Sure, New Orleans has her share of jazz, stunning architecture, natural wonders, and boutique shopping (not to mention a few centuries’ worth of juicy history) but the best way to experience this coastal city (in our humble opinion) is through her food and drink. And with a 30 percent boom in restaurants over the past few years, there’s no shortage of choice.
If you’re a New Orleans classicist content to slurp oysters and sip bourbon, we’re happy to report that gumbo, po’boys, jambalaya, beignets, and muffalettas are alive and well—as are the Sazerac and irresistible Ramos Gin Fizz, two cocktails born in this city. New Orleans is too proud (and smart) to abandon her culinary heritage, arguably one of the strongest in the nation. Leah Chase still holds court at Dooky Chase, powdered sugar still flies at Café du Monde, and Commander’s Palace is still the belle of the Garden District ball.
But if you’re hungry for more than New Orleans’ greatest hits, there’s a new school of culinary talent to explore, led by the 2012 StarChefs.com New Orleans Rising Stars. If you’re in the mood for serious charcuterie, farm-to-table masterpieces, international food with soul, thoroughly modern cocktails, deep South victuals, or (gasp) vegetarian dishes, the New Orleans of 2012 is your town.
And for those glorious gluttons who want to eat and drink it all, gear up your livers, leave your excuses at home, and dig into our favorite 50 (or so) New Orleans restaurants and bars.
Set inside the National WWII Museum, American Sector is a New Orleans chef’s ode to Americana. Foot-long hotdogs, French dip sandwiches, and meatloaf share menu space with Cajun-Creole classics like crab ravigote, gumbo, and fried oysters. Chef Todd Pulsinelli is the man in charge at this John Besh restaurant, as well as at nearby The Soda Shop (which serves breakfast, lunch, and more casual fare), and both spaces pour house-made sodas flavored with local fruits. American Sector lets museum guests and diners explore food trends of the past-turned-present with help from a serious chef and a bright, modern setting.Recommended:
Ancora is more than just your neighborhood pizza joint. Set off up-and-coming Freret Street, Ancora is the culmination of Chef Jeffrey Talbot’s long love affair with dough. After building a house-made bread program at Cyrus in San Francisco, Talbot packed up his sourdough starter and accumulated knowledge and moved back to his home state to open his first restaurant with Chef and Restaurateur Adolfo Garcia. Outfitted with a wood-fired Stefano Ferrara pizza oven, Talbot and his tight crew of cooks blister pies at 820°F, yielding airy, light, and just-charred crust. Though Ancora’s topping combinations likely won’t earn Talbot Vera Pizza Napoletana status, his pies maintain a balance of bright, briny, and decadent.Recommended:
Set in a refurbished home, Atchafalaya is a neighborhood place with bottles of hot sauce on the table and steaming gumbo ready and waiting. But seeing as this is no ordinary neighborhood, but the Garden District, Atchafalaya’s menu offers more than its share of nuanced pleasures. Befitting its watery namesake, seafood comprises the bulk of the menu here, and all manner of swimming specimen are cooked to perfection by Chef Baruch Rabasa. The pastas, too, are al dente, and sauces executed with emphasis on detail and classic technique.Recommended:
When locals crave South American flavors, their first stop is Baru Bistro, the Magazine Street outpost of Colombian-born Chef Edgar Caro. Street food reigns here. Baru’s menu is built off abuela-style cuisine, and its flavors and combinations are refreshing in a market dominated by decidedly non-Latin food. New Orleans is rubbing off on this young chef, too. Gulf shrimp take a dip in the deep fryer before playing dress up with cilantro aïoli, mizuna, and caramelized shallots. And what are churros in New Orleans if not a cross-cultural love letter to the beignet? Caro’s cuisine is a delicious reminder that comfort food often transcends country of origin.Recommended:
For more than two decades, Bayona has been the restaurant belle of the French Quarter, serving diners Chef Susan Spicer’s brand of soulful, global cuisine. Bayona, with its sunlit courtyard, well-worn dining room, and eclectic menu, exudes that special mélange of New Orleans old and new, intimately familiar and exciting. Chef de Cuisine Brett Duffee now plays a lead role in Spicer’s kitchen, executing Bayona’s signature menu, along with nightly specials that refuse to be moored to any one country or cuisine. (Melting smoked fish sings of the Gulf and its escabeche salad garnish is a ride through Miami.) Pastry Chef Keri Dean is all about Americana, updating classic diner flavors (candy bars, cheesecake, and doughnuts) with creative, fine-dining touches.Recommended:
The Gulf and her surrounding rivers and bayous are central to Louisiana’s heritage and cooking. Borgne is New Orleans Rising Star Chef Brian Landry’s ode to those waters. In this John Besh-Landry partnership at the Hyatt Regency, seafood takes center stage, both on the menu and in the décor. The light-filled dining room has columns filled with oyster shells, scenic Gulf photos taken on Besh’s iPhone, and massive chalkboard room dividers advertising tidal times and specials. From the kitchen, Landry revives classic, sometimes forgotten dishes and brings them to life in a modern setting—think oysters and spaghetti, crab-stuffed flounder, and pitch-perfect crab bisque.Recommended:
2012 New Orleans Rising Star Chef Nathanial Zimet makes fearless Southern cuisine. Unencumbered by tradition, he cooks exciting, soulful dishes that whisper to the old South while screaming the new. Zimet hails from North Carolina, and he’s adept at cooking with smoke, which curls cold and hot into a number of his dishes—scallops, sausage, and ribs all are kissed with oak. And like any good Southern eccentric, Zimet has a knack for combining unlikely bedfellows (i.e., mussels and collards) and re-imagining classics (his Crispy Cornbread is a Southern vegetable buffet tucked inside a golden square of cornbread). Just off Carollton Street, tiny, shabby-chic Boucherie is built for locals, and even more diners will get to enjoy this no-reservations restaurant when Zimet and crew finish an outdoor patio.Recommended:
Bouligny Tavern is bringing a little late night life and fun to Magazine Street. Set next door to its elegant, more responsible sister restaurant, Lilette, Bouligny is a rock 'n' roll nymph with a sexy vibe, fun cocktails, and food that meets Chef John Harris’s long-established standards. Chef de Cuisine Mike Isolani leads the kitchen, making shareable plates that far exceed any bar food label. A killer burger and creative hush puppies were some of the most exciting dishes we ate in New Orleans. Mixologist and Sommelier Carey Palmer is equally adept pouring wine or shaking cocktails, so pick your poison, snuggle into a banquet, and drink in your evening at Bouligny Tavern.Recommended:
This French Quarter staple is still packed morning, noon, and night, serving its famously concise menu of hot, sweet beignets and milk- and chicory-laced coffee. Powered sugar flies (on one trip, school children were covered from head-to-toe in sweet snow), and servers stream through the kitchen in a cafeteria-style line, emerging with trays stacked high with fried dough and joe. Don’t expect to run in grab a coffee on the fly (there’s a long take-out line for that). The service at Café du Monde forces you to slow down, wait, and savor classic New Orleans.Recommended:
Central Grocery is a time warp, born in an era when Sicilian immigrants worked the French Quarter farmers markets in New Orleans. Tins of tomatoes and beans line the walls, sharing space with pastas and adopted bottles of hot sauce and Creole seasoning. But the real star here isn’t the stubbornly old-school vibe, it’s the muffaletta. Created here more than a century ago, the muffaletta is a (now) classic New Orleans sandwich, combining Italian tastes with American ingenuity—why eat cured meats, olives, cheese, and bread separately when you can pile them all together to make a monumental sandwich? Central Grocery still packs soft, sesame-studded muffaletta bread with marinated olive salad, capicola, salami, pepperoni, Emmentaler, ham, and provolone, and diners can take the hulking mass to go or sit at a counter in the back to devour a Italian-accented piece of New Orleans history.Recommended:
Cochon is a restaurant that defines an era of American cooking. It’s chefs’ food of the porcine-worshipping, farm-to-table adhering, technique-driven, and wholly honest variety. 2003 New Orleans Rising Star Chef Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski opened Cochon is 2006, right after Hurricane Katrina and just before the national economy sent chefs and diners soul searching for comfort food. The world was in dire need of Link’s ham hock. And while you won’t find tablecloths or cushy seats at Cochon, you can order simply dressed and fried oysters that will make your eyes roll back and country ham so sumptuous and salty, Ibérico better watch its back. And six years after opening, Cochon is an institution and breeding ground for the newest generation of top NOLA chefs, including 2012 Rising Star Chef Ben Hammond, whose specials and seasonal touches continue to keep Cochon both relevant and inspiring.Recommended:
Inspired by Old World markets and the bounty of area farms, Cochon Butcher delivers superior sausages, sandwiches, meats, and terrines to hungry New Orleanians in search of something familiar (soft and fiery boudin) and new (Italian salumi). Chef Drew Lockett leads the team here and stocks a meat case to tempt passersby with stuffed quail, merguez, and bacon, among other fresh offerings. His sandwich counter features meat-focused classics and a few wild combinations like bacon, cheese, and collards on white bread. Butcher is a neighborhood place, where locals can breeze in or linger for a while. So stop in for dry-aged ham and a glass of wine. Pop off Tchoupitoulas Street for dinner fixings and grab a sandwich before heading back to work. And know how spoiled you are to enjoy meats sourced and prepared with such finesse and care.Recommended:
The regal lady of the Garden District, Commander’s Palace is still a commanding place in New Orleans’ dining scene. The dining room is an exercise in subdued elegance, with softly lit chandeliers, grey upholstery, and song birds perched and ready to enchant from the walls. A cadre of waiters flurries around each table—you, the diner, are the center of the universe. And the extensive wine list, assembled by Sommelier Dan Davis, has a big California Cab or subtle Burgundy Pinot to suit your tastes and budget. Under veteran Chef Tory McPhail, Commander’s thrives in its dedication to the classics (the idea of dinner without turtle soup is preposterous), while the “Chef’s Playground” menu gives McPhail a chance to pour on the luxury and creativity he’s honed over the last decade.Recommended:
The Company Burger is 2012 Rising Star Chef Adam Biderman’s ode to the all-American burger, and his juicy, crispy, griddled patties are a case study in what goes right when a chef gets serious about back-to-basics cuisine. Sold from his modern, streamlined restaurant off gentrifying Freret Street, Biderman’s burgers could compete in flavor and quality with the country’s most formidable gourmet burger chains. And it’s not just the patties. Biderman gets his soft buns from a top-secret local purveyor. He’s assembled a mayo bar and cultivated a beer list. The menu offers killer fries and onion rings, along with homey desserts made by Biderman’s mom, Joan. It’s all in the details, and it’s all for the love of the burger.Recommended:
With approximately 1 million bars and bottles at your disposal in the French Quarter, it’s shocking (blasphemy, really) that there’s such a dearth of quality late-night food to calm the stomachs of the masses. Coop’s Place valiantly fills the void with po’ boys, gumbo, and jambalaya amped up with spicy tasso. Coop’s is a dive of the best sorts, with cheap drinks, friendly bartenders, a pool table, and neon beer signs. Coop’s takes food and service much more seriously than itself.Recommended:
Coquette, with its script sign, exposed brick, chandeliers, and white linens, could have opened in the New Orleans’ Garden District in a bygone era of elegance. But 2012 Rising Star Chef Michael Stoltzfus—younger than 30 at the time—opened this Magazine Street restaurant in 2008 at a time when chefs were scaling back on any type of dining room refinement. Ambiance alone doesn’t bring diners back night after night. It’s the fire power of the Coquette kitchen. The crew here draws inspiration from Louisiana’s agricultural bounty, and Stoltzfus isn’t afraid of serving vegetarian (even vegan!) dishes. He’s that confident in his cooking and local products. But he also has a way with meats and seafood (e.g. Stoltzfus takes a menu’s typically throw-away chicken dish and casts it as the star). Pastry Chef Zak Miller recently joined the team from posts at Anthos and Blue Hill in New York City, and he brings his big city sensibility and training, along with a sense of whimsy, to the sweet endings at Coquette.Recommended:
Mid-City, there’s an artisan living among you. 2012 Rising Star Chef Bart Bell is the man and mind behind the meats at Crescent Pie & Sausage Company. Along with Partner Jeff Baron, Bell has built up this neighborhood spot, serving universally loved foods: pie and sausage. But where a lesser chef might open a fast-casual spot and farm out his production, Bell makes all his sausages and pies from scratch. You’ll find andouille, garlicky Toulouse, coppa, and even Bell’s brand of Little Smokies. Pies run the gamut from pizzas to sinful fried empanada-like creations (anything with crust or dough counts). A meal at Crescent is an honest endeavor—with a mug of beer, a link, a pie, or a stacked sandwich. This is blue collar food made with the integrity and passion of a fine-dining chef.Recommended:
Way Uptown is Dante’s Kitchen, a bright, sunny restaurant with an unusually high concentration of culinary talent. Chef-owner Eman Loubier earned his stripes, cooking for a decade at Commander’s Palace. Now at the helm of his own place, he cooks from the heart, blending New Orleans, Southern, and international flare into his dishes. Even the General Manager Neil McClure has culinary chops. When Dante's is closed for lunch, McClure sets up shop with his own brand of smoky barbecue. And Pastry Chef Kristyne Bouley was the woman in charge of the sweets at Donald Link’s empire, and in the kitchen of Dante’s, she nails creative desserts and a must-have composed cheese course.Recommended:
Dat Dog is the culmination of Skip Murray’s hotdog obsession. For years, New Orleans native Murray lived on links he imported to the UK, where Brits had long mastered bangers but not the American prototype we like between our buns. After Hurricane Katrina, Murray returned to New Orleans and partnered with long-time friend Constantine Georges to open a hot dog joint that would feature house-made sausages. Murray and his crew now produce more than a dozen types of links, including traditional German wieners and sausages ranging from gator and kielbasa to veggie dogs. All dogs are nestled in a soft, sour dough bun and topped with a heretical assortment of toppings: relish, cheese, ketchup, mustards, diced onion, tomato, wasabi, chili, sour cream, guacamole, sauerkraut, andouille sauce, and jalapeños. This ain’t a New York dirty water dog. It’s Dat Dog.Recommended:
Domenica is bringing back Italian pride to New Orleans. A partnership between Chefs John Besh and 2012 Rising Star Chef Alon Shaya, Domenica offers perhaps the best pasta, pizza, and charcuterie in town—not to mention phenomenal bread, dessert, and liqueur programs under Pastry Chef Lisa White. Shaya spent a year in Emilia-Romagna working on his Italian craft, and it shows in his toothsome pastas; airy, just-charred pizzas; and house-made, 24-month Prosciutto. And White updates historical recipes and classic desserts with a sweet New Orleans wink. The sleek interior, with its glass, steel, and minimalist wooden tables, may not feel like the old country, but you can taste the fundamentals of Italian cooking in every bite.Recommended:
If you’re a president, artist, musician, food lover, or chef, you cannot visit New Orleans without making a pilgrimage to Dooky Chase. At the iconic restaurant, 89-year-old de facto Queen of Creole Leah Chase still cooks some of the city’s finest gumbo, jambalaya, and fried chicken. She’s worked the line for 65 years, perfecting her recipes, feeding the people, and building her community. Over the years, Dooky Chase has served as a civil rights meeting house, a gallery for black artists, and a post-Katrina beacon of hope for New Orleans. Chase and her restaurant live up to their monumental status.Recommended:
For a roiling, rocking, explosively flavored dinner in New Orleans, Emeril’s is still the standard. 2012 Rising Star Chef David Slater is now at the helm of this iconic New Orleans spot, and taking cues from the city’s music scene and a host of international influences, he keeps dinner exciting. There’s more than a hint of “Bam!” in his dishes. Sommelier Ray Gumpert keeps pace with progressive wine pairings; guests might start with flirty Champagne and end the meal with an earthy, chewy, and bold Rhône. The integrity of Emeril Lagasse’s brand is alive and well at this expansive restaurant that’s perfect for big groups and big fun. Lagasse could pack the restaurant with tourists on name alone, but Slater, Gumpert, and crew deliver some of the best food and service in New Orleans.Recommended:
Off the beaten path for visitors but programmed into the culinary consciousness for locals, Gautreau’s has that comfortable feeling of your favorite restaurant—the one with an omnipresent owner and without a sign marking its front door. 2012 Rising Star Chef Sue Zemanick serves customers not so much comfort food, as food with soul. Zemanick relies on the purity of ingredients and back-to-basics cooking to make dishes that recall a sense of place. Courses might include an elegant ladies lunch or a playful twist on a diner favorite, but every meal at Gautreau’s shares the hallmark of thoughtful, purr-worthy cuisine. And since Zemanick rules both the savory and sweet portions of the menu, your last bite is bound to be as good as your first.Recommended:
Chef Chris DeBarr is doing whatever the hell he pleases at the Green Goddess, a funky, off-an-alley ode to his wanderings in New Orleans and beyond. Debarr’s menu is firmly eclectic, reaching from NOLA to the Middle East and Japan, and he and his tattooed, dreadlocked “pirate crew” turn out serious “clandestine” cuisine in unbelievably tight quarters. You might score a seat in Exchange Alley, in the front dining room with a view of the wild open kitchen, or tucked into a back, seemingly hidden enclave. Beyond food (and music, travel, and storytelling), DeBarr has a great passion for natural wines and his list at Green Goddess has rare, exciting, and breathtaking examples of natural winemaking.Recommended:
A dining room with a past, the Windsor Grill could have been lifted from another era: murals, tray ceilings, and chandeliers all set the mood. Nearly every major chef or sommelier in New Orleans has worked his or her way through the restaurant. Chef Drew Dzejak now fills the outsized role of kitchen creator, serving luxury and exotic ingredients in a way few non-hotel chefs can. There’s ham from Spain, foie, truffles, and black garlic. (Dzejak can get down with locals favorite, crawfish, too.) Pastry Chef Shun Li crafts elegant comfort desserts, with familiar flavors and precise plating. Sommelier Sara Kavanaugh is an Old World lady, pouring subtle, elegant pairings. She balances the weight of Dzejak’s dishes perfectly with selections from her (ridiculously) extensive cellar. The Grill Room has always had a wine focus but recently hired Christine Jeanine Nielson to overhaul its cocktail menu that now has a strong culinary focus.Recommended:
Herbsaint is where it all started for 2003 Rising Star Chef Donald Link, who has gone on to open wildly popular Cochon, Cochon Butcher, and Cochon Lafayette. But Herbsaint hasn’t suffered for the rise of the Link’s growing empire. Recently promoted Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Wilcomb still commands incredible depth or flavor, nuance, and excitement from a largely local pantry. And she’s made her own updates to Herbsaint’s Old World-meets-Southern cuisine with curries, composed salads, and one irresistible bruschetta (which General Manager and Sommelier Colin O’Neil pairs with oenophilic aplomb). Rhonda Ruckman leads the sweets menu for entire Link group, and saves her more refined plates for Herbsaint.Recommended:
New Orleans may be in the South, but it’s really a culinary Nation unto its own. So for a taste of good, old-fashioned Southern diner favorites—without only a slight Cajun-Creole accent—head to High Hat Café, where Chef Jeremy Wolgamott cooks honest, soul-warming fare. Burgers, pimento cheese, fried catfish, cornbread, and wedge salads all make menu appearances. With décor to match the retro menus—think Formica tables, penny tile floors, and bar stool seating—High Hat recalls a simpler time and place, where you knew just where to go to lunch and what blue-plate special to order.Recommended:
La Divina Owners Katrina and Carmelo Turillo fell in love with gelato while living in Florence, so much so that they brought the frozen treat to their New Orleans home in 2007. Five years and three shops later, the couple hired Chef Mia Calamia to lead production. What happens when you let a chef loose in a gelato shop? Scoops of interesting flavors like Beet-Lime and Goat’s Milk Pepper. Calamia not only churns out creative gelato flavors, but her über creamy (downright divine) gelatos and sorbets have the texture, mouthfeel, and balance of an Italian masterpiece—all without the aid of powders and bases. Try her sundae specials with homemade cookies and compotes made from local produce. And for diners who don’t think ice cream constitutes a balanced meal, La Divina also serves Italian espresso, sandwiches, and salads.Recommended:
With its warm mustard walls and white linens, La Petite Grocery recalls the charms of your favorite French countryside bistro (or at least the one of your dreams). With husband-and-wife team Justin and Mia Devillier running the back and front of house, respectively, La Petite Grocery also feels like the most intimate expression of the couple’s love of New Orleans. Chef Devillier’s dishes are anchored by the balance of tangy, tart, and sour flavors, playing against rich New Orleans cuisine. Pickles are his secret weapon. His dishes, too, are among the most artfully plated in the city, a flourish that proves his kitchen digs deep into the details. Pastry Chef Bronwen Wyatt gives comfort desserts panache and a wallop of flavor—by God, if she says there’s bourbon in your cake, you’ll taste it. And want another bite.Recommended:
Set in rural Lacombe, about an hour’s drive from New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain, La Provence is full of character and characters. Maitre d’ and bon vivant Joyce Bates has worked at the restaurant for 32 years, three decades of dinners and chefs passing through the kitchen (it’s rumored she fired a young cook named John Besh). Besh took over the iconic restaurant in 2007, and now it serves as an homage to the work of former Chef-owner Chris Kerageorgiou and also ground zero for Besh’s farm-to-table efforts. Chef de Cuisine Erik Loos oversees La Provence’s three-acre farm, raising Mangalitsa pigs and chickens, along with citrus, herbs, and vegetables. Loos takes that very local product and weaves it into a Provençal-inspired menu, with plates that nod to the restaurant’s past and its Besh-driven future. The food, bubbly, patio, fireplace, art, service, and permeating warmth of La Provence are transporting. Diners may as well haven driven across the ocean—and likely would—for an evening spent at La Provence.Recommended:
A fixture of Magazine Street, Lilette takes simplicity to heart with dishes driven by an Italian appreciation for ingredients. But this is New Orleans after all, and French technique more than sneaks into Chef John Harris’ cuisine. (Why shouldn’t escargot share a table with coppa and gnocchi?) Beth Biundo is one of New Orleans’ most senior pastry chefs, and she’s confident enough to serve quenelles of ice cream as a menu star, instead of its default stepchild. Together, Harris and Biundo make a mature culinary duo, curating their tastes and crafts into memorable meals for faithful diners. Lilette is a restaurant you can love, claim as your own, and enjoy year after year. It has more than enough excitement and deep-seeded satisfaction to sustain the love affair.Recommended:
One of John Besh’s original concepts, lively Lüke embodies the French brasserie, with a New Orleans twist, of course. Chef de Cuisine Matt Regan has a way with Gulf seafood, which he embellishes with classic French sauces and flavors. House-made is the game here, with pastas and sausages evolving from product into the anchors of spot-on entrees under Regan’s care. And an open kitchen gives diners a view of the craft. Lüke’s long, abundant raw bar offers the unmolested pleasure of seafood still kissed with salt water. And Mixologist Tomas Garcia plays into New Orleans classic cocktail past, updating drinks like the Sazerac and French 75.Recommended:
With the city’s most beloved sandwiches on the menu, interesting beers on tap, and a hefty selection of fried foods, Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop is a chef magnet. Kitchens all over the city pointed StarChefs.com toward this inviting bungalow off Magazine Street, where Chef Benjamin Wick’s takes soft bread, mayo, vegetable fixins’, and traditional proteins (fried oysters, roast beef, shrimp, and more) to make a poor man’s one-sandwich meal feel fit for a culinary king.Recommended:
For more than seven years, Chefs Slade Rushing and Alison Vines-Rushing have poured their Southern souls into MiLa. Alison hails from Mississippi. Slade grew up in Louisiana; both cheffed in New York City. With that experience, the couple returned to their roots to cook a modern expression of the foods they love best. But modernity at MiLa has nothing to do with molecular wizardry and everything to do with concentrating flavors into artfully presented and subtle dishes. Slade and Alison are perhaps the city’s best culinary editors. Their plates are streamlined with just the right balance of ingredients. There’s no smack down of spice or garlic or brine—the dishes of the South whisper a sweet, soulful song.Recommended:
Chef Susan Spicer’s newest restaurant, Mondo, seems light years away from her storied French Quarter restaurant, Bayona. Set in a strip mall next to a sneaker store and a snow cone outlet, Mondo’s location is closer to Spicer’s heart than an out-of-towner might guess. Mondo is Spicer’s very own neighborhood restaurant, and one of the first chef-driven eateries in Lakeview neighborhood. Chef Cindy Crosbie runs the kitchen here, cooking Spicer’s signature cuisine that nods to every nook and cranny of the globe. Fit for locals, the space is comfortable and generous with a bar for after work-wine and cocktails, and Crosbie’s menu is built to please food lovers and picky children alike. There’s mac and cheese, pizzas, braised duck, and ceviche. If you’re in the mood for comfort or excitement, there’s plenty to go around.Recommended:
In five short years, Patois has become an Uptown haunt, a favorite among locals, visitors, and starlets alike. The restaurant, the food, and its chef represent everything exciting about the New Orleans dining scene and the city’s newest generation of chefs. Opened in 2007 by Chef Aaron Burgau and brothers Leon and Pierre Touzet—our 2012 Rising Star Restaurateur trio—Patois has the graceful, cozy charm of Old New Orleans. Think white tablecloths, local art, tight quarters, and worn wooden chairs. The food at Patois comes from of a newly minted ecosystem of chefs, local farmers, and fisherman, a fresh take on truly New Orleans cuisine. Burgau looks to historic recipes, his Louisiana heritage, and nearby agricultural bounty for inspiration. Desserts from Pastry Chef Lisa Gustafson are richly local affairs, too. Her menu stars pain perdu, bread pudding, all manners of chocolate, and the perfection that is a Ponchatoula strawberry.Recommended:
This Ralph Brennan restaurant is tucked away from the hubbub of the Quarter, across the street from the sturdy, moss-strewn oaks of City Park. A local might stroll in for brunch (it’s perfect for big groups), and visitors can stop by for fine sustenance while exploring the park grounds. Chef Chip Flanagan and Pastry Chef Brett Gauthier take on classic New Orleans dishes with technology and creative flair—Ralph’s on the Park is far from a sleepy country kitchen. And for those who crave the Brennan’s signature dishes, Flanagan’s team fires up turtle soup, barbecued shrimp, and broiled oysters. To boot, each meal comes with complimentary sweeping park views and elbowroom afforded only in restaurants outside the city center.Recommended:
Restaurant August is the center of the John Besh universe and one of the few true fine-dining restaurants in New Orleans. There’s a certain front- and back-of-house magic happening at August with brothers Jeff (general manger) and Michael Gulotta (chef and partner) running the show. Add in the seasoned service of Sommelier Erin White and a sweets menu from 2012 Rising Star Pastry Chef Kelly Fields, and diners find their evening transformed, caught up in the flurry of tasting menus, pairings, and sumptuous French-meets-New-Orleans cuisine. White offers more than 30 by-the-glass options to pair with Gulotta’s technically steady and nuanced dishes—the best of which take a dip in Gulf waters and dive into the miracle that is Mangalitsa pork. Fields’ desserts work off the honest premise that pastry should taste intensely of its core ingredients. An espresso ice cream goes down like a short, sweet shot, and a creamsicle bursts onto the palate with fresh citrus and tangy buttermilk. All said, tasted, and considered, the restaurant that made Besh is still making a big mark on the New Orleans dining scene.Recommended:
In the modern, industrial space at Root, lime green chairs strike a wild visual balance with Edison bulbs, original exposed beams, a reclaimed wooden bar, white leather bar stools, and concrete floors. A touch of the new, old, innovative, and familiar come together in the restaurant design and dishes of 2012 Rising Star Chef Phillip Lopez. His first solo venture, Root is the culmination of Lopez’ wide-traveled palate. He’s making American food in the truly melting pot sense, serving an amalgam of North American, Asian, European, and South American flavors. Lopez has a sense of wonder and wanderlust when it comes to food, grounded by solid technique. Root holds a distinct place in New Orleans’ restaurant market. It’s a place where diners can suspend disbelief and Lopez and his team play a highly entertaining (and wholly delicious) game of risk and reward.Recommended:
Now home to three StarChefs.com Rising Stars—2003 Rising Star Chef Scott Boswell, 2012 Rising Star Pastry Chef Rebecca Cohen, and 2012 Rising Star Sommelier John Mitchell—the talent at French Quarter Stella! is stacked. Boswell’s food is as artful and playful as ever, kissed by the South with a luxurious accent (truffles and foie make numerous menu appearances). Cohen crafts naturalistic plates that relish in an idea, that express concepts with novel flavor combinations and textural flourish. Pulling together the whole dining experience, Mitchell opens his premium cellar up for diners’ whims and pleasures, pairing wines like journeys to small-production vineyards in Burgundy and Lebanon. In the elegant environs of Stella! and under the watchful eyes of the kitchen and front-of-house staff, no detail is too small, no moment too insignificant to seize and shape into a memorable dining experience.Recommended:
We don’t know what eccentric, well-to-do lady decorated Sweet Olive with a mix of garden gnomes, sparkling chandeliers, a lengthy communal table, ghost chairs, and spa-like white marble, but we’d love to come to one of her dinner parties. Inviting, blasé elegance permeates the atmosphere. And if the interior weren’t sumptuous enough, 2012 Rising Star Chef Michael Stoltzfus (also at the head of Coquette) turns local ingredients into glamorous icons on the plate, less with overwrought manipulation and more with a focus on the flavorful heart of the lowly carrot, catfish, or quail egg. Sweet Olive does farm to table without clichéd rusticity. Even the plating is a visual feast. Stoltzfus’ sophomore restaurant proves that hotel dining can be sexy and have soul.Recommended:
Sylvain is taking back the French Quarter, or at least a small piece of it for locals and tourists who care more about food and friends than the vices of Bourbon Street. And with one of the hottest bars in town, late-night eats, and a back patio slice of heaven, Sylvain draws a loyal crowd of industry folks. Chef Alex Harrell makes elevated comfort food; big plates of rich beef cheeks and a bramble of Brussels sprouts have become signature dishes here. Whether guests want to pair Harrell’s dishes with a refreshing cocktail from Mixologist Murf Reeves or a beer pairing from Cicerone Liam Deegan, liquid delights are aplenty. As is the feeling that Sylvain is setting the standard for a new type of locally owned and cherished hedonism in the Quarter.Recommended:
To open the bar at Tamarind in the Hotel Modern, Mixologist Kim Patton-Bragg spent months developing a cocktail menu to complement Chef Dominque Maquet’s French Vietnamese cuisine. It was a formidable challenge she (brilliantly) tackled with her culinary-driven cocktails. Patton-Bragg’s drinks rely heavily on infusions, with her mise-en-place covering the gamut of local and exotic produce. Among her house-made liqueurs, lavender-Satsuma and tamarind are standouts. With seemingly endless creativity, she served us our first tequila hot toddy and introduced us to the gamey wonders of duck fat wash. In lesser hands, her culinary wonderings might become a boozy mess. But Patton-Bragg’s proven she can deliver delicious and complex cocktails that are approachable and a hell of a lot of fun.Recommended:
You can make a night of Three Muses, sidled up to the bar, swinging your hips on the dance floor, or tucking into a plate of pork belly—we’d recommend all three. The trio of muses that shape the space are Chef Daniel Esses, Mixologist Daniel Starnes, and Impresario Sophie Lee, who came together to open up their dream of a restaurant and jazz club on Frenchman. Esses’ small plates are much better than any bar food needs to be, executed with care and packed with flavor at every possible step, and Starnes’ cocktails keep the beat with refreshing libations, perfect for throwing back. On Frenchman, though, music reigns. And Lee, a vocalist herself, books serious jazz talent to lure passers-by into the restaurant. It’s a welcome trap. Stay awhile and find yourself inspired by Three Muses.Recommended:
Capitalizing on New Orleans growing love of hamburgers, 2012 Restaurateurs Aaron Burgau, Leon Touzet, and Pierre Touzet, opened Trūburger to feed New Orleans their vision of a perfect American burger. Griddled and smashed, the crispy patties ooze beefy flavor onto a sturdy bun. Classic and creative toppings (including the addictive Trū sauce), keep things interesting without taking away from the beef centerpiece. The menu and approachable design at Trūburger is primed for families—and expansion. No doubt Trūburger will serve more than quaint Oak Street in the near future.Recommended:
Art, history, and great food converge at Upperline, a Garden District classic and the undisputed home of Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp Remoulade. Owner JoAnn Clevenger has seen only three chefs pass through her kitchen in Upperline’s nearly 30-year run, and Dave Bridges is the latest chef to step into the role. The menu at Upperline may have some non-negotiable signatures, but Bridges takes a fresh look at New Orleans cuisine without forsaking the past. Sinfully rich Snails, Green Peppercorn Bordelaise, Roasted Bone Marrow, and Rosemary Beignet tastes at once like retro fine dining and novel cuisine. Very few chefs make this kind of confident, unapologetically Frenchified food. A great part of Upperline’s allure is tacked to its walls. Over her lifetime, Clevenger has amassed an eclectic and formidable collection of local art, and a dinner at the restaurant is a privileged visit to her gallery and kitchen table.Recommended:
Mid-City’s 12 Mile Limit isn’t just off the beaten path; it’s offbeat in a charming, come-as-you-will, rogue kind of way. There’s a buzzer on the door, barbecue in the back, and brilliant cocktails from Mixologist and Proprietor Cole Newton. Set in a residential neighborhood, 12 Mile Limit is a rare space that caters to both slots-playing, Miller High Life-drinking regulars and high-end cocktails worshipers. The latter group will find updated classic cocktails and bespoke Newton creations, served with a story and without any pretense. The aforementioned barbecue from Tom Shorthall has been voted some of the city’s best, and to add to the funky mix, Charlotte McGehee runs her Debbie Does Doberge bakery out of the kitchen, serving patrons mini doberge cakes and cupcakes.Recommended:
Ask any New Orleans barman where to go for a drink in the French Quarter, and he’ll point you toward Arnaud’s French 75. Arnaud’s is a quintessential New Orleans bar, with tile floors, a mirrored bar, dainty velvet seating, and 2012 Rising Star Mixologist Chris Hannah clad in a traditional white jacket. Hannah has helmed the just-off Bourbon Street bar for about seven years, and takes the history of the bar as a stylistic imperative. He takes on and updates classic combinations with new spirits and house-made concoctions, and his ultimate goal is to draw a loyal crowd who comes in for pre- and post-dinner drinks.Recommended:
Mixologist Ed Diaz is a pioneer of the modern New Orleans mixology scene. Inspired by the Violet Hour in Chicago, Diaz signed a lease off Rampart Street, and opened Bar Tonique in 2008. His first menu debuted with 40 cocktails (a number roughly intact today). He was striving for consistency; he wanted to train his bartenders on all 40 drinks. People thought he was crazy. The formula worked, though, and some of the city’s best mixologists trained under Diaz before leaving and spreading craft cocktail love to dens of their own. Ultimately, Bar Tonique is an intimate neighborhood bar, where drink quality isn’t compromised for its French Quarter ZIP code.Recommended:
Single spirit bars have proliferated across the country. But aside from martini bars, we haven’t seen a bar devoted to a single drink, let alone to the obscure and low-proof cobbler. But Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal, and Matthew Kohnke, the partners behind Cure, have proven they’re not afraid of risk. At Bellocq, cobblers are built by packing pellet ice into a frosted metal glass; pouring over a single spirit; and garnishing the drink with fresh fruits, herbs, and a wheat straw. For the drinking customer, the appeal’s about refreshment—a definite selling point in sticky hot New Orleans. And for bartenders, a huge part of the appeal is the range of flavor profiles. The team builds drinks with dessert wines, Ports, liqueurs, amaros, whiskies, and aromatized wines like vermouth.Recommended:
Capdeville is a rock ‘n’ roll neighborhood bar tucked off of quiet Capdeville Street in the Central Business District. Designed to mimic a British social house—with edge—the buttoned up business crowd can unwind in a space with a jukebox, racy wallpaper, and album covers for art. The cocktails are custom but unpretentious, and ordering a bottle of Bud won’t garner any scorn. And if you’re watching a game or stopping in for lunch, Capdeville serves burgers, sandwiches, and salads to provide a sturdy base for drinking.Recommended:
Cure is the heartbeat of modern mixology in New Orleans. And partners Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal are the driving forces behind the bar in the gentrifying Freret neighborhood. Designed to look like a modern airplane bunker, Cure has a minimalist design with an imposing wall of spirits. The mixos here stock the bar only with spirits they love—if you want Bombay or even Old Overholt Rye, you’re out of luck. Cure is a communal environment-cum-boys club, where each mixo contributes a style and cocktails to the menu and bar. Some of the major talent: Nick Detrich infuses service with a smile and makes lovable Tiki concoctions. Jason Dietrich has a more serious style with poetically named and complex cocktails. And 2012 Rising Star Mixologist James Ives pairs big flavors with even bigger ones, with a knack for combining odd couple spirits. For the cocktail enthusiast, Cure is the most important and exciting bar to visit (frequent) in the New Orleans.Recommended:
Iris is a gateway to the French Quarter with all the charms of Old New Orleans and none of her touristy trappings. Mixologist Sharon Floyd runs the bar program here, with the distinct drinks philosophy that comes from being a yogi and an herbal expert. She even scored a grant from Tales of the Cocktail to research the connection between herbs and bitters and health. Although she may be the single mixologist in NOLA concerned with your physical wellbeing, don’t expect New Age drinks from Floyd: her spirit combinations are plenty uplifting. Grab a seat at the bar, order oysters and small plates from Chef Ian Schnoebelen, and let Floyd cure what ails you.Recommended:
Set inside the sleek International House, Loa is a little minx of a bar with plush seating, intimate candlelight, and beautifully presented cocktails. But Loa’s more than a pretty hotel watering hole for glamorous guests and suits from the surrounding Central Business District. She has character; mixologist Alan Walter makes sure of it. Walter’s extensive pantry includes house-made bitters, syrups, and liqueurs that range in flavor from plantain and blackberry to horseradish. His cerebral (but not too serious) combinations invite guests to play, laugh, marvel, and knuckle their brows. Walter manages to bridge the gap between full-on culinary cocktails and a more modern spirits-driven style, which Walter, his bar, and libations have in spades.Recommended:
A night wandering the French Quarter isn’t complete without a “go cup” from Napoleon House, a 200-year-old landmark that has served drinks since 1914. The refreshing British Pimm’s Cup is the specialty here—the cool cucumber, low-proof, and effortlessly chugable drink is seemingly made for New Orleans. The bartenders are decidedly old school, and the clientele ranges from Garden District well-to-do to tourists and rough-around-the-edges locals. Everyone wants to share the history (or maybe just get their buzz on) at this NOLA classic.Recommended:
Mixologist Russ Bergeron is a 20-year industry veteran, and he serves not only as head mixologist for the Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar, but also its official historian. After an hour on one of his barstools, you’ll learn about the origins and evolution of the Sazerac, along with tidbits about the bar’s exquisite Paul Ninas murals, wooden walls and bar (made from a single African tree), and solid silver prize cups from England. But Sazerac Bar is best experienced as a living museum, with time spent partaking in Bergeron’s classic, modern, and thoroughly tipsy exhibitions. Bergeron sticks as closely to the original Sazerac recipe as possible (with the late 1800s update of rye over cognac, of course), and the Roosevelt Hotel owns the rights to the original Ramos Gin Fizz. Bergeron’s version is one of the best in town. But Bergeron isn’t a slave to tradition. He made us a strangely delicious Bacon Martini (you have to try to believe) and The Rose, an alluringly feminine mix of floral gin and rose water.Recommended:
Opened in 1856, Tujague’s (pronounced too-jaks) is a legendary New Orleans watering hole. No nonsense bartenders service a mixed clientele of locals, slot machine regulars, and tourists wandering in from adjacent Decatur Street. With the recent departure of lead Mixologist Paul Gustings, we can’t guarantee you’ll find alluring cocktails like his Sitchell or Angostura Rum Phosphate. But Tujaque’s has served Sazeracs for more than 150 years, and they pour a mean Miller High Life. Stick with the classics, and you’re bound to drink right. Just don’t expect to get cozy at the bar, as there’s not a stool in sight.
Mixologist Daniel Victory takes a culinary approach to cocktails at his namesake bar, where beet juice cocktails, Truffletinis, and edible drinks make up the more creative side of the menu. Victory also nods to the back-of-house amuse bouche tradition. He serves every customer an on-the-house batched cocktail as soon as he or she sits down. The interior has a mid-90s lounge vibe, with a backlit bar and red lighting—it’s a fun, comfortable space where service rules.Recommended:
If you want a hotel smack in the center of the French Quarter, with the wild cadence of Bourbon Street just outside your door and the prime shopping of Royal Street around the corner, Bourbon Orleans Hotel has a room for you. Built in 1817 as a ballroom and theatre, the building has proved its staying power by converting to a convent in 1881 and a hotel 83 years later. Recently renovated rooms breathe even more life into the hotel without losing sight of the past. The owners preserved the ornate, original ballroom for events, and some guests even mingle with former residents (New Orleans ghost tours start in the lobby). Chef Robert Plouffe also maintains NOLA culinary traditions (and stretches them a bit with items like flat-bread pizzas and salads) at Roux on Orleans.
For business or pleasure, the Intercontinental New Orleans is a sure bet for comfort, offering the kind of luxe consistency you expect to find at this international chain. Free WiFi, a health club, and turndown service all make travel more enjoyable—there’s something waiting when the sirens of Bourbon Street and overindulgence lose their appeal. Chef Klaus Happel runs the hotel’s food and beverage program, making one of the neighborhood’s best hamburgers for the business lunch crowd, feeding banquet guests top-notch fare, and channeling his New Orleans environs for diners at the Veranda Room.
A single friends’ weekend spot, Hotel le Marais is modern, sleek, and sexy. With a purple glow and Mardis Gras-colored chairs in the lobby, the hotel has a party vibe that starts as soon as you walk in the door, and you can keep it going (presumably) on the back patio and in the largest hot tub in town. Framed quotes in the gym—“I really don’t think I need buns of steel. Buns of cinnamon would work for me.”—remind you why you’re in New Orleans. (It ain’t to work out.) Spare bedroom furnishings and tasteful rugs distinguish rooms from nearby chain properties—you won’t find gold framed nature scenes or red Fleur de Lys carpeting here.
It may be one block off of Bourbon Street, but Hotel Mazarin is an oasis of charm. The hotel surrounds a private courtyard, where guests can soak in the pleasures of New Orleans architecture and weather, while lounging, dining, and drinking. In fact, life here revolves around wine. Patrick’s Bar Vin, run by bon vivant and Mardia Gras King of Cru Patrick van Hoorebeek, offers a superb selection of Champagnes by the glass, in addition to an interesting list of reds and white. The bar also offers high-end wine storage, so locals can stash their bottles and drink them on visits to the Quarter. Hotel rooms are simple with a few luxurious touches like black marble and sexy glass showers—the perfect escape for a couple who wants to be close to all the French Quarter action.
The opulent Roosevelt has all the charms of a historic hotel with the luxurious benefits guests come to expect from a Waldorf Astoria property. The restaurants and bars alone are a draw; it’s home to John Besh and 2012 Rising Star Alon Shaya’s Domenica and Sazerac Bar, where Mixologist Russ Bergeron upholds the city’s most venerable cocktail traditions: the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz. Chef Stefan Kauth oversees dining at the Blue Room and Teddy’s Café. Guest rooms are well appointed with crisp linens, dream-inducing mattresses, plush towels, and Salvatore Ferragamo bath products (the eye mask is sumptuous). For relaxation, the Guerlain Spa is one of the city’s best, and the rooftop pool allows guest to beat New Orleans’ Southern heat in style.
With sweeping views of the Mississippi and hard-working barges chugging up her waters, Westin Canal Place reminds guests with every glance why New Orleans rose to prominence in America’s early history. And with some of New Orleans best shopping downstairs, a prime French Quarter location, and Harrah’s Casino just around the corner, guests need no reminder why they chose to stay at this Westin property. Seriously spacious rooms, WiFi, a gym, and the promise of Starwood Points seal the deal. As an added benefit, recently hired Chef Gregg Zeringue has updated the signature River 127 restaurant with a globally inspired New Orleans menu (think Curried Fried Oysters and Hoisin Pork Belly).
The formidable, luxurious Windsor Court Hotel has held the imaginations and hearts of travelers since it opened in 1984. Recently updated rooms—part of a larger $22 million renovation—debuted in January 2012, and they could have been decorated by your aristocratic aunt. Thick, custom magnolia curtains, toile footstools, cream marble countertops, and playful aviary lamps pull you into a proper Southern parlor. The only hotel with Forbes Four Stars and AAA Four Diamonds Awards in Louisiana, the hotel's rooms drip with luxury and charm. Molton Brown bath products, jazz in the lobby, complimentary valet, and a well-trained staff complete the experience. And Windsor’s culinary team—Chef Drew Dzejak, Pastry Chef Shun Li, Sommelier Sara Kavanaugh, and Mixologist Christin Jeanine Nielson—pamper guests with high-end cuisine and drinks.
Located on Royal St. in the heart of the French Quarter, Hotel Monteleone brims with history and charm. Opened in 1886 by Italian nobleman Antonio Monteleone, the hotel has thrived through four generations, growing into a majestic 600-room complex stocked with 25 meeting rooms, a heated rooftop pool, a spa, and exercise facilities. The Carousel Bar, with its circular rotating bar, is an infamous New Orleans watering hole, immortalized in books by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the hotel underwent massive renovations, including development of a new restaurant and expansion to the bar area.
Music soaks into your bones on Frenchman Street. And while any corner bar promises an otherworldly local talent, D.B.A . consistently books a solid roster of soulful performers. For a small $5 to $15 cover, you can experience a transporting set or two of New Orleans jazz in an atmosphere that’s civilized without being stuck-up. Unlike most bars in the city, D.B.A. is smoke-free, and the bar has a serious list of local, craft, and imported beers. The music, drinks, and crowd are all conducive to toe tapping, hip swaying, or all-out dancing, so be prepared to have a good time.
A must stop for cookbook enthusiasts, Kitchen Witch has a rare and quirky combination of culinary compilations. Proprietors Phillipe Mancusa and Debbie Lindsey have assembled a collection ranging from community cookbooks and a roster of Cajun and Creole tomes to one gleaming set of Modernist Cuisine. Search awhile in the charmingly cluttered space, and you’re bound to find your next favorite cookbook.
Art galleries, some of the city’s best restaurants (Lilette, Bouligny Tavern, Coquette, La Petite Grocery, Baru Bistro, and Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop to name a few), coffee shops, antique stores, and boutiques line the Garden District’s Magazine Street. A longtime haunt for ladies who lunch (and shop), Magazine Street provides a swanky, kitsch-less alternative to the French Quarter.
Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood is a prime benefactor of main street revitalization. With a winning combination of old school businesses and gentrified hot spots, Oak Street maintains the balance between its new destination designation and a friendly, small town vibe. You can get your shoes repaired for $5 or a proper barbershop shave for less than $10. A converted bank now houses Rue de la Course, a coffee shop and meeting place for locals who sip espresso beneath the tall, vaulted ceiling. Oak capitalizes on the wine bar trend, and on a recent evening a young, well-heeled crowd listened to jazz, nibbled on food from 2012 Rising Star Aaron Burgau, and drank glasses of vino in the modern space. Across the street, Burgau’s Trūburger serves families crispy griddled patties with creative toppings. Oak Street’s ultimate attraction is its annual Po-Boy Festival, held every November to celebrate the city’s most beloved sandwich.
Birthplace to the Ramos Gin Fizz and Sazerac, it makes perfect sense that New Orleans should also be home to The Museum of the American Cocktail. Located in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in the Riverwalk Marketplace, the museum was founded by legendary mixologist Dale DeGroff. Stop in to catch up on two hundred years of mixology history or browse through the collection of rare spirits, Prohinition-era literature and music, and vintage bar gadgets. The museum also hosts educational seminars on pairing, concepts, and trends taught by leading mixologists.