Don't let the twangy stereotype
fool you: The country-music capital is teeming with trendy restaurants, effortlessly cool cocktail joints, and bespoke tailors giving throngs of creative transplants a jolt of rock-and-roll flash. Throughout the city's renaissance, two of its most successful native sons have been Max Goldberg, 30, and his brother Benjamin, 34, whose ventures include the Patterson House, a speakeasy-style bar, and the Catbird Seat, a luxe 32-table dinner hot spot and celebrity hangout. Their latest project, opening this fall, is also their most ambitious: Pinewood Social, a restaurant, bar, café, and large living-room-style workspace with six vintage bowling lanes rescued from a Bowl-A-Rama, all housed in an old trolley barn with an outdoor pool, complete with a retrofitted 31-foot Airstream trailer for a bar. Here, the Goldberg brothers provide a list of can't-miss spots that every traveler to the Music City—and fan of the ABC show—needs to know.
The Shoe Store
One of Benjamin's favorite pairs of shoes comes from this leather-goods studio. "I wear my lace-ups everywhere," he says. "It takes me 35 minutes to get through security at the airport." The studio occupies a repurposed abattoir on a rock bluff overlooking the Cumberland River.
Inside the Peter Nappi studio
Rolf and Daughters
Housed in a renovated factory in Germantown, this neighborhood restaurant serves stellar dry-aged meatballs with a garlic-scape gremolata—but it's the inventive cocktail menu that makes it worth a trip. Says Benjamin: "I order the Man Around Town," a mix of Weller Special Reserve Bourbon, Campari, and chocolate bitters. "Then I order another one."
The Hermitage and the Hutton
Boutique options are limited, but two venerable spots make the Goldbergs' cut. The Hermitage is classic southern-genteel luxury, while the Hutton is flashier. "The wedding is at the Hermitage," Max says. "The bachelor party is at the Hutton."
(Right: The lobby of the Hermitage hotel)
The Foodie Destination
Beacon Light Tea Room
Forty miles west of Nashville in Bon Aqua is a southern roadside classic that serves succulent fried chicken with garden-fresh okra and green beans. "Our mom asked the waitress if they got them at the farmers' market," Max says. "She replied, 'No, ma'am, we grew them in the backyard.'"
The Record Collector Spot
Nashville Flea Market
Benjamin says vinyl aficionados can get their fix at the Tennessee state fairgrounds, where you can buy a stack of vinyl for as little as $25. "It's so cliché," he says, "but the last one I bought had a Hank Williams record on top."
The Juke Joint
Robert's Western World
"I send all my music-snob friends here," Benjamin says, even though this honky-tonk sits on the tourist-choked sidewalks of Lower Broadway. "There was a 17-year-old guitarist who melted our faces our last time there." robertswesternworld.com
(Left: The iconic sign outside Robert's)