Undoubtably one of the most stylish spots in Nashville, the Melrose/12 South area presents a smorgasbord of food, fashion and architecture lovers (if you’re the latter, a stroll through 12 South’s historic homes is well worth it). All of the usual hits are here: restaurants, boutiques, bars and more brunch options than you can eat in a week. Nearby Belmont and Vanderbilt Universities add to the youthful vibe of these neighborhoods. The two main streets that harbor these neighborhoods (8th Ave South and 12th Avenue South) are bustling with businesses and passerbys but sandwiched between them, the stately and historic bungalows and nearby Sevier Park (home to an excellent Farmers Market) create a more residential, old-school feel. It’s an area where you get to feel city living and a neighborhood vibe all in one. If you’re looking for neon lights, honky tonks and more nightlife, drive just about 2.5 miles (about 10-15 minutes by car) and you’ll be on lower Broadway in Downtown Nashville.
Where to Eat in Melrose/12 South
Best for Breakfast (and Brunch):
Fenwick’s 300. We’ll get to brunch in a bit! But for a good, traditional breakfast, Fenwick’s 300 is an excellent option. Family-friendly and open from 7AM – 2PM daily, this is Richard’s fave breakfast spot.
Frothy Monkey. Frothy Monkey leans more to the “cafe” side. They’re known for their coffees and creative espresso drinks but their hot breakfast is a must try. Our top is the architect omelet which will also come with a slide of their home-made bread (they also have gluten free). Not in the mood for a full breakfast, snag one of their daily pastries! Their outdoor seating is great for families and the pups.
Five Daughters. A donut lover’s delight, with an adorable aesthetic to boot. They’re known for their 100-layer “cronut-style” donut with a variety of unique, fun flavors that vary by the season. Super-convenient for picking up a few (or a dozen) of everyone’s favorite breakfast-dessert. They have vegan and paleo options, too!
Josephine. Gourmet comfort food at its best. Don’t miss the biscuits and the chicken and waffles. Service can be a bit slow, so save it for when you’re not in a rush.
Lovely for Lunch:
ML Rose. A runner-up for the brunch list, with two-for-one drinks, ML Rose in Melrose (get it?!) is great for lunch, too. One of the best burgers in town along with some great bloody marys (in case it wasn’t clear, we love bloody mary’s) but also an extensive craft beer list. The Melrose location also has an outdoor bier garten to enjoy.
Hattie B’s Chicken. Nashville’s reputation as a full-fledged foodie city is thanks in part to its signature dish—hot chicken. Hattie B’s in Melrose is the place to go for it. Bonus: it tends to be less-crowded than the original Hattie B’s in Midtown.
Delicious for Dinner:
Urban Grub. They do meat and cheese right and it’s one of the few places these Florida born hosts will eat seafood in landlocked Nashville. 🙂 They offer an upscale farm to table menu and have something for everyone with their wide range of options in both food selection and price. When guests ask us for the best place to take a larger group this is definitely our go to. Enjoy their inside or outside seating. Their outside patio is also dog-friendly!
Mafioza’s Pizza. Not only do they have a variety of excellent pizza choices, they have a great two-for-one happy hour to enjoy. If you’re into simple pizza, go for the Associate (that’s Richard’s favorite- he’s a simple guy). Personally, I like to customize my pie there and end up with a $27 pizza because I add so many toppings. 🙂 They do also offer gluten free that is one of the best gluten free crusts I’ve tasted. Dine-in, carry out or enjoy their outdoor patio.
Smiling Elephant. Authentic Thai cuisine in a laidback setting. This may look like a hole in the wall but it boasts the best Thai place in the US in my humble opinion. This is a very traditional thai restaurant so it’s less sweet and more basil forward and most dishes have a lot of kick. If you’re not into spicy, just ask them to go easy. Try the The Pad Kra Pao (personally, I like to select crab as my meat). This is also a great option for vegan, vegetarian and gluten conscious meals. Note: they do not serve alcohol.
If you just want to sip something delicious, we recommend Craft Brewed for, well, craft brews and 12 South Taproom for a little bit of everything (but definitely try the craft brews). Sinema is a bit more upscale with a unique atmosphere and full cocktail menu.
What to Do in Melrose/12 South
Shopping: In 12 South, the boutiques are as numerous as its brunches. If you’re visiting with your girlfriends, make an afternoon of strolling the shops featuring timeless Southern pieces, like Draper James (owned by Southern belle and Nashville native Reese Witherspoon). Or find your next favorite pair of jeans at imogene + willie. For a gift to take home that represents Nashville and the South, definitely check out White’s Mercantile.
Music: The well-known epicenter of Nashville’s music scene (Broadway/downtown) is an easy 10-minute drive or Uber ride away from the Melrose and 12 South area, but you should also pop into local, low-key favorites like Douglas Corner Cafe and The Basement.
A good laugh: The Gulch and Melrose neighborhoods both claim this one but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to go with Melrose! Zanie’s Comedy Night Club is just off of 8th Avenue and has hosted some of the biggest headliners in the comedy world. Be sure to check out their calendar to see if your visit aligns with your favorite act.
Outdoors: Check out the grassy lawns at one of Nashville’s many public parks. Sevier Park in 12 South is a particularly good one, with lots of space for kids, dogs and family picnics. If you’re in Nashville on a Tuesday evening in May through October, don’t miss the Farmers Market, with your pick of food trucks and vendors from 3:30PM – 6:30 PM.
Head over to our Trip Ideas page for more ideas for how to spend your time in East Nashville—depending on the type of trip you plan to take: Girls Getaway, Couples Weekend, Family Trip, Nashville First Timers.
And if you’re looking for a delightful home base in the Melrose/12 South area, we offer 2 design-forward studios to sleep 2-8 people. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about our properties or the area!