I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
July 20, 2021
Fruity, rum-filled drinks, a retro Polynesian vibe… and robots. This East Nashville tiki bar has more than a few fun surprises.
A few years ago, a man had a dream.
“The dream I had last night was so weird,” he told a friend the next day over coffee. “The only thing I really remember now is that I was at a tiki bar… but there were, like, robots everywhere.”
“A robot tiki bar,” his friend laughed. “Makes sense.”
“I know, right?” the man said. “Dreams, man.” He thought for a moment. “Actually, though, it’s not a bad idea…”
And that’s how Chopper was born.
At least, that’s how I imagine Chopper was born. How else do you explain the fact that there’s a robot-themed tiki bar in Nashville?
You’ll find Chopper on Stratton Avenue in East Nashville and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be favorably disposed towards this bar from the moment you discover that there’s a parking lot right across the street that’s FREE after the bank closes for the day. We also found plenty of street-side parking when we visited on a Wednesday night at 8. (If you’re reading this and you don’t live in Nashville, let me just warn you right now that parking in most neighborhoods is very hard to find these days and often ridiculously expensive.)
Look for the robot-like tiki god (or is it a tiki god-like robot?) and the garage door windows on the corner of Stratton and Gallatin Avenue and you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Stepping inside Chopper is like… well, remember those old reruns of Star Trek and Lost in Space that used to constantly play on TV? Imagine this is a script from one of those shows:
INT. TIKI BAR SPACE STATION
We see a classic 1960s-era tiki bar lit in neon tones. Tropical plants surround cozy VINYL BOOTHS and a BAMBOO-LINED BAR in the center of the room. And yet, something is… different. On closer inspection, the fixture over the bar isn’t an HVAC system; it’s a GIGANTIC ROBOT, staring impassively down at TWO YOUNG WOMEN chatting below. Images of robot-faced TIKI GODS leer from the walls, and drinks are served in TIKI MUGS that resemble DROIDS.
The crew of the STARSHIP enters the bar, wearing HAWAIIAN SHIRTS over their uniforms. CAPT. JACQUARD briefly ogles the women seated at the bar, then approaches the ROBOT BARTENDER.
Get me a Tequila Hurricane, would ya? Hold the interstellar ice.
In other words, (Why did I start writing a screenplay for this post. WHY?) Chopper is campy-retro-futuristic without being too in-your-face, and it’s cool as hell. The same is true for the extensive drink menu.
As you can imagine, I had a really hard time narrowing down my options as I made my way through this list. Should I go for the Space Pilot, with falernum, lime, cinnamon, grapefruit, raspberry, and rum? Or maybe the Caribbean Punch, with rum, spices, lime, and Sarsparilla… Or possibly something frozen? Everything looked fantastic. I finally settled on the bar’s signature drink: the Robo Zombie.
I mean, sure it was expensive but YOLO, right? And besides, it turned out this was far more than a drink that I was getting.
There were pyrotechnics, y’all.
Once the flames had subsided, I was treated to a frosty, fruity, rum-filled delight of a drink. And I think it’s wise that Chopper limits these drinks to one per guest, because I definitely felt like I’d had… we’ll say enough drinks by the time I finished.
My husband, THE DRIVER, opted for something slightly tamer:
And I’m so glad he did, because as much as I enjoyed my Robo Zombie, I thought his Desert Mirage was FANTASTIC. Fruity with a little bit of heat — Perfection. Trust me, you’d love it.
It was pretty, too. I’m definitely ordering this drink next time.
Because the bottom line is that we will be back. Oh yes. We will be back. Because I loved Chopper’s inventive drinks and decor. I loved the friendly staff. I loved that it was busy, but not so crowded that we couldn’t find seats. I loved that there was plenty of parking right outside. And I love its locals-only, neighborhood vibe. This bar is great for a date night or a girls’ night out. It’s also a wonderful place to take out-of-town guests; they’ll be impressed. And it’s an ideal place to recommend to out-of-towners who are looking for something a little more sophisticated than the touristy bars in and around downtown Nashville.
Do note that although there is a food menu, it consisted of four options the night we were there and it was definitely bar bite fare. This is not your go-to-dinner and drinks place. For cocktails, though, I highly recommend it. I hear the cocktail menu changes often and apparently, there’s an origin story floating around somewhere about robots invading Island X, although I haven’t been able to get any more details. Must investigate further. Preferably after a few drinks.
Got questions or comments? Be sure and contact me — I’d love to hear from you.