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12 stellar special-occasion restaurants in New Orleans

A photo of Red logo
by Beth D'Addono
Updated December 18, 2023

New Orleanians mark time by food seasons, not calendar flips. The hottest months belong to frozen daiquiris and technicolor snoballs. Spring brings families and friends together over spicy spreads of boiled crawfish. Carnival season is all about sweet and savory king cakes. In other words, in a city that puts food at the center of its life—and not just the center of the table—eating and drinking is always a special occasion.

When it comes to celebrating a birthday, graduation, or just feeling alive in the Big Easy, the stage is set with buckets of seafood, cocktails in James Beard Award-winning bars, and grand dining rooms that have hosted generations of milestone events.

Read on for a guide to the 12 best restaurants to book across New Orleans to get the party started.

A photo of Arnaud's restaurant
4.7
4.7 (7233)
$50 and over
Creole
French Quarter
About the restaurant

With gracious attitudes and pitch-perfect timing, the staff at Arnaud’s is as happy about your special occasion as you are. Celebrate with tasty Creole plates and an effervescent French 75 cocktail. Not to mention an exquisite view: Arnaud’s beveled glass windows overlook charming Rue Bienville. Add a swinging jazz brunch on weekends, and toasting an occasion at this French Quarter classic is a no-brainer. In addition to the main restaurant, there’s a more relaxed sibling spot, Arnaud’s Jazz Bistro (set next to Arnaud’s main dining room) and a smaller annex called the French 75 bar for drinks.


Top review
Photomanvip
Dined 2 days ago
Beautiful historic memorable, dining experience. It felt very old-school New Orleans
A photo of Brennan's restaurant
4.7
4.7 (11290)
$31 to $50
Creole
French Quarter
About the restaurant

This storied restaurant has anchored Creole dining on Royal Street since 1946 and is a go-to for birthdays or anniversaries. No festive meal here is complete without the bananas Foster, a flaming bowl of bananas, butter, and rum invented by founder Owen Brennan in the early 1950s. The cinnamon-scented show is the perfect ending to breakfast at Brennan’s, where the highlights are Creole-accented egg dishes. Stop by the courtyard every Friday at 5 pm sharp, when the staff sabers a bottle of Champagne (call ahead to make sure the courtyard is not reserved for a private event).


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined today
I came to NOLA for a birthday trip & reserved a table here on a whim and it was amazing! The service was top notch and every thing tasted delicious. I would recommend this place to anyone & will definitely be back when I visit again.
A photo of Yo Nashi restaurant
4.7
4.7 (442)
$50 and over
Japanese
Central Business District
About the restaurant

Yo Nashi isn’t just omakase in New Orleans—it’s New Orleans omakase. Which means that Japanese techniques and styles collide with in-season New Orleans ingredients for an occasion-worthy eight- to 10-course omakase dinner. The menu changes regularly, but past dishes have included caviar and cream with sake gelée and bluefin tuna tartare with black garlic vinaigrette and mango. The omakase concept is relatively new for New Orleans diners, making Yo Nashi a unique celebration spot to book.


Top review
Tkjacobsonvip
Dined on Jun 13, 2024
One of the best meals I have ever had! Truly exceptional!
A photo of Antoine's restaurant
4.3
4.3 (10936)
$31 to $50
Creole
French Quarter
About the restaurant

Antoine’s has managed to survive and thrive since 1860. The storied restaurant has outlived the Great Depression, two World Wars, Prohibition, and a pandemic. Through it all, a celebration at Antoine’s mattered. The kitchen cranks out some of the city’s most famous dishes, such as oysters Rockefeller and eggs Sardou. While dinner is a given here, there’s also a special jazz brunch. The grand restaurant can seat over 700 people at one time in several rooms that one could get lost in. During Prohibition, a door in the ladies’ room led to a secret chamber where a coffee cup full of booze was the reward. Finding the way back—well, that was another story.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined today
Wonderful experience. Our waiter and his assistant were very attentive. His name started with an A and he’s been there for 14 years. He gave us a tour of the 14 dining rooms. I had the soufflé potatoes and the gulf fish amandine. It was delicious. This has been my favorite meal in NOLA and I will return some day.
A photo of Shaya restaurant
4.9
4.9 (4969)
$31 to $50
Israeli
Uptown
About the restaurant

Sleek, monochromatic Shaya was made for big nights out. Step into the uptown blue-tiled space, where the smell of wood smoke offers a preview of what’s to come. Pillows of pita bread, slow-cooked lamb, spiced hanger steak, and gulf shrimp kebabs are baked to perfection in a wood-burning oven. The menu draws from Tel Aviv’s ultra-original food scene, a blend of culinary influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Greece. With all that going for it, it’s no surprise the celebration-worthy spot earned a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2016.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 6 days ago
One of the best restaurants in New Orleans. I have eaten here 10+ times and every time is perfect.
A photo of Lola's restaurant
4.6
4.6 (722)
$30 and under
Spanish
Mid-City / City Park
About the restaurant

This intimate neighborhood Spanish tapas restaurant on Esplanade Avenue might just be the perfect date night or anniversary spot. The dining room is full of two-tops big enough to hold a large pan of paella to share, but small enough to have a quiet conversation. The menu’s greatest hits include tender strips of grilled calamari, garlicky mushrooms, and fideuas (an angel hair pasta-based paella). Save room for housemade almond nougat ice cream; it comes in a large parfait glass and is big enough for two.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
The food was wonderful. It was raining so we were seated inside. It was a bit loud with everyone speaking but not too terrible. Other than that I would HIGHLY recommend going. Worth the trip would definitely try again next time we are in town.
A photo of Café Sbisa restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1410)
$30 and under
Cajun
French Quarter
About the restaurant

Chef and co-owner Alfred Singleton shines at this historic restaurant, which traces its origins to 1899. Café Sbisa is one of the oldest French Quarter restaurants and known for turning Gulf seafood into one spectacular gumbo, made with court bouillon (broth) from co-owner Craig Napoli’s seafood business. Toast to a special occasion in the main dining room; for a more intimate affair, the restaurant offers private dining on its two upper floors.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Enjoyable experience!! Great creole cuisine, superior service with New Orleans charm. We’ll be back!
A photo of Restaurant R'evolution restaurant
4.8
4.8 (7197)
$50 and over
Creole / Cajun / Southern
French Quarter
About the restaurant

This posh French Quarter restaurant comes from celebrity chef and Louisiana native John Folse and partner Rick Tramonto. Restaurant R’evolution was made for special occasions, thanks to an extra-elegant setting (crystal chandeliers, red velvet seats) and remixed Cajun and Creole classics. The menu exudes pure decadence, with options like caviar, foie gras, and splurgy special-occasion cognacs. If there’s one dish everyone orders, it’s the Death by Gumbo, a silky liquid poured over a stuffed quail tableside.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
I can't go on enough about this place. It was not only an experience the food was top notch. Get that lobster gnocchi. Trust me.
A photo of La Petite Grocery restaurant
4.8
4.8 (5757)
$31 to $50
French
Garden District
About the restaurant

Chef and owner Justin Devillier, whose expertise landed him a 2016 James Beard Award: Best Chef South, takes traditional New Orleans cuisine to the next level at this charming Cajun spot. From blue crab beignets to shellfish stew with collards, Devillier’s riffs on Southern flavors are spot on. The chef and his team can also create a specific menu experience just for your party, depending on what you’re celebrating. As for its name, the Creole-style cottage started its journey as the Central Tea, Coffee, and Butter Depot in the late 1800s, and the genuine hospitality is still alive and kicking.


Top review
timewithtati
Dined 6 days ago
You must get the crab beignets. The service was great, very personable staff and happy to be there. Food was paced well and plated delicately for balanced bites. We went for a late lunch on a Saturday and it was busy but not crowded.
A photo of The Grill Room restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1528)
$50 and over
Unspecified
Central Business District
About the restaurant

Classy and sophisticated, the Grill Room promises a very splashy special occasion-meal. Its glitzy setting—wall-length, hand-painted murals, mirrored ceilings, and one dazzling chandelier—is fit for a grand proposal. Expect an impressive spread of modern Louisiana dishes presented with an artistic eye. Executive chef Vlad Kogan and chef de cuisine Alex Kuzin design an always-changing menu of dishes like wild mushroom steak and fried South Carolina quail, and, if it’s offered, the strawberry pavlova with basil panna cotta is a must. If you’re not here to pop the question, consider coming for the popular lunch special—a luxe take on the meat and three.


Top review
TishelleM
Dined 5 days ago
One of my fave dining spots! It never ever disappoints!
A photo of The Rib Room at the Omni Royal Orleans restaurant
4.3
4.3 (1810)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
French Quarter
About the restaurant

New Orleanians have celebrated anniversaries and birthdays at the Rib Room for more than 60 years. The restaurant earned a 2023 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience award for its wagyu dish served on fried rice cake with Cajun caviar and torched bearnaise, and it continues to consistently outdo itself. Chef Ronald Proano goes way beyond king cuts of prime rib and dazzles with local seafood like the crab salad with heirloom tomatoes and burrata. Before or after, keep the celebration going with a drink at Touché bar next door.


Top review
TarishaB
Dined 7 days ago
Dinner was great. I went to the Rib Room for the French Onion Soup, that’s why I chose the restaurant. Service was great, my server Christian was awesome.
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