Nobody really likes standing in lines (unless you’ve got some sort of masochistic streak in you), but it’s a reality that Nashville is full of spots that are so popular with tourists and locals that you’ll inevitably find yourself in a queue if you decide to visit during peak hours. Fortunately, in most cases the payoff is definitely worth your time.
Here are some of the hottest destinations in town where you can spend a half hour checking Instagram on your phone while you await entrance, and a few options where you might be able to get in a little quicker.
When someone asked Biscuit Love owner Karl Worley where he would build a second outpost of his wildly popular breakfast biscuit sandwich emporium in the Gulch, he replied, “Right next door! We can’t take care of the traffic we already have.” It’s true that there have been lines out the door of fans waiting to get their hands on his biscuits ever since he and his wife opened the first Biscuit Love there in 2015, but hey, at least they serve booze to dull the pain once you get inside.
Alternative: The second location of Biscuit Love in the old Sunset Grill at 2001 Belcourt Ave. in Hillsboro Village serves the same menu and usually has much shorter lines. It’s probably only about ten minutes away from the original via Bird scooter.
Serving the absolute best rendition of classic meat-and-three fare in Nashville, Arnold’s often has patrons already waiting when they unlock the doors at 10:30 a.m. Since they’re only open M-F for lunch, arriving early is always a good bet, but the lovely calculus of their experienced operations usually makes sure that by the time you get through the line, there will be a table open for you to sit and enjoy a tray loaded down with amazing Southern food. Two house rules make all this work: no saving of seats before you’re served and try not to dawdle too long after you’re done eating.
Alternative: Dandguire’s Cafe is just a half mile away and serves up a mighty fine plate of fried chicken. It’s a worthy alternative, but seriously, at least brave the wait for Arnold’s once before you bail out for the easier option.
While it’s been the preeminent venue to see singer/songwriters in their natural habitat for years, since the Bluebird became nationally famous thanks to frequent appearances on the popular Nashville television show, locals have started to consider it like that old Yogi Berra saw: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded!” You pretty much have to win a lottery to score a seat, but the chance to hear some of Nashville’s most talented songsmiths playing their compositions in such an intimate environment is a unique Music City experience.
Alternative: The Listening Room Cafe on the outskirts of downtown is a much larger space to see some of the same talent that performs in the round at the Bluebird. They also serve a full menu of food so you can enjoy dinner and a show.
Kelsey Montague’s popular mural in the Gulch is technically titled “What Lifts You,” but everybody just refers to it as The Angel Wings. It is such an eminently ‘Grammable opportunity that tourists politely line up just for the chance to pose in front of it, and their followers instantly know that they must be in Nashville. Montague even included a mini version that is scaled perfectly for kids (and pups!)
Alternative: Several local entrepreneurs offer tours by bicycle, scooter or on foot that will lead you to plenty of other Instagram-friendly locales around town, including lots of our popular murals. You can discover them as part of Airbnb’s new Experiences program.
We still scratch our heads about this one, because even though this Hillsboro Village flapjackery has been a must-visit for decades, they’re still just…well, pancakes (albeit tasty ones). At least the kind management usually offers water and coffee to hydrate the potential patrons waiting in lines that often stretch down the block.
Alternative: For a more interactive experience, visit The Pfunky Griddle in a cozy cottage in Berry Hill where you can make your own pancakes on a griddle installed in the table. It’s like a visit to a fondue restaurant except, well, pancakes.
After years of sellout crowds during their most successful seasons on the field, the Tennessee Titans have somehow managed to create longer lines to get in the stadium even as attendance decreased. Whatever the inexplicable reasons for the bottlenecks are, once you actually get through the turnstiles, you’ll discover a team that’s easy to root for, full of likeable young stars on both sides of the ball.
Alternative: As entertaining as the Nashville Predators are on the ice, the action in between plays is also a blast, with a party atmosphere filling Bridgestone Arena. Their efficient operations staff work hard get hockey fans in the door in time to catch their mascot Gnash rappelling down from the roof of the arena to fire up the crowd.
No matter the weather, there’s almost always a line waiting to get inside the humble building to sample Hattie B’s fiery fowl at their original Midtown location. Sometimes the crowd spills off the sidewalk into the street, so you might consider jaywalking to the other side if you want to avoid standing in traffic. Or better yet, call in your order and take it to go. It’s still hot even if it’s a little cool.
Alternative: Party Fowl offers several different iterations of hot chicken dishes with the benefit of being able to actually sit down at a table and order from a server. Bonus: you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail while you wait for the piquant poultry to arrive.