Nashville’s drinking options are considerable, but any cursory review of the beer scene in the city inevitably leads to Santa’s Pub, often cited as the unquestioned king of Nashville dive bars. The Christmas theme is obvious from the name, but the moniker comes not from the ample decorations inside and out but rather the nickname given to the bar’s owner by his grandson thanks to a fairly strong resemblance to Claus himself. Murals are painted inside, outside and on the property’s adjoining fence, leaving no mystery as to the location of the dive bar.
Santa’s Pub sits fairly removed from anything else, occupying a double-wide trailer that has operated as a bar since 1963 and as Santa’s Pub specifically since 2011. Previously known by a number of names including Jerry’s, Somewhere Else and Eddie’s, the trailer additionally served as an actual construction hub for homes erected nearby at one point. As one would expect, every inch of the bar is covered in some kind of string light, plastic snowman, snowflake display or fully decorated Christmas tree. New lights and decorations are added periodically throughout the year, creating more and more density to the Christmas vibe.
If any additional motivation was needed to visit the Nashville dive bar, karaoke provides that extra calling card, nightly rounds catering to packed crowds in the cash-only dive that spans three narrow rooms. Santa’s Pub allowed smoking until a citywide ban went into effect, reflecting some of the smokey karaoke imagery found online. The Nashville dive bar has no liquor license, restricting available options to beer and seltzers with PBR the unquestioned and affordable favorite. Despite the encroachment of redevelopment nearby, owner Denzel Irwin has repeatedly stated his resistance to selling, preserving the future of one of Nashville’s dive bar icons.