Everyone knows Valentine’s Day dining can be fraught with cliche menu items and cringey settings. And while prix fixe is still the restaurant standard for this so-called holiday, there’s no need to settle for a boring meal in New Orleans. Eater has narrowed down the special menus and promises of romantic evenings to this list of nine actually great Valentine’s Day dining and drinking options, from Sazerac tasting to a hands-on cooking class to a meal dedicated entirely to the noodle.
For the hands-on: NOCHI — For those who prefer a more active date to a leisurely meal by candlelight, New Orleans’s fancy new culinary school is hosting a cooking class on February 14. The Hot Date, Hot Plate class promises to produce a meal of shrimp scampi, filet of beef with wilted spinach, and dessert of berries with amaretto cream and vanilla balsamic. Tickets are a not-cheap $150, but on the plus side there’s no need for a partner, as in life.
For the cocktail devotee: Jewel of the South — New Orleans’s favorite new destination for the highest of quality cocktails is serving what it’s calling an “Anti-Valentine’s Day Feast” on February 14. The enticingly heart and blood-themed menu is six courses for $95 a person, and features items like chargrilled beef heart, blood boudin, and a blood macaron.
For the adventurer: Marjie’s Grill — This always fun Mid City spot is transforming into the “House of Tatseful Noods” to celebrate Valentine’s Day, serving three types of ramen, themed bar snacks and small plates, grilled items meant for sharing, and sake. Excitingly, Marjie’s now takes reservations.
For the whiskey lover: Sazerac House — Schedule a tasting at the classy Sazerac House and learn how to perfect New Orleans’s pride and joy, the Sazerac. Then walk the half-mile down Magazine Street for dinner at the Eliza Jane hotel.
For the Francophile: Couvant at The Eliza Jane — The modern French brasserie blocks from the French Quarter is serving Parisian gnocchi with crabmeat, scallops, hanger steak, and more for $69 per person (three courses), in addition to offering the full menu. The house cocktails here are not to be missed.
For the hopeless romantic: Bywater American Bistro (BABs) — Never a poor choice, but Nina Compton’s second New Orleans restaurant is especially good for those with romantic intentions for the evening. A $75 four-course menu offers hamachi tartare, beet ravioli, Ora King salmon, and Champagne semifreddo.
For the pasta lover: Restaurant Avo — One of the best Italian restaurants in town, the Valentine’s Day menu options are as mouth-watering as ever. Choose from Caesar salad and poached shrimp to start; fava bean cacio e pepe or octopus for course two, short rib or grilled redfish next; and a strawberry-lemon tart or Italian sundae for dessert.
For the raw bar connoisseur: Seaworthy — If your dining partner’s idea of a dream meal is a frosty seafood tower, consider celebrating at one of the city’s most notable raw bars. In addition to offering likely the widest range of oysters varieties in town, Valentine’s Day specials include Kumamoto oysters with bowfin caviar and satsuma and a whole fish for two (each for $45).
For the traditionalist: Gabrielle Restaurant — For a Valentine’s Day dinner that celebrates classic New Orleans cuisine, the cozy, family-run Mid City restaurant is an excellent bet. The indulgent prix fixe menu gives diners the opportunity to choose from a handful of options for each of the four courses, with particularly eye-catching dishes like caviar-topped oysters, beef and brie pie, lamb chops with spearmint glaze, and strawberry shortcake.