New Orleans, Louisiana
In the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Antoine’s Restaurant is the oldest French-Creole fine-dining restaurant in the city. It was founded in 1840 by a young French immigrant named Antoine Aliciatore, who served the local French gentility and quickly established the restaurant’s reputation as one of the classiest venues in the area. Today, fifth-generation owner Rick Blount carries on Aliciatore’s legacy as CEO of the restaurant.
During its 178 years, Antoine’s Restaurant has played a central role in popularizing French-Creole cuisine across the United States. It is the birthplace of famous dishes such as oysters Rockefeller, pommes de terre soufflés and eggs sardou, which are poached eggs topped with artichoke hearts, truffles and hollandaise sauce. After dinner, guests can top off their meal with classic French desserts like mousse au chocolat or order a glass of café brulot diabolique, a flaming spiced coffee with brandy.
The restaurant features 14 exquisite dining rooms on two floors and can host private events or parties with up to 700 guests. Each room displays different themes and artifacts that reflect the rich culture of New Orleans, whether groups prefer to dine like kings in the Rex Room or recline in the stately Capital Room.
Bowens Island Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina
Bowens Island Restaurant is one of Charleston’s best-kept secrets. Locally, it is known as the best place to fill up on fresh steamed oysters and enjoy a beer on the waterfront. For many years, the offbeat venue was characterized by mismatched furniture and decades of graffiti scrawled on virtually every wall and surface. Visitors could find heaping piles of sun-bleached oyster shells outside, one of the few exterior indications that the ramshackle building was a restaurant. But it was these features that gave Bowens Island Restaurant so much character.
In 2006, the old cinderblock building was destroyed in a fire, much to the dismay of longtime patrons, but third-generation owner Robert Barber quickly rallied efforts to rebuild. The new building has more deck space, a dock house and fresh walls on which guests can pen their names and stories.
In addition to the restaurant’s signature steamed oysters, visitors can sample authentic low-country foods such as shrimp and grits, crab cakes and Frogmore stew. Rental space is available in the Dock House, the Sophisticate or the Porch, providing the perfect opportunity for a group event overlooking the salt marsh.