The Nashville food scene is changing rapidly. While the city’s most popular dishes have roots in traditional Southern cooking and barbecue, Nashville is starting to see an influx of different cuisines and restaurant concepts. And experiencing this food is even better in the outdoors.
Here are some of the top outdoor dining spots in Music City, listed in no particular order.
1. White Limozeen
Dolly Parton fans, rejoice! White Limozeen is Dolly through and through. There’s even a larger-than-life pink statue of Dolly’s head made from chicken wire sitting in the corner of the outdoor patio. It’s nearly impossible not to take a picture next to it!
White Limozeen opened in 2020 and sits atop the Graduate Nashville downtown. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available, and absolutely everything is decked out in shades of pink. The outdoor rooftop area is dotted with chairs and daybeds under large pink-fringed umbrellas.
The food is a cross between French cuisine and classic Nashville cooking. There are mussels cooked in Nashville hot butter and biscuits with caviar. The cocktails are frilly and fun, with names like Queen of the Rodeo and Space Cowboy. And then there’s the Fancy Nancy, a champagne jello shot that sparkles just like Dolly herself!
Be sure to make your reservations early. This restaurant is very popular and books up quickly.
People-watching is on the menu at Bartaco in the hip 12 South neighborhood of Nashville. The sunny patio boasts beachy, South American vibes that will make you feel like you are on vacation. The margaritas are phenomenal, as are the street tacos, hand-smashed guacamole, and build-your-own rice bowls.
As you eat, take in the sights of the vibrant 12 South area. You’ll see shopping bags from niche stores, including Draper James by Reese Witherspoon and modern general store White’s Mercantile.
Walk off your meal by strolling along 12th Avenue in search of the beloved Nashville murals. See if you can find the I Believe In Nashville mural.
3. Rooftop Lounge At The Bobby Hotel
Grab a drink and cuddle up inside a 1956 Scenicruiser at the Rooftop Lounge at the Bobby Hotel in downtown Nashville. In the summer, this garden-style patio has funky bench seats under string lights with beautiful skyline views. But the real magic is in the winter, when the space is full of heated igloos, each with an intimate vibe that promises an enchanting experience. And don’t forget to climb into that vintage car and snap a picture for nostalgia’s sake.
The rooftop lounge is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink and appetizer or a post-dinner snack. The menu is small but indulgent, with plates like foie gras pate and truffle pizza. The specialized cocktails are season-specific, unique libations.
The Bobby Hotel is located in Printers Alley, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was once home to newspapers, printers, and publishers and then became a cluster of speakeasies during Prohibition. Today, Printers Alley is a vibrant stretch of bars and clubs — one of which is said to be haunted.
4. Margot Cafe And Bar
This cafe in east Nashville looks straight out of Paris. The building was a filling station back in the 1930s, but it was transformed into a quaint, romantic eatery in 2001. Enjoy al fresco dining at one of the intimate patio tables out front or in the open-air covered brick patio attached to the side of the restaurant. The cafe is full of flowers and bright colors that will make you feel like you’re dining in France.
The food is unique and changes daily. The chef works with local farmers to bring in fresh, locally sourced ingredients every day. For breakfast, start with the savory chocolate croissant followed by croissant French toast or crepes filled with sweet potatoes covered in bechamel sauce. Dinner is equally delicious, with homemade focaccia bread, homemade potato chips, and locally sourced meat and cheese.
You may see the award-winning chef and owner Margot McCormack while dining. Be sure to ask her how and why she started this European-style business in Nashville.
5. Liberty Common
Located right across from the Cumberland River, Liberty Common has a French cafe vibe in the heart of Music City. The patio is lined with several tables, but the true treat here is the large indoor/outdoor bar. The vast window opens to merge the indoor area with the outdoor one. It’s a beautiful place to grab a drink or nosh on the French-meets-Southern cuisine served up by a Nashville native. Don’t miss the biscuits, Liberty burger, and oysters. While sitting outside, if you’re lucky, you may be able to hear a concert at the nearby Ascend Amphitheater.
Try to go for brunch or early dinner when the vibe is more laid-back. Later in the evening, Liberty Common turns into a hopping cocktail bar.
6. Bourbon Steak
Perched high above Music City is Bourbon Steak. This upscale steakhouse on the 34th floor of the JW Marriott in downtown Nashville boasts 360-degree views of the city. There are small tables outside, or you can sit at the outdoor bar and grab a drink. Be sure to walk around the entire outdoor area so that you can see downtown Nashville from all angles.
The food at Bourbon Steak is prepared by award-winning chef Michael Mina. The steaks are prime cuts of beef, and the seafood is flown in daily. In an interesting twist, you’ll get French fries instead of bread to start your meal. They come with three different dipping sauces, and after eating them, you’ll be wondering why you don’t start all your meals this way.
Sorry, guys, but the women’s bathroom here is truly magnificent. It has floor-to-ceiling windows with an amazing view of the city. Don’t worry if the ladies in your party take a long time in there!
7. Von Elrod’s Beer Hall And Kitchen
This one is for beer lovers. With 36 beers on tap, Von Elrod’s Beer Hall and Kitchen is a staple in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. The beer list rotates, but there’s always a wide selection for every palate. There are pilsners, IPAs, lagers, sours, and darks — oh my! Plus, there are always seasonal beers on tap that are perfect for pairing with the weather outside. If you don’t like beer, don’t worry — there are wines and cocktails on the menu, too. And you can even drink them out of beer steins, so you won’t feel left out!
The menu offers German classics like bratwurst, cheese curds, and schnitzel sandwiches. Be sure to start your meal with one of their famous homemade hot pretzels. They come in three varieties: classic, jalapeno cheddar, and pizza.
Von Elrod’s is across the street from First Horizon Park, where the Nashville Sounds play. The Triple-A baseball team has a Silver Sounds Club where you can get six tickets plus other goodies for only $25!
8. The Pharmacy
The outdoor area at this east Nashville burger joint will have you feeling like you’re dining in a lush garden. The Pharmacy gives off a relaxed vibe with its outdoor picnic tables surrounded by greenery and string lights. The large outdoor area is dotted with picnic tables and games that will have you lingering for hours.
The food is laid-back but legendary. This is the place to get a burger and a shake. The burgers are mouthwatering and are made from 100 percent Tennessee beef. But save room for dessert, because the milkshakes are not to be missed! They come in only three flavors — chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry — but they are simply delicious.
9. The Optimist
This relatively new restaurant specializes in fresh seafood. Located in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, The Optimist is located in a historic building that’s been transformed into a true modern oasis. The outdoor area boasts a romantic ambience that’s perfect for a date night.
The food is fresh and flavorful. There are several oyster options to start with, or you could opt for the entire fresh seafood feast complete with oysters, shrimp, ceviche, tuna poke, and lobster.
Whatever you order, don’t skip the buttery rolls served at the beginning of the meal, thinking you will save room for dinner. You will regret it. These rolls are hands-down the best you’ll ever have!
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