While 12 South wasn’t always a destination, the neighborhood’s cool-kid shops and award-winning restaurants are not well-kept secrets. Tourists descend upon the area on weekends, while locals who prefer smaller crowds tend to visit during the week. See for yourself the allure of 12 South with this well-rounded mix of casual and upscale, breakfast and dinner, and sweet and savory dining options.Read More
Where to Eat in Nashville’s 12 South Neighborhood
From innovative restaurants with coveted reservations to comfy neighborhood bars and burger places
Chef Trevor Moran’s Locust landed with a huge splash in 2020, and has racked up national and local accolades since, including an Eater Award for best new restaurant. Good luck scoring a seat here: The ultra-exclusive spot has eight tables and just two seatings three nights a week, so reservations go quickly, though you can also join a waitlist. If you’re lucky enough to make it in, expect a laid-back atmosphere, an impressive selection of natural wines, and an eclectic, ever-changing menu that leans into seafood like chewy clam toast and stuffed mackerel bread.
Josephine is one of the neighborhood’s most elegant dining options. Led by Andy Little, the restaurant takes a seasonal approach in celebrating the chef’s Pennsylvania upbringing as well as local flavors, resulting in clever mash-ups like Nashville hot scrapple wraps. The Josephine whole chicken for two is a dinner staple, and you’ll find highlights like a cheesesteak at weekend brunch.
12 South Taproom and Grill
Over a decade of serving top-notch beers and above-average pub grub has made 12 South Taproom something of the neighborhood living room, a relaxed place to gather with friends and have solid burgers and sandwiches, tacos and burritos, and a few hearty entrees. The family-friendly bar even has daily specials and a kids’ menu with treats like quesadillas.
Another long-time neighborhood hangout with a sibling in Franklin, Mafiaoza’s attracts a wide range of diners, from families to groups of friends. You can order New York-style pizza by the slice or as a whole pie, not to mention an array of Italian American appetizers, salads, and pastas with plenty of meatballs and red sauce.
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Whether you’re looking for a place to watch sports or just do brunch, Bottle Cap has you covered. Since opening in 2020, it’s become a local haunt, largely thanks to a weekday happy hour of cocktails, wines, and beers for $6 or less from 4 to 7 p.m. Add an order of loaded fries topped with buffalo chicken or carne asada. Earlier in the day Friday through Sunday, you’ll find cheeky brunch dishes like the Wake N Steak potato hash bowl and the Recovery Bowl with cheesy grits, a poached egg, and a braised short rib.
Five Daughters Bakery
Five Daughters Bakery now has several locations across the South offering the fried treats that put this Franklin-based business on the map — namely the 100-layer doughnut, a croissant hybrid that can take several days to create and comes in flavors like chocolate sea salt and maple glaze. The simple but cute counter-service 12 South location also offers yeasted doughnuts, seasonal flavors, and vegan and paleo doughnuts free of many allergens including gluten.
The Butter Milk Ranch
The Instagram-friendly Butter Milk Ranch fits right into this picturesque neighborhood, but style doesn’t trump substance here. If the line’s too long, grab a coffee and an over-the-top pastry like babka croissant from the takeout counter to fuel a mural-filled walk. If you have more time, settle in for a boozy brunch with friends. The full-service menu from chef Alyssa Gangeri includes playful takes on classics like egg bowls, omelets, burgers, and croissant sandwiches alongside coffees, teas, ice cream sodas, and brunchy cocktails from bloody marys to espresso martinis.
Urban Grub turned a car wash into a surprisingly charming restaurant that has long since cemented its status as a neighborhood essential. During dinner, oysters and charcuterie share the menu with Southern specialties and steaks, while weekend brunch offers all your mid-morning favorites — sticky buns, doughnut holes, omelets, shrimp and grits, and steak and eggs — plus an all-you-can-eat seafood and charcuterie bar.
This locally grown chain combines cafe, coffee roaster, and bakery, serving a simple and satisfying menu (including all-day breakfast) that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Always bustling, the 12 South location of Frothy Monkey is a comfortable neighborhood spot where people linger from morning through dinnertime, including on a dog-friendly patio. Start your day with a cup of coffee and the California: two fried eggs over medium with avocado and sprouts atop sourdough toast. Gluten-free and vegan options abound here.
Perpetually boisterous, the 12 South location of the Bartaco chain gives coastal vibes with its white-washed patio, bright interior, and small, street-style tacos with fillings from Baja fish to falafel. Order a tray of tacos, tangy guacamole, spicy margaritas, and other Mexico-inspired dishes like glazed pork belly rice bowls for the table.
Widely popular for melt-in-your-mouth meats smoked low and slow, laid-back Edley’s Bar-B-Que got its start in 12 South before expanding throughout Nashville and beyond. Barbecue nachos, shrimp tacos, chicken sandwiches, and pork platters all deserve a try, and this is also a great place to cool off with a boozy Bushwacker, a milkshake-like cocktail highly popular here in Nashville.
This kid-friendly neighborhood staple is best known for its juicy, well-sourced burgers: Beef, bison, quinoa and black bean, and turkey patties come topped with the likes of pimento cheese and truffle aioli. Just don’t miss Burger Up’s fried pickles, tasty salads (hello, chopped kale), and fries dipped in house-made ketchup.
Cool, contemporary design and fresh, aromatic Lebanese dishes have made Epice a neighborhood star. Highlights include hummus, grape leaves, lahmeh, sayadeya, and a house salad with goat cheese and fig vinaigrette; these go great with flavorful cocktails and mocktails. If you can, sit on the patio.