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.
640 Carondelet St., French Quarter
Named after the first French settlement on the Mississippi river and situated in a 19th century Creole townhouse (exposed brick walls, cast iron chandeliers, and wood flooring are relics from its past life), heritage is an essential part of what makes Balise—Justin Devillier’s second project after Le Petite Grocery—so special. The focus here is on exploring New Orleans’ port city past, so expect lots of fish dishes, like fried flounder, roasted grouper, and shrimp and sweet potato soup.
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.
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.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., Warehouse District
Cochon was one of the first new restaurants to open after hurricane Katrina and therefore holds a very special place in locals’ hearts. But the food totally holds up, too. The menu—which goes well with the rustic, classic bistro-like set-up—can be described as pork-centric Southern, with dishes like fried boudin with pickled peppers and Louisiana cochon with turnips taking top billings.
1403 Washington Ave., Garden District
Sprawled out on a residential block in the Garden District—across from one of the city's coolest old cemeteries—Commander’s Palace is first and foremost a vision of Victorian architecture. Inside, the foyer is finished with embroidered toile panels by artist Richard Saja, and the main dining room is decked out to the nines is hand-painted wallpaper and starched linens; business attire is encouraged. The “Haute Creole” menu, which in the past has been curated by Emeril Lagasse and Jamie Shannon, abides by current chef Tory McPhail’s strict "dirt to plate within 100 miles" policy. On weekends, the jazz brunch is the stuff of legend. Get the Cochon de Lait eggs Benedict. There is a dress code.
8801 Oak St., East Carrollton
The heart of this husband-and-wife operation is undoubtedly delicious, no-frills comfort food: Chili-cheese fries, Gulf shrimp quesadillas, and something called It's All Schnitz & Giggles (pork tenderloin, grits, and shrimp gravy). It's all served in a fun, low-key setting—it used to be a filling station back in the day—with the option to take your meal al fresco. The grass-fed burger (get it topped with bacon, eggs, cheese, homemade ketchup) is best washed down with a cold beer from the bar or a house-special “adult” soda.
123 Baronne St., Warehouse District
The name Domenica stands for “Sunday” in Italian, which is fitting since the vibe here is as chill as it is festive. Come here for the best pizza this side of the Mississippi (the roasted carrot pie is unreal) and really great veggie dishes, like the whole head of cauliflower and fried Tuscan kale. Even more reason to love this place? It’s situated in the ultra luxe Roosevelt hotel which is worth a visit, and hosts a daily happy hour with half-price pizza and wine.
620 Chartres St., French Quarter
On the heels of an insanely successful outpost in Costa Rica (and a spot in Israel before that), restauranteurs 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.
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