A little help, please and thank you....I'm a tad confused
I'm taking out about 12 people to drink, eat, drink and listen to music next week in downtown Nashville. I've been reading the posts and it seems like Bolton's and Arnolds is good for down and dirty simple food but they don't look like drinking/fun experiences. Place's like Puckett's and Jacksbarbeque look a little livelier but I'm guessing not great chowhound experiences? Any thoughts on a bar/food/music crawl? The food has to be good. No chains, no "eating money" places. Not worried about the music as long as the drinks/dinners are close. Appreciate your recs.
Bolton's is one of several "hot chicken" places in town. This is a Nashville specialty. Very casual, sometimes not even really a place to eat there except a few formica tables. Other hot chicken places include Prince's (the originator) and 400 degrees. Arnold's is not open for dinner. You are right in that these are "lunch counter" / cafeteria places, not a place to be served and have alcohol. Puckett's is your best bet downtown for a combination of southern food and often music. The food is fine.
If you want true good food, you'll need to separate your restaurants from the music. Plenty of places on the downtown strip have music and decent bar food, but nothing is going to be worthy of writing home about. So, crawl the Lower Broadway district for honky-tonks, but eat elsewhere.
What type of food / budget? There are many recommendations all over the core in-town area, but having a better idea of what you are looking for other than drinking/fun would be helpful.
I have an expense account but don't want a corporate, bland, chain place. 50.00 a person would be nice. But if Puckett's is good, I can start there. I understand all you have said, it's really the same here in San Diego. We do have some great new Gastro-pubs that have great food and a lively scene, but it's the exception, not the rule.