French Quarter Restaurants
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
900 Royal St., French Quarter
After a day or so of nothing but extremely heavy (albeit, delicious) Southern food, a crisp salad starts to sound really good. Come to Cafe Amelie’s casual, but equally tasty offshoot for a light breakfast, or a bowl of seasonal soup and a heaping plate of the aforementioned salad (the Ponchatoula Strawberry is particularly refreshing).
777 Bienville St., French Quarter
This unapologetically fancy restaurant (crushed velvet booths, crystal chandeliers, a 10,000-bottle-deep wine cellar) can elevate any evening, though it's an undertaking of all kinds, so save it for a special occasion. It’s the brainchild of two outstanding chefs, John Folse and Rick Tramonto, so fittingly, the menu is a combination of two culinary schools: traditional Cajun and Creole, and experimental. Death by Gumbo, for instance, is served with a whole, stuffed quail, the contents of which—oysters, andouille sausage, and rice—spill out into the broth when sliced. Also of note are the beer-battered crab fritters and epic caviar “staircase.” The fried oyster salad with blue cheese and bacon is insane.
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.
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.
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