The Most Romantic Restaurants in Nashville
For white tablecloths or just the right vibe, these are your best bets for a dinner date in Nashville.
If you’re looking for an intimate spot for a romantic meal in Nashville, you should generally steer clear of the neon valley of the urban core, unless you want to share your date with a couple of thousand rowdy partiers on the prowl. Instead, look to the outskirts of downtown or even the ‘burbs for smaller independent restaurants that go out of their way to create an ambiance for love. The city is blessed with plenty of delightful date options, and these are some of the best.
Although this classic Italian steakhouse is an import from NYC, Nashville has quickly taken to the combination of amazing food and drink along with the culinary theater happening in the open kitchen as chefs cook meat, fish, and vegetables over an open flame. Choose a secluded spot at the bar or a big, clubby leather booth with a view of the show. The impeccable service will help guide you through a memorable meal, topped off with a baked spumoni for two, flambéed tableside like your romantic ardor.
Chauhan Ale and Masala House
When celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan took over an old chophouse in a historic downtown building, Nashvillians had no idea what they were in for. Chauhan switched the menu to a playful assortment of Indian fusion cuisine and decorated the dark space in jewel tones and dramatic colorful lighting and accents. Now it’s like being invited to be a part of a Bollywood love story as soon as you sit down. The food is interactive and fun, (eat the entire gol guppa shot in one bite or you’ll end up wearing it!) and the atmosphere is always vibrant and festive.
First off, Sinema has been around longer than Arizona’s senior Senator, so that’s not where the name came from. It’s a portmanteau of “sin” and “cinema,” which makes sense because this converted movie house oozes sexiness. The glamor days of Hollywood still inform the decor, and old movies are still projected on the walls during service. The sultry upstairs lounge area is an ideal spot for an elevated cocktail before repairing to the dining room for a sensuous meal of contemporary internationally inspired cuisine. Everyone’s a star at Sinema.
In addition to serving some of the best seafood in town, Henrietta Red exudes a playful sense of fun that puts smiles on the faces of their diners. From jello shot specials to an excellent Franco-centric wine list to all sorts of regional oyster choices to get the juices flowing, it’s the perfect kickstart to an evening of canoodling. Women run the kitchen at Henrietta Red, so there’s none of that aggro attitude that can spoil a dinner because you had to listen to a chef on a Gordon Ramsey-esque rant.
Nashville’s oldest Italian restaurant is also its coziest, with small tables where you can sit knee-to-knee with your sweetie and maybe even sneak a roll out of your neighboring table’s breadbasket. The menu leans toward old-school red sauce pasta which pairs delightfully with a nice bottle of chianti.
Margot Cafe & Bar
Don’t worry if you’re not a regular patron at this East Nashville French bistro-inspired neighborhood favorite. Although many fans make regular weekly reservations, the staff treats everyone like family, and the constantly changing menu of fresh local ingredients cooked using classical techniques is the epitome of upscale comfort food.
This West Nashville fixture has been a date night destination since 2008. Miel’s dedication to hospitality includes one of the most thoughtful wine lists in town as well as impeccable service. The pandemic addition of more outdoor dining has actually been one of the best things to come out of all this mess, and an al fresco meal of Miel’s internationally inspired cuisine made with fresh and sustainable ingredients is a rare treat.
The 404 Kitchen
Start your date with a brown butter-washed Old Fashioned at Gertie’s, the downstairs whiskey bar to get ready for the epic experience that awaits above at The 404 Kitchen. Grab a table out on their outdoor patio to watch the craziness of The Gulch down below, or ask for a more intimate spot in the dining room as you peruse a menu of inventive takes on classic continental cuisine made extraordinary through the use of down-home Southern ingredients and techniques. Steak au poivre with bourbon cream sauce? Yes, please.
Take a trip back to the middle of the past century, to the days when elegant hotel dining was the peak of sophistication. A romantic trip through history at The Continental in the Grand Hyatt should include classic cocktails, prime rib carved tableside from a rolling cart, artfully plated dishes with intricate garnishes prepared by a masterful staff and some of the most decadent desserts in town. The new caviar and martini tasting experience at The Vesper Club is a fine before-dinner or instead-of-dinner option, as well. For a unique experience that feels like you’re not dining in Nashville or hell, even in the 21st century, The Continental is an essential destination.
While people throw around the oxymoronic term “casual fine dining” way too often, at Midtown Cafe, that descriptive term really fits. They’re used to catering to tourists, politicians, actors, and music stars on a daily basis, and the experienced staff treats all their patrons like the most important customer in the room. National food magazines have begged for the secret recipe to their lemon artichoke soup for years, but they ain’t getting it. You, however, should definitely get it as a starter to kick off a meal of approachable elevated cuisine.
Chef Deb Paquette is known for being full of surprises. Reading one of her menus at Etch is like taking a master course in international cuisine, with unexpected global flavors layered on top of each other to create taste sensations that are delightfully unfamiliar to most palates. The fun of the experience is discovering upscale cuisine without feeling any hint of pretentiousness coming from the obviously extremely talented kitchen staff. Pay the ticket, go for the ride and revel in the experimentation for an entertaining date night in the heart of downtown.
The view from Bourbon Steak on the 34th story of the JW Marriott downtown is so breathtaking that you’ll need to concentrate to keep your attention on your date. Fortunately, the high-end steakhouse fare on your plate will draw your gaze downward at least occasionally so that you don’t get completely lost in the vistas. In addition to luxury steaks, their signature lobster pot pie served tableside is definitely something you can share with your sweetie to make up for your wandering eyes.
Rolf & Daughters
Sometimes, dates enjoy a little challenge. Rather than heading to something exhausting like a ropes course to strengthen your relationship through trust falls, why not expand your palate’s horizons instead? Rolf & Daughters continues to stretch the limits of expected Italianesque cuisine by experimenting with fermentations and exotic ingredients to create truly unique food. While the sweet corn agnolotti and pasta with pork ragu are absolute musts when they are in season, don’t be afraid to stretch your boundaries by ordering something unfamiliar. You will undoubtedly be rewarded.
For such a small restaurant, Josephine offers a lot of choices of what sort of dining experience you’re looking for. The convivial bar is a fantastic spot to meet your love for a quick happy hour before dining in clubby banquette booths, cozy tables or the coveted outdoor patio seating. The menu is a fascinating hybrid of Southern and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine prepared using classical European cooking techniques. It’s like encountering Betty Groff and Julia Child at a tractor pull.
Renowned as a shrine to Southern food, a romantic dinner at Husk can feel like dining in a friend’s house. That makes sense because the building was actually built as the home of a 19th-century Nashville mayor, and it’s been carefully designed to maintain that homey feel, even with its lovely elegant decor scheme. The kitchen is maniacally committed to local and seasonal ingredients, and the menu changes daily based on what comes through the back door of the kitchen every morning.