5 Reasons Tootsies is the Most Famous Bar in Nashville

From the Author: I've lived in Nashville for 12 years, and my wife was born here. I worked downtown for five years. We love Broadway and know it well. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!

Only one bar comes to mind when visitors ask me to recommend a “must-visit” bar or “the most famous bar” in Nashville.

It's Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

Tootsies is one of the oldest bars on Broadway and backs up to the Ryman Auditorium, which was the home of the Grand Ole Opry when it started in 1925.

In 1960, Tootsie Bess, a singer and comedienne with “Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys,” purchased what was then known as Mom's.

Renamed after an impromptu paint job turned its walls orchid, Tootsies Orchid Lounge was born, setting the stage for becoming a Nashville icon.

Here are Five Reasons Why It's So Famous (and why you should visit!):

  1. Tootsies Orchid Lounge is one of the oldest bars on Broadway.
  2. There's a saying in Nashville that goes, “Tootsies is the front door to the backdoor,” meaning the Ryman. Artists used to perform at Tootsies before and after performing at the Ryman next door.
  3. From Kris Kristofferson to Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, its early customers were the who's who of country music. Willie Nelson, in fact, landed his first songwriting job after a performance here, underlining Tootsies' role in shaping musical careers.
  4. It was a backdrop for movies like “W.W. & the Dixie Dance Kings” and “Coal Miner's Daughter.” 
  5. The walls of Tootsie's are adorned with memorabilia and photos of famous musicians who have visited, creating a visual history of its impact on country music.

Pictured below is the famous Wall of Fame that shows the impact on country music that Tootsies has had.

Tootsie's Famous Wall of Fame

Country Artists who come to Nashville must first earn their chops playing to the crowds on Broadway in Nashville, and Tootsies is the most desirable location.

It’s where artists can network with songwriters on Music Row and practice entertaining before they get to a bigger stage. Tootsies are a breeding ground for new talent, even today.

What's Tootsies Like Today?

Tootsies is a smaller venue than most on Broadway.

You'll get close to the band, unlike other bars on Broadway. Make sure you spend time on each level, as there are different bands on each floor. Before 6 pm, they will not ask for ID.

Tootsies have multiple levels connected by stairs at the back. At the top, they have a rooftop bar with a fantastic view of upper Broadway and downtown Nashville.

It has a really fun and friendly vibe. I had a really good time, highly recommend it!

Author
Alex Hawker

Hey. I’m Alex. I'm the founder and writer here at Nashville To Do. I've been living in and writing about Nashville for over a decade now, and I'm excited to share all I've learned! Learn more about me here.

Author
Alex Hawker

Hey. I’m Alex. I'm the founder and writer here at Nashville To Do. I've been living in and writing about Nashville for over a decade now, and I'm excited to share all I've learned! Learn more about me here.

3 thoughts on “5 Reasons Tootsies is the Most Famous Bar in Nashville”

  1. I don’t know why, last year my wife and I made our usual stop at Tootsie’s coming back from Florida. We were in line waiting for our chance to get in, Aman in the window pointed to me and motioned for us to come to the front of the line, the door man let us in and thanked mefor stopping in and paid the waitress for two beers for me. I asked the girl why he did that, she just said ” he does that every so often” I thanked the guy sitting at the bar as we left, he said “see you again”

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