Nashville’s 12 Best Restaurants for Romance

Sinema | Credit: Ali Brown and Jessican Steddom

Whether you’ve been married for years or just swiped right, every couple can use a night on the town. After almost two years of on-and-off isolation and way too much takeout, date night instincts might be a bit rusty. The choices can be overwhelming — food-focused eating date or swanky steakhouse? Cozy neighborhood standby or the chic new hot spot? Not to worry, because Nashville has them all. 

From sushi to pizza to Ethiopian cuisine, there is something for everyone. These are the 12 romantic restaurants in Music City that will be sure to turn up the heat on date night.

Sinema (Melrose)

Credit: Ali Brown | Jessican Steddom

Located in the historic former Melrose movie theater, Sinema provides the ideal intimate setting for a special night. The glam decor harks back to Old Hollywood style and pairs perfectly with Sinema’s elegant spin on seasonal American dining. In addition to a la carte options such as pan-seared scallops with spinach orzotto, lemon spinach mignonette, and black garlic brown butter, Sinema offers a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Or if you’re looking for a more casual date vibe, sit at the bar and check out the extensive cocktail list, or choose from the rare whiskey program of over 200 selections.

Dining at the restaurant: Sinema provides two levels of dining space, including a bar and private dining areas. The grand lobby, including the curved staircase, has been restored and complemented by exposed brick walls, cozy velvet tufted booths, and music photography as a nod to Music City.

Takeout: If you’re feeling sweatpants more than glam, Sinema’s full menu is available for takeout.

Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Romantic Valentine’s Day 5 Course Prix-Fixe Menu. Book the Experience here.

Josephine (12 South)

Josephine is the ultimate neighborhood date night spot, giving the feel of cozy French bistro meets Southern charm; start with country ham rillettes with half sour pickles, smoked onion crispies, and potato rolls or the tarte flambee with Benton’s bacon. Don’t miss out on the extensive wine list and seasonal cocktail list.

Dining in the restaurant: Indoor and bar seating are available; ask for a table along the wall of tufted leather booths for a good view of the room and people watching. 

Takeout: Takeout and delivery are available. 

Chauhan Ale & Masala House (North Gulch)

Credit: Chauhan Ale and Masala House

Nestled in the trendy Gulch neighborhood, Chauhan Ale & Masala has been a local favorite since opening in 2014. Exposed brick walls and tin ceilings combine with colorful Indian-inspired decor to create a charmingly romantic vibe. Chef Maneet Chauhan is known for her vibrant Indian dishes; here, Indian cuisine collides with Southern flavors to provide unique options such as hot chicken pakoras and methi mac and cheese.

Dining at the restaurant: Indoor dining is available for lunch and dinner daily, as well as brunch on the weekends. 

Take out: Takeout and delivery are available. 

Germantown Cafe (Germantown)

A local mainstay, The Germantown Cafe has finally reopened after a one-two punch of tornado and pandemic. Two years later, the beloved restaurant is back with many of the same tried-and-true recipes, such as the plum pork, a “15-year legacy” of marinated tenderloin with savory plum sauce, mashed potatoes, and haricots verts. Germantown Cafe provides the ideal setting for a comfort-food-done-well date night. A fun new addition is the walk-up window, where you can order booze and snacks to go. Grab a drink and wander historic Germantown.

Dining in the restaurant: Germantown Cafe offers indoor, bar, and patio seating.

Takeout: Get takeout and delivery, or walk up to the outdoor window with a special menu of food and drinks to go.

The River House (Downtown)

Located in downtown Nashville, but comfortably removed from the Honky Tonk chaos of Broadway, The River House is impeccably designed with dramatic high ceilings and modern decor; the nearby Schermerhorn Symphony Center and the Ryman Auditorium make this a no-brainer for a pre-show dinner date. Luxurious banquettes with soft mood lighting match the modern steakhouse feel, with classics on the menu such as oysters Rockefeller, prime New York strip, and a wedge salad. 

Dining in the restaurant: Indoor and bar seating are available; business casual attire is encouraged (no shorts or hats allowed).

Takeout: The River House offers takeout.

Sunda (The Gulch)

Credit: Sunda

Located near downtown in the Gulch area, Sunda’s mission is showcasing Eastern Asian and Southeast Asian regional cuisine, which come together in dishes including the dim sum menu to share, a full sushi bar, and entrees such as the signature pan seared sushi rice with ghee and tamari topped with choice of wagyu or spicy tuna. For an out-of-the-box date, sign up for Sunda’s monthly sushi rolling class.

Dining in the restaurant: In addition to the regular dinner menu, Sunda offers gluten-free and vegetarian menus.

Takeout: Lunch and dinner are offered for takeout and delivery daily. Try the family meal kit, which has options for Korean barbecue, sushi boxes, or a vegan feast for two.

Tànsuŏ (North Gulch)

Grown weary of your go-to Chinese takeout spot? Tànsuŏ has you covered. Meaning “to explore” in Cantonese, Tànsuŏ serves innovative contemporary Chinese fare inspired by China’s night markets and traditional street fare. Snuggle up to your date in the clubby leather banquettes beneath the colorful lanterns adorning the ceiling and share dishes from the dim sum menu such as foie su mai, a decadent take on dumplings with foie gras, porcini mushrooms, and pork. Chinese cuisine even gets a Nashville spin with the Nashville hot chicken lo mein.

Dining in the restaurant: The dark and moody lighting gives a dramatic vibe, with colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling and comfy leather booths. 

Takeout: Tànsuŏ provides both takeout and delivery. 

Emery Wood Fired (12 South)

A new addition to the 12 South neighborhood, Emery Wood Fired brings a new twist to the local pizza game. Located in what was formerly the neighborhood dry cleaner, the space is now chic and modern, offering an eclectic wine list and cocktail program alongside innovative pizzas such as the taleggio and pear pie with hot honey and radish sprouts or one with pepperoni, whipped ricotta, and basil. It’s a great not-just-any-pizza spot for date night.

Dining in the restaurant: Table and bar seating are available inside, as well as patio seating. Those who dine indoors are treated to a view of the fiery wood-fueled ovens cooking up their meal.

Takeout: Emery Wood Fired offers takeout. 

Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Valentine’s Day menu. Book the Experience here.

The Dutch (The Gulch)

Credit: Noah Fecks

Newly opened in Nashville by James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini, The Dutch is located in the swanky new W Hotel in the Gulch.  Come here for delicious American fare with a flare; start with oysters from the raw bar or lobster cocktail with coconut lime and jerk plantains. Follow it up with elevated classic main dishes, such as the smoked grilled pork chop with collard greens, bacon jam, and rosemary-roasted apples. For a truly romantic night, end the evening with a cocktail on the W’s rooftop bar and book a staycation.

Dining in the restaurant: The Dutch serves breakfast daily and brunch on the weekends; dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday.  Indoor seating and bar seating are available. For an extra cozy touch, request a table near the fireplace for an extra dash of ambiance.

Takeout: The Dutch does not currently offer takeout. 

Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Valentine’s Day menu. Book the Experience here.

The Optimist (Germantown)

The Optimist creates a dining experience that transports you to a more coastal locale, providing super-fresh, sustainably sourced seafood to landlocked Tennesseans in the historic Germantown neighborhood. With an excellent beverage program and oysters galore, the date night vibe is immaculate here. Located inside a turn-of-the-century former factory on the banks of the Cumberland River, it’s full of exposed brick, low lighting, and historic charm. Don’t miss the extensive raw bar selection, with oysters coming from the shores of Alabama all the way up to Maine. For a special Valentine’s day meal, The Optimist is serving a five-course prix fixe menu that’s sure to be exceptional.

Dining in the restaurant: The Optimist offers dinner Monday through Sunday with tables and bar seating; in warmer months, the Jacqueline patio bar provides fresh air and strong tiki drinks such as the Deep Blue Sea, a concoction with rum, blue curaçao, lime, pineapple, and coconut.

Takeout: The Optimist offers takeout.

Urban Grub (12 South)

Looking for a martini and oyster kind of night, but not too fancy? Head to local favorite Urban Grub on 12 South. The atmosphere is casual fine dining, so all the fun but none of the fuss; the design of the restaurant is “rustic elegance,” with stone fireplaces and homey wooden details throughout, with plenty of nooks for an intimate date night cocktail or meal. Indulge in fresh seafood from the raw bar and sample a cocktail from the extensive and frequently updated list, such as the Yeezy Made Beets with tequila, green chartreuse, beet juice, pear puree, thyme, and lime.

Dining in the restaurant: Urban Grub offers both indoor and outdoor seating with a combination of the two in the beer garden, accompanied by a view of the restaurant’s meat curing room, as well as a covered gazebo for larger parties.

Takeout: Urban Grub offers curbside pickup and delivery.

Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Valentine’s Day Four-Course Prix Fixe. Book the Experience here.

Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant (Berry Hill)

A longtime Nashville favorite, Gojo has been serving top-notch Ethiopian cuisine for years, such as yemiser sambusa, a pastry shell filled with lentils, onion, jalapeño, herbs, and spices then pan fried and served piping hot. Or try the delicious meat and veggie combo, served with traditional injera, a sour flatbread with a slightly spongy texture made of teff flour, that’s used in lieu of a knife and fork. What’s more romantic than eating with your hands? Finish your meal with a strong Ethiopian coffee, and you’re ready to take on the rest of your night.

Dining in the restaurant: Except small and cozy indoor seating with homey vibes thanks to the authentic Ethiopian rugs and baskets as decor.

Take out: Gojo provides takeout and delivery.