Where to Eat in New Orleans

New Orleans (NoLa) is my absolute favorite city to visit — and one of the main reasons is the amazing food. Every time I go back to this city (and I go every year), my goal is to try at least one new spot before going back to my favorites. If you’re looking for things to do in NoLa, check out my other post, 10 Things to Do in New Orleans, but if you’re wondering where to eat — you’ve come to the right place.

Below are all my favorites from the last 10 years — from the James Beard spots, to the historic mainstays, to small holes in the wall. Some are notable for their food and general ambiance, while others for specific dishes (and those have been called out).

Brennan’s (traditional Creole): This is one of my favorite restaurants in the French Quarter, known for its bright coral-pink exterior, gorgeous atmosphere, upscale Creole cuisine, posh breakfasts, champagne sabering in the courtyard, and tableside-flamed Bananas Foster desserts. This is also ones of the best spots to try the famous New Orleans turtle soup. Reservations open (and book up) 60 days in advance.

Commander’s Palace (traditional Creole): Commander’s Palace is definitely one of the historical pillars of the local culinary community. From the restaurant itself: “Commander’s Palace, nestled in the middle of the tree-lined Garden District, has been a New Orleans landmark since 1893… the history of this famous restaurant offers a glimpse into New Orleans’ storied past and has been the go-to destination for Haute Creole cuisine and whimsical Louisiana charm.”

Brigsten’s (traditional Creole): Where Commander’s Palace is a large, vibrant turquoise building that may as well be a landmark — Brigsten’s is a tiny Uptown cottage that you could easily miss. However, its food is no less excellent, and this spot is no less famous among New Orleanians. If you prefer a quieter, smaller, more personal atmosphere — consider this over Commander’s Palace.

Compère Lapin / Bywater American Bistro (for a bit of a Caribbean twist): I actually had my engagement dinner at the Caribbean-influenced Compère Lapin many years ago. I have to be honest — I think it was better then than it is now, but it’s still fantastic. Its chef-owner Nina Compton, who hails from St. Lucia, more recently opened Bywater American Bistro — where the Caribbean influence still persists, but there seems to be a lot more creative inspiration.

Queen Trini Lisa (Trinbagonian): As big lovers of Caribbean food — my husband and I always try to stop by as many Caribbean spots as we can when we travel (the Haitian Fritai was our latest discovery last time). The newest and most-lauded authentic Caribbean spot in New Orleans today seems to be Queen Trini Lisa in Mid-City, where all the dishes from chef-owner Lisa Nelson — especially the BBQ jerk chicken — receive the highest of praise.

Cochon (all the meats): As the name would suggest, Cochon (which translates from French as “pig”) is all about the meats. But excellently sourced and prepared meats. They even have their own butcher next door. Their dishes include mouthwatering items like meat pies, fried boudin, hog’s headcheese, cracklin, pork neck cutlets, and rabbit & dumplings. Among their many recognitions are James Beard awards for chef/owners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski — also of Pêche (below).

Pêche (seafood): What I love about Pêche is that it offers clean, vibrant flavors in a city otherwise full of heavy, meaty, saucy, and fried food. The catfish in chile broth had been a mainstay on the menu for years for a reason — although the whole grilled fish is definitely the star of the show here. Funnily enough, their steak tartar, hangar steak with salsa verde, and 22oz ribeye are all also fantastic.

MaMou (French): Opened in November 2022, MaMou is trendy Parisian-style brasserie that has quickly become one of the more popular restaurants in New Orleans for both fine dining enthusiasts and locals. Chef Tom Branighan brings unique and creative dishes to the menu like escargot tarlets, braised celery hearts with smoked beef toungue, and poisson a la floretine in a caviar beurre blanc. Molly Wismeier, one of the city’s top sommeliers, has created an equally fantastic wine selection.

Dakar NOLA (Senegalese): James Beard nominee Serigne Mbaye offers a stunning 7-course pescatarian tasting menu at this small, unpretentious cottage in Uptown. The menu “features rich, bold and aromatic flavors of Senegalese food and tells the story of the deep cultural connection between Senegambia and New Orleans through food.”

Luvi (Asian): I loved the creativity and flavors of Luvi when I first came here when it opened in 2018 — and it remains just as popular of a restaurant today. Sitting in a small, colorful Uptown cottage, Luvi is a concept from Chef Hao Gong — who expertly blends the best of both Japanese and Chinese cuisines.

Mister Mao: Mister Mao calls itself a “tropical roadhouse” — and I think that statement is just as quirky as everything else about it — from the tropical decor, to the cocktails infused with Malort, to the roving “chuckwagon” dim sum carts (during brunch and happy hour), to the fusions of flavors in dishes like kashmiri fried chicken, laotian pork fried rice, beef siu mai, pani puri potato masala, fairy bread, lechon kawali, shiitake crusted scallops, and more.

Saffron (Indian): Saffron brings a fusion of Indian and Louisiana cuisine to a beautiful neighborhood spot on Magazine Street — and it’s one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans to return to. The food is both approachable and refined — and always bursting with flavor. Crossover dishes like the curried seafood gumbo are a must-try. Those who eat a lot of Indian food may understand how unique dishes like Pork Vindaloo or Beef Brisket Masala are, as well. There’s also a chef’s tasting menu for just over $100.

Saba (Israeli): Alon Shaya opened the famous Middle Eastern restaurant Shaya in New Orleans in 2015 to great acclaim. In 2018, he opened Safta (meaning “grandma” in Hebrew) in my current home state of Colorado — as well as Saba (meaning “grandpa”) in New Orleans. Both restaurants are nothing short of excellent. Try the tabbouleh, blue crab hummus, harissa roasted chicken, pomegranate braised lamb shank, and more.

Mosquito Supper Club: This is a truly unique restaurant on this list. Visitors often leave saying they felt like they went to dinner at a friend’s house. The restaurant is inside a restored Victorian cottage in Uptown and is made up of just 2 large communal tables, each set for 10, only serving a multi-course tasting menu. Chef Melissa Martin was raised on home-cooked Cajun food, and 90% of her restaurant’s dishes were passed down to her from her mother — not a fancy cooking school. She gets nearly 100% of her ingredients from local fishermen and farmers, educates visitors on the history and flavors of Cajun cooking, and passionately advocates for the preservation of Louisiana wetlands and coastal communities. Her recent cookbook is titled, “Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou” — and that’s what she serves at her restaurant.

Bayou Beer Garden (for crawfish): The best spot for crawfish that I’ve found over the years, located in what looks like a residential building in Mid-City from the front. In the back, it’s a happenin beer garden comprised of 2 connected backyards where all the locals come to hang out to watch sports, drink beer, and during crawfish season, crush the best mudbugs in town. I spend at least one whole Saturday and/or Sunday here every time I go to NoLa. Get here right when they open to grab a spot to sit.

Three-Legged Dog (for crawfish): My favorite dive bar in the French Quarter, complete with a big white cooler full of crawfish during crawfish season. Pay the bartender for a white box and fill it up as full as you can yourself. Available until the crawfish run out.

Deanie’s Seafood / Mister B’s (for BBQ shrimp): Deanie’s has been famous in New Orleans for its seafood for more than 60 years, and now with multiple locations (including one in the French Quarter), some people may call it overrated. I still think they have the best BBQ shrimp in town — and yes, better than Mister B’s — although I encourage you to compare the dish at both spots. Oh, and if you haven’t been to New Orleans before, “BBQ shrimp” are not what you think they are. They have nothing to do with traditional American BBQ. New Orleans BBQ shrimp are a unique and must-try dish simmered in a lemony, buttery, garlicky, Cajun spiced sauce. Don’t wear white!

Dat Dog (for hot dogs): This place has an understandable cult following in New Orleans, with some of the tastiest hot dogs I’ve ever had. Not only is the bread from a still-secret bakery because of how unique and amazing it is (something between a Ciabatta and a Hawaiian Roll) — but the meats and toppings are quintessentially New Orleanian. Try the crawfish or alligator sausage smothered in etouffee first. Get it on Frenchmen Street or Magazine Street.

Any of these (for the po’boys): This was probably the hardest “dish” to pick a favorite for, because locals have a different favorite spot for shrimp ones, for oyster ones, and for beef ones — and everyone’s are different, but everyone will tell you the local corner store has the best hot sausage & cheese po’boys. If you’re willing to drive or take an Uber — try Domilise’s, Parkway Tavern, Liuzza’s by the Track, or Short Stop. In the French Quarter, Killer Poboys puts a fun twist on the classics and Verti Marte offers you that corner store experience.

Gris-Gris (for brunch): One of my favorite spots for brunch, with a beautiful wrap-around 2nd-floor balcony on Magazine Street. Try the slow-braised chicken gizzards, the juiciest open-faced pot roast breakfast I’ve ever seen, and the shrimp & grits.

Bearcat Cafe (for brunch): With a location in Uptown and in CBD, Bearcat gathers a line down the street for brunch — and their Louisiana comfort food is totally worth it.

Cafe Amelie (for brunch): Located in the middle of the French Quarter, Cafe Amelie is a beautiful courtyard oasis in the middle of the bustling neighborhood. (Get a table outside if you can and the weather is nice.)


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