Peg Leg Porker BBQ
903 Gleaves St., The Gulch
Excellent barbecue isn’t exactly hard to find around Nashville. And while we’re certainly not experts in the delicate art of stoking a smoker—or the exact subtleties of West Tennessee-style hogs—we are expert eaters and Peg Leg Porker does not disappoint. Open since 2013 and helmed by pitmaster Carey Bringle, this joint draws a loyal and hungry crowd day in day out craving those heavy platters of fork-tender brisket, mouthwatering pulled pork, and of course, amazing sides.
2706 12th Ave S, 12South
Brisket tacos, perfectly smoked ribs, and the burnt-ends platter with cornbread and a side of grits casserole are what keep regulars coming back to this 12South spot. The cocktails are stellar, too—the Bitter Goat is a refreshing lime and ginger beer concoction—and the atmosphere is always buzzing and friendly. There are enough veggie sides to ensure the non-meat-eaters don’t go hungry, and Edley’s is famous for its desserts, like the chocolate fudge pie and banana pudding. For those who can't make it to 12South, there are two other locations in Sylvan Park and East Nashville.
2526 12th Ave. S, 12South
Bartaco also has a few locations in Connecticut, and you can definitely feel the East Coast vibe when you walk inside: The patio is white-washed with blue cushions and accents, and the hanging pendants inside are made from woven baskets. The garage doors separating the patio from the restaurant open wide on warm evenings, where it's nice to bond with their well-tended cocktail list (favorites are the margarita, the mojito, and a bold blend of chorizo spice, reposado, and mezcal called the CLT). If you’re staying to eat, trays of guacamole, salsa, and an assortment of tacos take the stress out of ordering for a crowd. Their outpost in Atlanta is also a favorite. Photos: Chun Yip So
The Catbird Seat
1711 Division St., Midtown
This tiny restaurant above Patterson House only holds 22 seats, and serves an intimate tasting menu that's given it a reputation that extends far beyond the city of Nashville. The restaurant also acts as a chef incubator, designed to regularly introduce new chefs to the city, and recently anointed executive chef Will Aghajanian and pastry chef Liz Johnson are actually the fourth iteration in the establishment's relatively short history.
2902 12th Ave. S, 12South
Fresh-tasting Lebanese cuisine is still unfamiliar to a lot of people, and casual Epice (which takes its name from the French word for spice) offers a welcoming way in. Dishes are light and vegetable-heavy—favorites include the lamb shank or the Sayadeya, a lean, spicy filet of fish served with caramelized onions and vermicelli rice.
Le Sel (Closed)
1922 Adelicia St., Midtown
Brothers Ben and Max Goldberg's Strategic Hospitality group is behind some of the most beloved restaurants in Nashville, including Patterson House (along with The Catbird Seat, upstairs), Bastion, Henrietta Red and Pinewood. Le Sel is their spin on a classic French joint, featuring oysters, a great roast chicken, and moules frites. The decor, on the other hand, is a lot less classic—the space is filled with cool, off-beat art and decorated with quirky feminine touches like pink velvet banquettes and black-and-white striped painted floors.
33 Peabody St., Downtown
Pinewood calls itself "a place to meet," which is really the most accurate description of this hybrid between bar, restaurant, coffee shop, and (dare we say) rec center. It's open from early in the morning when you can camp out with a coffee and enjoy the free WiFi, until late in the evening, when groups congregate with cocktails around the bocce courts and bowling lanes. There are two pools in the back, alongside an airstream trailer that actually has its own menu, and a wide patio that makes a great spot for pre-dinner drinks. The menu is surprisingly good for a place with so much going on—you'll find an excellent fried chicken, lobster roll, grain bowl and fried broccoli.
The Southern Steak & Oyster
150 3rd Ave. S., Downtown
A central gathering place in the busting SoBro neighborhood downtown, the Southern occupies the first floor of the Pinnacle at Symphony Place, a new skyscraper that (impressively) is LEED-certified. The restuarant itself also takes sustainability seriously, serving locally-grown produce and fueling their wood-fired grill with salvaged hickory on top of the requisite non-toxic cleaning products and ambitious recycling program. Food-wise, the specialties are freshly shucked oysters, which you can order at the oyster bar, and an old-school steak menu. Also good to know in this parking-sparse area: Valet is on the house.
316 11th Ave. S, The Gulch
Karl and Sarah Worley started Biscuit Love as a food truck (an Airstream they lovingly named Lilly, to be specific), selling their biscuit-based menu at farmers markets around the city. The streamlined yet vintage-inspired design is reminiscent of Lilly, with clean walls and white brick making the open space feel airy and summery, and a marquee sign that says "NASHVILLE" as the focal point. The menu is also largely the same, offering breakfast and brunch all week long and relying heavily on biscuits as a vehicle to deliver everything from homemade jam to hot chicken sandwiches. Other locations include Hillsboro Village and Downtown Franklin.
2316 12th Ave. S, 12South
Josephine is located in 12South along a major shopping thoroughfare, so it's a nice spot to keep in mind before or after an afternoon spent in the neighborhood's boutiques. During the day, light streams in through wide garage windows, and the space is airy and bright—in the evenings, the lights are dim, and the leather banquettes make it a nice, romantic date-night spot. The menu has a little bit of everything, from an excellent whole chicken for two to small plates (don't leave without trying the pretzel bread).
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