Bring to mind your ideal evening hangout spot.
You know the one (no, not your couch). The one kid-you saw your 25-year-old self haunting every day after work. The one you try to find when you’re on vacation so you can live like a local. A space where regulars gather along a varnished bar, tearing apart soft pretzels, chatting with their favorite bartender, and ordering another round.
Whether you pictured a pub from the start or you’re only just starting to warm up to the idea of hanging out with a bunch of beer enthusiasts during your sojourn in our town, we’ve rounded up five Franklin, Tennessee, public houses that are bringing your checklist to life.
And what about that checklist? Well, as you and I both know (after a quick Google search): A pub differentiates itself from a regular old bar or lounge by being somewhere you want to stick around for a while to play a game and order something you likely wouldn’t indulge in back home. Hello, spaghetti sandwich! Wait, what? Don’t worry; we’ll circle back.
Here’s what we’re looking for: a corner to pile into with your best buds; a game or two—of the lawn or televised variety; a menu you would’ve scoffed at on January 1; and a beer list filled to the brim with regional brews.
And what better place than Hop House Tennessee Taps to check our boxes and fill our glasses? Boasting a friendly staff that’s enthusiastic about its 30-plus local beers, you wouldn’t think it would need anything else to pack its high-backed, high-top seats. But Hop House decided to bless us with a menu that features a Parmesan-sprinkled spaghetti sandwich constructed on garlic toast, which lives in my heart and mind (and most definitely on my breath) to this very day.
Seat yourself under dangling Edison bulbs to peruse the regularly rotated row of multi-colored taps behind the bar, or peer into the bright fridge to the left to order a canned beverage to accompany your meal.
Once you’re back on the street, standing under fluttering stars and stripes, travel around the block to McCreary’s, where you’ll find nods to a different flag: Ireland’s.
Take a sharp right off the Main Street sidewalk, step inside the Irish Pub and Eatery, and soak in the sweet smell of beer and malt vinegar floating up to meet St. Patrick’s prayer bordering the ceiling. Make your way down the aisle between thick wooden tables to its squat bar, nestled among stone and a shingled awning covering backlit bottles of Jameson.
Grab a seat and order an imported cider and, may I recommend, a hot potato. When paired with a cup of Beer Cheese, the Veggie Hot Potato—loaded with juicy green beans, pepper-flaked cauliflower, and smooth carrots, all glazed with balsamic—was a highlight of working on this story. I’d like to think it will be a highlight for you too (and that it wasn’t just because my ancestors were looking out for me that day).
Just down the way is another tucked-in gem. A thin tavern lined with bottles and bricks on one side and wallpapered with old-timey ads on the other—a long bar, adorned with bowls of citrus fruits, running smack down the middle—O’ Be Joyful is ideal for those who like a front-row seat. Watch as your cocktail is concocted or your flight is poured, and chat with the person sidled up next to you.
You’re sure to be happier—one might even say joyful—when you reemerge. And when you do, it’ll be time to pay a visit to another walkable street.
Featuring a handful of businesses you may be familiar with, Front Street in Westhaven is also home to Scout’s Pub. Bring your four-legged friend along and take a stroll around the picturesque community’s lake, then park your respective tails for a drink on the roomy covered patio bordering the local. (Yes, fittingly, “local” is another word for a pub. Thanks again, Google!)
If it’s storming or you’re traveling sans pet and decide to forgo the patio, Scout’s interior is plenty big enough to host you and your two-legged friends. Its more upscale vibe—paintings in gilded frames hanging over flower-topped tables—manages to meld with classic pub accouterments—TVs turned to the game of the hour, plus growlers to go.
Speaking of classic pubs: We couldn’t send you off on your tour of Franklin’s taverns without telling you to pencil in The Bunganut Pig. If you’ve visited the Lotz House, you’ve likely heard of it. While the pub isn’t quite as historic as the aforementioned abode, it has been around since 1986 and is another staple on the street.
The multi-story establishment is teeming with places to socialize—from the gazebo on its grassy yard with large lanterns and patio lights illuminating lawn games to the billiards room and a dark bar on the ground level.
To arrive at said bar, follow the glow from strands of Christmas lights and neon signs and the sound of jaunty music and patrons calling out for a shot. Pick a dish from its menu, which includes English fare, such as Fish-n-Chips, as well as fun starters, such as Fried Bologna Wedges (kid-me would’ve keeled over with excitement), to pair with your glass of beer or wine.
Now that you’ve found your go-to Franklin hangout and filled the chairs in your corner with your favorite people and the table with carb-loaded plates and cold beers, all that’s left to do is order another round—and possibly another spaghetti sandwich. Bottoms up!