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Best Restaurants in New Orleans, LA

by Marcelle Bienvenu

301 Tchoupitoulas St.
504 299 9777

            For a leisurely lunch or a night on the town, make your reservations ahead of time to dine at this elegant establishment.  John Besh, one of New Orleans’ celebrity chefs, creates incredible dishes featuring local ingredients (redfish, oysters, crabmeat) as well as not-so-local items such as lobster, duck, pheasant and prime beef.  The menu changes often, but to give you an idea of what to expect, one of the appetizers might be a salad of heirloom beets, cherry wood bacon, mustard greens, and quail eggs with black-eye pea croutons.  For an entrée, there could be speckled trout Grenobloise, and the fowl section will probably feature pheasant, duck and chicken. 
To finish your meal, a dessert of Creole cream cheese panna cotta with berries preserved in wine and cornbread white chocolate biscotti is a good choice.
The menu is pricey but the service is impeccable.  Wine aficionados will enjoy perusing (and ordering from) the extensive wine list.
Lunch:  Friday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Dinner:  Monday – Saturday 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

430 Dauphine Street
(504) 525-4455

Chef Susan Spicer (great name!) was a Navy brat who was born in Key West, Florida and bounced around until her family settled in New Orleans. The Big Easy should thank the Commander-in-Chief, because she is a true asset to the culinary community of this fine city. Spicer, who understandably grew up eating "lots of different kinds of foods," aims to cook what she likes. "I try to use traditional ingredients in non-traditional ways," she says, and although she counts French chefs as her most important influences, her own imprint is clear. Best example? How about a PB&J a la Susan? That's right, her smoked duck, cashew butter & pepper jelly sandwich is the talk of foodies around town, and deservedly so. The flavor sensation of this sandwich will allow you to renounce grape jelly once and for all. Excellent starters are the grilled hoisin tuna with sesame guacamole and the goat cheese crouton with mushrooms in Madeira cream. The sauteed sweetbreads with potatoes, scallions and a sherry vinaigrette are perfectly done. Most anything you eat in this melon-colored dining room will be heavenly. Lunch and dinner.  (reviewed by Elaine Sosa Labalme)

The Bistro at Maison de Ville
727 Toulouse Street
(504) 528-9206 or 800.634.1600

Smack in the heart of the French Quarter, The Bistro is, as befits its name, tres Francais. The room is a cozy square with a candy-apple-red banquette lining one wall and simple, linen-topped squares throughout. On one wall are several Degas-inspired oils in elegant gilt frames; the back wall showcases the wine selection. Although the mood is delightfully French, Chef Greg Picolo's food is "Eurocentric right here in New Orleans. Bistro food is a marriage of cultures," he continues, "but it should be style famille, really comfort food." And comforted you will be with his delicious preparations. Before you get to his food, however, have a chat with Patrick Van Hoorebeek, the General Manager/sommelier and overall heart and soul of The Bistro. Assuming Patrick approves (and I think he will), start with the orzo jambalaya, laced with mushroom, Andouille sausage and plump sauteed shrimps in a piquant tomato sauce. The use of creamy orzo in place of the usual rice makes this jambalaya special. The escargots on grilled rosemary flatbread and topped with tomato, spinach and fontina cheese is a buttery pizzelle which is sure to delight. The pan-seared venison medallion served with pumpkin spaetzle and a juniper-berry port glaze is smoky and seductive, with the spaetzle a wonderful textural contrast to the meat. The creme brulee will leave you speaking in tongues, hopefully French. Lunch and dinner. (reviewed by Elaine Sosa Labalme)

Cafe du Monde
800 Decatur Street & other New Orleans locations
(504) 525-4544

Where else but in New Orleans could a restaurant do a brisk business just by serving coffee and doughnuts? A twenty-four hour town needs a twenty-four hour pit stop, and in the Big Easy, the Cafe du Monde is it. Bear in mind, though, this isn't really coffee and doughnuts -- it's chicory-laced cafe au lait and beignets, puffy pillows of dough which are lightly fried and then doused with powdered sugar. The du Monde has been doing this, and only this, every day of the year (except Christmas) since the 1860s. Okay, so they've added o.j. and milk to the menu, but that's it. The cafe itself is a wonderful indoor/outdoor space. A sea of small formica-topped tables and green vinyl-covered chairs extend the length of the awning-covered exterior, the place to be. Casually brusque waitrons will get to you when they're good and ready, but no matter, just listen to the soulful saxman right outside playing for tips. This scene is as easy as it gets. (reviewed by Elaine Sosa Labalme)

626 S. Carrollton Ave.
504 866 9573

            Closed since Hurricane Katrina, the popular place finally reopened in April 2007.  The legendary diner was greatly missed but is back in full swing serving their big and juicy hamburgers served with crispy fries, larger than life omelets, and an array of pies (try the chocolate pecan pie).  The customers range from college students, Uptown families, blue-collar workers, and tourists---all vying for a spot at the busy counter.  The white-jacketed waiters are jovial and quick to serve.  The aromas from the grill wafts through the busy place as it always did and it’s good to have the place back in operation, and you’ll be happy to know that they still have cloth napkins!
The place is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night---but call before you go!

923 Decatur St.
504 523 1620

            While New Orleans is known for their po’boy sandwiches, there is another sandwich that is a “must have” when visiting the Crescent City.  The muffaletta, made with round Italian bread filled with Italian meats, cheese and olive salad, is a specialty at this the Italian grocery store in the French Quarter.  The place also offers a wide range of Italian foodstuffs like pastas, tomato sauces and other delicacies.  The dining space is limited so be prepared to “carry out” your muffaletta.   Grab a soft drink and a bag of chips and meander down the street to eat picnic-style either at the riverfront or at Jackson Square in front of St. Louis Cathedral.
Open 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. seven days a week.

1403 Washington Ave.
504 899 8221

            The grand old lady of New Orleans, it’s the mother ship of the Brennan restaurant clan’s dining spots.  Completely renovated following Hurricane Katrina, Commander’s Palace is located in the heart of the historic Garden District and it is once again an elegant place to enjoy sophisticated Creole dishes.  Try the Soups 1-1-1, which includes demi tasse of turtle soup, gumbo and the soup of the day, to begin your meal.  Other selections include shrimp Remoulade, pecan-crusted Gulf of Mexico fish, and a huge grilled veal chop.  For dessert, you can’t go wrong with their bread pudding soufflé or the chocolate molten.   
Enjoy a Sazerac on their lush patio before dinner, and if your schedule allows, be sure to book a reservation for their Jazz Brunch on the weekends.  The brunch menu features superlative egg dishes, which go down easy while you enjoy the music.
The wine list is extensive and the sommelier is happy to help you with your selection.
Lunch:  Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Dinner:  Monday – Sunday 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.    
Jazz Brunch:  Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

930 Tchoupitoulas St.
504 588 2123

            Opened after Hurricane Katrina, the restaurant became a quick success.
Chef Donald Link was named Best Chef of the Southeast Region for 2007 by the James Beard Foundation and the honor is well deserved.  Cochon, located in the Warehouse District, is a popular casual dining spot that offers a menu featuring Acadian (Cajun) fare. 
Chef Link, a native of southwest Louisiana, and his co-owner Chef Stephen Stryjewski, have brought the country style of cooking to the big city.
Cochon offer “small plates” which are great idea for those who want small tastes of different menu items.   For instance, tickle your taste buds with such delights as spoonbread with okra and tomatoes, crawfish pie and wood-fired oysters. 
There is a boucherie (hog slaughter) section that features fried boudin (boudin is a sausage made with pork trimmings, rice, herbs and spices), head cheese (a pate-like concoction of pork bits in a congealed state) served with house-made mustard and grilled pork ribs with watermelon pickles.
Of course, there is a gumbo---this one of shrimp and deviled eggs, the likes of which you’ll not find anywhere else in the Crescent City.
Main courses include rabbit and dumplings (very good), oven-roasted Gulf fish (a must) and smoked ham hocks with grits and brown gravy (oh so rich).  Sides are extra but be sure to try the lima beans, the smothered greens or the horseradish potato salad.
Desserts are mostly down-home---pineapple upside down cake, caramel pudding and a great root beer float.
Monday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday 5 – 10 p.m.
Closed Sundays

800 Tchoupitoulas St.
504 528 9393

            Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse opened this, his first restaurant after his reign at Commander’s Palace, in the Warehouse District at 800 Tchoupitoulas at the corner of Julia St. in March 1990.  Here you’ll find what Lagasse calls “New New Orleans cuisine.”  The menu offers “over-the-top” dishes like homemade andouille and boudin sausages with southern cooked greens, beer braised onions, whole grain mustard and Emeril’s Worcestershire sauce, or grilled Niman Ranch double-cut pork chop with caramelized sweet potatoes, tamarind glaze and green chili mole sauce, for which Lagasse is known so be prepared for an exciting evening. 
If you still have room for dessert, the banana cream pie with banana crust, caramel sauce and chocolate shavings is one of his best. 
The wine list is extensive and the sommelier helpful.  The place is lively and can be noisy so this is not a place for a romantic dinner for two.  Be sure to make reservations well in advance. 
Lunch: Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 
Dinner: Monday –Sunday 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.   

209 Bourbon St.
504 525 2021

            This is the place to see and be seen.  This Creole-French dining establishment, which opened in 1905, is where you begin your meal with their famous fried eggplant and soufflé potatoes topped with a rich béarnaise sauce.  The oysters en brochette is also a good choice for an appetizer, and their shrimp Remoulade is one of the best in the city. 
The wait staff is very knowledgeable and genial, and they are more than happy to guide you through the menu that includes local seafood dishes (stuffed eggplant with crabmeat, Poisson Meuniére Amandine) as well as lamb and beef. 
Each of their desserts, the cup custard, banana bread pudding and the café brulot (coffee steeped with orange peel, cloves, lemon peel, brandy and orange Curacao) are typical Creole fare and absolutely delightful.
This is a “dress-up” place so gentleman, don’t forget your coat and tie, and ladies, wear your best snazzy outfit. 

416 Chartres St.
504 524 7394

            K-Paul’s was one of the first restaurants to re-open after Katrina and Chef Paul Prudhomme continues to rule and rule very well indeed.  Located in the French Quarter, there are daily specials and be assured that only the freshest of the fresh ingredients are used (there still are no freezers in the place) for such offerings as the popular blackened fish, chicken and andouille gumbo, a superb turtle soup, and a Cajun-style jambalaya that will knock your socks off.
The place is lively and friendly---an ideal atmosphere in which to enjoy good and robust food. 
Dinner:  5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

857 Fulton St.
504 525 8205

             La Boca is owned and operated by Chef Adolfo Garcia and is located in the Warehouse District.
La Boca offers steaks and pasta with an Argentine flair served in a very cozy dining room.  Try the provoleta---grilled Argentine cheese served with oregano and olive oil---for an appetizer.  The bife ancho (a 20-ounce bone in rib eye) is a beef eaters dream.  The sides (La Boca French fries, grilled asparagus and baked corn pudding) are just the right accompaniments to any of the entrees.
Dinner only Monday – Wednesday 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 6:00 to midnight. 


401 Poydras St.
504 523 9656

            If you don’t mind standing in line (sometimes a very long line) for their down-home New Orleans food, it’s a must to visit Mother’s in the Central Business District.  This very casual place serves “big” breakfasts (biscuits, grits, omelets, waffles and pancakes) but it’s the po’boys, which are the most popular.  Try the famous Ferdi special for a real taste treat, but you can also choose from a long list of other po’boys---those famous New Orleans sandwiches that are very filling.  The red beans and rice, any of their gumbos, as well as daily luncheon specials are always good.
Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

801 Chartres St.
504 568 1885

            Step back in time at Muriel’s where beautifully appointed dining rooms set the stage for a leisurely lunch or dinner.  Overlooking Jackson Square in the French Quarter, the two-story building has a rich history dating back to the 1700s. 
The Courtyard Bar located in the center of the building is a delightful place to enjoy a drink before and after dinner.  
Savor a Bloody Mary or a martini before lunch before going on to a rich turtle soup.  Follow that up with either Louisiana crab cakes or crawfish and goat cheese crepes.  Select stuffed mirliton (combination of shrimp and andouille sausage) for an entrée.
The dinner menu offers salmon with a Dijon mustard crust with a dill-Herbsaint (an anise-flavored liqueur favored by New Orleanians) sauce and a dessert of vanilla bean crème brulee (another classic New Orleans dessert). 
Lunch is served Wednesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner hours are Monday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Brunch is served on Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

500 Chartres St.
504 524 9752

A great bar/café that is an ideal spot to sit and watch the comings and goings of the French Quarter while sipping their signature cocktail---Pimm’s Cup (a gin-based cocktail garnished with cucumber slice)---and listening to the classical music that wafts throughout the café.  It’s a place with great atmosphere (a bust of Napoleon on the bar, memorabilia tacked on the wall and ceiling, chipped paint and old dark wood) and you can enjoy a muffaletta and other interesting sandwiches like their po’boy of Italian sausage or one of meatballs with mozzarella cheese.
The historic landmark was erected in 1797 so you can imagine what the walls could say if they could talk.  The building's first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815.  He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile but Napoleon succumbed before he could set sail to the city.
The hours for the café operation have been curtailed a bit since Katrina but as of this time, the place is open Sunday and Mondays 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tuesday and Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  On Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bar open till.

534 St. Louis Street
(504) 522-6652

Chef Emeril Lagasse's French Quarter outpost is a far cry from table number one (Emeril's), at least in appearances. NOLA is techno-punk, not your usual French Quarter frou-frou. From the mango-colored walls to the black industrial ceiling and exposed pipes, the room has a decidedly urban flair. Menu-wise, it's Emeril's "New New Orleans" cuisine, with one subtle difference. Miss Hay, a petite Vietnamese dynamo, holds court in the kitchen and lends a hand to several of the dishes. Her best endeavor is Miss Hay's stuffed chicken wings with Vietnamese dipping sauce, arguably the best appetizer in town. The wings are stuffed with pork, shrimp and glass noodles, and the dipping sauce is a hoisin peanut sauce. It's sort of like an egg roll, but oh-so-lightly fried. These "wings" are addictive. The turtle soup at NOLA is also an excellent starter. You'd better bring your friends here, because there's a lot of good stuff to try. The sauteed shrimp with a warm remoulade sauce over angel hair pasta is a festival of flavors, and the cedar-plank-roasted fish with a citrus horseradish crust, lemon butter sauce and Vietnamese seafood salad (courtesy of Miss Hay) has a subtle woodsy flavor which enhances everything on the plate. A must is that Emeril standard -- a grilled, double-cut pork chop (think he-man portion), done at NOLA with pecan-glazed sweet potatoes and a creole mustard-caramelized onion reduction sauce. In a word, heaven. Desserts are divine -- dig into the banana pudding layer cake or revel in the chicory coffee creme brulee. NOLA is HOT. Lunch and dinner.  (reviewed by Elaine Sosa Labalme)

Red Fish Grill
115 Bourbon Street
(504) 598-1200

The Brennan family has food for every taste in New Orleans. Thinking fancy? Try Commander's Palace. Bistro? Mr. B's, of course. The ultimate breakfast? It's gotta be Brennan's. And then there's fish, arguably the most popular dish in this town. The Brennans would like to escort you to the Red Fish Grill, a plucky fish fry where the funky decor invites you to loosen that tie and kick off those heels. Food here is meant to be fun and they are creative with the awesome array of fresh local produce and seafood that we have here. Start off with some "bait:" pecan-crusted shrimp which are fried crisp and served with a dreamy orange-molasses dipping sauce. If you've brought a pal, share the oysters three ways (baked, fried and Rockefellered). The alligator sausage and seafood gumbo is surely worth a try if only for its uniqueness. You should follow it up with the sweet potato catfish, served with sauteed greens and an andouille cream drizzle. Gone overboard? Not until you've tried the Bananas Foster up, served in a chilled martini glass. Lunch and dinner. (reviewed by Elaine Sosa Labalme)

800 S. Peters St.
504 525 3474

RioMar is owned and operated by Chef Adolfo Garcia and is located in the Warehouse District.
RioMar is to place to go for tapas and ceviche and other Spanish and Latin American delights.  There’s a great cozy bar and a dining room that’s casual and comfortable.  The fish of the day is always outstanding.
Lunch is served Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:00 p.m.
Dinner is served Monday through Thursday 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturdays 6:00 to 11:00 p.m.


1413 Upperline St.
504 891 9822

            JoAnn Clevenger, a delightful lady, presides over this Uptown jewel at 1413 Upperline Street, right off the grand St. Charles Avenue.  The cozy and relaxing dining rooms are decorated with Clevenger’s extensive art collection and the menu combines Creole flavors with a contemporary twist. 
The appetizer of fried green tomatoes with shrimp Remoulade is outstanding as is the one of duck and andouille etouffee with corn cakes and pepper jelly.
Entrees include seared salmon, grilled Gulf fish, roast duck and one of the best veal grillades (a New Orleans favorite) in the city.  The dessert of crème brulee with crushed pralines is a good choice as is the Louisiana pecan pie.  Ken Smith, the executive chef, never fails to come up with dishes that please the palate.  




Marcelle Bienvenu writes a weekly food column, Cooking Creole, for The Times-Picayune and is the author of Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can You Make a Roux?

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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