12 restaurants ideal for date night in Nashville

A pink and brown table at Iberian Pig in Nashville with tapas including stuffed piquillo peppers, roasted carrots in coconut milk, marinated Spanish olives, and more

Whether you’ve been married for a decade or just bravely swiped right, there’s a pitch-perfect Nashville restaurant for you. Break the ice with a sushi-rolling class at a pan-Asian favorite. Dial up the heat on a weekly date night with dinner and a burlesque show. Take your relationship to the next stage at a seasonal American spot in a historic movie theater.

This guide pairs Nashville restaurants with romantic occasions from first dates all the way to milestone anniversaries. These are Nashville’s 12 best date-night restaurants.

For a first date

Blanco Cocina + Cantina – Nashville (Downtown)

A first date at Blanco Cocina + Cantina feels like a stroll through a stylish Mexican street fair, full of bright colors and plants. If you’re just testing the waters, opt for happy hour, where you can grab tacos and a tequila cocktail, like the crowd-fave jalapeño and pineapple margarita. For a full-on dinner, get the Tucson chimichanga with short rib machaca and carne asada fajitas—plus a bowl of warm queso to share.

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Chauhan Ale & Masala House (The Gulch & North Gulch)

Chef Maneet Chauhan’s first Nashville restaurant is peak first-date material. Grab a seat at the bar to take in the quirky brick garage surroundings—unless you’re too distracted by your date. Cocktails and apps that shout out Chauhan’s Indian and Southern connections are the way to go here, and include pub grub like hot chicken pakoras. If you’re seeing green flags, graduate to the dinner menu which stars more traditional South Asian hits like tandoori chicken and paneer. 

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For a second date

The Optimist – Nashville (Germantown)

The dining room at the Optimist in Nashville has dim lights and a colorful stained-glass wall.
The Optimist’s industrial-chic interiors include dim lights and a colorful stained-glass wall. | Credit: The Optimist – Nashville

Get better acquainted over super-fresh, sustainably sourced seafood at The Optimist. Despite Tennessee’s landlocked setting, the vibes are definitely coastal here—and the dim lights fuel a flirty atmosphere. Share a plateaux piled high with oysters, shrimp, ceviche, smoked fish dip, and more, available in different sizes. Or get a dish that pairs Southern-grown produce with seafood from further away like mahi mahi with foraged mushrooms and nduja butter.

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Ophelia’s Pizza + Bar – Nashville (Downtown)

Ophelia’s walls are lined with European artifacts that make great conversation starters. | Credit: Ophelia’s Pizza + Bar – Nashville

From the lively streetside patio to the comforting Italian American dishes, Ophelia’s aces the second-date test. There’s an entire wall crammed with framed photographs and pictures that bring a slice of Europe to downtown Nashville; they also make good conversation-starters in case you run into any awkward pauses. Come for brunch or dinner, and don’t skip the bechamel-soaked lasagna—arguably the best in town—and pepperoni pie with hot honey, ghost-pepper salt, and Calabrian chile. 

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For a cozy and intimate evening

Red Pony Restaurant (Franklin)

Red Pony is the kind of cozy-chic gem you and your date can happily become regulars at. Between the brick walls, stunning paintings, and elegant light fixtures, the downtown Franklin charmer feels like an elegant extension of your dining room. And then there’s the food—a beautiful mashup of chef Jason McConnell’s Southern heritage and his global travels. Dishes like shrimp and garlic-cheese grits and grilled mahi with Tanzanian curry will have you plotting your return.

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For an anniversary or romantic milestone

Sinema (Melrose)

A server pours Champagne into a coupe glass on a table topped with rose petals and a charcuterie board at Sinema in Nashville
Sinema is a glamorous restaurant set in a former movie theater that feels made for anniversary celebrations. | Credit: Sinema

Sinema drips with Old Hollywood glamor that’s ideal for an epic anniversary celebration. For starters, it lives in a former movie theater with its grand original staircase. The decor matches Sinema’s refined menu of hits like pan-seared scallops with spinach orzotto, lemon spinach mignonette, and black garlic brown butter. If you’re celebrating a major milestone, splurge for the five-course tasting menu. Don’t forget to toast with a rare whiskey—Sinema’s collection includes over 200 kinds.

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Harper’s – Nashville (Downtown)

Everything at Harper’s is dressed to impress, from its stylish interior archways to a menu that includes premium cuts of meat and one impressive raw bar. Celebrate a special occasion by cozying up in a banquette and get a massive tomahawk to share. If you’re drinking, consider cocktails like the tropical, vodka-forward Amalfi Sunburn or the smoky That One Night in Guadalajara, made with prickly pear and mezcal, and you’ll be ready for that celebratory getaway as soon as you finish dessert. 

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For group dates

Germantown Cafe (Germantown)

Marinated pork tenderloin with savory plum sauce, mashed potatoes, and haricots verts at Germantown Cafe in Nashville
Shareable Southern hits mean Germantown Cafe is especially well-equipped for group hangouts. | Credit: Germantown Cafe

This inviting staple is all about shareable old-school Southern recipes like marinated pork tenderloin with savory plum sauce and a locally loved apple pie à la mode with brown-sugar walnut butter. Make it a double date and bring friends to the cafe’s lively boozy brunch scene, fueled by mimosas, frosés, and bloody marys, and you’ll see why it’s one of the most sought-after group hangout spots in town.

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Iberian Pig – Nashville (The Gulch) 

This Atlanta-born spot is Nashville’s newest tapas go-to. Take a crew to jamon happy hour on weeknights for a chef’s selection of charcuterie and discounted sangrias, then make way for Spanish small plates to pass around—if your group is feeling super ambitious, pre-order a whole suckling pig for $95 per person. Depending on the kind of vibe you’re all craving, there’s a dim indoor dining room or a rooftop patio with sweeping downtown views.

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For an adventurous and transportive date

Sunda New Asian – Nashville (The Gulch)

An art installation that looks like a school of fish hovers over the black-topped bar at Sunda in Nashville.
Sunda’s transportive interiors feature an art installation resembling a school of fish. | Credit: Sunda New Asian – Nashville

Sunda’s pan-Asian menu will take you and your date on a whirlwind tour of Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. There’s dim sum to share, a full sushi bar, and entrees like pan-seared sushi rice with ghee and tamari, topped with a choice of wagyu or spicy tuna. Sign up for the restaurant’s monthly sushi-rolling and try your hand at maki making together.

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For an evening of eatertainment

Skull’s Rainbow Room (Downtown)

Dinner always comes with a show at Skull’s Rainbow Room, which has perfected the craft cocktail and steak game since opening in 1948. You and your date can move to the tunes of talented artists who take the venue’s checkerboard stage; the Rainbow Room’s past performers have included legends like Etta James, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan. A burlesque show (beginning at 11 pm on weekends) turns up the heat on date night.

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For a proposal-worthy place

The River House – Nashville (Downtown)

If you’re popping the big question, head straight to The River House, a modern, high-ceilinged escape. With the Ryman Auditorium and Schermerhorn Symphony Center just a stone’s throw away, The River House is also a no-brainer for a blockbuster pre-show dinner. Expect updated steakhouse faithfuls like prime New York strip, Chilean sea bass, and one of the tastiest wedge salads in town. Luxe banquettes and soft mood lighting provide just the right backdrop for an ultra-romantic proposal.

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Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Kellie Walton is a food, drink and travel writer based outside of Nashville. Follow her adventures and eats on Instagram at @kellie.benz.

Find your table for any occasion