#25 Go to a Honky Tonk

Nashville Day Two Part Two

It’s really not hard to fall in love with Nashville.  Kelly and I knew immediately it was our kind of town.  There is lots of live music, great food, plenty of history and the people were all very friendly.  We were also there during hockey playoff season that the whole town had hockey fever.  Being Capitals fans, even we found Nashville’s love for their team so contagious, we almost bought Predator fan gear.  That is until we looked at the $50 price tag on the t-shirts, which seemed to cure our fever rather quickly.

After we got home from The Hermitage, we made ourselves a snack and a beverage and set out about Broadway in search of great music and a good honky tonk. This really wasn’t a difficult task. Our plan of attack was to have one drink at each honky-tonk, then we could go back to our favorites another night.  There were a couple of problems with this plan. First of all, there are far too many bars for you to safely consume a beverage at each bar. Secondly, with drinks running almost 10 bucks a pop, you would have to take out another mortgage on your house to pay for all of those drinks.  Our first stop was Nudies.  Probably one of our favorites, it had great music and a good crowd.  The service was quick and the bartender was friendly.  We also traveled to FGL, the bar owned by Florida Georgia Line where we hit up the rooftop bar for a drink.  The first couple floors were a restaurant as well as a bar, there was a good musician where we were but I did not get the same old-fashioned honky tonk vibe that I had gotten from Nudies.

Next, we meandered over to Ole Red.  It was opening weekend for Blake Shelton’s new bar.  We decided to have a bite to eat and tried their frozen prosecco beverage while watching the band, which was excellent, from the second level.  We loved everything about this place, especially the baconaise, a mayonnaise made with bacon grease that was served as a dipping sauce for your French fries.  Yum.  We caught the waitresses in a shift change because it took a while to get served and then when we went to find our check, no one had it.  After a long time trying to figure out who actually could give us our check, the manager came over and took care of our bill for us, with many apologies.  We told him it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted.  We left, almost regretfully, but we hoped to get back later on our trip.

We wandered further up the street to The Stage, which I loved.  The murals on the wall, the band, the bartenders, it was all exactly what I imagined downtown Nashville to be. We had a few drinks, danced, made friends when we pulled out our phone to catch part of the Capitals game.  Feeling the need to see what else what out there, we grudgingly left and went up to Tootsies.  My brother and sister in law, after their visit to Nashville a few years ago, told me this was their favorite.  I want to point out that each level at each bar has a different vibe, you can go to the same bar and depending what floor you are on have a totally different experience than someone else who is there at the same time.  The rooftops tended to draw the younger crowd, more like the city nightlife you would expect of an up and coming urban town.  The lower levels had lower lighting, a more traditional bar atmosphere, well at least from our experience.  When we went to Tootsies, we traveled to the top level.  The rooftop bar.  It was crowded, which I expected because every list I read about Nashville named it as one of the hot spots to visit. I understand why.  The drinks were good, the entertainment outstanding.  The bartender put the Caps game on for us, a bonus.  I had a great time, although I tend to prefer a quieter bar, more traditional scene and this seemed more like a club atmosphere.   When we left, we decided to throw in the towel on our barhopping plan and take on the rest of Broadway another night.

Honky Tonks:  Part 2

It was Cinco de Mayo, our last day in Nashville, and it was pouring rain.  We had been to Pinewood Social that morning for brunch.  It was a little off the beaten path and not easy to find, but a really neat place unlike any other experience in Nashville.  My knowledge of design concepts doesn’t extend past Fixer Upper on HGTV but I would describe the décor as modern industrial, maybe?  There was an open seating concept where people ate on sofas around coffee tables as well as regular tables.  There were private rooms that were no larger than a big closet that had a table in them.  The bar was in the middle of the space and had seating all the way around.  They had a specialty coffee bar.  In the back was a separate room where you could bowl a few games in a small, retro bowling alley.  They also have a patio that has a swimming pool and an airstream trailer that you can also order food from.  Seeing as it was pouring down rain, we did not get to walk out and see what this was like.  I had a waffle for breakfast, the flavor was good, but it was not really hot so my butter didn’t melt into the little squares, which is the only way to eat a waffle. Kelly had an omelet and said it was good.

After brunch, we ventured back out into the rain.  We walked up to The Gulch, another neighborhood in Nashville.  We did a little shopping and got our picture in front of the country music angel wings mural.  I have to admit I probably had a bad case of the “grumpies” because I was soaked, hungry and miserable at this point.  We found a Mexican place in The Gulch, because…nachos.  The wait was more than an hour, because…Cinco de Mayo. So we walked back to the hotel, to get some dry clothes on and head back out to Broadway.  We found a relatively new Mexican place called Pancho and Lefty’s located right next to Bridgestone Arena.  Luckily, they had a seat for us right away.  This was probably one of my favorite surprises of the trip.  The wait staff was awesome.  Our waiter was really friendly and stopped to talk with us several times, I wish I could remember his name to give him props here but I can’t, because…margaritas.  The steak nachos were delicious.  The margaritas were strong.  We stayed probably longer than we should because our honky tonk experience that afternoon is not as clear as I wish it to be.

When we left, we headed to Legends.  It is on the corner of Broadway with the big mural of country musicians on the outside wall.  Inside, the walls were lined with old album covers.  I got inappropriately excited to see some of my dad’s favorites on the wall, Jim Reeves mainly.  It was crowded and the musician was good.  He interacted a lot with the crowd.  Kelly and I danced right up in front of the stage.  Then something happened like a switch flipped.  I think he covered a Taylor Swift song.  I was done. I just walked out.  He called me out on it as Kelly followed me out, confused.  I still am not sure why I felt the need to leave abruptly, but I wanted to go back to The Stage. So, that is where I went. They were switching bands when we got there.  I requested Conway Twitty, which they graciously played.  Kelly danced, I recorded it. Ha-ha. The rest is a bit of a blur. Blame the margaritas.  We walked down to the Wild Horse Saloon, another place I was told I must visit.  Unfortunately, it was closed, on a Saturday, the whole bar rented out for a private event. Say what?! So we went to George Jones’ bar and restaurant.  The Kentucky Derby was getting ready to start.  They have a small bar in the front of the restaurant that sits on the street.  I may or may not have demanded a mint julep, because…derby day.  The bartender, who was not amused by my shenanigans, told me he could not make me one.  ABSURD! I am sure I complained but ordered a drink to watch the derby.  Kelly at this point had tapped out and was patiently waiting for me to finish my drink and the derby so we could go back to the hotel for a nap.

We made our way back to our room at about 6:30.  We laid down, planning to get up about 8:30 and go back out for a little bit, it was our last night after all.  We woke up about 10, Kelly offered to put her jeans back on so we could go back out, and I laughed and turned out the light.

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