocktails

There are far too many cocktail bars in Nashville to list them all, but here are some of the highlights. In SoBro downtown, Bar Sovereign (514 5th Ave. S.; tel. 615/244-3174) is a hidden gem, tucked into a strip mall near Bridgestone Arena, offering eclectic surroundings and high-class art on the wall in addition to top-shelf cocktails. Urban Cowboy Public House in East Nashville serves delectable cocktails alongside their fantastic food where you can cozy up in the wood-walled bar or out by the fire. In Germantown, at 311 Jefferson St., there’s Geist (tel. 615/920-5440), an upscale cocktail joint set inside a renovated blacksmith shop from 1900. 

Get Bushwacked 

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The most interesting thing about Nashville’s most famous drink may be the fact that it’s not from Nashville at all. The Bushw(h)acker, a boozy, chocolatey frozen concoction that’s basically an adult Wendy’s Frosty, is served at restaurants all over town. However, the original actually comes from the Sandshaker Lounge in Pensacola, Florida, and even that came from its owner bringing it back from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, in 1975. For more than a decade, savvy Nashvillians have been drinking the adult milkshakes to kick off rowdy nights or to save themselves the morning after one. The recipe is a secret, but the generally accepted ingredients include Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, milk, rum, ice and/or ice cream, and chocolate syrup. 

Dive Bars

Nashville’s dive bar culture is strong, and oftentimes you can find excellent food in addition to dark vibes, cold drinks, and killer tunes. Local favorites in East Nashville include Mickey’s Tavern (2907 Gallatin Pike; tel. 615/852-5228) which sits above the decidedly non-dive, the Fox Bar & Cocktail Club; Edgefield Sports Bar & Grill where locals shoot the breeze and play pool (921 Woodland St.; tel. 615/228-6422), and Dino’s (411 Gallatin Ave.; tel. 615/226-3566), which is East Nashville’s oldest and best dive bar. The burger is excellent, and you must order it with animal-style fries, which are topped with a mix of Velveeta and special sauce (sounds weird, tastes amazing). Downtown there is the smoke-filled Batter’s Box (43 Hermitage Ave.; tel. 615/242-0910), where you can typically find regulars drinking cold beers and avoiding their wives, and in Hillsboro Village you’ll find another smoke-friendly venue in The Villager Tavern (1719 21st Ave. S.; tel. 615/298-3020), where people come to play darts and jukebox tunes, and, if they so choose, drink free beer from a dog bowl on their birthday. Off West End near Centennial Park you’ll find Springwater Supper Club and Lounge (115 27th Ave. N.; tel. 615/320-0345), one of the city’s oldest bars where Al Capone used to gamble and where people including Taylor Swift and Kings of Leon have come to drink, though not together. Nearby is also The Gold Rush (2205 Elliston Place; tel. 615/321-1160), a staple on Elliston Place since 1974 that’s famous for its bean rolls (a burrito-type concoction smothered in beans and cheese that will either set you right or put you down for the count). In West Nashville, Betty’s Grill (407 49th Ave. N.; tel. 615/297-7257) is another smoke-filled option that has legions of loyal locals. You’ll find the young adult crowd just around the corner at The Centennial (5115 Centennial Blvd.; tel. 615/679-9746) in The Nations, which is a self-proclaimed upscale dive bar that offers excellent food, lots of TVs for sporting events, and an earnest dedication to all things Patrick Swayze. On the south side of town you’ll find Santa’s Pub (2225 Bransford Ave.; tel. 615/593-1872), housed in a trailer and filled with smoke and karaoke. The bar is cash only, and yes, the owner looks like Santa. Swing by on Sunday for live country music from Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers. 

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Rooftops

With the recent boom of high-rise hotels, Nashville’s skyline-viewing game has gone up majorly. Downtown, there is Rare Bird on the rooftop of Noelle, an open-air space with a long zinc bar, fireplaces, and full view of the river alongside top-shelf cocktails. Next door, the Rooftop at the Bobby, (at the Bobby Hotel), is an even more expansive space that features a 1956 retrofitted Greyhound bus and sweeping views of the riverside. On the river, you’ll also find the Acme Feed & Seed rooftop (101 Broadway; tel. 615/915-0888), where they host everything from dance parties to yoga classes. A little further west is L27 atop the Westin Hotel, one of the larger rooftops where you can lounge inside or out, and across the street you can find the absolute best views in the city at Bourbon Steak. The restaurant at the top of the JW Marriott has a Vegas feel to match its Vegas prices, but it more than earns them with its cuisine and cocktails. Be sure to walk to the far side of the bar where open windows give you a warm breeze in addition to stellar views. In the Gulch, Up Rooftop Lounge offers free valet parking for 3 hours and serves excellent small plates including chipotle smoked salmon nachos with avocado crema and herb aioli. Finally, there’s L.A. Jackson, a spacious rooftop bar on the top of the Thompson hotel that hosts the city’s beautiful people and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. 

 

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.