Last week, I filled y’all in on all the East Nashville and Germantown spots that I fell in love with during our Memorial Day trip. I hadn’t explored those neighborhoods as much on previous trips to Tennessee, and I just couldn’t get enough of their hipster vibe. Today, however, I’m going to take you through a few of the spots, 12South and the Gulch, that are a bit more on the radar, but they’re well known for a reason – because they have great good, great shopping, and great cocktails. Also, I’d promised 2 travel guides, but, it’s going to be 3. Next week, I’ll wrap it up with Broadway, Hillsboro, and, most importantly, hot chicken.
NASHVILLE’S HOT NEIGHBORHOODS
If you’re headed down to Nashville, chances are you’ve heard of 12South and the Gulch. Both are more recent additions to the scene, they’ve already established their place in Nashville’s landscape. Taylor Swift was rumored to have lived in the Gulch at one point, and that’ll certainly do wonders for a neighborhood’s reputation.
12South is an adorable neighborhood where you’ll find trendy restaurants, Draper James of Reese Witherspoon fame, and, of course, the I Believe in Nashville mural that had to have been painted for Instagram (I saw a girl sitting on top of a Jeep parked in front of it, in jean shorts and a tank, throwing up a peace sign, and her patient boyfriend taking beaucoup des photos – no judgement here).
WHERE TO EAT
What I love about 12South’s restaurants is that there’s everything from the super casual to the upscale and trendy. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
- Five Daughters Bakery: I had to start here because we somehow ended up with a new treat from Five Daughters every single day in Nashville. I’d highly recommend the Maple Bacon donut, though you also can’t go wrong with their cookies.
- Frothy Monkey: A cute spot to stop in for a cup of coffee, Frothy Monkey gets a good mix of locals and 12South tourists. You can feel the sense of community when you walk in – there are definitely lots of regulars.
- Edley’s Bar-B-Que: This was the first place I ever ate in Nashville and it’s continued to be one of my all time favorites. Get the brisket before it sells out and definitely don’t skip the banana pudding.
- Burger Up: Tired of barbecue and hot chicken? Head to Burger Up to grab a classic burger and a side of fried pickles.
- Josephine: Serving what they call “American farmhouse cuisine,” Josephine is a gorgeously simple spot for a nice date night out. Elevated farmhouse is definitely a thing right now, but Josephine executes it perfectly.
- Bartaco: We stopped here for lunch as soon as we got into town. With whitewashed shiplap, pops of blue, and waiters clad in gingham, they’ve got their brand down pat – they also have their gourmet tacos and cocktails down to a science. I’d recommend the duck tacos and the paloma fresca.
- Taquieria del Sol: If you’re in the mood for quick Mexican and tacos that are slightly less complicated than Bartaco’s, Tacuiqera del Sol is your place. Another bright, cherry space, this one serves classic tacos with a Southern twist.
- Urban Grub: We ate and ate and ate here. There’s everything from oysters to flatbreads, and I might have tried one of everything despite being absolutely stuffed at this point in our trip. I got the short rib enchiladas and had zero regrets.
WHERE TO SHOP
These days, everyone comes to 12South to check out Reese Witherspoon’s charming Southern store by the name of Draper James, but that’s not all there is in 12South. You’ll find boutiques at every price point and something for everyone.
- Draper James: Okay, we’ll just start here. It’s adorable. It’s perfectly branded. I can’t get enough of Reese’s sparkling smile all across their Instagram feed and her tailored, preppy designs. Go there (and maybe balk at the prices).
- White’s Mercantile: One of my favorite shops in all of Nashville, White’s Mercantile is a beautifully curated shop carrying men’s, women’s, baby, home, kitchen…basically everything you could want and everything is so, so Southern hipster. I almost convinced myself I needed a decanter and old fashioned glass set with mallards in flight etched into them.
- Moda Boutique: A cute women’s shop at a mid-high price point. There were adorable dresses and tops all in shades of neutral, navy, ivory, and black.
- Serendipity: I bought my first jumpsuit here! The price point is perfect for picking up something fun to wear on vacation – I think my jumpsuit was $40. You’ll find trendy women’s clothing and cute homewares and gifts.
- Savant Vintage: I fell head over heels in love with a 3/4 length ivory fur coat here…that was $500. I almost bought it, justifying I’d wear it for the wedding and for the rest of my life. But, luckily, I resisted (wait, not luckily, because I’m still thinking about it!). You’ll also find lots of brightly colored Pucci dresses in this vintage treasure box.
- Vinnie Louise: Another cute shop akin to Serendipity, this store has lots of cute, trendy dresses and accessories at a great price point. I bought a neutral straw clutch here that I’ve been carrying every since – and it was $18.
- Judith Bright: I didn’t actually go in here, but I’ve been following her for a year or so now and she makes the most beautiful gold and gemstone jewelry. The shop is in a cute little bungalow right on 12South.
I’ll be 100% honest here, the Gulch is not my favorite Nashville neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination, but I do get that it has an appeal for a lot of people that visit the area. It’s shiny, it’s new – which means it also has more large chain restaurants than the rest of Nashville, so just go in with that expectation.
WHERE TO EAT
L.A. Jackson, atop the Thompson Nashville Hotel, is a mid-century design paradise (as is the whole hotel). I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the decor with it’s 1960’s silhouettes, neutral color palettes punctuated by pops of neon, and its quirky accents. Add in an unbeatable view of Nashville, and you have the perfect spot to grab dinner, a drink, or the ridiculous ice cream sandwich I’m eating in the image below.
WHERE TO SHOP
If you’re looking to shop, Two Old Hippies is a solid choice for your first stop. It’s a massive lifestyle store with men’s, women’s, home, and an impressive selection of Southern cookbooks. Despite the name, the shop is well organized, impeccably organized, and, again, hits that Southern hipster note perfectly. Forget to bring your cowboy boots to Music City? There’s a Luchesse location in the Gulch to outfit all your high-end cowboy needs.
Okay, that’s 2 more Nashville neighborhoods down, 4 total, and now I just have 2 more to cover for you! Next week, I’ll share my recommendations on Broadway, Hillsboro, and, of course, I’ll give you my tips on the best hot chicken in town. Plus, I’ll have a little day trip bonus for you, so stay tuned!