New Orleans’s restaurants have hosted lovers and trysts for more than 300 years. Couples looking for romance are sure to find it in the Big Easy, whether it’s in the embrace of a velvet-clad hotel lounge or an intimate, family-owned neighborhood joint.
Butter up your beau with a steak and martini at an iconic Mid-City steakhouse. Tuck into a tasting menu fit for royalty at a Japanese jewel box in the Central Business District. In the Marigny, slow dance to smooth R&B tunes at a beloved Cajun spot.
There’s a table for every kind of date across this festive city. Read on for a guide to 12 New Orleans restaurants ready to host your next romantic occasion.
For a first date
Otra Vez (South Market District)
Swipe right, then impress the hell out of that first date by bringing them to this modern Mexican place in the burgeoning South Market District. The sleek spot isn’t the usual south-of-the-border restaurant. Chef and owner Akhtar Nawab is well known for his Brooklyn restaurant Alta Calidad, which earned a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award in 2018. Nibble on small plates such as queso and guac and share the roasted mojo oysters, char-grilled with hot sauce butter. The crispy tempura shrimp tacos spiced with chipotle is a fine choice, as is the carnitas tostada topped with silky avocado. Don’t miss the deep menu of mezcal- and tequila-fueled margaritas.
Copper Vine (Central Business District)
At Copper Vine, dinner is a relaxed yet sophisticated affair with wine on tap and tastings galore. Start your date with a drink at the handsome bar, or touch knees under a table for two by the window overlooking the verdant patio. Although Copper Vine is a swish wine bar, there’s nothing stuffy about it, thanks to a varied list that pours 30 wines from the tap and a cellar menu that can be tasted 2.5 ounces at a time. Amy Mehrtens, a seasoned, CIA-trained chef (who worked most recently as a sous at Commander’s Palace), offers bites including bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Creole cream cheese and black truffle bites. If your evening together is going exceptionally well, graduate to heartier plates, such as saffron and shrimp risotto with sherry sabayon.
For a second date
Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot (Warehouse District)
It’s hard to imagine a sexier setting than the Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot, an inviting lounge loaded with romantic appeal. The restaurant sets a scenic stage for getting to know a date better thanks to riotous prints, rich velvets, rolled leather banquettes, and a collection of gilded cages and feathered birds. Chef Samuel Peery’s menu is filled with enticing shareables such as spicy chicken bao buns, chorizo-stuffed dates, and pork meatballs with burrata. Sip on classic cocktails, along with an impressive collection of madeira and rum. Reserve a table on a Thursday night and you and your date will be treated to a sultry R&B performance.
For an intimate and cozy date
Thai’d Up (Gentilly)
A love story fueled the opening of Thai’d Up in Gentilly, so it’s no surprise the 25-seat restaurant offers an especially intimate spin on romance. NOLA native Ryan Walsh met Thailand-born Saowanit “Kate” Welch in 2017 at Republic. They’ve been together since: Walsh manages the front of the house and Welch steers the kitchen. Armed with recipes from family and friends in Thailand, the chef keeps date-night regulars returning for traditional treats such as grilled butter Thai shrimp and fresh spring rolls that brim with fragrant herbs and veggies, ideal for dunking in house-made peanut sauce.
For an anniversary or romantic milestone
The Bower (Lower Garden District)
The Bower gets two things right before you even kick off an anniversary feast: The lighting is soft and flattering, and the acoustics are made for murmured conversations. A modern American menu with ties to a local farm spotlights the talents of chef Marcus Woodham; many of the small plates are inspired by flavors from Southeast Asia and the sun-kissed Mediterranean. As an homage to its name, which refers to a kind of garden trellis, plants hang from the Bower’s ceiling. No matter where you and your sweetheart sit, natural beauty abounds.
Vyoone’s (Warehouse District)
When a relationship hits a milestone, it’s worth celebrating. Consider toasting each other at Vyoone’s (pronounced VEE-ahns) in the Warehouse District. An enchanting courtyard lies behind an unassuming brick façade and modest signage. Owner Vyoone Segue Lewis brings her French, African, and Creole heritage to the table, offering plates such as escargot with garlic butter, French onion soup, and coq au vin, along with brunch and happy hour treats. Dine in the courtyard or climb the curvy staircase to a table with leafy street views.
San Lorenzo at Hotel Saint Vincent (Garden District)
Channel the sun-kissed Amalfi Coast with a festive feast at San Lorenzo, a sophisticated spot in the Hotel Saint Vincent. Celebrate your relationship over southern Italian cuisine and a suave European setting that serves up pasta and seafood, with an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably line-caught, and bycatch fish. Must-orders include the oysters, available raw or grilled with parmesan butter. Dress up for this and remember to wear your sexiest shoes, Italian-style. Stretch your special evening with an after-dinner drink at the aptly named Paradise Lounge.
For group dates
Café Sbisa (French Quarter)
Plan a double date at this French Quarter classic, a century-old brasserie on Decatur Street. Sbisa is an atmospheric beauty with original wood, patio dining, and a staircase that harks back to a golden age—the spot traces its roots to 1899, when a ship chandlery first became a restaurant (it’s enjoyed many avatars since). If Sbisa’s fascinating past doesn’t give your group something to talk about, the outstanding French Creole dishes will. Chef and partner Alfred Singleton, who worked his way up from busboy to chef, commands the kitchen, turning out decadent plates of Louisiana blue crab cakes, fried oysters Sbisa served over creamed spinach with Tabasco hollandaise, and rich turtle soup laced with sherry.
For an adventurous and transportive date
Yō Nashi (Central Business District)
Bring your SO to Yō Nashi for an omakase experience with a New Orleans accent. Chef Mackenzie Broquet’s otherworldly tasting menu changes frequently, pairing local ingredients and flavors with Japanese techniques in five nigiri courses. The results could include picturesque starters such as kombu-cured scallop with beet vinaigrette, black sesame togarashi cracker, purple radish, and crab roe bottarga. Yō Nashi’s jewel box-like interiors are dressed in blue and orange, with metallic leaf, stone, and shell accents. The intimate setting, pristine ingredients, and fit-for-royalty plating adds up to one transportive and unforgettable date.
Saint-Germain channels the lovely brasseries of Paris. There are just 12 precious seats, so snagging a reservation here will earn you instant hero status with your date. On the menu, expect a 10-course tasting menu; the chefs drill down on techniques such as dry-aging meats and washed-rind cheesemaking. Saint-Germain’s offerings change weekly, but recently served dishes have included white gazpacho layered on top of hot parmesan broth with fermented garlic, plus omelet beurre blanc with herbs and caviar. On every third Thursday, the menu transforms into an ethereal vegetarian feast.
For an evening of entertainment
You and your date might just think you’re here for a homestyle Cajun meal. But before you know it, chef Shermond Esteen Jr. is table-hopping with a microphone, kicking off a lively round of karaoke. That’s just how Nonno’s in the Marigny rolls, making it a super fun date destination. Whether it’s Wine Down Wednesday with discounted pours, movie night, or an evening with a DJ spinning smooth R&B (yes, there’s room to slow dance), this 40-seat spot has it all. Throw in some of the best shrimp and grits in town, all-day breakfast, and chef’s specials galore, and there’s no doubting why Nonno’s is a date-night darling.
For a proposal-worthy place
Crescent City Steaks (Mid-City)
There’s no better way to woo your beau than with steak and a martini at Crescent City Steaks. For many locals, the iconic Mid-City restaurant’s bacon-wrapped filet, sizzled in butter, is the gold standard. Founded by Croatian immigrant John Vojkovich in 1934, the family-owned restaurant was the first to serve slabs of prime-aged beef in New Orleans. There’s seafood, too. Say yes to lobster tail and broiled salmon along with a slew of veggie sides. Ask for a table along “lover’s lane” in one of the snug, six-seat tables surrounded by drapes for the ultimate privacy—and the ultimate question.
Beth D’Addono is a food and travel writer based in New Orleans. Her latest book is 100 Things to Do in New Orleans Before You Die.
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