Man may not be able to live on bread alone, but add in a dozen grilled oysters, a pecan crusted red fish and bananas foster prepared tableside, and we're getting somewhere.
New Orleans is a city that inspires love, Talk to locals and more often than not, you'll hear a few stories of people who fall in love with New Orleans, and wind up moving here. Like every love affair, there are highs and lows, but in New Orleans, the rich gastronomic landscape is impossible not to adore. With the person you love across the table, sharing quaffs of bubbly, local seafood and pecan-defined desserts is sure to satisfy on multiple level.s
Whether you want the grand experience of a Commander's Palace, or a more modern take on an intimate evening dining at Dante's Kitchen on Riverbend, each of these 10 spots will make your sweetie's heart beat a little faster as he, or she, tries not to gulp down the goodness of smartly prepared specialties served in a moody, jazzy setting. The regional flavors, European architecture and fabulous courtyards of New Orleans restaurants can simply not be found anywhere else. Whether in the French Quarter or Warehouse District; Uptown or outside the City Limits; New Orleans has great romantic restaurants that make excellent date night options.
There is no better way to begin a New Orleans adventure than dinner or brunch at Dante's Kitchen, where delectable dishes represent playful twists on Creole comfort food. This local gem's charming dining rooms and tropical patio provide a wonderful setting for sipping the perfect cocktail and indulging in the likes of
grilled shrimp and grits and chicken roasted under a brick. The chef puts the emphasis firmly on locally sourced and seasonal cuisine. The cheese plate with homemade pickles makes a great share dish. Located right on the Riverbend, take the St. Charles streetcar (the green one) Uptown for a delicious meal followed by a stroll along the Mississippi. (504-861-3121)
Broussard's Restaurant and Patio
Back and better than ever. Reopened in early 2014 after Creole Cuisine Concepts purchased from retiring owners Gunter and Evelyn Preuss, Broussard's was treated to a $1 million renovation and the results are just gorgeous. The A-team here includes GM Chris Ycaza, whose concept of service was honed at Galatoire's and French-born and trained chef Guy Reinbolt, a veteran of five Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Germany. Chef Reinbolt maintains Arnaud's integrity as a grand restaurant of historic proportions with dishes like smoked duck and mushroom strudel, oysters three ways and Dover sole served tableside. The kitchen's smartly imagined Creole-French cuisine is among the best in town. The classically informed cocktails at the Empire Bar landed Broussard's on Esquire's best bar list. (504-581-3866)
Lilette is a decadent French restaurant situated on Magazine Street. Stellar cuisine from chef John Harris and a hip cocktail bar make this a sexy destination for foodies of all ages. Tempting bites – like eggplant crisps with skordalia, oven-dried roma tomatoes, basil and oil cured olive line the menu. The grilled veal paillard comes served with broccoli raab, almonds, homemade ricotta toast and garlic parsley butter. The wine list includes 50 wines, with more than 10 varieties available by the glass. Stop by for lunch while bouncing between Garden District neighborhoods. The art-filled intimate dining room is one of the prettiest places to whisper sweet nothings in town. (504-895-1636)
In 1918, Arnaud Cazenave, a colorful, French wine salesman, founded the grand New Orleans restaurant bearing his name with a commitment to serving quality Creole cuisine. Taken over by the Casbarian family in 1978, Arnaud's is tended to by the fourth generation of Casbarians and is a must for
some of the Big Easy's best Creole food. Have three distinct experiences here, live music and a more casual atmosphere in the Jazz Bistro, a romantic dinner in the main dining room, or cocktails in the French 75 Bar. The classy joint is located just steps from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Their proprietary remoulade blend that adorns their Shrimp Arnaud and Crab Cakes is delectable and must be sampled. Arnaud's opened for business nearly a century ago, and their dedication to offering a desirable ambiance and delicious Creole food has never wavered. (504-523-5433, 866-230-8895)
Opened by chef Mike Stoltzfus and his wife Lillian Hubbard in December 2008, Coquette is a Garden District stunner, from its gleaming floors and crisp linens to its architectural details and warm exposed brick walls. The Garden District building was built in the late 1880's and has been among other things a residence, grocery store, auto parts store and several restaurants. Chef Stoltzfus, who honed his craft as sous chef at Restaurant August, proffers innovative southern cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced product. The three course, $23 lunch is a great deal. A few not to miss dishes include the housemade charcuterie plate and striped bass served with kohlrabi abd kumquat in a clam broth spiked with jalapen.o. (504-265-0421)
The blue Victorian facade of Commander's Palace in the Garden District of New Orleans has been the site of five-star dining since 1880, and a hallmark of the Brennan family since 1974. The kitchen that gave the world Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse is now the domain of chef Tory McPhail, a fearless culinarian who earned the 2013 Best Chef in the South award from the James Beard Foundation. Everything is good, but don't miss any featured gumbo, the chargrilled oyster stew with kale, bacon and cream and local fish crusted with spiced pecans. Dan Davis' wine program is second to none, with an average of 45 wines by the glass always in rotation. Menu stand outs include Commander's Palace was renovated handsomely post-Katrina and is a gorgeous place to celebrate something special, or simply people watch and sip $.25 martinis at lunch. In keeping with tradition, Commander's requires business attire, with suit jackets recommended for dinner and jeans frowned upon. Be prepared to experience New Orleans dining at its best. (504-899-8221)
Housed in a historic French-Creole building downtown, Restaurant August's dining room features grand French doors, exposed brick walls and elegant chandeliers. The menu offers delicately prepared masterpieces of haute cuisine, such as "lasagna" of rabbit, veal sweetbreads and grilled lobster. A creative selection of starters includes asparagus salad with crabmeat, baby greens and truffles vinaigrette, and warm goat cheese with frisee, Seranno ham and sour cherries. Sound selections of martinis and international wine and beer complement the fare. This upscale John Besh dining mecca can be found on Tchoupitoulas Street in downtown New Orleans. Be prepared for a life changing dining experience. (504-299-9777)
Polished elegance isn't a bellwether of the restaurants in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods in New Orleans. Which is why The Franklin really stands out in the crowd. Intimate and inviting, this restaurant lives in New Orleans but would be at home in any big city. Chef Baruch Rabasa forgoes traditional New Orleans fare for a menu that is both modern and French inspired. Most of the small plates are intriguing, especially slices of tender rare filet served ala mode with foie gras ice cream. Oysters are available raw or grilled with garlic butter or fried with a luscious white remoulade on the side. Franklin Buist, formerly the sommelier at Atchafalaya, is handling the interesting (and pricey) wine list as well as a fine array of craft cocktails. (504-267-0640)
Ox Lot 9
Just in case you needed one more reason to cross the 24-mile causeway across Lake Pontchartrain, Ox Lot 9 in the suave Southern Hotel in Covington is open for business. The love child of chef/co-owner Jeffrey Hansell and his wife, co-wner and general manager Amy Hansell, Ox Lot 9 is a sprightly addition to the eclectic Northshore dining scene. This simply sophisticated Southern bistro spotlights chef Hansell's deft homage to Gulf Coast ingredients and time-tested Southern comfort dishes. Hansell, whose resume includes stints at Commander's Palace, Veranda in Birmingham and Luke, adds his own Southern twist to dishes like bouillabaise, with the addition of okra, local red fish and shrimp, presenting stuffed rabbit with tasso and housemade mozzarella and poached oysters in pernod and cream tucked into puffed pastry so good they should be against the law. A well informed wine list and brilliant array of craft cocktails add allure to this destination restaurant. Feeling lucky? Give the bartender a few hints and he or she will concoct something just for your palate. By the way, the restaurant's name comes from Covington's original planning scheme, which allotted space for farmers to tie up their oxen. (985-400-5663)
Delachaise is that mystery spot that you might cruise right by without noticing during a daylight trip on the St. Charles streetcar. Come evening, and it's another story. The outdoor patio, lit with twinkle lights, is always buzzing with a lively crowd along with couples enjoying date night. This spirited wine bar uptown is easy to love for its long convivial bar, lack of pretense, impressive wine list and most notably the Thai spiced mussels served with goose fat fries. Really everything at this atmospheric French-ish bistro is good, say yes to housemade pate and tender flank steak bruschetta, and double yes to the devilish chocolate souffle. And order a Viognier and Gruner by the glass - a treat for a white wine drinker weary of house Chardonnay. (504-895-0858)
About Beth D'Addono
Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.
After spending years flying in regularly to research stories, attend festivals and eat the city's amazing cuisine, this New Orleanian at heart moved to the Crescent City full time in 2012.
Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets including USAToday, AAA Traveler, Wells Fargo Conversations, Philadelphia Daily News, Taste, Fodor's and others.
Her new book The Hunt New Orleans is a carefully curated insider's guide to indie shops and restaurants around town.
Read more about Beth D'Addono here.
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