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Social distancing continually encourages us to think outside the box to find ways to connect. We’re coming up with creative approaches to gathering, especially when it comes to dining. And, thankfully, from walk-up windows to contactless delivery, restaurants are helping us experience their delicious fare, no matter our comfort level. With that in mind, here are three unique new dining experiences that make social distancing easy and fun!

3 New Dining Experiences in Nashville

Picnic PopUp

Nothing tops a do-it-yourself picnic in the park quite like a luxurious picnic experience for which you don’t have to lift a finger. Picnic PopUp offers a socially responsible, elevated, expertly styled experience that allows us to spend time and a meal with a small group of friends and family. “Whether in a public space or someone’s backyard, the impact it’s making for people to come together safely has been really touching,” says Picnic PopUp owner Jam Stewart. “In many cases, people aren’t ready to be out and about and go to restaurants. For those who aren’t, this is giving them a new way to get out and get together.”

Each two-hour picnic event is thoughtfully designed and creatively curated with fresh flowers, real dinnerware, and gorgeous tablescapes with rustic wood tables, and it can take place at any number of picturesque locations in Nashville, Brentwood and Franklin. Packages start at $215 for up to four people, with custom add-ons available, such as delicious artisanal charcuterie platters from partner WillCo Wine and Cheese, a vintage-looking Bluetooth speaker and a professional photographer to document the memories. Nighttime picnics include lanterns and fairy lights for ambiance, and Picnic PopUp can even tailor the event to your specifications. “We’ve done quite a few custom picnics for people who are looking for something unique and special,” says Jam, “whether it’s leveraging their own pictures or decor, or incorporating their wedding colors.”

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All gear is provided, including an essentials basket that includes everything from sunscreen and bug spray to hand sanitizer and a mirror in case you want a glance before you take selfies. They’ve got the details down to a science. And did we mention they clean up the picnic for you, too? “When people think about having picnics, it’s very glamorized in their minds, and then when they try to do it, it’s difficult to pull all of it together,” says Jam. “I think that’s the insight that we’ve been able to tap into. When you walk into your picnic, it’s perfectly set up, and everything you need is there. You can sit down and start to enjoy your time. When you get up to leave, you don’t have to worry about anything else. We handle the cleanup, too. That’s resonated with people — it has taken the hairiness out of planning this perfect picnic.”

Picnic PopUp's "gather" theme — New Dining Experiences in Nashville

Picnic PopUp offers beautiful setups that range from romantic to kid-friendly to the adorable PupUp, which indulges your favorite four-legged friends. A recent addition to the roster is “The Picnic PopUp @ The Field in Franklin,” which offers an exclusive, front-row seat to a drive-in movie while you eat. “You park and walk up, and your picnic is set up for you,” Jam explains. “You’re socially distanced and roped off, and once you sit down, you have this huge movie screen adventure right in front of you. It feels like you’re the only one there! It’s incredible.” Image: Picnic PopUp

Henrietta’s Fish Camp and Party Market at Henrietta Red

1200 4th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37208 • (615) 490-8042
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed on Mondays

Known for its magnificent raw oyster bar and wood-fired fare, Germantown’s seafood-forward Henrietta Red adapts to COVID with their new fish camp-style walk-up and fast-casual outdoor eatery. While we may miss dining inside the impeccably designed, coastal-inspired interior, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue enjoying some of our favorite dishes from chef Julia Sullivan. Notable menu favorites such as the wood-fired bread with anchovy butter still make an appearance, while new and exciting takeaway options make our mouths water. Boiled peanuts, salt grouper empanadas, gazpacho and red snapper ceviche are a few of the attractive appetizers. An oyster sandwich, the shrimp boil and an ELT — a BLT that features crispy eggplant in place of bacon — top our list of intriguing, must-try entrées. Don’t forget to order some hush puppies with scallion butter, too!

The whimsical menu is a salute to quaint seaside dining, and the raw oyster selection is still going strong with varieties from Prince Edward Island, Alabama and Florida’s coast. Not to mention, the list of curated goods on the “Party Market” menu is out of this world. Trout dip, ramp pesto, kimchi, pickle chips, cheddar Chesapeake biscuits, stuffed peppers and green curry butter are a mere sampling of the available options. The cocktails are also perfection, from Mai Tais to custom libations such as the Little Deuce Coupe, a delightful combination of vodka, lemon, grapefruit, grenadine and mint. Even better, you can have your tasty eats delivered, take them to go, or bring a blanket and relax in the shared courtyard for a picnic. The covered back patio is also open for a seat-yourself feast. If you’re looking to make a reservation, they’ve just started accepting them!

Henrietta Red's Fish Camp walk-up style dining - New Dining Experiences in Nashville

Henrietta Red’s Fish Camp and Party Market walk-up is the perfect way to socially distance and enjoy delicious seafood. Image: Emily Dorio

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Roaming Hunger

The epitome of fast-casual dining, food trucks offer the opportunity to try a variety of menu items made by vendors who are passionate about food. And while we can traditionally spot a diverse lineup of food trucks at seasonal festivals and local parks, Roaming Hunger brings food trucks to you, offering you and your neighbors the chance to experience all the joys of a food truck meal without the crowds. While Roaming Hunger’s corporate offices are in California, the company makes its mark locally, offering two types of services for neighborhoods, HOAs and apartment complexes. “One thing that has come out of COVID is that we used to go to people’s offices or events. Now, we’re going out to where people live,” says Ryan Carlin, a senior marketing manager at Roaming Hunger.

Through their website, you can put your community organizing skills to the test by signing up for a neighborhood visit. Choose from Nashville’s 163 food trucks, carts and trailers, including Southern comfort food favorite Southern Spoon Catering, Hoss’ Loaded Burgers, and the nostalgic S’more Love Bakery. Roaming Hunger also offers the Community Builder Program, a more “hands-off” option that leaves the management details to the experts.

If you’re looking to bring a food truck out to your neighborhood, you can submit event details HERE — date, time, etc. It’s worth noting that typically 50-100 participants will be needed in order for the food truck to participate, so garnering interest and rallying support from your neighbors is perhaps the most important step. If you’re simply looking to locate your nearest lunch spot, Roaming Hunger also has an app that offers real-time food truck locations for whenever the mood strikes you.

The owner of a food truck displays food - New Dining Experiences in Nashville

By bringing food trucks out to your neighborhood, Roaming Hunger offers a unique way to enjoy a meal in Nashville. Image: Roaming Hunger

Enjoy these new dining experiences in Nashville!

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