Celebrate Patio Season at Some of Franklin’s Best Outdoor Dining Experiences

When spring buds begin to peek through the tree branches and we shed our puffy outer layers for light jackets, I immediately feel compelled to go sit out in the sun with a chilled drink. Dining alfresco has many perks — whether you choose to feast on a patio or lay out a picnic blanket — including the fact that we’re able to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings. The laid-back, casual ambiance of a good meal shared with friends outdoors is unparalleled, in this writer’s opinion.

To make the most of the beautiful spring weather in Tennessee, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite restaurants and experiences that offer outdoor seating. Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and stay awhile in the sunshine.

Arrington Vineyards

Arrington, TN

Arrington Vineyards comes alive in the spring and summer. Claimed as our very own “wine country,” this local vineyard is co-owned by country musician Kix Brooks and overlooks rolling hills of grapevines just outside of Franklin. It’s one of the most picturesque spots in town for a picnic, and you can set up on one of many picnic tables across the property. Plan your visit around free live music from Music In The Vines as an ambient background for your meal. You can pick up bottles of wine or glasses of frosé on-site, as well as snacks and charcuterie, to enjoy out on the lawn while the sun sets. For an elevated experience, opt for the wine-tasting flight; you’ll enjoy a self-guided tasting of four of Arrington’s best offerings right there at your picnic table. Don’t forget to take a bottle home—trust us, wine from Arrington Vineyards makes the perfect gift for a party host.

Martin’s BBQ

Spring Hill, TN

A crisp beer and a large plate of barbecue—is any combination more Tennessean? Down in Spring Hill, Martin’s BBQ smokes all of their meat each day for over 20 hours so that guests can have a rich, flavorful Southern experience with every bite. This unique dining space has indoor seating in the restaurant and large sliding windows that open (when it’s warm out) into a middle outdoor, but covered, seating area. Martin’s was founded in 2006 in Nolensville, Tennessee and has since opened several other locations, including the one mentioned here in Spring Hill, that hold true to family recipes. Everything is made from scratch, every day. Don’t miss the pulled pork—Martin’s Tennessee-Style Whole Hog BBQ—and creamy homemade Mac & Cheese as you sit out with a local brew.

(Photo Credit: Joseph Woodley)

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Franklin, TN

If you’re looking for a casual spot to grab lunch with friends that’s centrally located in Franklin, check out the brand new location for Hattie B’s right outside The Factory at Franklin. Serving up authentic Nashville hot chicken since 2012, when the restaurant was founded by father-and-son team Nick Bishop Sr. and Nick Bishop Jr., Hattie B’s Hot Chicken has become a beloved local go-to for a bit of spice (and some next-level Red Skin Potato Salad). Grab a Boozy Slushee, beer, or cocktail from their extensive drink menu and snag a spot on their patio or inside the greenhouse-esque location, which is filled with natural light. Their hot chicken ranges from Southern (no heat) to Shut the Cluck Up (only for the brave) so the menu caters to all different heat tolerances. Don’t fill up just on wings, tenders, legs, or thighs, however; their Pimento Mac & Cheese and Banana Pudding can’t be missed.

Brunch Collective

Spring Hill, TN

For an outdoor brunch with some aesthetic flair, visit the 19th century Kissing House in Spring Hill which now plays host to Brunch Collective. Sit outside around the Carpenter Gothic-style architecture with large plates of all good things, including the highly coveted, made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls covered in cream cheese icing. This family-owned breakfast and brunch spot uses locally sourced ingredients (without any seed oils), whipping up sauces in-house daily, and serves hot drinks, pressed juices and cocktails Tuesday through Saturday. If their colorful feel-good plates weren’t enough, Brunch Collective also has a little station for guests to put together their own flower bouquets. Don’t miss their acclaimed Avocado Toast and fully-loaded breakfast burrito—they make all of their own salsas, of course.

JJ’s Wine Bar

Franklin, TN

Sometimes the occasion calls for a more romantic atmosphere, which is what an evening out on the porch of JJ’s Wine Bar consistently provides. Whether you’re a casual wine enthusiast or a passionate vinophile, this locally-owned wine bar—located in a house listed on the National Historic Register—has wine-dispensing machines that “invite experimentation and exploration,” co-owner Lisa Judd says. Choose from 28 different wines by the glass offered from the dispenser in 1-ounce, 5-ounce, or 8-ounce pours and take a board game out on the porch to enjoy the perfect spring date night when weather permits. You can opt for wine from a local vineyard or take your wine tasting across the globe with options from France, New Zealand, Spain, and more. To accompany your beverage (which are all fairly priced), JJ’s offers various hors d’oeuvres, flatbreads, and desserts; you’ll find me ordering a glass of Prosecco alongside the wine bar’s caramel-drizzled Brown-Butter Cake.

Circa Grill

Thompson’s Station

The best part of indulging in a meal at Circa Grill in Thompson’s Station is that you can sit peacefully out on their front porch with a menu that highlights the finest of each season in Tennessee. Chef Jeff Pignato takes care to source ingredients locally for his sophisticated, creative Southern cuisine– like Smoked Pork Belly with candied jalapeño and Caprese Bruschetta served on wood-fired focaccia. The view from Circa is unlike any other in Middle Tennessee; the ten-year-old restaurant is located inside a former general store and faces Thompson’s Station’s iconic red train caboose. Don’t forgo the cocktail menu; Circa is located next-door to Company Distilling and crafts especially fine cocktails for outdoor sipping, like the Steel Magnolia with gin, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and white cranberry juice. You’ll also want to check out their brunch and lunch menu served Thursday through Sunday for crowd favorites such as Cinnamon Roll French Toast and their Traditional Benedict.

Herban Market

Franklin, TN

Husband-and-wife founders Matt and Ashlea Hogancamp opened Herban Market in 2015 and now, nearly ten years later, this all-organic market-slash-eatery is still a vibrant Franklin favorite. Herban Market comprises a coffee bar, beer and wine bar, olive oil and vinegar bar, grocery and supplements market, bakery, and restaurant focused on top-notch, locally sourced, “real food” ingredients. Everything is made from scratch, and gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and keto options are also available. You can eat-in or take-out at this better-for-you joint; if you can’t score one of their front outdoor tables, the restaurant is only ten minutes away from Marcella Vivrette Smith Park in Brentwood. Try a tasty power lunch like their Wild-Caught Salmon Burger, Butternut Squash & Whipped Ricotta Wrap, or flavorful Quinoa & Sweet Potato Salad paired with some Kombucha on tap.

Tito’s Mexican Restaurant

Franklin, TN (Berry Farms)

If you also dream about enjoying a margarita on a patio every Friday around 4 p.m., there’s a seat with your name on it at Tito’s Mexican Restaurant in Berry Farms. Tito’s, which also has nearby locations in Spring Hill and Nolensville, is owned by the same folks who own Pueblo Real in downtown Franklin, and each of these restaurants serve up some of the best homestyle Mexican food—family recipes the owner grew up with—that you’ll find in Middle Tennessee. Their Gold Margaritas were even dubbed “Best Margaritas in the Nashville area” on Yelp. (They’re really that good.) Tito’s in Berry Farms has a large covered outdoor patio for guests to enjoy chips and salsa, classic cheese dip, and all of your favorite menu items, from juicy Carnitas to crisp Chimichangas to sizzling Fajitas. Is anyone else’s mouth watering?

Cheers to a beautiful spring of enjoying Middle Tennessee’s best patios alongside top-notch snacks and sips.

Abbi is an adopted Tennessean who has fallen in love with the South—especially its people, warmth, and incomparable food. When she’s not telling stories or experimenting with family recipes, Abbi loves to explore new places with her husband Zach and dog Groot.