French Quarter Restaurants
Central Grocery & Deli
923 Decatur St., French Quarter
Like the po’boy, beignet, and gumbo, the muffuletta is a classic New Orleans culinary treat. Picture a thick loaf of Sicilian sesame bread stuffed with salami, ham, pepperoni, marinated olives, and pickled vegetables and you get the idea. And the place to get what is possibly the city’s best version is at Central Grocery, in the French Quarter. It makes sense, as the sandwich is said to have been invented by founder Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant who opened the place in 1906. It’s worth ordering more than one, as the sandwiches keep well and make great midnight snacks.
813 Bienville St., French Quarter
If you haven’t been to Sunday brunch at Arnaud’s to listen to live Dixie jazz, have you really been to New Orleans? Some locals would answer with a resounding no. A French Quarter restaurant on lively Bourbon Street, Arnaud’s (like its iconic neighbor around the corner, Galatoire’s) has been around for over a century. Waiters in black tie deftly waltz around the grand, high-ceilinged dining room to serve shrimp bisque, crab cakes, Belgian waffles, and chicken and andouille gumbo. It’s also home to French 75—one of our favorite bars in the city, especially for its Garden Mayahuel (Cabeza tequila, mezcal, ginger, pineapple, basil, and lime juice), once the sun sets.
209 Bourbon St., French Quarter
Step through the door at this New Orleans dining institution, and you might forget what decade it is. The dining room—full of French bistro chairs, white tablecloths, and ceiling fans—seems virtually unchanged since 1905, when the restaurant opened. But it’s the crowd, decked out in their old-school Sunday best (even during the week), that is really transportive. We’re talking gents in bow ties and seersucker suits (jackets are required), and ladies in pale-pink and pistachio dresses. The menu is similarly unaffected by modern trends, full of classic dishes like the seafood okra gumbo (Louisiana shrimp, oysters, shellfish stock, and okra in a light roux) and the avocado and crabmeat salad. This is New Orleans as its best, and your experience in the city is practically incomplete without a meal here.
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.
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).
625 Chartres St., French Quarter
Sure, it’s housed in a creaky, 18th-century townhouse in the French Quarter, with a tattered American flag on the wall and a resident ghost (a madam who ran a brothel here in the 20’s), but what separates this gastropub from others with similar aesthetics is how genuinely cool it is. For the most part, the menu is standard comfort food—but with unexpected tweaks, like champagne and fries or the buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich. There’s also a well-stocked bar that’s perfect for anyone dining alone and a tiny but super dreamy outdoor seating nook.
547 Saint Ann St., French Quarter
This brother restaurant to the sadly shuttered Stella! is one of the few spots in town that serves a full breakfast—beyond the beignets and coffee you can get anywhere—all day long. Egg dishes are the main draw—the Benedicts (Eggs Benedict Poor Boy and Breaux Bridge Benedict with homemade boudin) being the obvious standouts. That said, the perfectly soupy Bananas Foster French Toast is pretty special. Plus, the restaurant’s Jackson Square location allows for some pretty dreamy views of St. Louis Cathedral.