New Orleans is a city oozing all kinds of romance, even in its restaurants. Whether in the embrace of a swank hotel brand or a family-owned neighborhood spot, from dining in a hidden gem in the Warehouse District to a Japanese omakase setting in the CBD, New Orleans has what it takes to feed the object of your desire.
Vyoone’s (Warehouse District)
It’s impossible to imagine the experience that awaits just passing by 412 Girod Street in the Warehouse District. Vyoone’s (pronounced VEE-ahns) exterior brick façade and small sign don’t give a clue to the pretty, landscaped courtyard, a seductive setting that is tres romantique. Owner Vyoone Therese Segue brings her French African Creole heritage to the table, offering fetching French fare such as escargot with garlic butter, French onion soup, and coq au vin, along with brunch and happy hour treats.
Dining at the restaurant: Dine in the courtyard if at all possible or climb the curvy staircase to a table with leafy, street views.
Takeout: For a party for two at your place, most of the menu is available for pickup, but you’ll need to call in your order. A few of the dishes that travel especially well include the Le Terre et le Mar (land of the sea), a feast of hand-carved ribeye, garlic shrimp, and roasted veggies and the red wine-simmered coq au vin, best enjoyed shared.
Café Sbisa (French Quarter)
What could be more romantic than dining on a balcony in the French Quarter? That’s an option at Cafe Sbisa, the century-old brasserie on Decatur Street. The place is an atmospheric beauty, with original wood, intimate balcony and patio dining, and a staircase that harks back to a golden age. Chef/partner Alfred Singleton, who worked his way up from busboy to chef, commands the kitchen. Outstanding French-Creole cuisine includes the likes of crab cakes made with Louisiana blue crab, fried oysters Sbisa served over creamed spinach with Tabasco hollandaise, and rich turtle soup laced with sherry.
Dining at the restaurant: Sit on the inside balcony overlooking the inspiring bawdy George Dureau mural, which somehow survived the mold that bloomed after the flood. Order any of the seafood dishes, sourced from owner Craig Napoli’s seafood dock, A&C Seafood, in Hopedale, Louisiana. The Sunday jazz brunch is a fabulous way to get in the mood.
Takeout: The menu is not available to go.
Peacock Room (Warehouse District)
It’s hard to imagine a sassier setting than the Peacock Room at the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot, an inviting lounge loaded with romantic appeal. With riotous prints, rich velvets, and rolled leather banquettes, Peacock Room is eye-popping, crowned with a collection of gilded cages and feathered birds. Chef Chris Lusk offers a menu of enticing shareables such as duck and smoked oyster gumbo, served with pickled red bean potato salad and one of the chef’s personal favorites, the crawtator, or crusted oysters fried with a panko and Zapp’s potato chips coating. Sip on classic cocktails along with an impressive collection of madeira and rum and an emphasis on drinks that are light and floral.
Dining at the restaurant: Reserve an intimate table on a Thursday night when Da Lovebirds perform, featuring “The Songbird of New Orleans” contemporary-jazz singer Robin Barnes (close your eyes and Ella Fitzgerald comes to mind) and her husband, bass player Pat Casey. The love is real.
Takeout: Black lentil curry, katsu chicken grilled cheese, and a burger are just a few of the menu items offered to go.
Crescent City Steaks (Mid-City)
New Orleanians love their beef. And for many locals, the bacon-wrapped filet sizzled in butter at Crescent City Steaks is the gold standard. Founded by Croatian immigrant John Vojkovich in 1934, the still 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. Beyond serving stellar steaks (the Chateaubriand for two is classic), Crescent City oozes the particular brand of hospitality that is the calling card of a true New Orleans institution.
Dining at the restaurant: Ask for a table along “lover’s lane” in one of the snug, six-seat tables surrounded by drapes for the ultimate privacy. Go ahead, spoon away from prying eyes while feeding each other tender bites of porterhouse and Brabant potatoes.
Takeout: Call the restaurant to order the perfect celebration dinner to go: porterhouse for two, garlic bread, au gratin potatoes, asparagus and the house special Creole cream cheesecake for dessert.
Commons Club at Virgin Hotels (Warehouse District)
If you or your boo loves glamor, you’ll dig the retro vibe at the new Commons Club at Virgin Hotels, an uncommonly fabulous setting to showcase local chef Alex Harrell’s deceptively simple menu of Southern- and Mediterranean-influenced small and large plates. Try whipped pimento cheese on toast with bits of Tennessee-cured Benton ham and curls of sweet pickle or that mound of stone-ground Alabama Bayou Cora grits surrounded by Gulf shrimp, all bathed in a smoky tomato and fennel broth.
Dining at the restaurant: Ask for a seat in the sexy Shag Room and bar area, a riot of colors and textures and nude art that spreads across the walls and up the stairs to the second floor.
Takeout: The Commons Club doesn’t offer takeout.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Galentine’s Day Brunch. Book the Experience here.
Otra Vez (South Market District)
Chef Akhtar Nawab is well known for his Brooklyn eatery Alta Calidad, which twice earned the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award. He opened Otra Vez in 2019 in the burgeoning South Market District, bringing tapas-style modern Mexican fare to New Orleans. Nibble on small plates such as queso and guac and share the roasted mojo oysters, char-grilled with chile butter. The crispy tempura shrimp tacos spiced with chipotle is a fine choice, same goes for the carnitas tostada, topped with silky avocado and bright with citrus. Don’t miss the deep menu of mezcal- and tequila-fueled margaritas.
Dining at the restaurant: Candlelight becomes Otra Vez, bathing the modern sleek setting in a soft flickering glow.
Takeout: The menu is offered online for pick up and delivery with options such as kale tostadas with black beans and oregano-roasted chicken.
Maypop (Central Business District)
Local fans bereft from the pandemic closing of Maypop in March 2020 were over the moon to welcome chef Michael Gulotta’s CBD gem back in 2021. Situated just blocks from the Caesar’s Superdome, the chef’s sibling restaurant to MoPho shines with a menu of Southeast Asian-inspired Southern cuisine, handmade pastas, and house-made charcuterie.
Dining at the restaurant: Take your sweetie by the hand and check out the huge map that dominates one wall of Maypop to get a sense of where the kitchen gets its inspiration. The foodways encompass the Mississippi River from one angle and the Mekong delta from another, explaining dishes such as satsuma chile-glazed duck breast with five spice beet salad garnished with local kumquats and tahini or crispy fried oysters from P&J Oyster House garnished with a bourbon barrel soy aioli.
Takeout: Chef Gulotta’s menu lends itself perfectly to a table for two at home. Call to place an order for takeout or delivery.
Yō Nashi (Central Business District)
What better way to impress your sushi-loving sweetie than taking over the two corner seats at the sexy bar at Yō Nashi, a New Orleans omakase restaurant that delivers the freshest locally sourced ingredients prepared with Japanese technique and presentation. Just four blocks from the edge of the French Quarter on Carondelet, Yō Nashi — which means “pear” in Japanese — delights with an $89 ten-course omakase menu from chef Mackenzie “Mack” Broquet. The menu might start with a kombu-cured scallop with beet vinaigrette, black sesame tōgarashi cracker, purple radish, and crab roe bottarga and move to a lightly torched chūtoro nigiri with seared foie gras.
Dining at the restaurant: The vibrant setting stimulates, with its bright shades of blue and orange and gilded likenesses of nature, including pebbles, shells, twigs, and, of course, pears on a branch.
Takeout: The restaurant does not offer takeout.
Copper Vine (Central Business District)
At Copper Vine, dinner is a relaxed and grown-up affair with wine on tap and tastings galore. Although Copper Vine is a swank 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. Chef Amy Mehrtens, a seasoned CIA-trained chef who worked most recently as a sous at Commander’s Palace, offers inspired bites including bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Creole cream cheese and a filet brochette with wild mushrooms and a tangy roasted pepper sauce.
Dining at the restaurant: Have a drink at the handsome bar, or touch knees under a table for two by the window overlooking the verdant patio.
Takeout: Order online to pick up a candlelit soiree at home, with flash-fried Brussels topped with parmesan and garlic aioli, French shallot soup, and the wagyu burger all popular options. Wine is also available with your order.
San Lorenzo (Garden District)
Wrangling a reservation at this sophisticated Italian eatery in the Lower Garden District is a coup, thanks to an inspired menu of coastal Italian cuisine and sauve European setting. Founded as an orphanage in 1861, the red brick complex fell into disrepair until local developers partnered with Austin-based MML Hospitality for the $22.2 million redo. Enjoy a pasta- and seafood-centric repast, with an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably line caught and bycatch fish. Oysters are available raw or grilled with parmesan butter, so get them for sure.
Dining at the restaurant: Dress up for this and remember to wear your sexiest shoes, Italian style. Have a drink at the aptly named Paradise Lounge before or after.
Takeout: Although the restaurant menu isn’t available to go, the Paradise Lounge menu is. Pick from snacks such as shrimp cocktail and fried zucchini or for something more substantial, order the likes of spaghetti pomodoro with eggplant or a wagyu burger with garlic aioli.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Feast of Saint Valentine. Book the Experience here.
The Bower (Lower Garden District)
This modern farm-fueled restaurant tucked away in the Lower Garden District spotlights the talents of chef Marcus Woodham and his menu of small plates inspired by flavors from Southeast Asia and the sun-kissed Mediterranean. Bright and airy with a lovely outdoor space, The Bower features produce from Sugar Roots farm in Algiers, just one clue into the chef’s fresher-than-fresh sensibility. His tuna tartare has a Mediterranean spin with capers, kalamata olives, pine nuts and sumac added to the glistening pearls of fish. Always order the revolving burrata dish, most recently the silky creamy goodness was paired with eggplant caponata, bits of orange and rosemary, with a sturdy piece of focaccia for dipping.
Dining at the restaurant: Plants literally hang from the ceiling at The Bower, so no matter where you and your date sit, you’ll be surrounded by natural energy.
Takeout: The Bower does not offer takeout.
Don’t mind the sign outside that says Sugar Park — that Italian pizzeria used to be in the space now occupied by Saint-Germain in Bywater, but the neon sign was so cool, the owners couldn’t bear to part with it. Opened in late 2018 by a culinary krewe formerly from MoPho, this Parisian-style brasserie has just 12 reservation-only seats with a tasting menu served Thursday through Sunday nights. Want to impress your boo? Snag a reservation here, and you’ll be a hero.
Dining at the restaurant: This cozy spot feels like you’re eating in a bungalow on a Parisian side street. The chefs drill down into the likes of dry aging of meats, washed rind cheese making, and a la minute seafood butchery. The menu changes weekly, but a few dishes served recently include white gazpacho layered on top of hot Parmesan broth with fermented garlic as well as omelet beurre blanc topped with herbs and caviar. Every third Thursday the menu is an ethereal vegetarian feast.
Takeout: Saint-Germain doesn’t offer its chef’s tasting menu to go.