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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

Recommendations for diners looking to get out of their comfort zone

Unicorn noodles from Long Chim
Long Chim/Facebook

Every Friday, New Orleans diners are thinking the same thing: “Where should I eat and drink this weekend?” Welcome to your weekend planner, where we recommend spots for brunch, dinner, booze, and everything in between, whether it’s trendy and new, or a reliable standby worth revisiting. Got a suggestion? Send an email.

February 7

For affordable Sichuan and Cantonese plates in a Marigny backyard: Bao & Noodle. This neighborhood destination recently moved to a larger, more-visible location on St. Claude, but is still convenient to this weekend’s downtown parades, Krewe Bohème and Krewe du Vieux. Sample the dim sum options, hand-pulled noodles, and be sure to try rousong, or the fluffy pork floss. Alcohol is now served, but for a $10 corkage you can bring your own pre-parade bottles.

To kick off crawfish season at a classic Uptown neighborhood joint: Frankie & Johnny’s. Uptown’s enduring seafood destination is still thriving, and a visit feels especially appropriate with the start of crawfish season. The family-run restaurant’s patio seating is great for a Saturday afternoon beer and no-frills snack.

For grab-and-go Thai food on Magazine: Long Chim. Auction House Market vendor Long Chim recently took over the tiny former Superfood Bar space in the Irish Channel, offering an appropriately small menu of dumplings, soups, and the especially interesting “unicorn noodles,” made from mung beans and soaked in butterfly pea flower for a purple tint. It’s excellent Thai cuisine in a city with fewer options than most. Open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

For a whimsical dessert in honor of Mardi Gras season: Aqua S. The weather forecast is nice and it’s the height of Carnival season, so why not celebrate with a cotton candy-wrapped soft serve? The Sydney, Australia-born ice cream shop known for Instagram-friendly aesthetics finally made its CBD debut at the end of the year with sea salt and rotating soft serve flavors and toppings like lychee, popcorn, and “fairy floss.” February’s flavors are strawberry kiwi and vanilla rose.

For a Sunday morning hangover bagel: Small Mart. Small Mart has moved from the French Quarter into the larger, more accessible former space of the aforementioned Bao & Noodle, and the Marigny is rejoicing accordingly. As one of the city’s only places to get a great bagel, it’s a sure choice for a hungover Sunday morning visit following Saturday night’s Krewe du Vieux parade.

January 17

For copious portions from New Orleans’s original barbecue tastemaker: The Joint. This Bywater landmark was ahead of its time, serving finger-licking pork ribs, brisket, and pulled pork before the barbecue craze hit New Orleans. The platters of burnt brisket ends, ribs slathered in vinegar-based sauce, decadent mac and cheese, and peanut butter pie are some of the best around. Great patio/courtyard area and drink specials to wash everything down.

For a comforting breakfast or lunch made with the freshest of ingredients: Two Chicks Cafe. This excellent breakfast and lunch spot across the street from the Convention Center now also has a location in the CBD on Gravier Street, luckily. Dishing up sweet and savory crepes, omelets and egg Benedict dishes, pancakes and parfaits, sandwiches, healthy juices, and bloody Marys, Two Chicks Cafe (and the chicks who run it) is awesome.

For sizzling Korean barbecue and big flavors great for a group: Little Korea BBQ. Grab a group and gather ‘round a table at Little Korea BBQ for a fun, casual meal full of spice and flavor. In addition to the marinated bulgogi beef, don’t miss out on the bibimap or kimchi stew for a complete experience.

For creative, vegetarian-friendly fare in a unique setting: Green Goddess. If the rain holds off, dining at this outdoor restaurant along the French Quarter’s Exchange Alley is a relaxing, laid back experience accompanied by creative food and drinks. The globally-inspired menu spans the gambit: beet hummus, chimichurri (with mushrooms or brisket), pecan orange mushroom pate, Swedish meatloaf, and more.

For a steaming bowl of the best ramen in town: Kin. The chic but homey interior of this tiny Gert Town spot combined with a friendly staff makes Kin feel so welcoming, you’ll want to return again and again. The excellent ramen menu is supplemented by exciting specials and a changing selection of dumpling offerings, all of which are executed to perfection.

January 3

To kick off the year with healthy, vegan comfort food: Kindred Food & Drinks. Open Friday, January 3, Kindred Food & Drinks is from Caroline Nassrah, a vegan of 22 years who found the city’s “vegan junk food” lacking. At Kindred, expect vegan versions of traditional New Orleans staples like fried chicken, roast beef po-boys, macaroni and cheese, and red beans and rice.

For Jazz Fest favorites in a new permanent location: Ajun Cajun. Festival food booth Ajun Cajun just opened a permanent outpost on Oak Street, serving up its beloved po-boys and much, much more. In addition to the famed tempura-battered soft shell crab and garlic beef po-boys, the huge menu has fried seafood plates, ramen, donburi (rice bowls), yakisoba, udon, more soups, and salads.

For crawfish, cheesesteak, and apple-stuffed beignets: Stuph’d Beignets and Burgers. Head to Gentilly for seemingly endless beignet filling options, all of which are even more delicious than they sound. The cozy, family-run spot on Franklin Avenue takes something that’s been done before (filled beignets) and elevates it to a new, gimmick-free level. These are not a “twist” on beignets; these are their own food item. The stuffed burgers are also not to be missed. Closed Sunday.

For an affordable lunch of endless Indian specialties: Turmeric. Turmeric is a welcome newcomer to the area’s relatively small number of Indian restaurants. Open for lunch and dinner and offering the tried-and-true lunch buffet, the sweeping menu covers a full range of Indian specialties, from naan to galub jamun (a fried dessert) to mango lassi. It’s affordable as well, with appetizers like samosas and chicken wings all under $6, and a tandoori mix grill and fish tikki as the two most expensive entrees, $18 and $16, respectively.

For expertly-built vintage cocktails and an old-school burger: Revel. Revisit Mid City’s three-year old craft cocktail bar, the brainchild of bar mastermind Chris McMillan. In addition to its quality vintage cocktails, it’s always safe to trust a special or the bartender here. Pairing perfectly are Revel’s gourmet sandwiches and char-grilled burger, a seven-ounce Painted Hills grass-fed beef patty served sizzling on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and cheese.

December 13

For enormous portions of Sicilian dishes in Chalmette: Rocky and Carlo’s. Make the drive to Chalmette for a bit of winter comfort at Rocky and Carlo’s. Famous for its macaroni and cheese, lunch specials, red gravy, and endearing service, cafeteria-style old school dining is the name of the game at this Chalmette icon.

For craft cocktails in a moody, haunted setting: Vessel. Vessel is the cool, three-year old Mid City restaurant in a historic church, complete with its very own ghost. The interior is gorgeous, with antique chandeliers, an expansive bar set against large stained glass windows, and rafters that resemble a ship’s hull. The cocktail menu complements the Mediterranean/Southern fare, and the desserts are not to be missed.

For French onion soup dumplings and a new take on absinthe: Belle Epoque. The new French Quarter absinthe bar highlights the spirit in a fresh way, making it approachable for all. In addition to Laura Belluci’s inventive absinthe cocktails, treat yourself to oysters with absinthe mignonette, French onion soup dumplings, and raclette service in this fanciful, luxurious setting.

For rotisserie chicken magic in Kenner: Pollos a la Brasa Fiesta. A bit of a hidden gem but well-frequented by Kenner folks, Pollos a la Brasa Fiesta serves up some of the best roast chicken in town, not to mention the tamales. We love this spot’s affordable prices, friendly and attentive staff, and simple, bright atmosphere.

For mezcal and top-notch guacamole in a cool new Bywater spot: Galaxie. The brand new taqueria on St. Claude Avenue is a worthy destination for both its food and bar — its menu mixes Mexico City-style al pastor, Oaxacan-style barbacoa, and Baja-style fish tacos along with open-faced quesadillas, sides, and starters like chicharrones de queso. On the bar side, more than 30 types of mezcal are on offer and a deep cocktail menu was developed with help from some of the city’s top bartenders.

December 6

For excellent coffee, pastries, and sandwiches in a classic cafe before it closes: Cafe Rose Nicaud. Before it closes on December 16, consider making one last visit to this longtime Frenchmen Street cafe that honors Rose Nicaud, a slave who became New Orleans’ first known coffee vendor. The family-run establishment serves top-notch coffee and espresso drinks, along with fresh, wholesome breakfast and lunch items.

For Creole Italian in a bustling, throwback setting: Adolfo’s. This Frenchman Street institution is a trip, and makes for a unique evening indeed. Wait downstairs for a table (there will be a wait) while listening to live music at the Apple Barrel, the tiny, funky bar below the restaurant. When you eventually make it upstairs, your patience will be rewarded with food and atmosphere — the grouper with lemon, capers and artichokes is savory goodness and the herbaceous, peppery lamb rack is a tender, indulgent treat.

For simple but remarkably fresh food in the Riverbend: Cowbell. Chef Brack May’s longtime commitment to high-quality ingredients that he sources from local farmers, foragers, fishmongers, and ranchers is apparent in every item on the menu. The burgers, the chicken sandwich, and the Friday fish burger are all highlights. Besides the quality of the food, it’s a warm, family-friendly establishment with principles and ideals that makes dining there a pleasure.

For affordable, inventive Thai in a neighborhood bar: Budsi’s Thai at Pal’s Lounge. On Friday and Sunday nights at Pal’s Lounge (6 to midnight), Budsaba Mason serves a less traditional menu of her excellent Thai food, often featuring special drunken noodles, curries, and soups. The menu for this weekend looks especially enticing, with dishes like pumpkin curry chicken for $9 and chicken or mushroom and tofu larb for $10.

For traditional paella, tapas, and sangria in a charming Uptown spot: Barcelona Tapas. Frequented by the neighborhood but perhaps easy to forget if located downriver, Barcelona Tapas is worth a revisit for its sangria alone. It also has some of the best paella in town, cooked by Spanish owner/chef Xavier Laurentino. The diablo shrimp, calamari, and the chorizo are tapas standouts, with refreshingly sizable portions.

November 22

For a memorable evening over a meal of Tunisian specialties: Jamila’s Mediterranean Cuisine. It’s safe to anticipate an experience at Jamila’s, one full of couscous, wine, and laughs. Jamila’s husband and wife team Jamila and Moncef welcome each guest like they’re doing so in their own home, while offering one of the only local places to try specialties like brick aux crevettes (phylo stuffed with shrimp, potatoes, and onions), Tunisian ojja (spicy tomato and pepper sauce mixed with eggs), and the aforementioned excellent couscous, vegetarian or with lamb or fish.

For a delicious Mexican brunch and fresh margaritas: El Pavo Real. This tiny but mighty corner restaurant in Broadmoor serves its top-notch breakfast items all day, so treat yourself to traditional huevos rancheros or chilaquiles and a fresh, seasonal margarita. A warm, friendly staff and neighborhood regulars make this place a perfect brunch stop that won’t break the bank.

For expert dim sum at a 2019 Eater Awards finalist: Dian Xin. Judy Ceng and family blessedly brought dim sum to the French Quarter last year, and the two-page menu of bao, soups, chive cakes, jianbing, and shu mai is some of the best in town. While the fervor has died down a bit, it’s safe to expect a wait, but few places offer better people watching than lower Decatur Street. Now serving alcohol.

For refined Creole specialties in a historic neighborhood: Cafe Dauphine. Situated at the corner of Dauphine and Egania Streets in Holy Cross, the lovely 100-year old building housing Cafe Dauphine has become both a neighborhood gathering place and destination for those outside the area. Chef Shawn Smith’s refined comfort food signatures include the deep-fried stuffed pepper, redfish Florentine, shrimp Creole, and of course, bread pudding.

For take-home tubs of hummus and tzatziki off the beaten path: Stella Maris. We were reminded of the excellent Stella Maris Cafe and Grocery with this week’s guide to Middle Eastern cuisine, and this Arabi spot is worth revisiting indeed. Try excellent foul (a dip of fava beans with olive oil, chopped parsley and tomatoes), knafeh (a light cheese pastry topped with pistachios, and koulaj (phyllo dough stuffed with baking cheese and drizzled with honey), and bring home big tubs of hummus, baba ghanoush, and arguably the best tzatziki around.

November 15

For Brazilian snacks a bit downriver: Quitutes. This new spot in Arabi (6617 Judge Perez Drive) focuses on its namesake quitutes, or Brazilian snacks like pao de queijo (cheese bread), coxinha (chicken fritters), and kibbe (beef and bulgur fritters). The coconut milk-based frutos de mar soup, loaded with shrimp, clam, and tilapia, is perfect for this weather, and the Brazilian-style steak rivals any others found locally. Bonus: there’s live music on Friday night.

For hard tacos and Tex Mex that feels like its in Austin: Catty Shack Tex-Mex. Austin native Catherine Smith is churning out hard tacos and other Tex Mex go-tos at Catty Shack, a petite storefront on Gentilly Boulevard out by the Fairgrounds. The short menu has Texas hits like hard tacos with beef, shredded lettuce, and cheese; smoked brisket; fried catfish; and even a lentil option. Smith achieves a distinctly Austin taco shack vibe, so its like a mini-vacation.

For a mashup of New Orleans, Caribbean, and South American flavors: Palm & Pine. This bustling new addition to the outskirts of the French Quarter serves fresh and inspired food, with an emphasis on local produce and flavors from “the South, and South of that.” While specials are a good route to go, menu highlights include a bright crudo, the chanterelles, or fried chicken livers to start and giant drunken Gulf shrimp and a Oaxacan mole for the main course.

For karaoke and hot pot in New Orleans East: Karaoke Hoang Gia. There is an abundance of incredible Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans East, some even with karaoke, but none combine it quite as well as Hoang Gia. Basement vibes (in the best way), a solid sound system, and plenty of monitors make for a top-notch karaoke setting, and the food is probably some of the best to ever be paired with the activity.

For an uncommon slice of pizza and a taste of Roman street food: Bonci. Bonci, a chain born in Rome, serves pizza al taglio — meaning “by the cut.” Here, cold-fermented, heirloom wheat-based dough is baked in rectangular pans and covered with a daily rotating combination of toppings, along with some signatures like meatball, soppressata, zucchini ricotta, potato mozzarella, and one specially made for the city, muffuletta. Bonci also serves beloved Roman street food suppli, similar to arancini.

November 8, 2019

For an unusual menu in a lush tropical setting: Carmo. This colorful and plant-filled cafe with a global menu is bound to introduce something new: from the signature acarajé, a black-eyed pea fritter stuffed with vatapá (a cashew peanut coconut paste), to broiled fish collar, kottu roti (a Sri Lankan dish made with noodle-like strips of roti), to a take on the Puerto Rican mofongo relleno (mashed plaintains stuffed with ceviche or bean salad). While a great place for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, there are also plenty of options to satisfy omnivores.

For award-winning po-boys and inventive seafood dishes galore: Seither’s Seafood. Jason Seither’s seafood destination is tucked away in Harahan in a small, brightly painted building with promising oyster shell debris in the parking lot. The menu packs a punch, from the unusual po-boys (which just won the specialty category at last weekend’s po-boy festival) to the indulgent starters and well-seasoned crawfish boils. Portions are solid here, so come hungry.

For a new addition to the Eater 38: Marjie’s Grill. Added to the Eater 38 last quarter, Marjie’s Grill is just a fun overall dining experience, with a bustling, all-about-the-food vibe. Crispy pig knuckles, head on prawns with a chili dipping sauce, a melty slow grilled beef, and any specials are highlights, but Marjie’s also does amazing things to vegetables. Pro-tip: if dining with four or more, consider the “Feed Me” option, and leave it up to chefs Caitlin Carney and Marcus Jacobs. Trust.

For rustic fine dining across the lake: Ox Lot 9. Now five years old, the upscale but welcoming restaurant in the Northshore’s Southern Hotel is the perfect excuse to make a trip across the lake this weekend. Chef Jeffrey Hansell is currently serving an insane looking stuffed red snapper and BBQ Royal Red shrimp (the best kind) served with citrus polenta and burrata. Staples include fried frog legs, chicken and dumplings (with gnocchi as the dumpling), and sweet potato hash-stuffed rabbit, pan-fried. There are still some reservations on the later side, or try the bar.

For an opportunity to watch some of the best sushi in town made in front of you: Luvi. Luvi is one of the more exciting restaurants to hit New Orleans in recent years, with chef Hao Gong delivering brilliant takes on raw and nearly raw fish. The Shanghai native also brings comfort food to another level with his dumplings, dan dan noodles, and bam bam chicken. When available, dining at Luvi’s curved raw bar provides the opportunity to watch chef expertly prepare each dish.

November 1, 2019

For a warming fall meal of Colombian specialties: Mais Arepas. This eight year old, Colombian-Creole restaurant in Central City is a gem of a standby, beloved by its neighborhood and beyond. In addition to excellent arepas, the stylish but welcoming spot serves fresh, ever-changing cocktails, ajiaco (a Colombian broth-based soup) that warms to the bone, arroz con pollo, and desserts like guava and cherry cheesecake and an expert tres leches.

For top-notch cocktails in a quintessential New Orleans setting: Jewel of the South. Jewel of the South is a hotspot for drinks on the quieter outskirts of the Quarter, but the setting and food make this place a no-brainer destination all around. It is simply lovely — the dining room, the bar, and the back courtyard — so much so it feels like a mini vacation. The menu changes frequently, but you can count on small plates and a few larger protein dishes to all be interesting, layered, and delightful.

For some of the best local Thai food off the beaten path: Secret Thai. Head to a Judge Perez Highway strip mall in Chalmette for some of the best Thai food in the area, but don’t be a tough guy when it comes to ordering. The spice levels here are no joke, so stay on the safe side when asked if it’s your first time at Secret Thai. The nom tok, a chili-laden green papaya som tam salad, sopping drunken noodles, on and on — it’s all good here, and affordable.

For surprise dishes in a low-key cool setting: Suis Generis. This funky Bywater neighborhood spot rolls out a brand new menu every Friday at 4 p.m., so there’s always an element of surprise dining there. Dishes mix of all sorts of influences including Caribbean, Mediterranean, Southeast Asian and of course, Creole, and oftentimes center around a theme, another infusion of fun. Hit Bud Rip’s next door after your meal for a night cap.

For a game and booze-filled Sunday Funday: King Pin. This beloved Uptown watering hole boasts chef-driven pop-ups and food trucks like Taceaux Loceaux. On the bar side, you can’t get bored here between the live music, darts, shuffleboards, and fun regulars.

October 25, 2019

For bold Peruvian flavors and refreshing pisco cocktails: Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco. Looking to spice up your typical weekend flavors? Hit up Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco on Magazine and you’ll find some of the brightest bites in town. While of course known for its ceviche, the tiraditos menu is worth a try as well, especially the hamachi option that sees the raw fish sliced thin and topped with citrus marinade and Peruvian corn kernels. Also not to be missed are the potatoes, hanger steak appetizer, and of course, pisco cocktails.

For decadent bar snacks in a bougie setting: Bar Marilou. This French salon attached to the Maison de la Luz hotel on Carondelet is on the cocktail heatmap, but don’t miss the snacks. The menu of about ten small plates blends influences from the French West Indies, Paris, and New Orleans, with items like foie gras terrine, seared scallops, and salt cod fritters. The Pommes Marilou is a thing of beauty; thinly-layered potatoes are fried to a crisp and topped with creme fraiche and bowfin caviar.

For Thai comfort food at a reasonable price: Chill Out Cafe. It’s easy to forget about this welcoming gem tucked away Uptown on Burdette Street, but it’s a perfect place to grab a comforting lunch on a rainy weekend in New Orleans. The lunch specials extend into the weekend and are generous, and an “American” breakfast is served until 3 p.m. in case not everyone is craving Thai food. The owners and staff help make this spot feel special.

For traditional paella and Spanish tapas in a homey space: Lola’s. Lola’s paellas and fideuàs (similar idea but with angel-hair pasta) are legend in these parts. The tiny dining room is a sweet backdrop for Spanish peasant fare that includes stewed meats, fresh seafood, herb-driven pastas and salads and lots and lots of olive oil and garlic. Housemade sangria is a bonus.

For a chill spot to watch the Saints game on Sunday: Mid City Yacht Club. This friendly Mid City bar has 16 flat screens, divided into four watching zones, and a big, newish courtyard. Plus the food is darn good — crawfish boils during the season and delightful garlic parm fries, tatchos, crab balls, and burgers all the time.

Mid City Yacht Club

440 South Saint Patrick Street, , LA 70119 (504) 483-2517 Visit Website

Tito's Ceviche & Pisco

5015 Magazine Street, , LA 70115 (504) 267-7612 Visit Website

Bar Marilou

544 Carondelet Street, , LA 70130 (504) 814-7711 Visit Website

Lola's

3312 Esplanade Avenue, , LA 70119 (504) 488-6946 Visit Website

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