All hail the American dive bar, where wrinkled barflies and fresh-faced hipsters alike bask in the glow of flickering beer neon signs and cheap PBR flows freely. The Nashville dive bar is a special breed, combining inexpensive drinks, good grub, and cheerful locals with some of the country’s best boot-scootin’ music.
Whether you’re a born-and-raised local or just passing through town, pull up a stool and get ready to “holler and swaller!” at one of these seven best dive bars in Nashville. When it comes to good music and friendly staff, you know you’ve come to the right place.
1. American Legion Post 82
3204 Gallatin Pike, Nashville
3/15/16 Chris Scruggs & His Stone Fox Five
Like any American Legion, this time-honored venue was erected as a place for veterans to gather over cheap beer and chitchat. But the American Legion Post 82 also draws crowds of Nashvillians old and young on Honky Tonk Tuesdays, a free show with dancing and a rotating lineup of all musical acts.
As the country artist and Nashville local Tanya Montana Coe told our friends at Wide Open Country, “Honky Tonk Tuesdays is just a good old fashioned time, reminds of the Nashville that I grew up in. There is nothing pretentious about the legion, it’s like a warm blanket to us country folk.”
2. The Villager Tavern
1719 21st Ave. S, Nashville
Visit the Villager Tavern on your birthday, and you’ll be treated to free beer served in a dog bowl. This honored is reserved for birthday boys and girls, but you can enjoy any of their nine beers on tap in a regular beer mug all year long. When it comes to cheap beer, this is the watering hole for you.
If you’re feeling bold, challenge college students and locals to a game of foosball or darts on one the Villager Tavern’s five steel-tip dart boards. Oh, and they have an award-winning roast beef, hot off the grill.
3. Fran’s Eastside Tavern
2105 Greenwood Ave., Nashville
Fran’s has all the ingredients of a quintessential dive: $2 domestic beers, a smoky smell, fluorescent lighting, a cash-only bar policy, and amateur karaoke on the weekends, like any true dive.
Come on Tuesdays before 6 p.m. for the 10 beer for $10 special; come on Friday or Saturday for karaoke—just make sure you enter through the side door to avoid entering on the stage right in the middle of someone’s rendition of Stand by Your Man.
4. Santa’s Pub
2225 Bransford Ave., Nashville
Like many great, time-honored, nationally-recognized establishments, Santa’s Pub has begun to draw its fair share of tourists and hipsters. Don’t let that deter you, though, this is a great place regardless. Santa’s remains authentically awesome with cheap beer and some of the best karaoke in town with great music.
On Sundays, Santa’s hosts live country music from local band, Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers. Oh, and the bartender really does look like Santa. How’s that for a good dive?
5. Twin Kegs
413 Thompson Ln, Nashville
In the dark, smoky Twin Kegs, friendly regulars (known locally as “Keggers”) play shuffleboard in between cans of cheap beer. There are some who say the burger at Twin Kegs is the best in town, but we’ll refrain from making that bold claim to avoid causing beef between us and top contenders like Burger Up (pun intended).
Pro Tip: Don’t confuse Twin Kegs with Twin Kegs II, its slightly less divvy younger brother.
6. Springwater Supper Club & Lounge
115 27th Ave N, Nashville
Legend holds the likes of Al Capone, Taylor Swift, and David Allen Coe alike have saddled up to the bar at Springwater Supper Club & Lounge. Erected in 1896, the bar is claimed by devotees and staffers to be the oldest in town.
It’s also one of the last dives in an otherwise fancy area of the West End and the venue where the Black Keys filmed their music video for Little Black Submarines. Talk about a live music show.
7. Melrose Billiard Parlor
2600 8th Ave S #108, Nashville
Stumble down the winding staircase into the sprawling, smoky basement of a former 1940’s Art Deco theater, you’ll find a lively crowd playing the pool tables and reclining on comfy couches. As one of the oldest dive bars in Nashville, it has done its best to maintain its originality.
The bar shut down briefly for a quick makeover, but it thankfully managed to retain its divvy charm developed over more than 70 years of being a beloved Nashville haunt—no smoking inside before 10 p.m. now, though.