The Editor's Wife's Opinions
Twenty-Five Most Romantic Restaurants,
From The Girl's Side Of The Table
By Mary Ann Fitzmorris
With all the excitement of the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day could easily get lost in the shuffle of events. It shouldn’t. Valentine’s Day is that special day that is just about the two of you. No distractions. So the place you choose to spend it with your significant other should be carefully selected, and everyone’s taste is different.
My significant other has asked me to compile a list of places that I would go, to give a woman’s perspective. Unlike him, I have not gone to every restaurant which could possibly be on the list. This pretty good list is from my own experience in these places, and my “feelings” about them. And what is Valentine’s Day about, if not “feelings”?
Understand that this is my list, not Tom’s, so food is NOT the first (or maybe only) consideration. This list is about a mood. And the place they fall on the list isn’t really all that significant. I could go to any of these on the big day and be thrilled.
1. R’evolution. French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. I can’t help it. I am totally smitten with the place. I love the bar first. It’s not even particularly comfortable. I dig the look and the feel, which is more like a vibe. And I like the food. The other rooms in the restaurant are equally gorgeous, each with a different look and feel. If you really want to wow your partner, the chef’s table seats six or eight, (or two for the right price, I’m sure), but is so tucked away it would be unforgettable.
2. Bombay Club. French Quarter: 830 Conti. 504-586-0972. The place is a little worn, but what isn’t sexy about booths so enclosed they make you feel alone in the world? Except the world outside the booth is interesting-like a New York speakeasy. All set around a French Quarter courtyard. Literally, a world unto itself. All this with great drinks and great food.
3. Sylvain. French Quarter: 625 Chartres St. 504-265-8123. Another deep-in-the-Quarter courtyard dark and cozy place. Handsome and hip, from the folks that brought us Patois.
4. Eleven 79. Warehouse District: 1179 Annunciation. 504-569-0001. This place is so small, with tables so close to each other, it could be Italy. Maybe it’s the crush of humanity, but I find it sensual. Great food too.
5. Irene's Cuisine. French Quarter: 539 St Philip. 504-529-8811. Also deep in the Quarter. Same Italian crush of humanity. Noisy. Fabulous food.
6. Mr. John’s Steakhouse. Garden District: 2111 St Charles Ave. 504-679-7697. This one didn’t move me at first, but the last time I went I wondered why I don’t go all the time. Busy, sexy in a masculine way.
7. Iris. French Quarter: 321 North Peters . 504-299-3944. Small and sexy in a feminine way. Tiny French Quarter courtyard. Superb food.
8. Maximo’s Italian Grill. French Quarter: 1117 Decatur. 504-586-8883. The food is great, the booths are small, but the place has an edge.
9. Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Tommy Andrade’s bar at Tommy’s might be the most sensual space in the city. His new place across the street has an understated warmth to it that just makes you feel good sitting there. Food is great, but the place makes me want to go back and back.
10. La Provence. Lacombe: 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. What is not romantic about a quiet French farmhouse with a roaring fire? Superb food.
11. Pelican Club. French Quarter: 615 Bienville. 504-523-1504. Outstanding food, but the romance is in the bar and first room.
12. Café Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. Soul-satisfying Italian food. Opera singers. Duh.
13. Le Foret. CBD: 129 Camp. 504-553-6738. An environment so gorgeous I want to move in. And the food is impeccable.
14. Muriel’s. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. Such an interesting place! Lots of different rooms, each with a unique character. Great food.
15. Ruth’s Chris Steak House. CBD: 525 Fulton St. 504-587-7099. When a beautiful restaurant called Riche closed, the steakhouse took over the glamourous space. Same Ruth’s Chris food.
16. Martinique. Uptown: 5908 Magazine. 504-891-8495. Tiny and cozy with a lush outdoor patio. Good food.
17. Vincent’s. Riverbend: 7839 St Charles Ave. 504-866-9313. Fabulous Italian food in a dark and cozy environment.
18. Ralph’s On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. Because it’s far from the madding crowd, I don’t often think of it. But I like this place, and it definitely fits on this list.
19. Patois. Uptown: 6078 Laurel. 504-895-9441. This small place with small rooms turns out spectacular food in deepest Uptown.
20. Gautreau’s. Uptown: 1728 Soniat St. 504-899-7397. Another tucked-away Uptown bastion of great food. Noisy and happening.
21. Pardo’s. Covington: 69305 Hwy 21. 985-893-3603. This uber glamorous north shore place could hold its own anywhere. Romantic is not the first thing that comes to mind, but the food is great and it is a standout.
22. Nola. French Quarter: 534 St Louis. 504-522-6652. Noisy. Busy. All centered around a wood burning fire. Cutting edge food.
23. Café Degas. Mid-City: 3127 Esplanade Ave. 504-945-5635. Cute little French bistro. Cramped in a good way. Good food.
24. MiLa. CBD: 817 Common. 504-412-2580 . Amazing food. A little cutting edge. For sweeties that are foodies first.
25. Michael’s. Slidell: 4820 Pontchartrain Dr. 985-649-8055. About as sensual as Slidell gets. The food, though, is actually sensual.
A Few More. O’Brien’s Grille is a handsome steakhouse, the only West Bank place on the list. If you are on a budget, think Zea. The food is consistently outstanding and it is our go-to date place. If you don’t mind a drive out of town, Ruffino’s in Baton Rouge will wow. Like Cafe Giovanni, only dark and with a roaring fire. Like a find in the Italian countryside, only five times larger than any place like that. Don’t even think of driving here without a reservation. And Hammond’s Jacmel Inn is a rambling house with private dormers and amazing food. Lakehouse on the north shore is nice, but definitely call first. They have the most maddening hours of non-operation.
One Hundred Most Romantic New Orleans Restaurants
This list is calculated on my own feelings (how can I report any other?), with the romantic and atmospheric considerations blended with the excellence of the cooking and service. No restaurant can make this list without good food, but the most wonderful cooking possible would not alone put a restaurant on this list.
To point up how disparate are the possible opinions about this question, I asked my wife--with whom I have had romantic dinners for twenty-two years--to give me a list of what she thinks are the most amorous places in town. You will find almost no correspondence between her list and mine.
All that said, I think you will find this a reasonable and useful list. All of the restaurants have current, detailed reviews here on NOMenu.Com. Click on the name of the restaurant to find out everything you'd want to know about it.
1. Commander's Palace. Garden District: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. No other restaurant is so good in so many ways. A great menu, stunning dining rooms in several styles, a courtyard, familiarity, sharp service, great wine cellar. Only drawback: it's big and famous.
2. La Provence. Lacombe: 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. The shortest possible trip to France from New Orleans. In the North Shore woods, it's rural and sophisticated at teh same time. The nicest fireplaces.
3. La Petite Grocery. Uptown: 4238 Magazine. 504-891-3377. Except for a few badly-placed tables, intimacy is everywhere. The food is beautiful, light, and big in flavor.
4. Restaurant August. CBD: 301 Tchoupitoulas. 504-299-9777. A glorious room with high ceilings, flattering light, and the brilliant food of Chef John Besh and company.
5. Windsor Court Grill Room. CBD: 300 Gravier. 504-522-1994. The new owners, management and chef continue to approach the restaurant's high-water marks of the 1990s. It's quiet, civilized, and the space is nicely divided into zones of privacy.
6. Stella!. French Quarter: 1032 Chartres. 504-587-0091. If you can get the server to soft-peddle his worship service for Chef Scott Boswell, you get the most erudite and polished menu in town, with top-notch wine pairings and a distinctly local environment.
7. Le Foret. CBD: 129 Camp. 504-553-6738. The best new restaurant in the post-K world filled a gap left when most of the grand restaurants of twenty years ago shut down in favor of the bistros. Exacting cooking in a classic style with fantastic ingredients, and a wine cellar to match.
8. Brennan's. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Not many tables in local restaurant can match those next to the windows looking onto the courtyard. The menu is same classy one as the one the waiter handed you before your prom.
9. Bombay Club. French Quarter: 830 Conti. 504-586-0972. A rare asset: a few plush, curtained private booths. If those are taken, the small main dining room is equally comfortable. Live music and one of the town's great bars.
10. Delmonico. Lee Circle Area: 1300 St Charles Ave. 504-525-4937. One of the city's handsomest restaurants, with a menu that relies largely on small plates.) Romance and gorging don't go together well.)
11. Galvez. French Quarter: 912 N Peters. 504-585-1400. This is the former Bella Luna, the only restaurant in town with a river view. Quiet and private. The menu is Spanish and well turned out, but atmosphere is the strong suit.
12. Emeril's. Warehouse District: 800 Tchoupitoulas. 504-528-9393. Brushes with celebrities are always sexy, but there's more to Emeril's than that. The service standards are unexcelled, the food is exciting, and the premises are cool.
13. Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. An imaginative mix of Italian and Creole cooking, serenaded by very good operatic singers. And a very sexy (maybe too sexy) bar. Open late.
14. Eleven 79. Warehouse District: 1179 Annunciation. 504-569-0001. Maybe the sexiest restaurant town, says my wife. The suave Joe Segreto purveys a well-studied Italian menu. Everybody in the place seems to know everyone else.
15. Ristorante Del Porto. Covington: 501 E Boston St. 985-875-1006. The most imaginative and best Italian food in the entire area, with very low lighting and enough ambient sound so that your conversation won't be heard by others.
16. Galatoire's. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. If you have to ask why Galatoire's is romantic, you'll never know.
17. Pelican Club. French Quarter: 615 Bienville. 504-523-1504. One of the two or three best contemporary Creole menus, live jazz piano, and menu pricing that removes that tension from a date. Best tables: in the bar.
18. Ralph's On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. Beautiful room, better view (of City Park) and a menu that has lately grown much more interesting while remaining romantically light.
19. Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Tommy Andrade's second restaurant across the street from Emeril's is the kind of place that's becoming rare, with an elegant but unstuffy dining room and occasionally exquisite cooking.
20. Dakota. Covington: 629 N US 190 . 985-892-3712. Not as polished as it once was, Dakota is still the most sophisticated restaurant on the North Shore, with a familiar (perhaps too) menu, excellent service, and an exceptional wine list.
21. Arnaud's. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. The most atmospheric of the grand old French-Creole grande dames, with a classic service style we don't see much anymore. Dinner of light tidbits in the bar with Chris Hannah's cocktails is an evening unto itself.
22. Bistro Daisy. Uptown: 5831 Magazine. 504-899-6987. Nice blend of old Uptown and new French Creole. A good place to be delivered by limo (parking is a little inconvenient).
23. Broussard's. French Quarter: 819 Conti. 504-581-3866. A long way from where it was before the storm, Broussard's has modernized everything except its beautiful dining rooms and courtyard. The food is its best ever.
24. Jacmel Inn. Hammond: 903 E Morris. 985-542-0043. Well worth the sixty-mile drive from New Orleans to Hammond, the 1885-vintage converted mansion is full of wonderful private nooks. And the food's good, too.
25. Tommy's Cuisine. Warehouse District: 746 Tchoupitoulas. 504-581-1103. Start in the classy bar next door with its great drinks and live music. Then into the quail, oddly antique dining rooms for a dinner cooked and served by old pros who know what you're trying to accomplish.
26. Latil's Landing. River Parishes: In Houmas House Plantation. 225-473-9380. The best plantation dining anywhere in the area.
27. Muriel's. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. How can one not wax romantic on Jackson Square?
28. MiLa. CBD: 817 Common. 504-412-2580 . Under-utilized, original, cool-looking, and quiet. A great tasting menu for $65.
29. Iris. French Quarter: 321 North Peters . 504-299-3944. Not well enough remembered after it moved into the French Quarter from Uptown, but every bit as creative and good.
30. Mr. B's Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078. The place for couple whose idea of romance includes lusty eating and lots of laughs.
31. Ruth's Chris Steak House. CBD: 228 Poydras (Harrah's Hotel). 504-587-7099 . The more beautiful of the two Ruth's here, with the magic power of top-end beefeating. Women love steakhouses more than men realize.
32. Olivier's Creole Restaurant. French Quarter: 204 Decatur. 504-525-7734. After a handsome renovation a few years ago, this is not only a very good traditional Creole restaurant, but an impressive environment. Like rabbit?
33. Gallagher's Grill. Covington: 509 S Tyler. 985-892-9992. Dimly lit, a fireplace, and a menu of familiar New Orleans eats served with an abundance of sizzle and aroma.
34. Keith Young's Steak House. Madisonville: 165 LA 21. 985-845-9940. The North Shore's best steak specialist, with beautiful dining rooms and a menu more extensive than you expect.
35. Annunciation. Warehouse District: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245. A lovely Creole-French bistro in the heart of the chic Warehouse District. The food of Steve Manning, for a long time chef at Clancy's (and it shows). Soft lighting, semi-quiet corners, lots of well-dressed customers.
36. GW Fins. French Quarter: 808 Bienville. 504-581-3467. The city's best seafood specialist. The banquettes are cushy and conducive to cuddling.
37. Antoine's. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. For people with a taste for history and eternity (like me), no restaurant in New Orleans is more appealing. For those with an aversion to ancient restaurants (like my wife), maybe not the best Valentine's venue.
38. Chateau Du Lac. Old Metairie: 2037 Metairie Rd. 504-831-3773. The best French bistro in New Orleans. May be a little too utilitarian for some decor junkies.
39. Patois. Uptown: 6078 Laurel. 504-895-9441. Atmosphere: a lightly-converted former poor boy shop and bar. Food: brilliant, original, French-inspired. Works for me.
40. Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras Street. 504-595-3305. From the Commander's Palace arm of the Brennans comes this well managed, quiet hotel restaurant. It has arguably the best bar in town. Comfy banquettes along the windows.
41. Court of Two Sisters. French Quarter: 613 Royal. 504-522-7273. Depends on the weather. When nice, nothing can compare to the courtyard as a lovely place to dine. The food is better than you think.
42. Impastato's. Metairie: 3400 16th Street. 504-455-1545. Even when the place is jammed with regulars, the booths in the main dining room allow you to hide from everyone except Joe Impastato, who will make his sexy fettuccine for you.
43. Maximo's Italian Grill. French Quarter: 1117 Decatur. 504-586-8883. Many small booths where two may hide out and communicate over exciting Italian eats.
44. One. Riverbend: 8132 Hampson. 504-301-9061. For those who like minuscule restaurants with little tables, here it is. The food bar is also fun, and the last couple I met there wound up getting married.
45. Apolline. Uptown: 4729 Magazine St. 504-894-8881. A charming shotgun double reconfigured into a dining room that's broken up just enough to make it feel private. Elegant food and a quiet environment.
46. Ristorante Carmelo. Mandeville: 1901 US Hwy 190 . 985-624-4844. The Northern Italian food is suave, and so is Carmelo. The dining room is a bit cold, though, unless you get a table in one of the corners in the rear. Start with pizza and cocktails.
47. Gautreau's. Uptown: 1728 Soniat St. 504-899-7397. Too loud. Too many people you know. If those aren't problems, then it's clear sailing to the works of one of the two or three best bistro kitchens in town.
48. La Crepe Nanou. Uptown: 1410 Robert . 504-899-2670. Get a table (it will take awhile), and you're on a side street in Paris or Lyon. Split a whole fish or a rack of lamb or a bowl of mussels.
49. Herbsaint. CBD: 701 St Charles Ave. 504-524-4114. Much nicer than Chef Donald Link's other restaurant (the tourist-favored Cochon), and better food, too. Great sidewalk tables in nice weather.
50. Coquette. Garden District: 2800 Magazine . 504-265-0421. Intimate and beautiful. Not for non-gourmets, though, a problem made worse by the shortness of the menu.
51. Upperline. Uptown: 1413 Upperline. 504-891-9822. A sense of warmth encloses you the minute you're inside. JoAnn Clevenger is a romantic, and she creates an ideal setting for love.
52. Redemption. Mid-City: 3835 Iberville St. 504-309-3570. It's in the 100-year-old church that used to house Christian's, which may conjure up the vision of a wedding. I think Chef Greg Picolo (from the now-gone Bistro at the Maison de Ville) will distract from that thought for a few minutes..
53. O'Brien's Grille. Gretna: 2020 Belle Chasse Hwy. 504-391-7229. Until you're inside the door, you wouldn't suspect this Gretna steak specialist could have a whiff of atmosphere. But it feels like a speakeasy, and the booths are made for daters.
54. Irene's Cuisine. French Quarter: 539 St Philip. 504-529-8811. It smells wonderful the minute you're inside. The tables are too close, but everybody in the place is always having such a good time that you can't help feeling the same way.
55. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. Masculine as any restaurant in town. This is a turn on for some women, however. The steaks are prime and the many well-stuffed banquettes are centers of warmth.
56. Brigtsen's. Riverbend: 723 Dante. 504-861-7610. The food's going to be great--you know that going in. The dining rooms are small, and the corners are intimate. Best tables: Alpha and beta.
57. Bayona. French Quarter: 430 Dauphine. 504-525-4455. Susan Spicer's restaurant has the woman's touch, and right there it's ahead of the game. The dining rooms are pretty and the menu reads like a poem.
58. Meauxbar. French Quarter: 942 N Rampart. 504-569-9979. A secret restaurant, whose name deludes those not in the know into thinking it's not the terrific French bistro it is.
59. Rene Bistrot. Warehouse District: 700 Tchoupitoulas. 504-613-2350. Not half enough people eat here. It's so big and the tables so configured that you can hide in it. Hiding is romantic. Rene is Chef Rene Bajeux, you know.
60. Nathan's. Slidell: 36440 Old Bayou Liberty Rd . 985-643-0443. Banquettes along one wall, windows onto a bayou along another, a balcony for before-dinner drinks: lovely, and the food is among the best in Slidell.
61. Atchafalaya. Uptown: 901 Louisiana Ave. 504-891-9626. A very cool adaptation of a battered old restaurant. Meanwhile, the kitchen turns out astonishingly good versions of what you thought were familiar dishes. Top-class cocktails.
62. Cafe Degas. Mid-City: 3127 Esplanade Ave. 504-945-5635. The semi-enclosed (depends on the weather) deck is charming, and French accents always ring that bell.
63. Lilette. Uptown: 3637 Magazine. 504-895-1636. Lots of alluring possibilities, starting with the French-accented food from the blackboard to the Bouligny bar next door, a great place for long lingering.
64. Jamila's. Uptown: 7806 Maple. 504-866-4366. Exotic: Tunisian food is half-French, half Middle Eastern. Couscous. Grilled fish with herbs. Imagine you're in Casablanca (the movie).
65. Michael's. Slidell: 4820 Pontchartrain Dr. 985-649-8055. It looks like a secret cafe on a beach in the Caribbean. Most of the tables are cloaked in semi-darkness. The soft guitar of Hank Mackie wafts over. Hmm.
66. Vega Tapas Cafe. Old Metairie: 2051 Metairie Rd. 504-836-2007. The long, tall dining room is a little stark, but the menu is cool, and coolness is good on a date.
67. Fausto's. Metairie: 530 Veterans Blvd. 504-833-7121. Once the older early-evening crowd thins out, this place becomes one of the most atmospheric and delicious of moderate Italian cafes.
68. Annadele Plantation. Covington: 71518 Chestnut. 985-809-7669. In an 1855 building, the Garden Room makes the fair sex look even fairer. Nice gardens outside.
69. Steak Knife. Lakeview: 888 Harrison Ave. 504-488-8981. All the makings of a night on the town. Good cooking in a marble-lined dining room. Then live music most nights in the next room over.
70. Tony Angello's. Lakeview: 6262 Fleur de Lis Dr. 504-488-0888. Most of Mr. Tony's customers have been dining there for decades. And yet, I never fail to nice that many beautiful young women are always there with their dates.
71. RioMar. Warehouse District: 800 S Peters. 504-525-3474. Start with tapas and wine in the bar, then enter the dining room for bigger things. It's a converted warehouse, and might not meet everyone's idea of a romantic venue.
72. Orleans Grapevine. French Quarter: 720 Orleans. 504-523-1930. A nice old French Quarter building with a dim, quiet environment, some small outdoor dining areas, and surprising cooking. And a strong wine list.
73. SoBou. Gretna: 1036 Lafayette. 504-367-0935. If your lover likes to feel as if he or she is in a hip kind of place, this is it. The bar menu is the whole menu--or vice versa. The cocktails are works of art, and you can help yourself to wine. The place feels vaguely dreamy.
74. Ristorante Filippo. Metairie: 1917 Ridgelake. 504-835-4008. A restaurant that smells delicious expands all the other senses. This one does. Best tables are in the bar.
75. Ruth's Chris Steak House. Metairie: 3633 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-3600. The Metairie Ruth's Chris (the oldest in the world) is not as handsome as the one downtown, but it's nice enough, and the food is better.
76. Austin's. Metairie: 5101 West Esplanade Ave . 504-888-5533. As time goes on this space in a Metairie strip mall gets more atmosphere (live music, sometimes) and better food. Great date place if your date is a reluctant gourmet.
77. Baru Bistro & Tapas . Uptown: 3700 Magazine. 504-895-2225. Small inside, but the sidewalk tables are most in demand. Often completely filled with couples on dates. Bring your own wine.
78. Martinique. Uptown: 5908 Magazine. 504-891-8495. The best tables are in a hedge-surrounded courtyard, heavily planted. Heaters keep it comfortable on all but the coolest nights.
79. Flaming Torch. Uptown: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900. The small downstairs dining room is dim and quiet. The menu is French with a just enough New Orleans.
80. Chophouse. CBD: 322 Magazine St. 504-522-7902. In the suave surroundings the now-extinct Cuvee built for itself, this is a Prime steakhouse with a good way of searing beef. Live music all the time--if a tad too loudly performed.
81. Nola. French Quarter: 534 St Louis. 504-522-6652. Emeril's most casual restaurant is hip in its offerings, and is ensconced in a unique three-level building with big windows.
82. Andrea's. Metairie: 3100 19th St. 504-834-8583. Romance for those of us who've been at the game for awhile. The bar--usually hosting a pianist--is the loveliest spot. The chef will make a fuss over your date. Order seafood.
83. Palace Cafe. French Quarter: 605 Canal. 504-523-1661. The expansive, heavily-windowed space feels grand--except perhaps for the smaller booths scattered about. More casual than you think.
84. Nuvolari's. Mandeville: 246 Girod St. 985-626-5619. A few tables hidden in odd corners are very nice for a dimly-lit evening of good Italian and Creole eats. The place is due for a renovation, though.
85. Gio's Villa Vancheri. Mandeville: 2890 E Causeway Approach. 985-624-2597. The red-checked dining room seems like something out of an old movie. The chef is formerly of Las Vegas, and makes everything into a production, even though it's really a casual trattoria.
86. Lola. Covington: 517 N New Hampshire. 985-892-4992. Two former Brennan's chefs married one another and opened this marvelous dining room in the old, secluded Covington train depot. The rarity of dinner (Friday and Saturday only) makes it even more special.
87. Mat & Naddie's. Riverbend: 937 Leonidas. 504-861-9600. For lovers of the unique and quirky, Mat & Naddie's has lately accelerated its progress into the future of white-tablecloth dining. Although there's really just one dining room, somehow it's full of intimate tables.
88. Le Meritage. French Quarter: 1001 Toulouse. 504-522-8800. The whole menu can be had either in appetizer or entree form, with full and half-glasses of wine to match. Quiet, rarely bustling, and under most people's radar.
89. Cafe Minh . Mid-City: 4139 Canal. 504-482-6266 . A sleek, quiet restaurant blending New Orleans and Vietnamese flavors. A good place to surprise someone with.
90. Maple Street Cafe. Riverbend: 7623 Maple. 504-314-9003. For would-be romantic diners on a budget, here is a pleasant split-level dining room with a mix of New Orleans and Italian dishes at bargain prices.
91. Leonardo's Trattoria. CBD: 709 St Charles. 504-558-8986. An inexpensive but delicious Sicilian cafe with a major specialty in pizza and a broad menu otherwise. Good sidewalk tables.
92. Santa Fe. Esplanade Ridge: 3201 Esplanade Ave. 504-948-0077. The new Santa Fe (forget the old) is in the former Gabrielle, and is right for dates with a taste for honest, raffish spaces and interesting eats. Mostly Mexican, but much more.
93. Lüke. CBD: 333 St Charles Ave. 504-378-2840. It's all about table selection. The ones along the wall past the bar are most comfortable. The Alsatian menu is full of unique dishes. And here is also a truly great hamburger for the younger romantics.
94. Morton's The Steakhouse. CBD: 365 Canal (Canal Place Mall). 504-566-0221. Beautiful dining room. Quiet. Tables are separated from all others by strategic dividers. Expensive (an aphrodisiac).
95. Rib Room. French Quarter: 621 St Louis St. 504-529-7045. The spaciousness of the room and the bigness of the tables and chairs are impressive. Sit by the windows and you will disappear from the world.
96. Cafe Equator. Metairie: 2920 Severn Ave. 504-888-4772 . One of the two or three best Thai restaurants in the area, this is a handsome, dimly-lit room that cooks the kind of spicy, light food that opens up all the passageways.
97. Louisiana Bistro. French Quarter: 337 Dauphine. 504-525-3335. A minuscule cafe that seems to have been jammed into its French Quarter building as an afterthought. Good if your date likes to ask, "How did you even know about this place?"
98. Feelings. Marigny: 2600 Chartres. 504-945-2222. The oldest restaurant in the Marigny, Feelings has a unique. . . well, feeling. It's more Southern than most New Orleans restaurants, in a charming, antique way. A light style of cooking helps, too.
99. Ciro's Cote Sud. Riverbend: 7918 Maple. 504-866-9551. Two specialties: pizza (superb) and French bistro food (even better). Know that they don't take credit cards; nothing is less romantic than not being able to pay a check.
100. Coffee Pot. French Quarter: 714 St Peter. 504-524-3500. A little cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in the French Quarter might seem counter-intuitive for a romantic evening. But I can't forget all the wonderful dates I had there in my impecunious youth. And Pat O'Brien's is still next door.
Scroll Down For The 100 Most Romantic New Orleans Restaurants, And My Wife's Take On The Matter
If you’re dating someone in a serious way--and that would include being married to that person--then special Valentine’s Day dining activities on that day (not the day before or the week after) are mandatory. Like taxes and death.
If that sounds like a cynical male perspective, then you must be a woman. What are you reading this for? Valentine's Day is for women. You don't have to do anything. The whole load is on the guys. Again, the ladies can stop reading now and click over to the One Hundred Most Romantic Restaurants page.
Have they all left? All right, fellers. Maybe your relationship has slipped into a very comfortable, personalized groove in which anything either of you does charms the other. Lucky you. Or it could be you have a good dodge. You're a doctor or a fireman. Mine is that our anniversary is three days earlier, and we always do that up large. But that barely works.
Otherwise, the pressures of our culture require you to take your lady to dinner on Valentine's Day. Although the restaurants have been advertising that it would be a good idea to turn the celebration into Valentine's Week--to spread the crush of customers out--doing the deed on any day other than February 14 is like bringing home a single red rose. It sounds good to you, and your lover will be polite about it, but what she's really thinking is, "What a cheesy crap-out."
It's unfortunate that Valentine's is one of those days when restaurants are slammed. All their best customers are there, along with all the people who dine out four times a year. A bad mix. The food and service even in the best restaurants will be off, and sometimes special menus with higher prices are rolled out, to boot.
And there's more. Crowded, busy restaurants are rarely romantic. The most romantic restaurants are those with only a few other people in them. Not only can you feel truly private, but you don't have to listen to the conversations of other would-be lovers. And what a mood buster it is when, as you try to linger over a last glass of wine or coffee, the waiter will begin vibing at you so he can turn the table.
And, although Valentine's Day is a big one for restaurants, they're not nuts about it. Why? Because most people who dine out on that day make reservations for two. Many tables that ordinarily would serve four people are half-empty. This is one of the reasons why some restaurants have begun raising prices on Valentine's Day.
These handicaps cannot be calculated to cut any ice whatsoever with the girls. Valentine's Day is just one of those times when we must become supermen, and call in our chips. You did take my advice to become a good regular customer somewhere, didn't you?
Even if you did, don't be surprised if you find your favorite regular restaurants are completely booked up when you call three hours before you’d like to be there with your valentine. Two words:
I mean, weeks in advance. Yes, restaurants do take them that far ahead. Most restaurants accept reservations for as much as a year. There is no charge for this. No reason in the world why you shouldn't have taken care of this reservation on, say, Halloween.
For the sake of all that is holy, pick up the phone and get this done. Choose the restaurant she likes--not the one you like, or the brand-new eatery the man who runs the oil-change service said you should try. (That may seem obvious, but if the women were still here you could ask them how many men actually understand this.)
When you call, ask that a bottle of your favorite bubbly wine will be waiting in an ice bucket at the table. And have some flowers delivered to the restaurant for your table. Overdo everything. It's the only gambit that gets their attention. You'll thank me later.
I have one final resource for you: a list of the One Hundred Most Romantic Restaurants In New Orleans. This should only be consulted if you have no idea what she likes. Go with the familiar first. Or you might leave the list on your computer screen if you think she might see it. Might give her some ideas. She might even let you in on them
Best of luck. See you on the other side.