The watchful eyes of Dolly Parton preside over the disco ball-bedecked interior of East Nashville’s oldest dive bar. Her face, drawn, collaged, and printed in Mattel-pink is everywhere between the graffiti-plastered walls and under the strings of Christmas tree lights. One especially large cardboard cutout, a gift from local artist Brett Douglas Hunter, has been repeatedly stolen and returned with great drama to the bar.
Dino’s, which has been serving cheap beers and bourbons until the hazy late-late hours of the night since the 1970s, feels like a timewarp, even if it’s had a few subtle, behind-the scenes touch-ups over years.
In 2015, Nashville restaurant duo Miranda Whitcomb Pontes and Alex Wendkos stepped in to run the joint. Luckily, the pair knew what made Dino’s so special in the first place and chose not to mess with it too much. The vibes remain impeccable and the cheeseburger is as good as when Anthony Bourdain dug it. Order yours “Animal Style,” with plenty of mustard, pickles, sauce, and onions, plus a fried egg or bacon, if you’re feeling it. Don’t skip the fries.
Like any great dive, Dino’s hits best long after its competition calls it a night. Come hang with other East Nashville industry types getting off their shifts until 3 a.m. seven nights a week. Or if you prefer to drink under the harsh light of day, stop by Dolly’s Lemonade Stand, a giant lemon crowned by a sculptural rendition of the country diva, that serves as a satellite bar Thursday through Saturday.
In 2022, not long after her namesake lemonade stand opened, Parton herself swung by. She left a signed photograph that says, “Dino’s, I will always love you. Love, Dolly.”
Know Before You Go
Dino’s hosts all sorts of events, collaborations, and pop-ups, so it’s worth checking the bar’s Instagram in advance.