New Orleans Restaurants
3607 Magazine St., Touro
Cavan occupies a weathered 1883 Uptown mansion, and while the whole place feels like it might fall apart, that’s part of the charm. It’s named for an Irish orphan from County Cavan who lived in this very house, and not much has changed since the early 1900s. The classic white clapboard exterior and beautifully preserved interior are reason enough to visit. Salmon-colored walls, plush velvet seating, and original architectural details, like stucco cornices, set the tone for leisurely, elegant meals. The gingerbread-spiced jerk fish with sweet potato hash and eggnog beurre blanc is a dish you probably can’t find anywhere else—and it’s also really, really good.
417 Royal St., French Quarter
Though it’s pretty great all around, this Royal Street landmark (it was established in 1946 and has recently undergone a top-to-bottom revamp) is most famous for three things: the house-special brandy milk punch, the elaborate breakfast spread (Creole citrus crepes, crispy veal cheek grillades, escargot omelet…), and the lavish, borderline kitschy decor. Each of the eight dining rooms has its own theme but shares the same pomp (crushed velvet seating, starched tablecloths), which explains the strict dress code (i.e. jackets are required at dinner). Speaking of dinner, with chef Slade Rushing at the helm, the new menu is a lighter, more refined version of the original. And get the Bananas Foster: The recipe and table-side flambeing methods haven't changed in over 50 years.
1032 Chartres St., French Quarter
As head chef at Sylvain, Alex Harrell helped propel it to city-wide acclaim. Now, as owner of his own restaurant—the brand-new Angeline (named after his mom)—he’s aiming to change how people view Southern cuisine by shying away from the buttery heaviness its known for and incorporating Northern Mediterranean elements. Dishes like Southern fried quail, butter bean tortellini, and Louisiana blue crab with linguini help his cause.
901 Louisiana Ave., Uptown
Owned by couple, Rachel and Tony Tocco, Atchafalaya has culinary roots that reach as far back as 1924, when it was a mom-and-pop Italian joint. The food is traditional Creole, the staff friendly, and most of the materials used to rebuild post Katrina were salvaged from the storm, making the whole experience an homage to its storied past. While the daily dinner menu is great, the weekend brunch (shrimp and grits, savory bread pudding) is extraordinary, thanks in no small part to the famous Bloody Mary bar and live music.
1051 Annunciation St., Warehouse District
In addition to generating some major excitement from the food world, this months-old restaurant from husband-and-wife team, Cody and Samantha Carroll, is already a favorite with locals, which is pretty impressive for a newcomer. It’s housed in a massive old cotton mill in the Warehouse District, so diners can spread out and keep an eye on the sprawling open kitchen while enjoying the small but mighty seafood-centric menu.
1728 Soniat St., Uptown
This Uptown jewel box of a restaurant (it’s set in a converted pharmacy, though you wouldn’t know it from its elegant interior and pretty but totally nondescript facade) is known for discovering and nurturing fresh talent—most recently, it’s James Beard-winner Chef Sue Zemanick. As evidenced by dishes like pork osso buco with apple-fennel gremolata, foie gras torchon, and coconut-lemongrass semifreddo, the focus here is on refined American food with a nod to traditional French flavors.
539 St. Philip St., French Quarter
This French Quarter Creole/Italian gem is notorious for its hours-long waits (they’re pretty stingy about reservations here), but that’s ok, the adjoining piano bar makes for a great place to pass the time. Once you get seated in a tiny, lovingly cluttered dining room, go straight for the seafood—crab au gratin, shrimp bisque, and all manner of oysters—or the house special duck St. Philip. The more traditional Italian fare (fresh pasta, roasted chicken, panna cotta) is pure garlic-y goodness.
620 Chartres St., French Quarter
On the heels of an insanely successful outpost in Costa Rica (and a spot in Israel before that), restaurateurs Itai Ben Eli and Doris Reba Chia chose the Crescent City for their newest venture: A steakhouse specializing in dry-aged meat, which is why the on-site dry-aging room and a full-time “meat sommelier” make sense. The menu also offers Mediterranean-inflected specialties like lamb chops with tahini yogurt and fresh Gulf fish with a side of tzatziki. The enclosed courtyard offers a nice place to escape the madness of Chartres Street.
1240 Decatur St., French Quarter
Last year, the dining space was expanded from six tables to 16, and it’s no surprise they have zero problems filling them all as Chef Samantha Castagnetti is a pro when it comes to churning out exceptional Northern Italian dishes. The homemade pumpkin ravioli, penne alla vodka, and Porcini mushroom ravioli are perfect as are the desserts (get the espresso crème brulee).
6100 Annunciation St., Uptown
Though the Clancy family sold their beloved restaurant in the early 80’s (it’s been around since the 40’s), it lost none of its warmness in the transaction. Much like the simple, white-washed main dining room (upstairs is the quieter, more date-friendly area), the menu is classic, no-frills Creole. For the perfect meal, start with an order of fried oysters with brie, then move onto the lobster and mushroom risotto. And of course, finish with the famous lemon icebox pie.
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