Whatever your view on Valentine’s Day, Nashville has its fair share of romantic restaurants. But a word of advice: Valentine’s Day isn’t always the best day to go out to eat.
Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. It’s crowded, which means waits can be long.
Keep that in mind as you peruse this list. Some of these romantic restaurants aren’t even open on Valentine’s Day. Regardless, we’ve kept them, as it’s our view that you don’t have to celebrate love on a certain day. Book another, less-harried day and you might even be happier. Either way, don’t head out without reservations.
If you’re an adventurous diner who loves artistic small plates made by talented chefs, this James Beard-nominated restaurant should be on your list. It’s moodily gorgeous yet unpretentious. Bastion requires reservations for its prix fixe menu, and it’s only open Wednesday-Saturday, so that means no Valentine’s Day service. Book another day if you can find reservations. 434 Houston St., www.bastionnashville.com.
This is your spot if you’re trying to impress someone. There aren’t that many more-romantic settings than Bourbon Steak, especially with its unparalleled views of the city. There’s also a completely bananas bourbon list. The wine menu is no slouch, either. That steak? It lives up to the views. Expect to drop a ton of money, by the way. There’s no way around it. 201 Eighth Ave. S., 34th floor, nashvillebourbonsteak.com
Once Upon a Time in France
This cozy and lovely French bistro, which serves comfort foods like duck confit and steak frites, is a little hard to get into, which means you might have to line up at the very unromantic time of 4 p.m. to get a table. Note that as of press time, Valentine’s Day reservations were all sold out, but there’s a waitlist. If you’re waiting for a table, be sure to visit The Autentique across the street. It’s under new ownership, and the wine list has been taken up a notch. 1102 Gallatin Ave., www.onceuponatime-infrance.com.
This is a sexy restaurant. It’s also right across the street from the Frist Art Museum, so you have built-in plans for before or after your dinner. The menu is classic, but not too old-school. With plenty of truffles, oysters and champagne, The Continental comes in hot with all the aphrodisiacs. 1000 Broadway Suite 101, www.thecontinentalnashville.com
The Patterson House
This is a bar with bar food – but honestly, sexy bar food. I don’t think you’re going to snag a reservation to the upstairs (and amazing) The Catbird Seat this late in the game, which shouldn’t stop you from trying! But of the two, I prefer the atmosphere at The Patterson House for a date-type sitch. It’s brooding and gorgeous and the cocktails are outstanding. 1711 Division St., www.thepattersonnashville.com
Rolf and Daughters
I love, love, love the atmosphere here, in no small part because of all the lovely plants and brick walls. I’ve taken myself out on a date to the bar before and would highly recommend it. There’s something sexy about pasta if you’re not afraid of carbs, and the pasta here is delicious. Make sure you don’t skip the small plates, try a couple of cocktails and don’t skip dessert. 700 Taylor St., www.rolfanddaughters.com
Ford Fry’s The Optimist is a seafood lover’s dream and one of the best places to grab raw oysters in town if that’s what turns you on. I get that. I highly, highly recommend you head upstairs to Le Loup, a beautifully lit, absolute stunner of a cocktail bar with oysters and impeccable snacks. It’s only open Thursday-Saturday, so keep that in mind. 1400 Adams St., www.theoptimistrestaurant.com/nashville; www.leloupnashville.com
Drusie & Darr
Holy smokes, this place is pretty. If you want to feel like you’re sitting in the lap of luxury, head down to The Hermitage Hotel and try this restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. You’ll want to get a little dressed up. The menu here is rich and luxurious, but not at all heavy. Currently, the restaurant is running a ticketed Valentine’s Day three-course tasting menu for $148 per person. 231 Sixth Ave N., www.thehermitagehotel.com
This gorgeous contemporary Italian restaurant in The Joseph hotel is elegant, delicious and somehow unpretentious. The service is outstanding. Do not forget to add on a dessert from Noelle Marchetti, the restaurant’s immensely talented — and recently James Beard-nominated — pastry chef. 403 Fourth Ave S., www.yolannashville.com
This restaurant is not taking reservations for the date of Valentine’s Day, but don’t let that stop you from taking a hot date here. The atmosphere is lovely and encourages a convivial experience that just sticks with you. I also just love Vivek Surti’s South Asian menu and its unapologetically spicy, assertive flavors. 620 Taylor St., www.tailornashville.com
This East Nashville restaurant comes from Philip Krajeck, who also owns Rolf and Daughters. I love the warm brick-walled interior, which I guess is a Krajeck specialty. I prefer this menu over R&D’s because of a bigger emphasis on small vegetable-forward plates. Yes, there are pizzas here, too, but make sure to order a bunch of things and share. 823 Meridian St., www.goodasfolk.com
Skull’s Rainbow Room
Alright, if you’re visiting Nashville and hanging close to Broadway, venture off the main drag and head to Skull’s Rainbow Room in Printer’s Alley. At press time, the bar, which has a cool, classic interior, had some reservations open for Valentine’s Day. Dinner service features a giant steak. There’s live music from the house jazz band. Winner. 222 Printers Alley, www.skullsrainbowroom.com
Barcelona Wine Bar
This gorgeous tapas restaurant also has a very good wine list. I love the classic Spanish tapas here, in particular the fact that the menu has so many excellent cheese selections. For me, there’s not much sexier than a rich, bold Tempranillo and plenty of cheese, preferably a bit stinky. Hey, we love what we love. 1200 Villa Place, Suite 110, barcelonawinebar.com