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Starving Student Couple Needs Advice on One Fancy Meal

littlelion2k | Mar 5, 201203:04 PM

Hello Chowhound! My boyfriend and I are going to New Orleans next week and, as college students, we are planning to eat cheaply and rarely. However, my birthday is on Thursday and my dear parents have given me an amazing gift: they will treat us to dinner for two at any restaurant of our choosing. Which leaves me with a dilemma- in one of the greatest eating towns in the world, what restaurant should I pick for our special meal? I've done some preliminary research and already eliminated Antoine's as it sounds too stuffy. Right now I'm thinking Emeril's or Commander's Palace. Each place comes with caveats, however: Commander's Palace suffers from some of the same stuffiness that Antoine's seemed to suffer from and I'm worried Emeril's won't seem "special" enough for a romantic birthday dinner. I'm also worried that both places are too touristy, and perhaps coast on their laurels.
Thus, I offer this question to Chowhound: if you had to choose one upscale restaurant in New Orleans, what would it be? In terms of what we're looking for, my boyfriend and I are definitely looking to eat Cajun or Creole food (it's the best place in the world to do so, after all). We also are looking for a place that won't look down on college kids who might not be familiar with the world of haute cuisine, without jackets required. We want someplace authentic, maybe with a bit of history and presence, with good drinks and mind-blowing food. What would the Chowhound community recommend? Thank you in advance for the advice!

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