Basically, dress codes do not exist in New Orleans. Here, you can bar hop in flip flops, dress like Charlie Chaplin, even wear a horse costume–and no one will bat an eye.
But there’s that one important night during a bachelor-party weekend, where you just have to button up and break out the cufflinks. You need to toast the groom-to-be in a traditionally classy environment. Thankfully, many New Orleans restaurants have you covered, and a handful of institutions actually do ask you to look smart.
The five famous restaurants below require men to dress to the nines (including mandatory dinner jacket), but they’re all worth the effort. The dining experiences live up to the hype, and there’s no better environment to pop the champers and celebrate the good life.
Galatoire'sGalatoires, Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
The most well known (and perhaps only) fine-dining establishment on Bourbon Street, Galatoire’s has been serving up unforgettable dining experiences for almost a hundred years. It’s a dinner-jacket required institution for the most discerning epicureans. Here, you get the true New Orleans experience, thanks to its menu that embraces the history of Creole and French cuisine. Waiters wear tuxedos, and the dining room with hanging chandeliers sets the elegant scene. Surprisingly, considering its high-class vibes, prices don’t break the bank (main entrees, from chicken and fish to seafood, average $25).
Arnaud'sArnaud's, Bienville Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
Another famed dining spot in the French Quarter, Arnaud’s has been satisfying gourmands with classic Creole cuisine since 1918. Signature dishes are as unique as they come (crab claw provencales, alligator sausage, speckled trout, veal wohl), the oysters sell out fast and the elevated, craft cocktails are out-of-control classy (GQ named Arnaud’s one of the best cocktail bars in America). A live jazz quartet sets the mood for its famed jazz brunch, one of the hottest seats in town, so try to reserve a table in advance.
Commander’s PalaceCommander's Palace, Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA, United States
Commander’s Palace in the Garden District is such an important institution that there’s an actual documentary on the restaurant and its owner (Ella Brennan: “Commanding the Table,” by Oscar and Emmy nominated director Leslie Iwerks). Commander’s is where people go to splurge for special occasions (like birthdays, anniversaries, etc), and it’s so effortlessly busy that it can get away with specials like 25¢ martinis during Friday lunch.
There are three different settings (outdoor courtyard, main dining room and upstairs dining room for larger parties), and the wine selection and the Haute Creole cuisine are unparalleled (standouts are turtle soup, crispy redfish and Texas quail). Commander’s is always packed so make reservations way in advance. The restaurant recently loosened its dress code, and now dinner jackets for men are recommended, not required (but wear one anyway as no one really got this memo; you’ll stick out like a sore thumb).
Antoine'sAntoine's Restaurant, Saint Louis Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
Among the historic, fine-dining restaurants in New Orleans, Antoine’s is the oldest (1840), originally opened as a bed and breakfast. Now, it’s one of the most recognized restaurants in America (and one of the most expensive in New Orleans), owned and operated by the same family for 176 years. The restaurant is huge, almost taking up an entire block, and there are 14 dining rooms, many of which are private and perfect for bachelor parties. Despite its longevity and popularity with tourists, Antoine’s hasn’t sold out and has more heart and soul than you can imagine. French Creole cuisine is stellar here, from fish and filet mignons to notable salads (there’s even a menu for homemade sauces).
Caribbean RoomCaribbean Room, Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA, United States
The newest, fine-dining restaurant on the scene, Caribbean Room–opened by John Besh (one of the most famous chefs in New Orleans)–is incredibly intimate (there are only about 10 tables, give or take) and it’s in the back room of Pontchartrain Hotel’s lobby bar. While it’s a white-table cloth, suited-waiter affair, it’s far from stuffy. Should you forget to wear a dinner jacket, they provide you with stylish Billy Reid jackets, and the contemporary, Art-Deco inspired decor feels more modern than antiquated. The restaurant has made a name for itself with its duck breast, tempura shrimp saki and veal medallions, but we say go for the tasting menu, which offers all the main highlights.