Over the last 10 years, 12South has undergone quite the renaissance, going from a high-crime neighborhood south of downtown to a hip haven for local businesses and bachelorettes. While the neighborhood’s growth has come with its share of crowds and condos, it’s still one of the best places in town to explore a variety of locally-owned Nashville businesses – with a quite a few that are essential parts of the fabric of the city.
Creative, stylish and walkable, 12South is the perfect neighborhood for spending a Nashville afternoon. Whether you want to stroll, sip or shop, here are 12 of our favorite spots in 12South.
What do you get when you combine booze, tomato juice, fried chicken, tater tots and crab legs (yes, we said crab legs)? The Fix, The Flipside’s take on a Bloody Mary...and dinner…and maybe brunch, too. This super fun, family-friendly spot is known for its delicious chicken dishes, milkshakes and Bloody Marys that double as a meal. And with its ‘50s retro interior, it’s also the perfect spot for an Insta-worthy photo op.
Burger Up, a pioneer of the 12South food scene, is one of those perfect-for-any-occasion spots with high-quality casual fare and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Laid back enough to swing by when you don’t feel like cooking but classy enough for a date, Burger Up serves gourmet burgers, fresh cut fries, and house-made Jack Daniel’s maple ketchup (you’ll understand once you try it). Cozy up around its communal farm tables or beautiful barn wood bar and enjoy one of those places that makes 12South what it is.
12 South Taproom
Where Cheers meets the craft beer scene, 12 South Taproom is everything you want in a neighborhood bar. With an expansive covered patio and a large, rotating craft beer selection, this is one of our favorite spots for day drinking and people watching.
One of the most dramatic buildings on the block, Urban Grub is housed in a renovated car wash with upscale rustic décor, fire pits and a beer garden. Though it’s known for its super fresh seafood (impressive for a landlocked state) and house-made charcuterie, what keeps us coming back is its mouth-watering brunch. From hot chicken and waffles to healthier options like quinoa bowls, this is one mid-morning meal you don’t want to miss.
Five Daughters Bakery
Five Daughters Bakery takes donuts to a whole new level with their signature 100-layer baking style and insane flavors like chocolate sea salt, cinnamon crunch and our favorite: maple bacon. And with paleo and a gluten-free options, this is a spot you “donut” want to miss (like most things about Five Daughters, we couldn’t resist ;)).
Let’s be honest: you’re never too old for a popsicle. Las Paletas serves up authentic Mexican-style ice pops, all crafted from fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs. Fruit-based flavors include pineapple with chili and hibiscus, while creamier, ice cream-like bars come in flavors such as peanut butter chocolate and butter pecan. We love grabbing a paleta and strolling through Sevier Park across this street. This beautiful urban park, nestled on a hill at the end of the 12South neighborhood, is the perfect place for a picnic or an afternoon with a good book.
The newest addition from Bongo Java (one of the Nashville’s first coffee roasting companies), this daytime café serves a wide range of breakfast and lunch foods, signature coffee drinks and baked-fresh pastries. BOX’s light and airy space is the perfect place to perch up and get some work done in between yoga and shopping.
Firepot Tea Bar
This isn’t your grandmother’s sweet tea. Firepot Tea Bar sources exotic teas from all over the world and brings them to Nashville in its boho chic shop. Purchase any number of whole leaf teas and blends to take home or order a steeped-right-there fresh tea or seasonal specialty drink from the menu. The chai is the shop’s signature, though you can’t go wrong any of the iced options on a hot Southern day.
Owned by Holly Williams (the daughter of Hank Williams Jr.. NBD.), White’s Mercantile is a modern take on the general store, with a curated collection of all the Pinteresty things from Brooklyn to the Bay Area. A slightly hipster, slightly rustic aesthetic runs through everything, from the building itself to the collection of goods. With everything from candles and leather goods to kitchenware and regional food favorites, White’s is the perfect place to pick up a gift or 10 things you didn’t know you needed but you’re very glad you found.
Imogene + Willie
Got good jeans? Imogene + Willie does. Started by a husband and wife duo and named for their grandparents, the family-run Imogene + Willie creates high-end and custom denim, along with an assortment of other to-die-for minimalist pieces. The shop is housed in a renovated service station that has anchored 12South since the early days of the neighborhood’s transformation. This stunning shop is still a community gathering spot, with regular dinners and concerts hosted in its backyard.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve complimented a girlfriend’s outfit just to have her tell us: “I got it at Vinnie Louise!”. This locally-owned boutique started in East Nashville and garnered quite the cult following before opening a second location in 12South. With most pieces in the shop under $50, this is the perfect place to grab a new outfit for a girls’ night out – while supporting a Nashville boss babe.
Inner Light Yoga
The perfect place to practice your poses to all your favorite songs, Inner Light Yoga combines powerful vinyasa classes with modern music to help you get into the flow AND the beat. Each class has a different musical theme, so check social media to see what you’ll be grooving to before you go. What’s more fun than bending to Beyoncé and twisting to Timberlake?
What are your favorite spots to visit in 12South?
Kristen Shoates is a Nashville-based writer and marketing strategist and one of the writers at The Nashville Guide. She is passionate about telling stories and helping entrepreneurs and world changers turn their visions into reality. Kristen co-owns Sky Studios, a Nashville music lessons and recording studio, with her husband, and in her free time, loves travel, music, books, being outdoors, and any chance for a new adventure. You can find her at www.kristenshoates.com or on Instagram @kristenshoates.
While there are literally thousands of socially conscious organizations working in our Nashville, I wanted to briefly highlight just a few mission-minded Music City businesses—some whose whole operations are designed for doing good; others who weave generosity into larger business goals.
Check out the six businesses creating a more beautiful Nashville.