12 South Restaurants
2526 12th Ave. S., 12 South
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
2316 12th Ave. S., 12 South
Josephine is located in 12 South 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 chicken thigh to small plates (don't leave without trying the pretzel bread).
The Smiling Elephant
2213 8th Ave. S., 12 South
Nashville's not exactly known for amazing Asian food, but Smiling Elephant's pad thai definitely gives bigger-city Thai spots a run for their money. The cozy spot operates out of a tiny cottage in 12 South, with a little stone porch out front for al fresco dining in the summer; it's also owned by the sweetest family imaginable. Pad thai is the obvious order, but their curries are excellent, as are the spring rolls and the warm, soothing ginger tea.
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