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21 Iconic New Orleans Restaurants (2021)

Check out 21 iconic New Orleans restaurants that are too good to miss during your NOLA visit. We share our picks for the best restaurants in New Orleans for first-time visitors. We even show you how to navigate each menu in your quest to find the best place to eat in New Orleans.

Sheepshead Amandine at Cavan in New Orleans

We love New Orleans so much that it’s the city we’ll likely live in when and if we return to the United States for a long term stay.

We adore the Louisiana city for many reasons despite its humid weather (which our curly hair seems to like more more than we do). We’ve noticed that NOLA natives tend to overlook the humidity and other issues like hurricanes, overtourism and crime. They, like us, have a love for the city and its tight communal atmosphere in which people genuinely seem to care about each other.

We admire the city’s laid back attitude and we connect with the passionate people who choose to call the Big Easy home. Plus, we’re enamored with both NOLA’s sophisticated cocktail scene where Sazeracs and Grasshoppers flow freely and its legendary stew of music, from the clubs on Frenchmen Street in Marigny all the way to the Maple Leaf in Uptown, that ranges from second line to jazz to R&B.

We also love the city’s melange of architecture. We’re especially drawn to the Colonial Spanish buildings in the French Quarter, the Neo-Baroque mansions in the Garden District and the more humble shotgun shacks in the Bywater.

Jackson Square Selfie in New Orleans
No matter how many times we visit New Orleans, we always have fun exploring and EATING in Louisiana’s Crescent City.

But, after a half dozen trips to New Orleans including our most recent week-long visit in 2021, we love the food in New Orleans most of all.

This is a city were it’s possible to taste centuries of skillful sauce making and cooking precision, even at modern restaurants like Mopho and Cavan. It’s also a city where cooks function as professors of deep ‘fryology’ at restaurants like Willie Mae’s Scotch House and Dooky Chase’s.

Discover 23 cheap eats not to miss in New Orleans .

Our Picks for the Best Restaurants in New Orleans

Dining Room at Cavan in New Orleans
Some of the best New Orleans restaurants operate in historic buildings. Pictured here is Cavan’s dining room situated in a 19th century converted mansion.

After visiting NOLA again and again and again, we’ve eaten at enough New Orleans restaurants to have our go-to spots. Our favorites include down-and-dirty casual eateries as well as dining temples where servers wear jackets and white gloves.

As we’ve discovered, some of the best places to eat in New Orleans are relatively new while others have been in business for more than a century.

Entrance at Liuzzas by the Track in New Orleans
We gave our shoes a good workout in our quest to eat at the be best restaurants in New Orleans.

It’s fair to say that we’ve eaten at most of the best restaurants in NOLA. Dozens and dozens of restaurants. Enough that we’re ready to narrow down more than a hundred restaurants to 21 restaurants that achieve the following Merriam-Webster definition of the word iconic:

“widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence”

Merriam-Webster

We recommend that you start your NOLA restaurant exploration at these 21 iconic restaurants to experience the true essence of New Orleans cuisine. We’ve eaten at them all, some twice and others even more times. We’re confident that you’ll enjoy their food as much as we always do.

1. Commanders Palace

Exterior and Sign at Commander's Palace
Commander’s Palace shines brightly in its striped blue building.

Open since 1893 and located in the Garden District, Commander’s Palace is the grande dame of the New Orleans dining scene and the jewel in the Brennan family crown. Famous chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme have cooked here and thousand of diners have eaten inside the striped blue walls.

It all sounds very formal and in some ways it is. The restaurant has a business attire dress code that encourages men to wear jackets and bans everybody from wearing shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, sweat pants and ripped jeans.

But, despite its impressive past and modern code of formality, Commander’s Palace is a friendly place where celebrating customers don chef toques made of paper and colorful balloons float from chairs. It’s also a restaurant that serves outstanding food for both lunch and dinner.

Click here to buy Commander’s Kitchen: Take Home the True Taste of New Orleans with More Than 150 Recipes from Commander’s Palace Restaurant if you want to cook some of the restaurant’s famous dishes at home.

Stuffed Pheasant at Commander's Palace
We didn’t feel like peasants when we ate this Stuffed Quail during our lunch at Commander’s Palace.

If you only have time for one meal in New Orleans (which is crazy but could happen), Commander’s Palace will check off many of your New Orleans dining goals. This is especially true if you make a lunch reservation and order gussied up Po Boys and 25-cent martinis.

We enjoyed both a Po Boy and a rainbow of martinis during our lunch as well as Louisiana food classics like Gumbo and Turtle Soup. We also ate an exquisite Stuffed Quail, sipped French wine and chowed down on a delicate Bread Pudding Souflée while creating memories that have lasted far longer than the two-hour meal.

Commander's Palace - Social IMG
Every lunch at Commander’s Palace is a celebration of good food and attentive service.

Commander’s Palace is a restaurant where advance planning is an absolute must. Expecting a last minute reservation here is a recipe for disaster. However, those who plan ahead will be royally rewarded. They’ll experience the epitome of restaurant dining in New Orleans as we did during our memorable lunch.

Must Eat and Drink at Commander’s Palace
Gumbo, Turtle Soup, Pecan Crusted Fish and 25¢ Martinis

Commander’s Palace is located at 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.

2. Brennan’s Restaurant

Bananas Foster Preparation at Brennans in New Orleans
Ordering Bananas Foster is a must both for the dessert itself and for the inevitable fiery show.

Open since 1946 on Royal Street, Brennan’s Restaurant has a rich history that dates back to a bygone era before celebrity chefs, gastropubs, small plate menus and online reservation systems. It’s also a restaurant notorious for serving rich, eggy breakfast dishes, flaming Bananas Foster and Brandy Milk Punch cocktails.

The acclaimed French Quarter restaurant endured destruction from Hurricane Katrina and a closure in 2013 that threatened its very existence. Luckily, a member of the Brennan family along with additional investors stepped in to save and remodel the French Quarter stalwart.

Click here to buy Brennan’s New Orleans Cookbook: With the Story of the Fabulous New Orleans Restaurant if you want to prepare the restaurant’s classic recipes at home.

Oysters Jaime Platter at Brennans in New Orleans
Pairing Oysters J’Aime with a Cajun Bloody Mary cocktail was a good choice and one that we recommend. The oysters were topped with Creole tomato gravy and cornbread crumble while the Cajun Bloody Mary came with a speared pickled okra and green olive.

After skipping Brennan’s during numerous visit, we made a breakfast reservation prior to our 2021 visit and arrived ready to eat it all.

Well, not really everything, though we did enjoy a variety of dishes including Oysters J’Aime topped with Creole tomato gravy and cornbread crumble, Eggs St. Charles with crispy Gulf fish, creamed spinach and orange hollandaise sauce, a relatively simple Crawfish & Asparagus Omelette, two cocktails and, of course, Bananas Foster.

While the Eggs St. Charles was the standout dish, dessert was the meal’s showstopper. It’s hard to beat watching a server flambé Bananas Foster in front of your eyes. Eating the restaurant’s iconic dish was fun too.

Must Eat and Drink at Brennan’s Restaurant
Bananas Foster, Egg Dishes (i.e. Eggs Hussarde, Eggs Sardou and Eggs St. Charles) and Brandy Milk Punch

Brennan’s Restaurant is located at 417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.

3. Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Willie Mae's Scotch House Dining Room
Willie Mae Scotch House’s simple dining room is a popular destination for fried chicken fans from near and far.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House is serving up the most famous fried chicken in New Orleans, if not the country.

The restaurant’s menu describes its fried chicken as “America’s Best…” and accolades from the likes of James Beard and the late Anthony Bourdain prove that point. If you want to eat the best lunch in New Orleans, you need to add the fried chicken at Willie Mae’s to your New Orleans eating plan.

Pro Tip
Plan your lunch at Willie Mae’s on a weekday to avoid the longest lines. That being said, this fried chicken is well worth the inevitable wait. Also, you’ll want to arrive as early as possible to guarantee entry. The restaurant closed the line about 15 minutes before closing time during our most recent visit.

Fried Chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House
If you wonder what the best fried chicken looks like, it looked like this until we ate it.

Located in historic Tremé, about a 20 minute walk or a short cab/uber ride from the French Quarter, Willie Mae’s is true to its neighborhood, city and owners. Crispy, spicy and slightly salty on the outside yet super moist and juicy on the inside, their made-to-order fried chicken is not to be missed.

Willie Mae has other things on the menu, but why bother. Get the fried chicken platter and pick out a side like amazing red beans and rice or comforting mac and cheese. Order an additional side if you’re extra hungry. Then sit back and enjoy the ultimate fried chicken experience – one of our favorite cheap eats in New Orleans and one of our favorites foods in the world.

Must Eat at Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Fried Chicken

Willie Mae’s Scotch House is located at 2401 St Ann Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.

4. Café du Monde

Tables at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
Crowds queue every day for the chance to eat Café Du Monde’s beignets in its open-air French Quarter space.

Our obligatory first stop in New Orleans is always Café Du Monde in the French Quarter. And why not?

This popular coffee shop is open 364 days on a 24/7 basis, only closing for Christmas and the occasional hurricane. Frying beignets since 1862, Café Du Monde is a legend that lives up to its reputation as one of the best breakfasts in New Orleans.

→ Click here to buy a Café du Monde Beignet and Coffee Gift Box if you want to recreate the Café du Monde breakfast experience at home.

Chicory Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
Pairing Chicory Coffee and Beignets coated with powdered sugar is a New Orleans breakfast tradition.

Café du Monde’s limited menu features beignets, coffee (regular and chicory), milk, orange juice and soft drinks. Even with so few options, the queue is often quite long. But don’t be afraid. The line moves quickly.

Trust us and not your cardiologist. It’s worth the wait when the end result is a plate of fried dough generously smothered in mountains of powdered sugar.

Must Eat and Drink at Café du Monde
Beignets and Chicory Coffee

The original Café du Monde is located at 1039 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States.

5. Parkway Bakery and Tavern

Line at Parkway Bakery
It’s no surprise that Parkway Bakery & Tavern is filled with memorabilia. The iconic New Orleans Po Boy shop has been in business for more than a century.

Like many of the best New Orleans Po Boy shops, Parkway Bakery & Tavern is located slightly off the beaten track. However, it’s worth the extra effort to travel to this Mid-City institution by cab, uber or streetcar.

After first visiting Parkway in 2007, just a couple years after Katrina, we’ve since returned a half dozen or so times. We typically sit in the bar where we can order local Abita beers and spicy Bloody Mary cocktails to enjoy with our favorite New Orleans Po Boys.

Read more about our favorite Po Boys in New Orleans.

Po Boy at Parkway Tavern in New Orleans
Only available on certain days (currently Wednesdays and Thursdays), the fresh oysters in Parkway Tavern’s Po Boys are seasoned with garlic and cayenne pepper and then served in classic style on Leidenheimer’s bread.

We always order a side of debris fries and bread pudding for dessert when we dine at Parkway. The debris fries, smothered with roast beef gravy with large strands of brisket that taste like they’ve been cooked by a Louisiana grandmother, could be a meal all by themselves.

As for the bread pudding with rum sauce, let’s just say that it’s the best dessert we’ve ever eaten served in a french fry boat. Also, be sure to look for the oyster po boy, currently served only on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Must Eat at Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Roast Beef Po Boys, Debris Fries and Bread Pudding

Parkway Bakery and Tavern is located at 538 Hagan Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.

6. Cavan

Cavan in New Orleans
This historic and possibly haunted mansion sets the scene at Cavan.

Cavan is a quintessential New Orleans restaurant for two reasons.

The first reason is related to Cavan’s setting in a lovingly restored 1800s Uptown mansion with a sweeping staircase, vintage chandeliers and chipped paint. Originally owned by Edward Cockerton more than a century ago, the mansion may or may not be haunted depending on whether or not you believe in ghosts.

The other reason is Cavan’s modern menu that takes local ingredients in new and exciting directions. This menu includes a progressive cocktail program with frozen cocktails (think Pineapple Basil Margarita and Raspberry Frozé) blended onsite in addition to more classic creations.

Cavan Chef in New Orleans
Chef John Bel honed his skills at Meauxbar before landing at Cavan. He posed for this photo during our dinner at the Uptown restaurant.

LeBLANC + SMITH, the fantastic restaurant group behind Sylvain (another icon its own right) and Barrel Proof as well as The Chloe, an upscale boutique hotel, didn’t miss any details when they opened Cavan in 2016, later tapping Chef John Bel to helm the kitchen. A local New Orleanian, Bel has both a passion for the city and and a love of global cuisine.

Both Bel and the friendly, unpretentious front of house staff are top notch. But what about the food? As we sipped crafted cocktails, the hits arrived in succession starting with velvety Tuna Tartare flanked by fennel salad and studded with pine nuts.

Tuna Tartare at Cavan in New Orleans
Ingredients like lemon aioli, fennel, nicoise olives and pine nuts made this Tuna Tartare starter sing with flavor.

Beyond the Tuna Tartare starter, other highlights included super spicy Chili Crab Lettuce Wraps as well as Grilled Octopus served with smoked tomato, white beans and crispy onions. However, the bronzed Sheepshead Amanandine, covered with almonds, local popcorn rice and haricots verts, brought us back to the Crescent city with a bang. Sheepshead may be one of the ugliest fish in the world but its delicate flesh tastes divine.

Cavan serves brunch on weekends and offers daily happy hour specials. It’s difficult to imagine either of these surpassing the experience of lingering over dinner in Cavan’ weathered, chic, victorian Garden District dining room. However, we’d be willing to give both a try.

Must Eat at Cavan
Whatever Catches Your Eye on Cavan’s Seasonal Menu

Cavan is located at 3607 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.

7. Herbsaint

Inside Herbsaint in New Orleans
The Herbsaint dining room channels the spirit of Hersaint liqueur, pun intended.

If you can find the St. Charles streetcar, then you can find Herbsaint. The popular Central Business District restaurant is literally adjacent to the tracks. Once you do, expect to eat elevated Cajun dishes as well as French and Italian fare at this popular New Orleans bistro.

No flash in the pan (or should we say cast iron skillet?), Herbsaint quickly became a fixture after Donald Link opened the restaurant in 2000. Not only has the chef won multiple James Beard awards and published two cookbooks during the ensuing two decades, but his restaurant group has also expanded to include notable restaurants including Cochon and Pêche.

Fried Oysters at Herbsaint in New Orleans
Fried oysters are a fixture in New Orleans and Herbsaint’s cornmeal crusted beauties are some of the best.

After eating at Link’s Cochon in 2011 and at his more casual Cochon Butcher in 2016, we finally made it to Herbsaint in 2021. Planning ahead, we booked an outdoor table for dinner and showed up with high expectaions.

With its mix of chicken, tasso and andouille, the restaurant’s deep dark chocolate Gumbo burst with flavors of the Bayou while retaining a luxurious texture that wasn’t overly thick. Other standout dishes included Cornmeal Fried Oysters served with hot sauce and coleslaw and the restaurant’s French-inspired Oeufs Mayonnaise accompanied by jumbo lump crab meat and petite lettuce.

Cajun Gumbo at Herbsaint in New Orleans
This outstanding bowl of Gumbo at Herbsaint may have been the best we’ve ever eaten.

However, we’ll issue a mild note of complaint about dining outside under the restaurant’s Storyville portico. That St. Charles streetcar which seemed so charming in theory made loud clanking sounds every time it rumbled by, shaking our table and rattling our nerves. Plus, the service seemed disconnected from what we noted in the bustling dining room just feet away. We’ll award a post-COVID mulligan for the surly service attributing it to what some New Orleanians call the “Aftertimes.”

All things considered, we’ll return to Herbsaint to eat more of that singular, world-class Gumbo and to try dishes like Louisiana Jumbo Shrimp and Muscovy Duck Leg Confit. However, next time we’ll eat inside.

Must Eat and Drink at Herbsaint and Cochon
Andouille Gumbo, Dirty Rice, Fried Oysters and Sazeracs

Herbsaint is located at 701 St Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.

8. Dooky Chase’s

Red Dining Room at Dooky Chases in New Orleans
The decor at Dooky Chase’s sets the tone for a special dining experience.

Eating at Dooky Chase’s is a full sensory experience.

The eyes get engaged first thanks to a colorful art collection that fills every nook and cranny of the vaulted ceiling space, curated in a style reminiscent of Philadelphia’s eccentric Albert Barnes. Next come the ears which can’t help but hear both buzzy conversation and clanking cutlery. But the down-home food is the reason why most people come to this elegant restaurant. And that’s where the senses of taste, touch and smell come to the party.

While Edgar Chase does a fine job helming the multi-generational restaurant, he has big shoes to fill. The legacy of his grandmother, the late Leah Chase, is palpable to all who walk through the doors. The deceased matriarch’s spirit remains omnipresent in the Tremé restaurant that she made so famous.

→ Click here to buy The Dooky Chase Cookbook and discover Leah Chase’s personal stories and recipes.

Stuffed Shrimp at Dooky Chases in New Orleans
The cooks at Dooky Chase’s stuffed our shrimp with crabmeat dressing before frying the battered beauties.

We finally made it to Dooky Chase’s in 2021 after several failed attempts.

The restaurant was closed for a couple years after Hurricane Katrina and we never seemed to get our timing right after it re-opened. When we finally ate there, Leah was gone and, due to the pandemic, so was the famous lunch buffet.

However these changes didn’t stop us from enjoying the restaurant’s crispy fried chicken and equally crispy, mouth-filling Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp. We also indulged in Mac & Cheese (’cause that’s what you do) and washed it all down with a refreshing Mint Julep highball dusted with so much powdered sugar that it looked like it was crafted in snowstorm.

Obama Photo at Dooky Chases in New Orleans
Barack Obama is one of many dignitaries who have rolled up their sleeves at Dooky Chaes’s.

Overall, we’re glad that we made a reservation and trekked to Tremé for lunch. The dining experience brought back memories of our meal at The Four Way in Memphis and sparked conversations about both racial equality and hearty downhome cooking. We couldn’t help but remember generations of American royalty including Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Barack Obama and Ray Charles who all ate at Dooky Chase’s over the years.

Those giants of American history enjoyed the pleasure of dining in the Chase family’s restaurant and so did we.

Must Eat at Dooky Chase’s
Fried Chicken, Gumbo Z’Herbes and Shrimp Clemenceau

Dooky Chase’s is located at 2301 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.

9. Liuzza’s by the Track

Liuzzas by the Track in New Orleans
Liuzza’s by the Track is a neighborhood restaurant that we wish were in our neighborhood.

Liuzza’s by the Track is more than ‘just’ a Po Boy shop located near the Fairgrounds Race Course.

With a full bar as well as a menu that features burgers, salads and a full range of seafood plates, it’s more of a neighborhood restaurant. However, despite its varied menu, Liuzza’s signature dish is its famous BBQ Shrimp Po Boy.

Discover more great American sandwiches.

Loaded Po Boy at Liuzzas by the Track in New Orleans
We could’ve counted the enormous of shrimp stuffed into our BBQ Shrimp Po Boy at Liuzza’s by the Track but there were way too many to count.

Make no mistake – this BBQ Shrimp Po Boy is a show stopper with its mass of sautéed fresh shrimp stuffed into a French bread pistolette. Tangy barbecue sauce completes the sandwich and makes utensils a must.

Don’t miss eating at Liuzza’s by the Track if you attend Jazz Fest at the nearby Fairgrounds. The tavern’s block becomes a huge street scene during the annual music celebration.

Must Eat at Liuzza’s by the Track
BBQ Shrimp Po Boys

Liuzza’s by the Track is located at 1518 N Lopez Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.

10. MoPho

Mopho in New Orleans
MoPho hides in plain site next to a Subway sandwich shop and across from a Burger King.

In case you missed the memo, Vietnamese restaurants are flourishing in New Orleans.

Not only do both Vietnam and Louisiana have historical French connections, but the Big Easy also has a thriving community of Vietnamese immigrants within its borders. Some Vietnamese restaurants like Lilly’s Cafe are traditional while others like Banh Mi Boys focus on sandwiches. And then there’s MoPho.

After living in Vietnam for almost a year and also experiencing Houston’s take on Vietnamese food, we were were curious to try MoPho’s approach to fusing New Orleans ingredients and techniques associated with the Southeast Asian cuisine. Add a classically trained chef (namely Michael Gulotta, a former Chef de Cuisine at August) to the equation and we were intrigued.

Discover our favorite Vietnamese dishes.

Crispy Chicken Wings at Mopho in New Orleans
MoPho’s Crispy Chicken wings were some of our first bites during our most recent visit to New Orleans. They were also some of our best bites.

Like its name asserts, MoPho has Pho on its menu and not just one type. The MoPho menu features veggie Pho, chicken Pho, Beef Pho and the one that we ordered – Hangover Part II Pho, a kitchen sink soup with beef broth, Burmese pork meatballs, double smoked bacon, mushrooms, slow poached egg and jalapeño American cheese.

Discover the best soups to eat around the world. Pho is one of those soups.

We wanted to love our Pho but it was a bit of a mess when it arrived at our table. Ingredients like Burmese pork meatballs, double smoked bacon, mushrooms, slow poached egg and jalapeño American cheese seemed to be dumped into the beef broth with no rhyme or reason. However, our other dishes were all great. And none was better than the Crispy Chicken Wings coated in a nuoc mam (i.e. fish sauce) glaze.

Reminiscent of the fantastic fish sauce wings we ate at now-closed Pok Pok in Portland, Mopho coats their crispy cluckers with a a dark, NOLA-style caramel sauce infused with flavors of Vietnamese nuoc cham. These wings inspired us to spend much of our meal trying to figure out what was in the recipe. Certainly fish sauce as well as lemongrass, caramel, ginger, Thai chilies and possibly shrimp paste? Ingredients aside, we can’t wait to create our own version at home.

Cure-All Sandwich at Mopho in New Orleans
This Cure-All sandwich tasted great at dinner and even better the next morning. Luckily, our hotel room had a refrigerator so that this behemoth of a sandwich didn’t go to waste.

Other meal highlights were the Spicy Sesame Cucumber and Crispy Fried Green Beans and the Cure-All, a monster sandwich jam packed with griddled lemongrass sausage, a fried egg, melted jack cheese, bacon sambal, mayonnaise, and jalapeño slaw. Since we couldn’t eat it all, we were thrilled to have a refrigerator in our hotel room.

MoPho isn’t fancy and it’s Mid City location requires a ride in a car, bus or streetcar. (We took a bus there and an Uber back to our hotel.) But the trip is worth the effort for the wings alone.

Must Eat and Drink at Mopho
Crispy Chicken Wings, Pho and Boba Tea

MoPho is located at 514 City Park Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.

11. The Camellia Grill

Camellia Grill in New Orleans
Despite its newly added outdoor dining, The Camellia Grill looks like a miniature mansion on the outside. However, a walk inside quickly reveals the restaurant’s diner status.

Open since 1946, The Camellia Grill isn’t fancy or trendy. Food here, like the Chili Omelette and Grilled Pecan Pie that we ate during our most recent meal, is solid and straightforward. It’s also cheap and tasty – two things that we appreciate when we dine out at home and in cities like New Orleans.

Other popular dishes include hamburgers, patty melts and grilled cheese sandwiches. If you think The Camellia Grill sounds like a diner, you’re correct. However, this New Orleans diner differentiates itself from other diners with its genteel, uniformed servers and a selection of Po Boys on the menu.

Chili Omelette at Camellia Grill in New Orleans
We’re still dreaming about this Chili Omelette that we ate at The Camellia Grill. Topped with chili and served with crispy hash browns, it was a meal and a half.

After more than a half-century of indoor dining only, The Camellia Grill has added outdoor dining for those who want to dine alfresco. We recommend doing this and also ordering an Orange Freeze with two scoops of ice cream unless you’d rather order a different flavor Freeze like chocolate, cherry or oreo.

Although The Camellia Grill is in the Garden District, it’s an easy street car ride from Canal Street. In fact, the St. Charles street car practically stops at the restaurant.

Must Eat and Drink at The Camellia Grill
Burgers, Omelettes, Grilled Pecan Pie and Freezes

The Camellia Grill is located at 626 S Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118, United States.

12. Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar

Inside Domelises in New Orleans
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar doesn’t mess around. The casual eatery places ketchup, Tabasco and Crystal hot sauce on every table.

People flock to Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar, a local institution with unique corner bar charm, worn floor tiles, wood paneling and black vinyl barstools. This shop separates itself from the pack with its great Po-Boys served by a friendly crew that’ worked at the shop for decades. Domilise’s gained additional fame when the late, great Anthony Bourdain visited the bar in his 2008 episode of No Reservations.

Owned by the Domalise family for more than a century, the down and dirty Po Boy shop excels at making sandwiches filled with roast beef, seafood and even meatballs. Hamburgers and hot dogs are also on the menu; however, while they may be good, they’re not the thing to order here.

Po Boy at Domelises in New Orleans
We chose to add Crystal hot sauce to our Shrimp Po Boy. It was a good choice.

During our visit, we bellied up to the bar and ordered crisp beer and a Po Boy generously loaded with fried shrimp. The small ones are big enough to share, which is what we did, but we won’t judge you if you splurge and order a large and eat it all by yourself. The Po Boys at Domilise’s are that good.

Must Eat at Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
Shrimp Po Boys

Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar is located at 5240 Annunciation Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.

13. Port of Call

Hamburger at Port of Call in New Orleans
Mushroom was the word of the day when we ate this burger and potato combo loaded with sautéed fungi.

Located on the edge of the French Quarter, Port of Call has been slinging out top-quality burgers and baked potatoes for years. In fact, this restaurant has been in the burger business since the 1960s.

Port of Call’s burgers are serious business – each starting out with a half pound of ground beef – and served with a big baked potato. You’ll want to splurge a few bucks to get cheese and mushrooms added. The unmelted cheese and wine-sautéed mushrooms meld together to create a unique burger experience.

Discover 30 American food favorites. The hamburger is one of these foods.

Cocktails at Port of Call in New Orleans
The Neptune Monsoon, a close relative to the infamous Hurricane, is particularly potent. Be ready to walk the plan after you imbibe this potent potable. In other words, don’t drive after drinking one or more Neptune Monsoon.

Port of Call is far from fancy. Plus, there’s often a line to be seated since many people consider Port of Call to be one of the must eat New Orleans restaurants. Hang in there though – it’s worth the wait to enjoy a reasonable meal that will satisfy your taste buds and fill your stomach.

Must Eat at Port of Call
Burgers and Tiki Drinks

Port of Call is located at 838 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States.

14. Galatoire’s Restaurant

Galatoires in New Orleans
Galatoire’s is destination dining every Friday afternoon when locals vie for prime lunch tables.

Galatoire’s isn’t new or trendy and that’s okay. The classic New Orleans restaurant started serving French Creole dishes like Gumbo and Shrimp Remoulade on Bourbon Street in 1905 and earned a James Beard award exactly a century later for serving those same dishes.

Unlike Commander’s Palace (see above) which prefers that men wear jackets, Galatoire’s goes the extra step by requiring them. While we came prepared during our 2011 dinner, we noted a rack filled with jackets for those who hadn’t planned ahead.

Mindi Enjoying a Sazerac in New Orleans
Mindi was all smiles after tasting her very first Sazerac at Galatoire’s in 2011.

Since we didn’t photograph our food a decade ago, we have to rely on our memories about that meal at Galatoire’s And what memories they are! This is the meal where we drank our first Sazeracs while sharing dishes like Shrimp Remoulade served on crisp iceberg lettuce and Crab Yvonne bursting with jumbo lump crab and artichoke hearts.

However, there was one dish we didn’t share – veal liver. Daryl never has to share when he orders liver.

Must Eat and Drink at Galatoire’s Restaurant
Shrimp Remoulade, Crab Yvonne and Sazerac Cocktails

Galatoire’s Restaurant is located at 209 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.

15. Coop’s Place

Coops Place in New Orleans
Every night feels like a party at Coop’s Place thanks to a constant cavalcade of customers who convene at the French Quarter fixture.

Dingy and dark, the well-worn Coop’s Place looks more like a dive bar than a restaurant serving up good food. As it turns out, Coop’s Place is both.

Aside from its crispy fried chicken and some of the best jambalaya in New Orleans, the other draw to Coop’s is its busy cheek to jowl atmosphere. It’s fun to watch servers ‘work the room’ as they expertly referee the crowd while serving some of the best Cajun food in New Orleans.

Jambalaya at Coops in New Orleans
This Jambalaya we ate at Coop’s Place remains the standard by which we judge all other Jambalaya. It wa that good.

Yes, like nearby Cafe Du Monde (see above), there’s often a line to get into Coop’s Place but it’s well worth the wait. The reason is that Coops serves some of the city’s best cheap eats along with some dangerously tasty cocktails.

The atmosphere is far from fancy and the service can be surly if you sport an attitude. But who cares when the food is this good?

Must Eat and Drink at Coop’s Place
Jambalaya, Fried Chicken and Bloody Marys

Coop’s Place is located at 1109 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States.

16. Bywater Bakery

Bywater Bakery Owners in New Orleans
Bywater Bakery’s owners made us feel like part of the neighborhood during our visit to the Bywater neighborhood cafe. The dynamic duo briefly stopped working for a quick chat and to pose for this photo.

Bywater Bakery justifies a morning trip to the funky Bywater neighborhood for its menu filled with breakfast joy, lunch happiness and cake love. Seriously, these are the categories on the Bywater Bakery menu.

Open since 2017 and managed by married owners Chef Chaya Conrad and Alton Osborne, Bywater Bakery has become a community hub. It’s also a destination for New Orleans foodies with an appreciation for tasty cheap eats, local culture and comforting desserts.

Discover 100+ great desserts to eat around the world.

Chiffon Cake at Bywater Bakery
Chef Chaya Conrad introduced Chantilly Cake to New Orleans and serves the syrup-soaked cake at Bywater Cafe. We ate this lemon flavored slice during our visit.

Some trek to Bywater Bakery to eat morning dishes like Breakfast Gumbo and Tofu Scramble. Others linger over soup and sandwiches for lunch – but not just any soup and sandwiches. We’re talking about flavorful Cubanos, meaty Muffalettas and bowls of Yaka Mein , a local beef noodle soup that doubles as a hangover cure.

Pretty much everybody eats dessert at Bywater Bakery. Most of the year, options include Chantilly Cake, Gluten-Free Brownies and Turtle Cookies. In the spring, Conrad’s famous King Cake joins Bywater Bakery’s sweet roster.

Must Eat at Bywater Bakery
Yaka Mein, Chantilly Cake and Turtle Cookies

Bywater Bakery is located at 3624 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States.

17. Turkey and the Wolf

Queue at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans
You’ll know you arrived at Turkey and the Wolf when you the colorful mural and a queue.

Turkey and the Wolf forged it way into iconic status when the newbie restaurant pulled off a shocker by winning Bon Appetit‘s title of Best New Restaurant of the Year in 2017. After all, everything about Turkey and the Wolf is about as casual as it gets.

But a deeper dig into Turkey and the Wolf’s menu reveals an interesting selection of re-imagined lunch food favorites. Mason Hereford accomplishes this by using the best available ingredients and his vivid imagination. And the best part? He’s done the same with breakfast food favorites at nearby Molly’s Rise and Shine.

Fried Chicken Pot Pie at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans
Expect to eat elevated lunch food at Turkey and the Wolf. We ate this Fried Pot Pie during our visit.

Expect menu items like Fried Bologna Sandwiches with the potato chips inside the sandwich and Wedge Salads with everything bagel ‘crunchy stuff’ on top at this quirky restaurant. Originally planning to order the Lower Garden District restaurant’s insta-famous Deviled Eggs with Fried Chicken Skin, we regrouped and ordered a Fried Pot Pie when those eggs weren’t on the menu.

Served with tarragon buttermilk dressing and filled with slow cooked chicken and vegetables, the Fried Pot Pie was unlike anything we had eaten before. The dish, which reminded us of Thanksgiving, was a crunchy, rich, flavor-packed, fried hot pocket filled with yum.

Turkey and the Wolf is located at 739 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.

18. Willa Jean

Willa Jean Sign in New Orleans
Willa Jean has been serving some of the best breakfasts in New Orleans since it opened in 2015.

Willa Jean attracts a variety of customers. Some customers skip buffet breakfasts at nearby New Orleans hotels while others show up for for power breakfasts near their offices. Then there are the New Orleans foodies who make a special trip to the famous Central Business District restaurant to eat pastries created by a James Beard award winner.

These diners have one thing in common – they all have a bit of a biscuit situation.

Click here to buy The Good Book of Southern Baking: A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes, and Cornbread if you have a biscuit situation too.

Hangover Bowl at Willa Jean in New Orleans
Not wanting to miss a bite, we sopped up our Hangover Bowl with a biscuit. The dish looked like Shakshuka but instead was a mishmash of braised short ribs, cheesy grits, onion, garlic and potatoes.

Willa Jean fulfills their food wishes with a varied selection of belly-busting breakfast and lunch items. We’re talking about cornbread served with whipped butter and Poirier’s cane syrup as well ramped up BLT sandwiches filled with fried oysters and horseradish tabasco aioli.

But what about the biscuits?

Kelly Fields, Willa Jean’s original chef, created a small but mighty biscuit menu featuring biscuits filled with ingredients like fried chicken, sausage gravy, bacon and pimento cheese. After eating one of Fields’ breakfast sandwiches during our 2015 Willa Jean breakfast, we promptly bought a t-shirt with a picture of… you guessed it… a biscuit.

Must Eat at Willa Jean
Biscuit Sandwiches, Cornbread with Poirier’s Cane Syrup and the Hangover Bowl

Willa Jean is located at 611 O’Keefe Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113, United States.

19. Bayona

Entrance to Bayona in New Orleans
Bayona’s Dauphine Street facade is somewhat nondescript. A few steps into the courtyards reveals an urban dining oasis.

Two main things stick in our heads about our 2007 meal at Bayona, a New Orleans restaurant located in a 200-year old Creole cottage behind a French Quarter courtyard.

First was seeing Chef Susan Spicer working the flower-filled dining room after she had worked culinary magic in the kitchen. Yet another James Beard award winner, Spicer achieved national notoriety after opening Bayona in 1990. She later was one of the opening partners at Herbsaint (see above).

You may recognize Spicer’s name if you watched HBO’s Treme since she appeared in an episode and acted as as a culinary consultant. These days, she assumes the restaurant’s executive chef role along with Chef de Cuisine Eason Barksdale.

Click here to buy Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer’s New Orleans if you want to cook Susan Spicer’s recipes at home.

We also have vivid memories of the food, especially the Smoked Duck PB&J. This sandwich may be the best sandwich in a city known for Po Boys and Muffalettas. With ingredients like smoked duck, peanut-cashew butter and pepper jelly, it’s certainly the city’s most unusual sandwich.

Must Eat at Bayona
Smoked Duck PB&J, Veal Sweetbreads and Garlic Soup

Bayona is located at 430 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States.

20. Shaya

Salatim Small Plates at Shaya in New Orleans
Shaya’s menu featured six Salatim (i.e. salad) dishes at the time of our visit. We chose the three pictured here: Labneh, Pickles and Ikra.

The New Orleans restaurant Shaya is proof that the world of upscale Israeli food is a small one.

Originally opened on Magazine Street by Chef Alon Shaya in 2015, the restaurant and its chef quickly earned James Beard awards. Although he was born in Israel, Shaya grew up in Philadelphia, the city where James Beard winner Michael Solomonov has been operating the lauded Zahav since 2008.

And then there’s Zach Engel who worked at Zahav before joining Shaya in New Orleans. Engel eventually earned his own James Beard award while cooking at Shaya.

Both Shaya and Engel left Shaya (the restaurant) in 2017 and opened Saba in New Orleans. Shaya also operates an Israeli restaurant called Safta in Denver while Engel eventually moved on to open Galit in Chicago.

Despite all the moving and shaking with the chefs previously involved with Shaya, the Garden District restaurant remains a standout with pitas cooked in a wood-fire oven and a menu that incorporates both big and small plates.

Click here to buy Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel: A Cookbook if you love hummus and other Israeli specialties.

Fried Chicken Hummus at Shaya in New Orleans
This Fried Chicken Hummus plate combined two of our favorite foods and added date salsa verde, Tunisian spices and Aleppo pepper for good measure.

Our Shaya dinner was series of hits and no misses that started with three Saltatim (i.e. salad) plates with Labneh, Pickles and Ikra before continuing to larger plates topped with Crispy Haloumi and Hummus. But not just any hummus…

In what may be the ultimate Israel-New Orleans food fusion, our hummus was topped with FRIED CHICKEN. Other ingredients included date salsa verde, Tunisian spices and Aleppo pepper. But, seriously, adding fried chicken to hummus is a game changer that we don’t want to change back.

Must Eat at Shaya
Salatim and Hummus

Shaya is located at 4213 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.

21. N7

N7 in New Orleans
N7 is a fairytale slice of Paris in the Bywater neighborhood

Only open since 2015 in a former tire shop, N7 hit the national radar the following year when the quirky restaurant operated by filmmaker Aaron Walker and chef Yuki Yamaguchi made Bon Appetit‘s best new restaurant short list. In its article, the food-focused magazine referred to the New Orleans restaurant as “the most romantic French restaurant in the world”.

Since we have an ongoing love affair with Paris and its restaurants, we find this statement to be hyperbole. However, we don’t hesitate to recommend N7 for a chill night in the Bywater neighborhood filled with al fresco dining, bistro food and natural wine.

Fun Fact
N7 is named after the Nationale 7 highway that Parisians used to traverse on their way to the Italian border. The highway has provided inspiration to song writers, holiday goers and this restaurant.

Escargot Tempura at N7 in New Orleans
N7 shows its colors in dishes like this Tempura Escargot served with garlic cream sauce as well as in dishes like Duck a l’Orange and Roasted Purple Onion with olive and yuzu kosho tapenade.

Be forewarned, N7 is a difficult table to score. Not only is the Bywater restaurant often fully booked, but the restaurant doesn’t have a listed phone number. You’ll need to make an online reservation. Then there’s finding the restaurant behind a blue wall-like fence. Follow Google Maps as well as your secret spidey sense and you’ll be okay.

Those who make the extra effort will be rewarded with a Japanese-inspired modern French menu in N7’s seemingly secret world. You won’t eat Gumbo or Jambalaya at this restaurant. Instead, plan to nibble on house made charcuterie and eat dishes like Escargot Tempura and the chef’s interpretation of Duck Breast a l’Orange.

Must Eat and Drink at N7
House Made Charcuterie and Natural Wine

N7 is located at 1117 Montegut Street, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States.

Additional New Orleans Restaurants

The number of notable restaurants in New Orleans is astounding. Don’t stop once you eat your way through the above 21 restaurant. Here are 21 more restaurants to add to your New Orleans eating list:

Things To Do in New Orleans

Hop On Hop Off Bus in New Orleans
Bring comfortable shoes to New Orleans. The city has a lot to see and do.

Don’t forget to explore New Orleans between meals. If you’re short on time and want to quickly get the lay of the land, the following tours should get you started:

Where to Stay in New Orleans

Troubadour Hotel Room 3 in New Orleans
We were happy to return to this room at The Troubadour Hotel after a full day of food tripping in New Orleans.

Staying at a comfortable, convenient hotel is a must in New Orleans. During our most recent visit, we stayed in the following two hotels that met these criteria:

Check back soon to read the article about our stay at these hotels. Spoiler Alert: We enjoyed and recommend both of them.

Planning Checklist

Hungry for More?

Check out guides to the Bywater Neighborhood and the city’s best Bars, Food, Desserts, Drinks, Coffee Shops and Cheap Eats. Then read more about our meals at Brennan’s Restaurant, Commander’s Palace and Willie Mae’s Scotch House.

Pin It for Later

Pinterest image: photo of gumbo with caption reading "New Orleans Restaurant Icons"
About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosures

Sponsorship
We thank Visit New Orleans and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Important Update
Some restaurants have revised their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check restaurant websites for updated information.

NOLA born & bread

Monday 8th of November 2021

Enjoyed your article highlighting the NOLA's establishments. Left New Orleans in the late 80's but visit often. The city has always been a mom & pop restaurant haven. Growing up in the Bywater area we enjoyed the occasional dine out night at one of the many restaurants in the area. The food was always tasty. Over the years the restaurant landscape has changed as owners past on but it continues to thrive and grow. One restaurant you will need to visit on your next trip is Jacques-Imo's. Located away from the city touristy area it is easy to miss. But oh what a miss! Like striking out with two outs, bases loaded. It's a must visit.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 8th of November 2021

We've actually eaten at Jacques-Imo's and have fond memories of the alligator cheesecake. Perhaps it's time for another visit. Thanks for the tip!

6thWardScars

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

Do yourselves a favor & shelf the idea of moving here, at least for now. In the interim, where you're firmly rooted in the present & not drunk on whatever notions you have about New Orleans all the way until the point where you'll (likely) take up the issue again without having undergone the necessary care & consideration the potential relocation deserves, please(!!!!) avail yourself of anything you claim to "know" about the city, even if it was delivered to you by a local in what you have construed as good faith. There's an order to this that produces honest introspection (and honest results that you allow to guide your decision, I hope) and that process is already on shaky ground when its bedrock seems predicated on trivialities that are delivered to hundreds of visitors daily but are, by their very nature, meant to impart a sense of inclusion or access to things that other people might never know.

I was reticent at first to even begin typing; your list is the usual mix of bedrock institutions; held together by duct-tape & bubble-gum just beyond a curtain you'll never be allowed to look past. There's also the other end of the spectrum; the "hidden gem" category where the experience & cuisine are meant to be unique, while the decor & literature (written 100% by owners) is an "Aw, shucks! We just like cooking!" humble-brag. All those & every other place in between have something to offer that's pleasing to someone. I'm not here to refute your rankings or suggestions or anything like that. Nope, I just thought I was gonna' read another homogeneous tier list of New Orleans bars & restaurants. But, you live somewhere all your life and the pattern of that part of the world materializes into focus & makes a little more sense year after year. If you're lucky, you reach that point of enlightenment where it's revealed to you that the city is not the backdrop, inhabited by disparate groups who've quelled their uneasiness with each other over the span of a couple centuries & formed a dense tapestry, rich with color & deep with lore, that stands apart its peers & resists the forces who would see it stripped of the rituals & customs that are so often celebrated. Humans wield a great deal of power, collectively, over everything around us. That is true. It also don't mean shit if you don't include a disclaimer about how we ourselves are held in sway by our egos, a passenger that we've convinced ourselves we have control over. But we don't and I don't know how to change that. But I do know this: it's revelatory (and humbling and sad and awash with shame) when another native son or daughter, a little older and owning a few more memories, finally mentions the fact that New Orleans and the ground it rests upon have life too; a breath and a pulse that doesn't depend on us. In fact, it's probably safe to say that as much as we're proud & like to think we had some small part in shaping the personality of New Orleans, it's just as likely we're doing her bidding instead. Knowing that, I just couldn't move on to whatever I was reading before and not admonish you for those first 2 paragraphs. I'll fight to my very last breath to remind people on the outside of the parish lines that the city doesn't exist just out of reach of the boundaries of physics or biology or chemistry or any other hard science. Let's just start with that. Sure, we're responsible for taking part in cultivating this idea about the city in order to get tourists to part with their savings while they're here. I could argue that it's a method to survive but I won't. There's a fair bit of disrespect for our city mixed in with that & a lot of resistance to the notion that between the encroachment of nature & the unsustainable reliance on a single, fickle industry to keep us all breathing, there might not be too much New Orleans left for our the people that follow after us. Ain't nobody here can honestly say their hands are clean & that we haven't engage in using New Orleans for our own selfish ends.

But creative license aside, your article centers around this city, those places that dot it's surface & lure the curious to it, and a sliver of the people who call it home. No matter how flawed, those people & places exist in the real world; can be found and traveled to via the myriad travel & map apps at our disposal. I can think of nothing & no one that give y'all any excuse or pardon for this content. Y'all should be ashamed for letting that go to print, no matter if your website wields any influence or not. This isn't error by omission or using language to soften perception; y'all created an outright fiction in the span of 2 paragraphs & either conducted zero creative editing or are otherwise convinced that what you typed comports with reality.

Can I ask y'all where y'all derived the idea that a couple of occasional passengers have accrued enough time under their belt to lazily speak for the rest of us and how we approach, or rather dismiss & ignore as y'all suggested, issues that batter our already weakened infrastructure? That take, near-daily, family & lovers & neighbors & friends away from us and succinctly deposit their remains like some mindless assembly line dedicated to the quick & prompt disposal of people who were crying just last week because they were able to attend their nephew's pre-school graduation & were as proud of it as any parent of a fucking Rhodes scholar. A grandma who lives on the corner the next street over and despite her meager savings still slips the mailman a Christmas card every year with a gift card to Walmart because they're truly thankful that someone would work day in, day out to bring their mail...found dead after a stray bullet found its way through a kitchen window. Ain't a lick of voodoo or any other kind of magic that rights those types of wrongs. So another second line turns the corner in my neighborhood at N Robertson & Basin, followed by attendees who could attend a funeral with respect for the dead & following all the expected decorum in their sleep because they've been to more funerals in a few years than most people ever amass over a lifetime. But a couple of folks who consider themselves well-traveled & well-read want to remind our dear readers to look past that; to ignore that gargantuan elephant over there in the corner; the one draped in the piss & vomit spilled on our streets at all hours by the barbarians who ceaselessly arrive at our gates looking for a good time, a one-of-a-kind-experience, a story they can tell to the kids when they're older, all the while just mindlessly believing that they're not only owed that because they managed to save up for a trip, but who somehow think that truly, New Orleans must have been the place of origin that birthed the saying, "Nothing is true, everything is permitted". Otherwise, how does anyone explain 6 friends from Topeka, Kansas or somewhere, walking/stumbling down the middle of a street on a Wednesday in the middle of the summer, screaming at the top of their lungs drunkenly as they return to their hotel or AirBnB? I know: it's the "magic" or the "mysticism" of New Orleans. The magic that somehow allows for 2 seemingly intelligent people who don't seem to be hiding some larger, nefarious purpose to speak with an air of authority about a city that bears no kinship with them; that shares no DNA with them. A city that still remained after a monstrous rematch with Mother Nature herself and produced no winners; more battered, more bruised, more broken than before. In need of care and bereft of healing, she still begged no relief from the incessant onlookers, the hordes & hordes who want an admission to our petting zoo & won't be satisfied until they get what they want. All that she withstood, all that and everything she endured before gives no one the right to make any assumptions about New Orleans other than that her story is one of survival & resilience. Those traits she's shared with her children; its in our collective DNA and even that gift takes time and tears and real work and thankfulness to this city for the things we've received from it in order to earn the right to an opinion.

Hell, I should actually encourage y'all to move here. Watch as you struggle to comprehend that the party does indeed end. That after the lights have gone off at that one bar where the doorman remembered y'all from the night before, after there's no one left to engage in ego-stroking fanfare centered around congratulating you on your move to the city, after they've all gone to bed to get a little rest before the next shift, the next meeting, the next addiction, the next eviction, the next painful acceptance that there's just enough money after rent that we gotta' decide if it's gonna' be the electric or the water that has to get turned off for a week or so. The streets will look less well-lit. The grass not as well-manicured as you remember it. The humidity wetter & heavier than you recall. You'll wonder if you just weren't paying attention at the time but you don't have any memory of anyone getting short with you in public. You'll be taken aback by the tempers that flare & the seriousness that even the smallest of matters suddenly warrant. You'll come to the conclusion that what you described in putting the populace into easily-remembered & cliche buzzwords like "laid back" or "easy going" was actually a huge error in attribution on your part because on a little closer inspection, the descriptor goes more like this: A populace who, by and large, live in or near the poverty line and thus spend their entire lives caught in the perpetual cycles of undernutrition, lack of access to proper healthcare & education, caught in a world created by all that where violence easily finds a home but is never easily evicted. A populace that fight for the scraps of the city's lone industry, already known for shit wages, long hours, and occasional horrid treatment or ridiculous demands from their paymasters AND the people they go out of their way to please hoping EVERY SINGLE TIME to get just one more dollar so both utilities can stay on for a few months. So they don't have to walk miles to get to work & can have a week where there's enough change to take the bus. All of that and more can be yours, for a price. All that's required is that you agree to WAKE THE FUCK UP and agree that New Orleans isn't good or bad. It isn't neutral either. I wouldn't call it benevolent, certainly, but I'd be incorrect in labeling it mean or having some nefarious purpose. The best I've come up with over my lifetime is that she is a living, breathing organism but not human. New Orleans is alien even to those of us who know no other part of the larger map. When she wants to, she'll communicate with you in the most direct way. But she will remain silent for the entirety of your lifetime if you demand of her an answer that isn't hers to give or that you are capable of answering yourself. She is neither ruler or subject; she observes and sometimes signals. She gives often and punishes just as frequently.

It will probably be her doing, at least in some small way, if you move here & reach the break-point where you realize that you've actually cast your lot by moving to the surface of a planet you've never visited. You will be scared more often, you will be aggrieved more often, you will engage in protecting the walls of the reality you knew before the move because the assault on them, whether real or perceived, will happen. You'll suddenly be suspicious of people you don't know or recognize. Whatever semi-progressive personal politics you held before will be replaced with rigid adherence to protecting your property and seeking congress with other like-minded folks, of which there are plenty as people migrate here in search of a fiction they created themselves and selfishly attribute to the people who call this home, eschewing any real attempt to identify & understand their world and take responsibility for anything they did to accelerate its demise.

I'd not be minding my manners if I didn't offer an apology now for any offense I've caused y'all or for making it seem like we're hostile to anyone who didn't grow up here. But that apology is predicated on the idea that I didn't intend to do those things & even though my blood is up as I type this & experience feelings of resentment & anger, I'm not taking any pleasure in "internet hollering" at y'all. But before your eyes glaze over & you forget what you've read because you're too busy forming a response that minimizes & redirects & otherwise acts like any other diatribe left in the comments section of a blog, consider one last thing, which I'll remove any long-windedness from since we all got lives to lead & I been typing too long anyway:

Consider my binding of New Orleans & the word survival & whatever you conjure, on a personal level, when trying to make a connection. Now consider that it's fairly accurate and certainly not wrong to suggest that "privilege" is an apt antonym to "survival". I know the p-word has been in our lexicon recently & is over-used, mis-used, and otherwise wearing out it's welcome, but it is a part of our language. It does have a definiton & delineations of that definition based on usage & context.

Okay, so now that that's been established: I'm asking you to retract this entry or else confine it to just your restaurant recs out of respect for a city you claim to love. I can't force you to and there's nothing compelling you otherwise. Whether you decide to do it or not, I'll leave you with this: the only thing you'll receive from this city is what you put in. There are whole battalions here of households that communicate exclusively on Nextdoor and spend hours passing notes to each other about people walking along the sidewalk in front of their residence who they don't know or recognize. They've imprisoned themselves in their own castles because the punishment for ignorance is coming face-to-face with the truth. The preface y'all felt good about adding to the list on this page? That's ignorance AND privilege.

P.S.- If you earnestly wanna' have some back & forth and understand my post was more of a lecture from a local and not an invitation to debate, y'all can shoot me a line. No promises on how quickly a reply will arrive; I'm a lifelong bartender here & my schedule has always been scattershot & sometimes day-by-day.

TheBigEasyTraveler

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

While I sit the parking lot of Sam's cooling off on this hot/humidor day your article pops up on my Google feed. I think "not another food list". But as a New Orleanian that LOVES the food scene and great service, I couldn't resist. Many of the restaurants listed, I'm grateful to have dined there. But you have others that I haven't and so, I now have a memo in my phone of the next, next, next opportunity. While I realize this article could go on for days because there are days worth of eateries in New Orleans, I appreciate what you have presented. BTW, Barrel House, is named Barrel Proof, a place I frequent 3 days or so/week. Forks up, on m out.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

We totally get what you're saying since we feel the same when we see articles written about the cities where we either live or have lived. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for catching the typo. Much appreciated on both counts!

David Boudreaux

Monday 12th of July 2021

While this list includes most of the classics, it omits Brigtsen’s, among the very best.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

Thanks for the tip. We will be sure to visit Brigtsen's when we return to New Orleans.