Cafe Sbisa, the century-old brasserie on Decatur Street, is an atmospheric stunner, with original wood, intimate balcony and patio dining and a staircase that harks back to a golden age. Chef and co-owner Alfred Singleton has spent the past decade working at restaurants including Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, is partnered with owner Craig Napoli, whose seafood business assures the freshest Gulf catch on the seafood-centric menu. Outstanding French-Creole cuisine including the likes of blue crabcakes and an amazing turtle soup laced with sherry is served under the watchful eyes of a bawdy George Dureau mural - which somehow survived the mold that bloomed after the flood. During Sunday brunch, live jazz fills the restaurant. Choices include Creole classics like crawfish and andouille omelette cheese grits).
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: For a dose of real romantic Nola, reserve a table at this newly reopened classic.
Beth's expert tip: Ask for a table on the balcony for a wonderful city view.
This quaint little neighborhood spot perfectly exemplifies what makes the French Quarter so special: even on its boundary streets, you'll find something to charm and surprise. Though locals usually occupy the tables at Meauxbar each night, these snug yet easygoing quarters welcome all comers. Framed photos, mirrors, burnished wood floors and moody lighting reinforce the bistro concept, and seating is available both at tables and at the bar. Another bonus is that conversation is welcome (and audible) at this intimate space, making date night especially romantic. But of course, it's the cookery that truly sets the place apart, most notably such superbly-conceived numbers as yak-a-mein of the day, double-cut pork chop with mustard spaetzle and burrata with crabmeat and braised greens. Weekend reservations are encouraged and brunch is a winner.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: You'll be able to hear sweet nothings at this intimate restaurant that invites canoodling.
Beth's expert tip: Meauxbar makes a super stop after a show at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.
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 truffle Parmigiano t with wild mushrooms and and marrow and grilled herbed squab with chanterelles line the menu. The pan roasted salmon is especially savory, bright with citrus and served with herbed couscous and dille creme fraiche.The wine list includes 50 some 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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The restaurant's wine colored walls and soft lighting offers a haven of romantic nibbling after sundown.
Beth's expert tip: A late lunch at Lilette is a perfect Valentine after shopping on Magazine Street.
Arnaud's is wrapping up it's 100th anniversary in 2018 - it's been a century since 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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Arnaud's shares the spotlight with just a few classic restaurants in New Orleans when it comes to fine Creole cuisine.
Beth's expert tip: Dine in the main dining room for a quintessentially New Orleans experience.
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. A few not to miss dishes include the housemade charcuterie plate and Gulf seafood stew spiked with Spanish chorizo and the unexpected nuttiness of boiled peanuts.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Exposed brick and glowing chandeliers set the mood for a romantic evening at Coquette.
Beth's expert tip: Try the five-course "blind tasting" menu for $70, a bargain fine dining experience improved by a $30 wine pairing.
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 James Beard Award winning chef Tory McPhail. 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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Bucket list eating starts with Commander's Palace in New Orleans.
Beth's expert tip: Have a drink at the back bar - you get there through the kitchen, and ask to see the private wine room for a real wow!
Located in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans, right off the St. Charles Streetcar line, the Upperline is a great reason to explore past the French Quarter, and experience a contemporary take on Creole cuisine. The dining room is presided over by owner and hospitality doyenne JoAnn Clevenger, who won a James Beard Award as outstanding restaurateur in the U.S. in 2017 and welcomes one and all like family. Chef Trent Osborne took over the kitchen a few years ago and is walking just the right balance between respecting the timeless dishes that regulars crave and bringing new inspired creations to the table. The drum piquant with hot & hot shrimp will never leave the menu, same for the slow roasted half duckling with garlic port sauce, spotlighted by chef Aaron Sanchez on the show "Best Thing I Ever Ate."
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This uptown gem captures hearts with its New Orleans hospitality.
Beth's expert tip: Add to your experience by taking the St. Charles streetcar to Bordeaux Street and walking around the corner to dinner at Upperline.
Polished elegance isn't a bellwether of most 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 Dane Harris forgoes traditional New Orleans fare for a menu that is both modern and French inspired. Most of the small plates are intriguing, like the grilled baby octopus with harissa, a stupendous burger with farmhouse cheddar and frites and the silkiest of beef tartare topped with a quail egg. Try oysters, raw and gorgeous. The cocktail program, designed by veteran New Orleans bartenders Evan Wolf, Matt LoFink, and Jason Sorbet (The Company Burger, Cure, Barrel Proof) features cocktails, both classic and new - with an emphasis on the Martini and its variants, as well as a robust wine list and a diverse beer selection. The former corner store is filled with natural light and spectacular art from the owner's private collection.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fresh seafood and an oyster bar in a sophisticated setting.
Beth's expert tip: Ask for a table in the center of the restaurant, an intimate space set apart from the rest of the dining room.
Partners Liam Deegan and John Sinclair have created a low key stylish eatery that is perfect for intimate lunches and sultry suppers. Housed in a building from 1794 that conjures up the Quarter's residential pedigree, the Longway was once home to Boho writers Roark and Mary Rose Bradford, who hosted creative types at their place at all hours of the day and night. The owners wanted that kind of place today, and indeed Longway is inviting, with its lovely back courtyard and relaxed tavern vibe. A perfect neighborhood bar that just happens to call the French Quarter its 'hood, this is the spot for creative small plates meant for sharing and smart cocktails. Chef John Sinclair offers creative twists on nostalgic tavern fare. Try the Caesar salad topped with crispy, fried chicken skins and veggie casoulet with field peas, sunchokes, mushrooms and whipped tofu. Happy Hour is a great way to kick off date night, daily from 4-7pm with $5 sidecars, daiquiris, Moscow mules, house wine and $20 bottles of happy hour wines.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: An intimate spot to kick off date night with craft cocktails and shared nibbles.
Beth's expert tip: Partner Liam Deegan created amazing cocktail lists at Barrel Proof and Sylvain, don't miss the drinks at Longway.
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-owner 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 bouillabaisse, 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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Ox Lot 9 elevates even the simplest Gulf ingredients to lofty heights.
Beth's expert tip: Don't miss a stroll through the hotel lobby and bar, where you'll see stunning examples of local art.