New Orleans

Cozy Up at These Romantic Restaurants in New Orleans

Sylvain
Sylvain
Sylvain

New Orleans is prone to romance, though honestly the most common form is that of people falling in love with this place and not necessarily each other. Still, with its mossy tree-lined avenues, architecture of faded elegance, lazy swing of the Mississippi River, and plenty of nooks to disappear into within the French Quarter, the city might inspire a tryst or two. 

When it’s time to start making moves on whomever you’re eyeing up across the bar or swiping right on from the comfort of your own couch, here are places that’ll help get date night started out right. From intimate tapas bars to cozy natural wine spots, here are the most romantic restaurants in New Orleans. What happens next, though, is up to you.

Luvi

Uptown
Chinese and Japanese cuisine in a funky interior

Take a date to Luvi, and you’ll be guaranteed a topic of conversation over the colorful plating, fresh dishes, and bright decor. Chef Hao Gong’s inventive Shanghai cooking offers more than just adventurous dining. Dishes like pork and ginger dumplings or a raw bar selection of seared tuna and black caviar will give you something to discuss if your date night conversational skills fail you.

Costera
Costera
Costera

Costera

Uptown
A modern Uptown dining room for coastal Spanish tapas

What’s more intimate than sharing a meal where you share each plate? The Spanish-inspired dining here brings you shareables like citrus-and-vermouth-marinated olives, octopus à la plancha, and plates full of blistered shishito peppers that can surprise you with spice. Don’t forget to take a look at the wine menu, either. One bottle of Tempranillo can go a long way.

Paladar 511
Paladar 511
Paladar 511

Paladar 511

Marigny
Chic neighborhood spot for pizza, pasta, and seafood

While the main dining room is a bustling hodgepodge of families, groups of friends, and servers navigating it all, the more intimate balcony above is the best place to be seated before digging into lemonfish crudo or squid ink spaghetti. Order a pizza to share, and spend some time inspecting the cocktail menu. After your meal, head toward the river to find the entrance to Crescent Park for a sunset stroll.

Sylvain
Sylvain
Sylvain

Sylvain

French Quarter
Cozy American gastropub with plant-filled back patio

This cozy, candlelit restaurant just off Jackson Square is perfect for when you want to get close — as in, literally close, because you’ll need to huddle over the light to read the menu — but it’s about as intimate of a space as you’ll find in the city’s busiest neighborhood. While some offerings have been recently updated, you’ll still find the option to impress your date by ordering the $90 champagne and fries combo.

Upperline

Uptown
Art-filled 1870s townhouse serving elevated Creole classics​​​​​​​

It doesn’t matter who you are or who you brought to dinner: JoAnn Clevenger reigns as queen in her classic New Orleans restaurant. While your meal will more than satisfy — especially if you order the slow-roasted duck with ginger-peach sauce — you’ll also be able to talk over all of Clevenger’s art that hardly leaves any wall-space left.

Coquette New Orleans
Coquette New Orleans
Coquette New Orleans

Coquette

Irish Channel
Chandelier-adorned bistro known for innovative Southern cuisine

There are few things as sexy as feminism, so head to Coquette to enjoy the makings of a badass woman-run kitchen. Though chef Kristen Essig also recently opened the neighborhood restaurant Thalia, her Irish Channel mainstay is the better option for impressing a date. Beginning your meal with the $40 Pappy Old Fashioned (proceeds go to a local food bank) is a nice way to start.

N7
N7
N7

N7

Bywater
Seafood, cocktails, and natural shine at this hidden gem

This is the kind of place where it feels like you’re making a discovery every time you eat here. From its nondescript entrance to the cozy indoor seating and the menu of natural wines, you’ll find something new to enjoy. Hopefully your dining partner feels the same way. If so, have fun cracking into the pavlova for dessert. 

The Delachaise

Uptown
Channel Paris near the streetcar line with steak frites and French wine

Grab a couple of cocktails and order the goose-fat fries from the courtyard’s bistro seating. You’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Paris in no time. If things go well, stick around for dinner as you watch the streetcar rumble past on St. Charles Avenue. If things don’t go well, hop on one for a quick exit.

la petite grocery
la petite grocery
la petite grocery

La Petite Grocery

Uptown
From-scratch Creole food in a converted cottage

Chef Justin Devillier made his name in New Orleans here, and for good reason. Start your meal by sharing a plate of the blue crab beignets and the pan-roasted scallops, then make the call as to whether you’ll keep sharing small plates or opt for your own entrees — the ultimate litmus test for any early relationship.

Bacchanal Wine
Bacchanal Wine
Bacchanal Wine

Bacchanal

Bywater
Acclaimed wine and cheese shop with live music out back

Start your date night off by choosing a bottle of wine and a selection of cheeses together, which the restaurant will turn into an over-the-top board with toasts, pickles, and other accouterments. Then make a beeline for the first table you can find to catch some of whatever local music act is performing that night. Don’t forget to bring extra cash to tip the band.

The Franklin
The Franklin
The Franklin

The Franklin

Marigny
Hip, sophisticated space with a raw bar and stellar cocktails

Settle yourself into one of The Franklin’s big, cozy chairs and order up a dozen oysters because, well, you know what they say. I’m pretty sure slathering them with hot sauce or laying them bare across a saltine doesn’t prevent any of the rowdy feelings you may have later, especially after downing a few cocktails. 

Stein’s Deli

Lower Garden District
The best breakfast sandwiches in town for the morning after​​​​​​​

At this point, your dinner may have turned into breakfast, and the surest way to start your morning is with one of Dan Stein’s bagels in hand. And who knows? After the night you had, you may have even earned one of the proprietor’s side-eye glances.Sign up here for our daily New Orleans email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Big Easy.

Chelsea Brasted is a freelance writer in her hometown of New Orleans, who formerly worked for The Times-Picayune as an arts and entertainment reporter and city columnist, and thinks there is nothing more romantic than a go-cup.

New Orleans

The Ultimate Guide to Juneteenth in New Orleans

Celebrate the newest federal holiday from New Orleans to Mississippi.

New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History

The Emancipation Proclamation effectively ended human enslavement in the United States by executive order on January 1, 1863. However, it would take more than two years for General Robert Granger and Union soldiers to make their way to the outermost reaches of the confederacy. When they finally reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, through an Executive Order, General Granger stated, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

With those words, the last enslaved people in the United States were liberated by the federal government.

A year later, the first Jubilees were held to commemorate the day that would come to be known as Juneteenth, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Emancipation Day. These celebrations first surfaced in Texas, then across the South and, later, the rest of the United States with picnics, barbecues, and other family-centred events.

But life under reconstruction and the Jim Crow South made it dangerous to celebrate without fear of repercussions and segregation forced most celebrations away from the eye of the general public into private spaces such as homes and churches. With the Great Migration, Southerners who moved north and west brought their own traditions to their new homes. In certain communities the day bears more significance than the 4th of July.

The push to turn Juneteenth into a state holiday in Texas in 1980 was a direct catalyst towards Martin Luther King Day being declared a national holiday three years later, according to Clint Smith author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. It has been a slow crawl towards bringing collective consciousness to understand the importance of Juneteenth. It was finally designated a federal holiday by President Biden last year.

As Gordon Smith writes in Juneteenth: The Stories Behind The Celebration, “Juneteenth commemorates both the long, terrible night of slavery and discrimination that preceded it, as well as the promise of a brighter future.”

During this holiday, we celebrate our ancestors for what they were able to overcome and remind ourselves of who we are, where we’ve been, and the possibilities of who we might become. Juneteenth is a celebration of collective liberation.

Here in New Orleans, where we have a wealth of Black history at our fingertips, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday. Here’s our weekend guide, complete with historical tours, festivals, burlesque shows, and more.

Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation

The Whitney Plantation

Year-round
Wallace, LA
The Whitney Plantation is the only plantation in Louisiana that focuses on the story of the enslaved, centring their voices at the core of the experience. Black peoples’ legacies and stories have been traditionally hidden from us and the world. Unlike most historical sites, that is not the case here. Learning about the past helps us to understand the struggles we have overcome and how our contributions laid the foundation for how this country was built. As Clint Black states in How Then Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With The History Of Slavery Across America, the Whitney is “an open book under the sky, that people can come here to see.”

There is nothing to hide about the truth of what the life of the enslaved was prior to their freedom and liberation. The first time I went it brought me to tears and it stayed with me for weeks. Its effects are deeply in the pores of this country today and within that are the accomplishments from our ancestors that have built the foundations on which we stand today.
Cost: General admission is $25; children ages six to eight are in for $11; and kids under six can get in for free.

Juneteenth Burlesque Soirée

Saturday June 18
Tremé
This Junteenth celebration brings together musical legends and burlesque dancers in the historic Tremé at 8 pm on Saturday at Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge. Hosted by Jeez Loueez, the creator of Jeezy’s Juke Joint: A Black-Q Revue, the only Black burlesque festival in the United States, the event aims to celebrate Black people and Black bodies in a unique way. “I want to bring burlesque back into Black communities where it started,” says the award-winning burlesque performer, Loueez. “Jazz and burlesque are two things that go hand and hand.”
Cost: $20, plus cash to tip.

New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History

Saturdays at New Orleans African American Museum: Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18
Tremé
“The contributions of African Americans in Tremé, New Orleans, and our nation are so vast and important to American culture that at the New Orleans African American Museum, we situate ourselves as an international cultural epicentre,” says Gia M Hamilton, executive director and chief curator of the museum. To celebrate the museum’s special place in American culture and history, it brings together Black business vendors, farmers, and local artists every third Saturday to build community and envision a future centred in Black existence.

This week, the museum is hosting a special Juneteenth edition on Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. The family-friendly instalment aims to give visitors the resources to educate themselves on Black history by offering the space and tools to navigate the world with a sense of purpose. There will be time to celebrate, educate, discuss, and reflect.
Cost: Free

Afro Freedom / Afro Feast ‘22

Sunday, June 19
Petal, MS
Chef Serigne Mbaye started his Dakar NOLA Pop-Up in the midst of COVID. He serves Sengelase fare with a modern twist in a communal setting using fresh local ingredients while telling the story of the deep cultural connection between Sengambia and New Orleans. In addition to a recent stint at Mosquito Supper Club with James Beard Foundation (JBF) award-winner, Melissa Martin, he also recently was nominated as a rising chef by JBF.

To celebrate Juneteenth, Mbaye is spearheading a gathering of top local culinary talent-including chef Charly Pierre, of Fritai Restaurant; chef Martha Wiggins, of Cafe Reconcile; chef Indigo Martin, of Indigo Soul Cuisine; and chef Sim J Harris, of House of Brown Sugar-with another one of his acclaimed communal feasts. Dishes will be mostly cooked over live fire in the tradition of the ancestors. Cocktails will be curated by my organization Turning Tables (a local non profit that advocates for equity in the hospitality industry) and will feature Black owned producers and distillers, using produce from farms in the surrounding region. It takes place on the farm of Ben Burkett on Sunday from 3 – 6 pm.
Cost: $150

Ascendance Gemini Season

Saturday, June 18
St. Roch
The mission of Ascendance “is to heal and affirm our people through celebration, joy, and spiritual commune with each other and our ancestors.” The Ascendance monthly celebration takes place this Saturday June 18 from 11 pm – 2:30 am, celebrating both Pride and Juneteenth at Cafe Istanbul.
Cost: $15

WBOK 1230AM
WBOK 1230AM
WBOK 1230AM

First Annual WBOK Juneteenth Festival

Sunday, June 19
Central City
WBOK is commemorating Juneteenth with their inaugural city-wide Juneteenth Freedom Fest. This festival celebrates the culture and spirit of those enslaved peoples, their fight for freedom, equal rights, and equitable treatment in all areas of life. From 11:30 am – 6 pm on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. between Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and St. Mary Street, attendees can enjoy shopping, music, food, celebration, and panels including “My Ancestors Taught Me: Health and Healing from Africa to the Americas,” “For Us, By Us: Creating Generational Wealth and Economic Empowerment in the Black Community,” and “FatherHood: Celebrating and Supporting Black Fathers.”
Cost: Free

Juneteenth Freedom Gala

Saturday, June 18
Tremé
This Second Annual Juneteenth Freedom Gala is highlighting community leaders and artists in a night of Black beauty and excellence on Saturday starting at 7 pm at Tremé Market Branch. The semi-formal evening includes a dinner (vegan-friendly options available), live band, film screening, Black trivia, and an artist presentation and auction by artist Alina Allen. Wear your best formal red, black, and green or African attire.

Touré Folkes is a beverage consultant and the Executive Director of Turning Tables. Born in NYC and shaped by many places along the east coast and south, Folkes now calls New Orleans his home. He holds close to his core principles of equity and belonging in all of his endeavours.

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