After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.
Here now, we have innovative watering holes and restaurants the city hasn't seen since Katrina. There are chefs who bring something beyond food to the table - and restaurants who push the envelope beyond traditional cuisine. All have taken the New Orleans food world by storm this year.
Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editors’ choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Chef of the Year
It’s no question that this year marked a re-examining of restaurant work and how to create a better quality of life in that field. While John Besh was toppled amid sexual harassment allegations in his restaurant group and many industries asked how much drinking should go on at work-related events, Carl Schaubhut emerged as an important voice for quality of life in the culinary industry.
Just when he was at the top of his game, having become the executive chef at Cafe Adelaide, Schaubhut was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than take a back seat, he left his prestigious post at Adelaide and opened Bacobar on the Northshore and quickly followed that with the critically acclaimed, inventive Cajun restaurant DTB on Oak Street. And he is redefining the game. During his experience, he began wondering if restaurant workers were making everyone but themselves happy.
Schaubhut is the chef ambassador for Eat Fit NOLA, advocating for moderation and self-care for service industry workers and diners. Beyond expertly building and running successful restaurants while fighting cancer, Schaubhut’s voice is poised to influence the lives of service industry workers in a meaningful way as he brings something beyond food to the New Orleans table.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Amy Sins, Langlois
Restaurant of the Year
Saffron NOLA, Uptown
Saffron NOLA, one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants of the year, did not fail to deliver. The Vilkhu family marries the cuisines of its native India and its adopted home, New Orleans, in a gorgeously designed space full of deep Indian reds and copper colors, rich velvet, and a long bar that serves cocktails as inventive and spot-on as the food. From chutney-tinged old fashioneds to a New Orleans style oyster roast with Indian flavors and naan, there’s a reason this restaurant stays full. In a social climate that has seen families not speaking over political differences, it’s refreshing to see a family that works so well together, and in a city sorely lacking upscale or inventive Indian fare, Saffron NOLA is a welcome addition to the dining landscape.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: DTB
Design of the Year
Maypop, South Market District
One of the most talked about design features of the year has been the wall piece at Maypop that appears as a map of the Mississippi from one angle and the Mekong delta from another. And it’s no accident that two of this year’s design nominees employed the same design firm, Farouki Farouki (also responsible for the design of Saffron NOLA). There’s a sleek charcuterie case and a mural of maypop flowers by artist Kimberly Miles Sanders. Planters hold philodendron that grow down the windows and the section between the bar and dining area, adding much needed greenery to the industrial space. The design is about as thoughtful as it gets, creating a space that is perfectly in tune with the restaurant’s offerings.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: DTB
Bar of the Year
Effervescence, French Quarter
New Orleans is no slouch when it comes to watering holes, but this new addition to Rampart Street took New Orleans by storm in 2017 with its menu of bubbles and small bites. Elegant and stylish, its ambiance asks for thoughtful lingering over drinks, and it elevates what might be the routine after-work or Friday evening happy hour to what it should be — a celebration of the day. If you haven’t relaxed in one of the French bistro chairs at this bright and elegant spot, make it a top priority.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Lula Restaurant and Distillery
Comeback of the Year
Closed since Katrina, the much beloved Gabrielle restaurant finally made its comeback this year in a new home in Treme. When it opened, the dining scene was both familiar and different. Regulars returned and the devotion to the duck dish remained feverish, but Gabrielle (the Sonnier’s daughter, for whom the restaurant was named) is grown and running the dining room. The dining room is different too, as loyal patrons snapped photos of the food before taking a bite, something that simply wasn’t a thing when the restaurant closed over a decade ago. It was one of the biggest openings of the year, reminding us that perseverance takes time and is totally worth it.
Comeback of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Dixie Beer