Musician and born-and-raised New Yorker Katie Schecter moved to Nashville three and a half years ago. At first, it was just to join her fiancé, Nick Bockrath, for a few months while he was recording an album with his band, Cage the Elephant. But they were both looking for a change of pace, and they ended up falling in love with the country music capital. Now she performs on open air stages over Broadway, knows the best taco spots in town, and eats fries next to Dolly Parton cutouts at the end of a long night out. But she’s a New York girl forever. Just ask her about her favorite bagel place.
How would you describe Nashville to someone who’s never been?
It’s basically like an amusement park for musicians and music lovers, like Hollywood is for movies. You don’t have to look hard to see truly great chops, they’re everywhere you turn.
What interesting neighborhoods do you point people towards?
Nashville is all around stylish, covered in hand painted signs and old school charm wherever you look, and each neighborhood has its own flare. They’re all worth seeing. The most stylish places in my opinion are the ones that make you feel like you went back in time, like The Station Inn, and American Legion Post 82, or the bowling alley near my house called Donelson Strike & Spare.
Where do you get your coffee in the morning?
I am very much obsessed with Sip Cafe in East Nashville—the drive-thru specifically. I‘ve recently given up dairy in my coffee, so I now do a large iced coffee (yes, even in winter) with coconut milk.
What are your go-to restaurants?
VN Pho & Deli is a family business and they have the yummiest Vietnamese food in Nashville. I always get the meatball spring rolls and beef pho. Mas Tacos Por Favor has an amazing chicken tortilla soup and fried avocado taco. And I love Proper Bagel. I’m a born and bred New York Jew. Couldn’t live without a great bagel.
Dino’s Bar is the only place one needs to know. Super divey, super groovy, great food until very late—and you’ll be friends with the bartenders and everyone in there by the time you leave. When Anthony Bourdain came to Nashville, he went to Dino’s for the animal fries, which he aptly dubbed “redneck poutine.” They’re kind of like In-n-Out’s animal fries, only at Dino’s you’re surrounded by life size Dolly Parton cutouts while you eat them, which makes for quite a unique dining experience.
How’s the shopping?
Amazing shopping! There’s so much great vintage and I have become addicted to thrifting because I can almost always find something stage-worthy in this town for close to nothing. I love to go to Southern Thrift and Goodwill. For vintage, Black Shag Vintage is my favorite.
Where do you go when you want to get out into nature?
My favorite part of living in Nashville is that we are only a 40 minute drive from the rolling fields of Franklin, Kentucky. There’s nothing so beautiful. Cheekwood Estate & Botanical Garden is also beautiful and in town.
Any advice for people who want to do the honky tonk thing without getting stuck in a tourist trap?
I think people tend to get a bit overwhelmed by Broadway as it’s one of the main tourist attractions, but you simply have to suck it up and go to Robert’s Western World. It is the best honky tonk bar in Nashville and the live music and ambience are not to be missed. It’s my go-to spot to take out-of-towners because you will not see musicians like this anywhere else in the world!
Any historic spots or art galleries worth seeing?
Tons. One of my favorite places is The Ryman Auditorium. Taking a tour in the daytime to learn about its history is very cool, and I recommend trying to see a show there in the evening. Going to The Grand Ole Opry is a hoot. There is a budding art scene, but a lot of room for growth as far as I can see. The Frist is cool, and there’s an art collective called Fort Houston. I think what they’re doing is pretty special.
What’s your most cherished Nashville memory?
Playing Nashville’s Annual July 4th Concert downtown is definitely up there! The stage spanned across Broadway, it was about 100 degrees, and I was wearing Thom Browne. Even so, it was one for the books. Followed by the most incredible display of fireworks I didn’t know existed.
Anything you’ve brought back to NYC with you?
My newfound love for old country records. And tons of awesome thrift store gems. But my greatest Nashville treasure, most certainly, is a purse with The Obamas on it that I found at a street fair here.