Lockeland Table: New American and small plates, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. I sat at the chef's bar, which was centered around the brick pizza oven in the back just in front of the kitchen, and the small pizzas looked and smelled amazing. If I had ordered one, I probably would have gotten the "Octopi", with octopus, tomatoes, caramelized fennel, oregano, garlic, chili oil, and Parmesan. However, what I did get was also delicious: roasted heirloom carrot and beet salad and wood fired oysters Rockefeller from the starters, and a plate of local cheeses with homemade crackers, apples, homemade almond brittle, and fig jam. The cocktails are also cool, though I can't remember what I had. Something with rye whiskey. The wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and they are happy to make substitutions whenever possible.
The Smiling Elephant is tiny inside, so go early for the best Thai meal of your life. Their Pad Thai is apparently award-winning, but I couldn't resist getting the Pad Makea, a spicy-sour stir fry with ground pork, smoky eggplant, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, and basil over jasmine rice. When we asked about the spice level of the green curry, the owner brought us a sample--it was surprisingly fresh and light with a good bit of after burn.
The Slick Pig: Enough of this frou-frou shit; if you're in Tennessee, you should get some barbecue. The Slick Pig, located in nearby Murfreesboro, seems like one of those grungy college hang-outs that is a part of graduates' memories from generations back (Murfreesboro is home to Middle Tennessee State U.). My host loves the smoked wings; I really enjoyed my "pork plate", which was a huge pile of smoky barbecued shredded pork with little cornbread pancakes, seasoned white beans, and tomato and raw onion (the true sign of authenticity). I had to do some extra jogging the next morning, but what's a trip to the South without the BBQ?!