Burger Up's veggie burger, with housemade condiments — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
The many pockets along the thoroughfare of 12th Avenue South in Nashville provide dozens of dining options. From new casual eateries to the opening of nationally acclaimed chef hotspots, it's the right route to take for foodies visiting the city.
Between Broadway and Demonbreun
This little stretch has created quite a traffic jam, as diners pull in and line up as the sun goes down. One of the most crowded spots is Virago, which anchors the corner. Sushi and Japanese plates for sharing are a staple for Nashville nights out, and the menu is also evolving for something new.
Skillet Nachos at Saint Anejo in the MStreet district at 12th and McGavock corner — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
In the same row of former warehouses, the MStreet restaurant group has opened both Saint Anejo and Moto Cucina + Enoteca in the last year. Moto is a chic but rustic Italian eatery serving wow-worthy entrees and tastings nightly, while Saint Anejo is an affordable all-day, every day spot to grab gourmet tacos, tequila temptations and filling salads. Both are also great for grabbing a seat at the bar and soaking up the local scene over craft beers and cocktails.
Dining at MOTO Cucina + Enoteca — Photo courtesy of Tim Nichols
The opposite corner is home to Whiskey Kitchen, where fire pit patios fill up with a young and energetic crowd in the evenings, while families and business people enjoy burgers, grilled salmon and daily specials throughout the afternoon. The food is consistently good, and there's always something new to try on the menu of food and on the bourbon list.
The open kitchen and chef's bar at Adele's — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
On the other side of the street, what was once a tire repair garage for years has been transformed to a minimalist-style fine dining post for Jonathan Waxman's first Music City outpost. The restaurant named Adele's (after Waxman's mother) opened in June, and it's already getting national attention for simply prepared classic dishes, with the Waxman touch being the big draw.
Between Demonbreun and Division
This is where you could walk door to door and have a different course at every stop. Rumours Wine Bar is a good place to start, where flights of well-priced, by-the-glass vino rules. Tapas-style dishes are fresh and served with an inviting European cafe approach.
City Fire has taken over the space previously inhabited by Urban Flats, and they specialize in wood-fired pizzas and American oven fare. Sambuca has been in the area for a while, but has added a great deal of enclosed space overlooking the Gulch and downtown from a glass-enclosed second level. It's adjacent to the herb garden and outdoor patio of long-standing Watermark, where fine dining continues to draw discriminating diners.
A new boutique hotel and farm-to-table dining restaurant, 404 Kitchen is directly across the street and has wowed guests since its opening. Space is limited, but flavors are endless. The menu changes continually based on farmer's market finds, but it's always based on Southern classics. Dinner reservations here are hard to come by on weekends, so get some help from your concierge in advance.
Fried oyster sandwich at Josephine on 12th — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
Locals are loyal to Burger Up in this 'hood, and the wait is still often long, even though their sister restaurant, Josephine on 12th, opened a few months ago. The new, quaint bistro is chef driven, well priced and bubbling with local energy. Don't miss the herb-based cocktail menu and the amazing weekend brunch. If you have a sweet tooth, their desserts are often topped with next door neighbor Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream flavors.
Crab salad is a light favorite at Josephine — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
Edley's Barbecue is always packed, with a line often out the door for a taste of the daily specials or baskets of fried okra. Since opening the Filling Station (growlers of craft beer filled on request) next door, the crowd's even more continuous. So, Edley's has expanded to include more space for brisket and beer fans. The deck is a great place to hang out, catch the game and enjoy some of the city's best ribs.
One of the most talked about openings is this month. Jason and Libby Sheer, founders of Music Row's famous Tin Roof, are introducing FLIPSIDE just in time to take some pressure off of the hosts fielding guests at nearby hotspots. Chicken's the specialty, but it's no hot-chicken joint. Think less fat, pounded thin and served in seriously tempting ways in a 1950s Palm Springs atmosphere.
Sandwich seekers should hit Sloco, where in-house, organic goodness keeps getting more creative daily.
Las Paletas serves frozen treats across from the park in 12South district — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
The homes in 12South are primarily classic cottages, but the area isn't all Americana. It's now filled with ethnic flavors. Espice, a new Lebanese restaurant with minimalist decor, opened recently. It's located near Las Paletas, the top stop for a frozen treat.
Urban Grub fills the house nightly with inventive fare (Try the gluten-free rolls.) and its lively bar scene. Mafiaozas Pizza is a classic in the city. On Tuesdays, pizza and libations are two-for-one, and happy hour is daily. For daily dose, Frothy Monkey is always offering a new blend of coffee, so caffeine addicts swear by this hip meeting spot.
Food trucks like this Biscuit Love airstream are also often along 12th, capturing visitor's attention with quick gourmet fare — Photo courtesy of Stacie Standifer
No matter what part of 12th Avenue you decide to explore, you will find cuisine to fit every taste, budget and personality. It's easy to navigate, since there are no turns to seek on the GPS. Stay straight or make a U-turn, but all directions lead to delicious.