Cupid Might Eat Here
Mary Ann Fitzmorris February 03, 2020 16:12 Anxiously Awaited
It is now officially February, so in New Orleans, our thoughts turn to Mardi Gras. But everywhere else the big day of the month is February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Even when I wasn’t writing every day for nomenu.com, Tom asked me to write something from a woman’s perspective about romantic places to be romanced on this day for romantics. His own position on this is that people should stay home on Valentine’s Day. I have heard lately from a few men I consider level-headed who feel the same. I did not poll their wives. Just coincidentally, two of these men were with me at lunch Friday, a meal so infuriating it dethroned Doris Metropolitan from the top of the following list of 14 Places that score big on this special day.
Let’s start the list by saying that two of the three top spots are not even in town. So you have to work a little harder. No pain, no gain. These destination restaurants are worth the drive. Promise.
Latil’s Landing at Houmas House is a space so unique you should visit whether it’s the big day or not. Houmas House is a gorgeous plantation house not a relic of the past but is instead alive with constant action. Have a drink at the Turtle Bar and a walk around the well-manicured grounds before heading to the restaurant. It is set in the carriage house and with its low ceilings and dark warren-like spaces, the thermometer on your relationship will definitely inch up. As a real bonus, the food of Chef Jeremy Langlois is pretty great too.
40136 Highway 942 Darrow, LA 225-473-9380 houmashouse.com
Also a ride away, Hammond’s Jacmel Inn has much the same things to recommend it. Usually, I am not a proponent of the old-house-equals-atmosphere equation, but I exempt this one because the rooms in this old house are tiny and therefore cozy. So cozy you might be in a dormer alone. And the food here is on par with any hot spot in New Orleans.
903 E. Morris Ave Hammond, LA 985-542-0043 jacmelinn.com
Despite the fact that I had an infuriating experience at Doris Metropolitan on Friday, this place is still exceptionally sexy at night. The bar is cool, the meat room looks European, the two main dining rooms are glamorous, and the tiny patio is romantic. Any of them (no, you can’t eat in the meat room) is good for quiet conversations of sweet nothings. The food here is very good, beautifully presented, and unusual, just like the place. Warning: you will pay for all this exceptionalism.
620 Chartres St New Orleans 504-267-3500 dorismetropolitan.com
This little sleeper in the French Quarter is absolutely perfect for a night with your special one. Heavy on cozy booths, The Bombay Club is dark and clubby. Think very upscale pub, although it’s a tad worn. The compensation for this little flaw is great food, a sensational bar, and an overall atmosphere that will be remembered as very special. And it has the tiniest courtyard I’ve ever seen. Great for a smoke.
The Bombay Club
830 Conti St New Orleans 504-577-2237 bombayclubneworleans.com
The Franklin is a place in the Bywater where you wouldn’t expect to find the likes of us, but we really dig this little place. Again, sexy lighting and small dark rooms with unusual partitions, we even enjoy being on the outside of a partition in sort of a walkway by the bar. This one is a little more casual than the previous ones on the list, probably because of the clientele, but the food is rock solid.
2600 Dauphine St New Orleans 504-267-0650 thefranklinnola.com
Nobody does the warren of rooms better than Muriel’s. Here is a collection of interesting spaces cobbled around a staircase, illuminated by candlelight (fake, of course - it’s 2020) Here is the romance of another era, complete with the mythical ghost. This one has been a longtime local favorite, with good reason, Great food that is always consistent makes for a “whole package”, just like your companion. At least we hope so.
801 Chartres St New Orleans 504-568-1885 muriels.com
Before Irene’s moved from deep in the Quarter, it was another restaurant featuring delicious food in a very appealing space. It was dark with lighting where needed and just had this unique, really intense electricity to it. Then she moved. To a bigger place in the Quarter, with high ceilings, dark rooms, appropriate lighting, and the same lively buzz. This one has a stunning bar and courtyard, as well as spectacular soul-satisfying Italian food.
529 Bienville St New Orleans 504-529-8811 irenesnola.com
If you don’t want the French Quarter but you do want delicious soul-satisfying Italian food, we love Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar too. In the Warehouse District, this very handsome space has two distinctly different rooms, with the one in the back the more romantic of the two. Maybe it’s the warmth of the hearth-like open window kitchen or the cozy spaces created by shelves of wine bottles for perusal and selection, this place has a sensual feel, though less so than some of the others on this list. We love this food.
Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
715 St Charles Ave New Orleans 504-581-6333 marcelloscafe.com
A French brasserie has to be in any group discussion for Valentine’s day. Justine has all of these same elements - dark, cozy, clubby booths, soft lighting. Though one of the favorite parts of the restaurant to us doesn’t really work for romance. The two communal tables here give an excellent view of the kitchen, which is most interesting. And we love the piece that frames the open kitchen, from a real butcher shop in France. As for the soft lighting and dark spaces, plenty to be found in four other rooms here. The food here is good, but not as good as some others on this list.
225 Chartres St New Orleans 504-218-8533 justinenola.com
In Lakeview, there is Rizzuto’s. This space is large, not as dark, sumptuous, and definitely not hip. So why is it on the list? Because it is good. Attentive service, delicious food, nice surroundings. Best chargrilled oysters in town, in our opinion. That counts for something, right? Does everything have to be hip?
6262 Fleur De Lis Dr New Orleans 504-300-1804 rizzutosristorante.com
And speaking of hip, the next one is the ultimate. If you doubt, just read the website. Because of this, we have actually never been here, but it screams romance to us. N7. You try it and report back to us. If you can get in. It’s all behind a fence with twinkling lights visible through the slats in the wood, and there is no phone number. Too cool for us.
1117 Montegut St New Orleans n7nola.com
A tiny little space in the Quarter with the same vibe, Sylvain delivers hip food that is more hip than good, but also good, in a tiny room with an even tinier courtyard. All tiny two-tops, so you’d better like your date.
625 Chartres St New Orleans 504-265-8123 sylvainnola.com
Metairie might be the last place we can think of when we think of sexy. But we prevailed and found just one on this list that can qualify. Brasa on Metairie Road is dark, almost cave-like, with romantic lighting. It is meat-centric, which is virile. And the food happens to be good. It’s a steakhouse, and it's Latin, so...
2037 Metairie Rd Metairie 504-570-6338 brasachurrasqueria.com
We usually heavily cover Northshore restaurants because we live there, (often to the consternation of some), but we only have one suggestion for this list. Del Porto is romantic as well as fantastically delicious. Thre is no point in recommending particular menu items. We haven’t had anything we didn’t love here, and the antipasti platter is nonpareil.
Del Porto Ristorante
501 E. Boston Covington 985-875-1006 delportoristorante.com
If you are working on a budget, Boulevard Bistro in Metairie can deliver. Still looking an awful lot like its predecessor Houston’s it has the small dark booths lit by the flames from the kitchen and a lot of other cozy spaces. The menu is a lot the same too, though maybe a little less good than Houston’s.
Boulevard American Bistro
4241 Veterans’ Boulevard Metairie 504-889-2300 boulevardbistro.com
Wherever you go, whatever you do, we hope your Valentine's Day 2020 is as special as you want it to be.