May 10, 2024 - Food and Drink

New Orleans' best celebration restaurants

Barack Obama tucks a red cloth napkin into his collar as he sits at a table that's been set with a bowl of gumbo. Dr. Norman Francis looks on as he approaches the table.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama puts on a napkin before tucking into a bowl of gumbo with Norman Francis at Dooky Chase's Restaurant in New Orleans. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

With New Orleans' hospitality and best-in-class food culture, there's no doubt that when you've got something to celebrate, there's a restaurant to help you do it.

Why it matters: For birthdays, graduations, anniversaries or just celebrating that you made it to Friday, New Orleans can help you with the pomp and the circumstance.

  • There's a little bit of everything on our list of New Orleans' best special occasion restaurants.

Classic New Orleans

  • Commander's Palace: A trip to Commander's feels like stepping onto an island of exquisite hospitality where co-proprietors Ti Martin and Lally Brennan make it their personal business to ensure your time is well-spent. And anyway, the 25-cent lunchtime martinis are a reason to celebrate all on their own.
  • Brennan's: Every Friday, they're sabering champagne in the courtyard. That's a guaranteed good time.
  • Crescent City Steakhouse: As the oldest family-owned steakhouse in New Orleans, this place has hosted celebrations for generations.
  • Dooky Chase's: Don't miss the fried chicken, or the art, which Leah and Dookie Chase collected as the first place regularly exhibiting Black visual artists.
  • Clancy's: Stop by anytime, and you're bound to run into an Uptowner you recognize. It's practically the law.
A warmly-lit, empty dining room is viewed from a stairway leading into the space.
Costera's private dining space can seat up to 60 people. Photo: Courtesy of Costera

Party time, excellent

  • Galatoire's: If you want to see and be seen, this is the place to go, especially for a Friday lunch.
  • Meril: All the food knowledge you'd expect from an Emeril Lagasse restaurant, with a little flair. If you're celebrating, ask about the cotton candy.
  • Mosca's: The trick is to hire a car or van to take you down to this Westwego haunt, which serves dinner family-style, so everyone in your party can partake in the libations.
  • Saba: Call ahead to make sure your group is set up for the "Feed Me" menu for tables of 8+.
  • Costera: This Uptown tapas restaurant has a private room for groups of up to 60, so go nuts and invite everyone.
  • Antoine's: It's been around since 1840, so it's definitely classic, but Antoine's labyrinth of rooms also makes it great for getting a big group together.
A close-up photo of a brown wooden table filled with a variety of dishes, a bottle of wine and a glass of wine.
A table at Coquette is rightly filled with tons of different options to try. Pass the plate. Photo: Denny Culbert

Date night

  • MaMou: The decor is sweet, and the food is perfectly prepared. Get a bottle of wine, some caviar and wile away your time together.
  • La Petite Grocery: It takes maturity to realize how sexy reliability can be. And this place is very reliable.
  • Gabrielle Restaurant: The sweet Treme restaurant is perfect for low-key, intimate nights out.
  • Emeril's: Recently renovated and ready for action.
  • GW Fins: Explore "seacuterie" in this French Quarter spot.
  • Coquette: Go with someone who's open to sharing a bunch of different dishes and have fun exploring whatever chef Michael Stoltzfus has cooked up.
  • N7: The experience here is a little "secret garden" meets extremely knowledgeable French wine bar.
  • Brigtsen's: Try classic New Orleans dishes in a sweet, hospitable cottage in the Riverbend.
  • Ralph's on the Park: Whether you've got time for a lazy brunch, a late dinner or a quick happy hour, this Mid-City restaurant has you sorted.

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