Nashville is a neon-lit city, fluent in all things festive. The home of country music is now a booming bachelorette party town and a coveted weekend getaway destination. It boasts an impressive restaurant scene to boot.
Mark an extra-special birthday at a splashy supper club, backed by one of the hottest names in music. Toast an engagement at the city’s only Champagne garden, housed in a former blacksmith shop. Celebrate a professional achievement at a sophisticated seafood haven. Or add enchantment to an ordinary Friday night by reserving a table at a magic-themed venue downtown.
A visit to one of these 12 restaurants makes any occasion special, so book one of Nashville’s top spots for celebrating now.
House of Cards (Downtown)
Fine dining, craft cocktails, and a little magic collide at Nashville’s House of Cards. The 9,500-square-foot dining and entertainment venue is a special backdrop for any occasion, offering people an evening unlike any other in the area. Interiors are dark and whimsical, setting the stage for some of America’s top magicians, including Los Angeles-based hypnosis expert Nader Hanna and family entertainer Dr. Gary Flegal. The illusions and tricks pair perfectly with an expansive food menu, which kicks off with globally inspired starters such as Chinese red braised pork belly and scallop ceviche. Entrees include a variety of steaks and mains featuring ostrich, elk, and lamb. Note that diners are required to adhere to an elegant dress code and photography is not permitted.
Yolan is steered by James Beard Award winner, Tony Mantuano, a chef who previously spent decades at the MICHELIN-starred Spiaggia in Chicago. At this modern and inventive spot in The Joseph hotel, Mantuano serves house-made pastas, meats, and seafood inspired by various regions of Italy, such as scarpinocc (shoe-shaped pasta) with taleggio and cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded veal chop with lemon). Enhance any special occasion by reserving the La Tavola in La Cucina experience, an exclusive table for four perched inside the Yolan kitchen, available to book on Fridays and Saturdays. The option includes a multi-course tasting menu designed by chef de cuisine Joey Fecci, plus wine and spirit pairings served by a dedicated sommelier.
Set inside the historic Melrose Theater, Sinema takes a contemporary approach to classic American cuisine. The opulent design, timeless dishes, and exceptional service reflect the building’s storied history The grand entrance, complete with a curved staircase, exposed brick, and velvet tufted booths, is worthy of a photo op. For special occasions, try the five-course tasting menu, featuring hand-formed agnolotti, scallops with spinach orzotto, and short rib with horseradish and buttermilk potato puree. A la carte standouts include veal and beef bolognese and burrata-topped gnocchi with pork. Whiskey lovers, take note: Sinema’s bar stocks more than 200 varieties to toast your celebration with.
The Twelve Thirty Club (Downtown)
The dapper Twelve Thirty Club, a festive, multi-story dining experience in the heart of Nashville, comes from renowned restaurateur Sam Fox and a list of high-profile partners including artist Justin Timberlake. It’s a splashy spot, sprinkled with Art Deco influences and inspired by the private supper clubs of the Prohibition Era. Celebrate an anniversary or birthday over a fresh seafood tower or a savory ribeye, dry-aged for 28 days. Keep the night going at the venue’s rooftop for a paloma spritz or classic old fashioned and sweeping city views.
Layer Cake Social Kitchen (SoBro)
Arguably Nashville’s most Instagrammable experience, Layer Cake Social Kitchen was made for special celebrations. The sprawling, choose-your-own-adventure spot includes four floors (or “layers”) of dining options and revelry. Begin on the ground floor, named The Wonder Room, featuring live music alongside a menu of starters such as pulled pork sliders and playful smaller bites including duck fat tater tots. On floor two, The Wonder Room’s limited menu expands to accommodate a full-service dining room with globally-inspired bourbon-glazed salmon and Mongolian beef. The rooftop greets visitors with a sign reading, “Til’ Death Do Us Party,” setting the stage for Layer Cake’s nightly DJs, bottle service, and large-format cocktails, ideal for group celebrations. Beneath it all sits “The Cherry Lounge,” a mysterious, intimate hideaway, bookable for private events and small groups.
Sunda – Nashville (The Gulch)
Two-time Emmy award-winning television personality Billy Dec launched Sunda New Asian in Chicago in 2009. In 2018, he brought that modern Southeast Asian experience to Nashville. Inspired by Dec’s travels, Sunda is a transportive special occasion spot. Refined cooking techniques meet bold flavors in signature dishes such as fried rice topped with pork adobo, shrimp, chicken, or vegetables; sushi, nigiri, and sashimi also feature on the menu. Feast on it all in a photogenic dining room where pops of orange and red liven up dark neutrals. Or grab a seat at the rectangle bar—an art installation, resembling a school of fish, floats above. In addition to dinner service, Sunda offers a regular happy hour, a weekend brunch, and private rooms for larger gatherings.
There’s no better spot to ring in a special occasion than Nashville’s only Champagne garden. Serving bubbles year-round on its outdoor terrace, Germantown’s Geist calls for celebratory toasts. Housed in one of Nashville’s oldest buildings, the restaurant draws its name from the blacksmith shop that opened there in 1886. These days, the sophisticated yet unfussy haunt offers a step back in time with its exposed brick interiors, dazzling chandeliers, and plush seats. The American and European menu merges modern and vintage dishes such as pan-roasted branzino and braised lamb shank. Celebration-worthy sides include ricotta-infused creamed corn and crispy marble potatoes with Calabrian chile aioli.
The Optimist – Nashville (Germantown)
The Optimist, a haven for fresh seafood, comes from renowned restaurateur Ford Fry (of Superica fame). In the former TD&W Handle Company building, the restaurant welcomes diners into an elegant bar adorned with stained glass; other spaces include a large dining room with an open kitchen and a breezy patio. The menu, well-suited for birthdays, date nights, or just an extra special Friday night, promises high-quality, sustainable seafood. Think oysters from the Alabama coast, sea scallops from Maine, and whole-roasted Georgia trout. The seafood pairs exceptionally well with coastal cocktails such as “the pleasure cruise” (vodka, hibiscus, ginger, lemon, and club soda) and the colorful, gin-based “into the sunset.”
Nada – Nashville (Midtown)
Nada, with four outposts in neighboring states, brings its vibrant taqueria and pan-Latin dishes to Nashville’s Midtown. Its bright interiors encourage lively conversation. Celebrate a milestone over a beer can-roasted Peruvian chicken served with papas fritas. If you’re partying with a group, share plates of cumin-roasted beets and shrimp ceviche. Round out your festive meal with a cocktail from the bar—a classic margarita, paloma, or sangria all hit the spot.
Skull’s Rainbow Room (Printer’s Alley)
Since 1948, Skull’s Rainbow Room in Printer’s Alley has offered one of the city’s most iconic nights out. Its tin ceilings, low lights, and heavy velvet curtains call for more intimate occasions. Start with a cocktail from one of its renowned bartenders; must-tries include the scotch-based “great Scott” or the bourbon and citrus-forward “sarge”. For your main meal, choose from French American classics such as red wine demi-braised short rib and roasted half chicken. Dinner comes with a side of entertainment—once graced by Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, Skull’s famous black-and-white stage showcases some of the area’s best performers on a nightly basis, from jazz bands to burlesque dancers.
Up the ante on date night at this unique South Asian American restaurant, fueled by chef Vivek Surti’s multicultural heritage. Designed to replicate a dinner party, the two-hour-plus experience requires a pre-booked ticket. The multi-course dinner menu rotates seasonally and may feature dishes such as dhokla (a steamed rice and lentil cake from northwestern India, where Surti’s ancestors are from) and red snapper with coconut and Thai chiles; team members share the stories that inspired each plate. For a boozier celebration, upgraded dinner tickets offer drink pairings. The personalized space is an ode to Surti’s family history: the crystal chandelier that decorated his childhood home serves as a striking focal point.
Red Pony Restaurant (Franklin/Brentwood)
Red Pony puts a sophisticated spin on contemporary Southern dining. It’s the first restaurant from owner and executive chef Jason McConnell, who operates some of south Nashville’s most popular restaurants (55 South and Cork & Cow). The tony spot in a century-old building promises an elegant evening with a Southern twist, best for quieter occasions. The menu spans both the land and sea with highlights such as shrimp and grits and beef tenderloin with blue cheese corn risotto. Cap off a special night with a stroll through Downtown Franklin’s charming city streets.
Kellie Walton Benz is a food, drink and travel writer based outside of Nashville. Follow her adventures and eats on Instagram at @kellie.benz.
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