Spring has officially sprung and April in New Orleans is upon us. Entertainment options abound as temperatures hover in the 70s to 80s, providing ample opportunity for outdoor activities before the swamp-like heat of summer descends upon us. This time of year is also when festival season starts to swing into full gear, providing an added reason to celebrate (not that we need one in the Big Easy).
April’s long-stretching daylight hours and festive vibe also provide a myriad of great opportunities for romance – from the blossoming of a new relationship to the rekindling of an established bond. Therefore, in honor of this wondrous month, I have provided a list of my top 10 date spots in New Orleans. Whether you’re looking for a low key hangout or a romantic dinner date, this list provides something for everyone. Happy dating, love birds!
Top 10 NOLA Date Spots
Boasting 44 craft beers on tap, a giant Jenga set and a plethora of 80’s arcade games (only a quarter each!), this new bar in the Warehouse District provides a fun alternative to the typical date night. In addition to the various entertainment options, this spot features several happy hours and specials throughout the week. For more information, check out www.barcadianeworleans.com.
First dates. Conversations topics and distraction options abound with the variety of flashy options at this place (a crucial weapon if the evening turns awkward).
Group dates: Game night with friends just got a lot more exciting.
This hidden gem in the Lower Garden District is an ideal locale for dining al fresco. While sampling tasty cocktails and locally-inspired dishes, restaurant patrons will surely enjoy the ambiance of this unique space, originally used in the early 20th century by the New Orleans Fire Department. Peruse the menu and nightly specials at www.dijonnola.com.
Outdoor dining. On a beautiful spring day, grab your loved one and take advantage of this spot’s fantastic outdoor patio.
Sunday brunch: Casual conversation over mimosas, crawfish boudin balls and smoked pork eggs benedict provides the perfect bonding opportunity (and will help cure that pesky hangover from the night before).
8. Feelings Café
Self-proclaimed as “one of the most romantic restaurants in New Orleans,” this Marigny spot is a great option for any type of romantic outing – from first dates to anniversary dinners. The restaurant’s classic New Orleans courtyard and adjacent piano bar provide an intimate ambiance that is hard to beat. Visit www.feelingscafe.com to read more about this locale’s offerings as well as its interesting history.
Anniversary dinners. The dynamic combination of delicious local food and a romantic setting makes this restaurant a great option for any special occasion. An added bonus: The café is located within walking distance to Frenchmen Street, where couples can enjoy a post-dinner outing to enjoy the area’s many live music offerings.
7. Bouligny Tavern
This relatively recent addition to the Uptown dining scene offers innovative cocktails and small plate dishes for foodies and mixology enthusiasts. The 1950s feel of the place provides a unique atmosphere for locals looking for a date spot that will serve up a laidback vibe with a twist of sophistication. Check out the restaurant’s wide range of unique and delectable offerings at www.boulignytavern.com.
Second or third dates. After getting though the first date, likely over drinks or coffee (dinner dates initially are always too risky), Bouligny provides the perfect atmosphere for a casual, yet refined get-to-know-you affair.
6. Café Degas
The French mastered the art of romance long ago, so it’s no surprise that Café Degas makes the list as one of the city’s best date spots. Offering a “French Bistro atmosphere (with a New Orleans touch), good food and an inspired Wine List” this Mid City restaurant is the perfect option for couples looking to add a dash of romance to date night. For proof of Café Degas’ many praises, visit www.cafedegas.com for a listing of its recent accolades.
Spicing up date night. If you can’t afford a trip to Paris, Café Degas will help transport you and your loved one to the City of Lights (even if only just for the evening).
A wine bar typically provides ample opportunity for romantic encounters, and Delachaise delivers on this promise. With its impressive wine, beer and spirits list and tasty menu options (the pommes frites fried in goose fat are an absolute must), this bar, located on St. Charles Avenue, is a date night must. Check out the restaurant’s full range of menu options at www.thedelachaise.com.
Week night dates. Delachaise is an excellent date option any day of the week; however, the spot is perfect for a week night encounter after a long day at work. On a pleasant spring day, head out to the front patio to enjoy your beverage as streetcars pass by along picturesque St. Charles Avenue.
4. The Fly
A beloved landmark in the Crescent City, the Fly is the city’s ultimate picnic/sunbathing/crawfish boil spot. Take advantage of this park’s romantic possibilities by camping out on one of the Fly’s sprawling grassy knolls and watching the boats pass by on the Mississippi River.
Casual outdoor dates. When the weather is nice, just grab the following for an inexpensive yet memorable date: 1) Your significant other; 2) A blanket; 3) A few pounds of crawfish from Big Fisherman and 4) A few cold beverages, such as daiquiri from nearby New Orleans Original Daiquiris or a six-pack of Abita Strawberry.
As the name implies, the wine and good times flow steadily at this Bywater establishment. Bacchanal is a self-described “wine laboratory” that offers the stellar combination of a fantastic wine and cheese selection, a savory menu and live music performances every night. Walking into this local gem will make you immediately feel at home as it epitomizes New Orleans’ unique culinary spirit. Plan your next night out to this Bywater favorite at www.bacchanalwine.com.
First dates. When looking to impress your date with knowledge of cool local spots, this choice is a can’t-miss option.
Group dates. The inviting atmosphere, delicious food and nightly live music make Bacchanal a great option for a night on the town with friends.
2. Martinique Bistro
This Uptown establishment provides a level of culinary innovation and sophistication without the stuffiness of other famous local fine dining options. Nestled in the heart of Uptown, just blocks from Audubon Park, Martinique provides the perfect excuse to dress up for a refined evening on the town. Make a reservation for your next special occasion here at www.martinquebistro.com.
Fancy date nights. Whether going out for a special occasion or looking to test your palates, Martinique provides a classy yet festive atmosphere that is sure to strike the perfect balance for a romantic date night.
1. Jacques-Imo’s Cafe, followed by a show at the Maple Leaf
From the creative menu items to the funky décor to the lively atmosphere, Jacques-Imo’s is a quintessential New Orleans dining experience. Patrons of all ages will appreciate the heaping Southern-style portions and the endless list of mouth-watering menu options available at this Oak Street restaurant. Check out the impressive menu options at www.jacques-imos.com.
After dinner couples can head next door to the Maple Leaf bar for some live music to complete a perfect New Orleans-style date night. For those lucky enough to venture out on a Tuesday night, don’t miss the chance to check out Rebirth Brass Band – you won’t be sorry.
Life is good moments: Only in New Orleans can one dine on alligator cheesecake (a personal Jacques-Imo’s favorite) before heading next door to hear Rebirth, a world-class brass band that will keep your toes tapping for hours.
Ms. Match NOLA writes about dating and relationships in New Orleans for NolaVie — and wants your input. Guest columns like the one above are considered. Send thoughts, suggestions, questions, observations and anecdotes on dating to email@example.com.