Like everyone else, we’re mourning the missed opportunities to travel and explore as we remain close to home as the COVID situation drags on (and on). While we may not be sight-seeing on foreign shores or lounging on island beaches just yet—one facet of traveling that we aren’t missing out on is tasting authentic flavors from faraway destinations. Luckily, Music City’s dining scene is surviving the pandemic for the most part, and some of the most beloved spots offer a taste of something exotic to satisfy our wanderlust. Follow along as we visit a few of the most notable local haunts serving up destination-inspired cuisine that will instantly transport your palate…. and your mindset.
If you haven’t visited the quaint but distinctive Lebanese dining hotspot tucked away on 12South, you’re missing out. You can get a hint of spice just walking past the well-appointed patio and count on much more once you’ve chosen a few items from their simple but impressive menu. The flavors are global, but the personalities are very local, with the family of owners always on hand with a smile, joke or menu recommendation. We love it as much for a romantic dinner as we do for a girl’s night happy hour – as the tables are situated to suit couples as well as small groups. The intimate space flanked with blond wood feels fresh and inviting no matter what the occasion or time of day.
This trip, it was Edit team members celebrating the winding-down of the workweek. The wine was flowing, and the shared plates kept coming. From start to finish, the entire experience was phenomenal, which is what we have come to expect at Epice.
This is a true neighborhood restaurant with a strong local following. The crowd is a mix of 12 South dwellers, area professionals and a continual stream of entertainment industry artists and execs. The atmosphere calls for casual but chic attire, with a clearly well-heeled crowd often choosing to relax in jeans, which are totally appropriate attire here. You’ll also see little black dresses, so don’t be shy about dressing up if you’re in the mood. Anything goes as long as you keep ‘city chic’ in mind.
We have lots of menu favorites, and our order depends on what the savvy servers suggest that day. Standby items (always ordered for the table) are the Hummos (try it with the ground sirloin and pine nuts), stuffed grape leaves, and the Manoushi—which is a spiced-up version of flatbread known to be addictive. When you’re ‘being good’ or sticking to a veggie regime – the Peasant Salad or Roasted Vegetables are guilt-free but delicious and filling. And when you arrive with an appetite, don’t even think about skipping over the Lahmeh. This perfectly prepared rack of lamb crusted in pistachio and served with lentils is possibly one of the best entrees in the city.
The cocktail menu is comprised of only five specialties – but they are each actually special and hand-crafted for pure enjoyment. Go throwback chic with a French 75 or go wild with the ‘Don’t ya wanna, wanna Mezcal.’ Where Epice truly stands out is the wine offerings. With choice sparkling and fine wines by the glass (reasonably priced), you can try more than one from their list. For a dinner with friends, a bottle from their unique collection is the best choice, as this is the place to try something that’s far from the typical offering on most local lists.