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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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 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.
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.
Located in historic Tremé, about a 20 minute walk or a short cab/uber ride from the French Quarter, Willie Mae’s is authentic to its neighborhood, city and owners. Crispy, spicy and slightly salty on the outside yet explosively 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
Willie Mae’s Scotch House is located at 2401 St Ann Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.
4. Café du Monde
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Pin It for Later
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.
We thank Visit New Orleans and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.
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.
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.