Establishment neighborhood
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.
Domilise’s Po-Boys & Bar
5240 Annunciation St., West Riverside
The Northeast has the sub, Philly has the hoagie, and the New Orleans’s beloved sandwich mascot is the po’boy. And Domilise’s, which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary last year, is the place to try the best. It’s not fancy (the wood-paneled walls and the red and yellow plastic bottles of ketchup and mustard on Formica tables are delightfully retro), but the food is heavenly. If it’s your first time, go for a classic, like the fried, perfectly crisp shrimp or oyster po’boy on a Leidenheimer roll. Be aware that it gets crowded—coming on the earlier side (before noon) is a good idea.
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.
Fat Boy Pantry
1302 Magazine St., Lower Garden District
Fat Boy Pantry curates everything we ever want to eat under one roof…in sandwich form. Ice cream (served in sweet buns), fried oysters, and ground lamb all get sandwiched between two carb-y slabs. The clean, all-white décor, La Marzocco coffee machine, and scoops of homemade ice cream all contribute to the modern soda fountain feel. Come for breakfast, come for lunch, come for dessert—the juice is always fresh, and the vibe fun.
Drip Affogato Bar
703 Carondelet St., Warehouse District
While most of us are familiar with affogato—the Italian pick-me-up of ice cream “drowned” in hot espresso—we’ve never encountered a café solely dedicated to this one thing. The flavor combinations here are endless, though we especially love the bananas Foster, the tiramisu, and the matcha (but you can’t go wrong with the classic vanilla-and-espresso combination). Ice cream aside, the coffee holds its own. Skip dessert at whatever restaurant you’re eating dinner at and come here.
French Truck Coffee
1200 Magazine St., Lower Garden District
Each location of French Truck—there are three, though the Uptown outpost is our favorite—is wonderfully cheerful, decked out in bright shades of yellow and blue. The coffee is directly sourced from farms throughout Africa and South America, the fresh beans are roasted in small batches for better flavor, and the milk comes from a local dairy. Every detail of the experience is carefully considered. Pick up a few bags of beans to stash in your freezer on the way out—it makes a great memento of your trip.
Arnaud’s French 75
813 Bienville St., French Quarter
Although French 75 is part of the legendary restaurant Arnaud’s (they share the same 1918 building in the French Quarter), it’s worth a stop in its own right. The cocktails here are mixed by a team of New Orleans’s finest bartenders, and we’d recommend the namesake drink (Courvoisier cognac, cane sugar, lemon juice, and Moët & Chandon). If you don’t plan to move on to Arnaud’s for dinner, the small bites here—like the Brie and jalapeño-stuffed shrimp or black-eyed pea beignets—will tide you over until your next meal.