New Orleans isn't a city. It's a Petrarchan sonnet. There's no other place on the planet like it. I think it was sawed loose from South America and blown by trade winds across the Caribbean until it affixed itself to the southern rim of the United States.
– James Lee Burke
As Mark Twain so aptly put it, "New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”
James Beard notable and Top Chef Susan Spicer has a long list of excellent NOLA restaurants under her belt, but this New American — no, New Louisianan — spot consistently delivers top-notch food and service on a beautiful patio (when weather permits). Everyone talks about the duck sandwich.
It's a marketer's dream-come-true: The city's most buzzed about doughnut shop is run by a couple of police officers. It's one big pastry case of delights: red velvet, maple bacon, pb&j, and orange frosted doughnuts are glazed, filled, twisted, and also made into ice cream sandwiches.
It's a tourist trap, but there's fried dough covered with mounds of powdered sugar, and you are only human. Best bet: Buy a can of chicory coffee and a souvenir box of beignet mix to recreate your own Du Monde at home.
Take the long, scenic route by street car (it’s about 40 minutes from the French Quarter) and prepare to wait during the brunch rush. The Creole townhouse has an old-fashioned diner feel and a wide Formica bar where you should sit and order a chili omelette and an ice cream freeze. Or a pecan pie heated up in the fryer. Note: There's a French Quarter location open for business at 540 Chartres Street.
Old-fashioned Italian grocer serving one of the best renditions of the famed mufaletta, a football-shaped sandwich stuffed with cured meets, cheese, crushed olives, and pickled veggies. They are eaten by the quarter and sold by the half, but order a whole — this is not the time to be shy about your appetite.
The foodie hangout and local chef depot pays homage to the Cajun meat boucherie (meat market). Yes, you just ate some gator. Lunch-time meat hankerings are taken care of in the adjacent Butcher (where you can get the high-end version of a mufaletta).
A wildly popular doghouse serves a variety of sausages (andouille, crawfish, alligator) with condiments like wasabi, kraut, and homemade chili.
A funky, beloved, casual dining spot run by a husband-wife team (hence the moniker). It has a strong legion of followers who dig the solid, seasonal, eclectic menu (which includes fritters, gumbo, and vegetarian pasta).
This John Besh restaurant, part of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, is modern and masculine. But the food is homemade Italian. Shareable, rustic meat plates, pizza, and antipasti make the perfect excuse for family style dining.
Local-yocal oyster bar. Stand at the counter (it's more fun than sitting), order a dozen, and shoot the breeze with the affable shuckers. They’ll crack jokes as you whip together your own spicy cocktail sauce (lemon, ketchup, horseradish, Saltine crackers) on the spot.
This is the city’s best-kept foodie secret. The elegant dining room, tucked away on a residential street Uptown (drive slow, or you’ll miss it) feels like a very special club house. The chef, James Beard rising star Sue Zemanick, keeps Louisiana cuisine fresh and inventive (if there are pierogis on the menu, order them and don’t ask questions).
Sophisticated farm-to-table fare, excellent (laid-back) service, and mellow lunch crowd. Take the folks. Linger with wine.
A Bywater beauty that takes all that is local and seasonal and presents it with TLC on a platter. Starters make produce shine (peach and pepper salad; okra with shiso and plum), while mains are simple and inspired. A classic, reimagined.
A sliver of a shop where locally sourced fruit and herbs (grapefruit poppyseed, blueberry lemonade, salted caramel) are turned into the best popsicles you can find.
You're starving. It's midnight. Move your party to this divey gem that never seems to close. Downstairs looks like a regular old bar, but do not underestimate the late-night tapas menu (yes, tapas). Head upstairs and order patatas bravas, mushroom manchego toast, goat cheese croquettas, and other delicious snacks to soak up the alcohol.
This corner shop, quietly residing on a residential street, feels like a real find. A diverse crowd settles into the morning with Vietnamese coffees, chai teas, and Japanese mochi sweets. A bright orange couch punctuates the bright white room.
Make room for lunch: Gravy drenched roast beef po-boys, just one of 25 varieties.
Local coffee spot is small, spacious, and spare, save for some very cool murals painted by local artists. Very sweet baristas serve top-notch espresso drinks and locally made pastries. Equally accessible for checking email and striking up conversations with strangers.
A modern (industrial-looking) restaurant inspired by the Champagne houses of France. Braised ribs, roasted chicken, and seared sea scallops are carefully executed with inventive sides. A wall of bubbly is illuminated from behind, like a golden champagne tower.
Passionate barista serves homemade pop tarts, mini pies, egg sandwiches, and breakfast tostadas along with finely crafted espresso drinks.