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A Running List of New Restaurants That Opened in New Orleans, December 2020

Budsi’s Authentic Thai, Local 718, and Bywater Brew Pub are among the new bars and restaurants to open this month

Despite the loss of some significant New Orleans restaurants, bars, and music venues throughout the pandemic-related shutdown, every month brings the opening of a number of new restaurants in the area. A few are among those most anticipated for this season, and almost all are years in the making. Here, Eater tracks the noteworthy restaurant openings in the New Orleans area every month.

Did we miss a brand new restaurant? Let us know.


December

Budsi’s Authentic Thai — After four years of pop-ups, the husband and wife team behind Budsi’s Authentic Thai opened their much-anticipated restaurant of the same name December 18, bringing specialties from the Isan region of Thailand to the Marigny. Budsaba Mason, who is originally from the Isan region of Thailand, offers a menu of familiar Thai food like drunken noodles and pad thai as well as Isan specialties — “crisp and full of funky upcountry flavors” — like waterfall pork, beef and chicken larb, fermented fish, crab som tam, and mango sticky rice. Opening hours at 1760 N. Rampart are Tuesday through Sunday, 2 to 9 p.m. for dine-in, outdoor seating, and takeout, with online ordering and delivery coming soon.

The Larder — The Larder is a new gourmet market, deli, and coffee/gelato shop from the chef and co-founder of popular Bucktown seafood restaurant Station 6, Allison Vega-Knoll, and Chris Wilson, a longtime veteran of Emeril’s Restaurant. The pair joined forces to open the market on December 14, bringing freshly made grab-and-go deli items, family meals, wine, and local specialty products to Vets Boulevard. In addition, the menu of breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and soups offers smoked salmon and cajun caviar bagels, a cheddar and roast pork grit bowl, Cubans, meatloaf sandwiches, and shrimp gyros, among other tasty items. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Local 718 — Local 718 takes over the former Bourbon Street address of legendary 24/7 dive bar Johnny White’s, which closed its doors for good this summer. Local restaurant owner Brian Mullin and some partners bought the property earlier this year, opening Local 718 in early December as a restaurant/bar, a smart move given ever-changing regulations on bars. For now, the kitchen serves bar food like burgers, chili dogs, and fries, while the bar pumps out beer-and-shot specials and other standard drinks, but there are plans to expand the offerings down the road. It will also one day again be 24/7 when restrictions allow, but is currently open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Bywater Brew Pub — This new Bywayer restaurant and microbrewery serves Viet-Cajun cuisine from New Orleans native Anh Luu, who most recently ran popular Portland restaurant Tapalaya. The menu includes items like Vietnamese crawfish etouffee nachos; grilled lemongrass pork wraps; double-fried chicken wings coated in a nước mắm (fish sauce) syrup; New Orleans staple yakamein; and the phoritto — a mashup of a burrito and Vietnamese pho Luu became known for in Portland. There’s also a karaage chicken sandwich made using a Japanese frying technique, a banh mi burger, and a vegetarian-friendly tofu burger. Located at 3000 Royal Street, Bywater Brewpub is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 4 to 11 p.m. on Friday, and from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

November

NOLA Pizza Co. — Brandon Byrd was on a mission to bring New York pizza to New Orleans, and apparently, a brewery is the perfect place to get it done. Taking over for the beloved McClure’s Barbecue at NOLA Brewing Co. (which is hopefully still in the works of opening a restaurant), NOLA Pizza Co. opened at the beginning of November with red, white, and square pies that start at $18. According to Byrd, “through reverse osmosis,” he and his team is able to recreate the same mineral and pH content of New York City water, key to NY-style dough. Reverse osmosis aside, the results are seriously tasty, with the chewy square pies and crispy red and white pies all evoking classic styles. It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Tacos del Cartel — Metairie has a new mezcaleria from Danny Cruz and Chef Julio, a project two years in the making. The vibrant, stylized interior is a fun departure from the vibe typically sought by New Orleans restaurants, complemented by a fairly succinct menu of apps, tacos, and sides, including vegetarian options like mushroom and tofu tacos. Tacos del Cartel is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Windowsill Pies — One of the most exciting openings in the last few months is Windowsill Pies, a “Southern-styled, French-inspired, New Orleans bakery,” serving sweet and savory pies on Freret Street. The business has been in operating for eight years as a catering and wholesale bakery, but it’s the first retail shop for Nicole Eiden and Marielle Dupré, who are taking over the space formerly home to Cuzco Peruvian Cuisine. On the sweet side, year-round standards include vanilla bean bourbon pecan and dark chocolate tart with Earl Grey caramel, and for savory options, pot pies and hand pies will change often. Open Wednesday through Sunday until 4 p.m., with plans to expand to dinner.

October

Misa — Taking over the space that Bordeaux briefly occupied, Misa is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant from Tal Sharon, also the owner of Tal’s Hummus. Sharon calls the menu “global-Mediterranean” and serves dishes like whole grilled fish with salsa verde, a tuna burger with tzatziki, and spaghetti Bolognese for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday.

Pelican Delicatessen — New Orleans is always in need of more delis (there can never be too many), and the latest to open is full of promising items. Pelican Delicatessen takes over the former Shahrazad Cafe on Magazine Street, where Joshua Kahn cures and smokes meats for sale by the pound and on a menu of classic sandwiches that bring in Louisiana twists, like a Reuben sandwich with corned brisket debris and Creole remoulade sauce, or a cane syrup bacon B.L.T. topped with pimento cheese. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with additional hours to be added in 2021.

September

Green Olives Cafe — The new Middle Eastern restaurant opened in late September on Maple Street, taking over the Catalino’s address that was once home to popular Babylon’s Cafe, also Middle Eastern. The former owner of Pyramids Cafe, Hilmi Abdeljalil, who runs it with his nephew, is again serving up hummus and pita, grape leaves, shawarma, shish kebabs, and falafel at Green Olives Cafe, 7724 Maple St. Open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. during the week and until 10 p.m. on weekends.

Treps Treps is the latest food venture from local developer Sidney Torres IV, who partnered with Danny Akers, Jerry Mixon, and David Carmi to open the full service restaurant and bar in Mid City this September. With a focus on outdoor, pet and family-friendly service, the kitchen turns out a mix of cuisines the partners call “global comfort food,” ranging from burgers and bar food to spiced lamb and curry mussels. Open Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and a bonus — the gas-fired heaters are ready to go for winter.

The Mill — Located in a fancy Warehouse District apartment complex, The Mill is a splashy new bar and restaurant that “provides traditional southern cuisine with an Asian and Caribbean twist.” The menu offers fairly standard hotel restaurant fare, but with some less run-of-the-mill (pun intended) sides, like chao (Vietnamese rice porridge) and fry bodi (Caribbean-style green beans).

PeeWee’s Crabcakes — Charles “PeeWee” Armstrong has been running his seafood operation for some years now, in the form of home delivery, a pop-up at a CBD bar, and then expanding to a takeout shop in Central City. Now he’s expanded PeeWee’s Crabcakes to Gentilly, with a counter-service restaurant serving his signature crab cakes, seafood platters, and Creole specialties. It’s open Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sunday.

August

The Chloe — The boutique hotel of the same name from local restaurant group LeBlanc + Smith, which operates Sylvain, Longway Tavern, Meauxbar, and Cavan, just opened with a restaurant lead by chef Todd Pulsinelli. Pulsinelli most recently worked for BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group) at the Magazine Street restaurant Warbucks, which closed after eight months. The 120-seat hotel restaurant will serve “21st century New Orleans” cuisine with global influences; items like rabbit and dumplings; pork cheeks with Coca-Cola fish sauce; and rice porridge and cured egg yolk.

Mr. Potato — What began as a food truck serving generously stuffed baked potatoes is now a Tulane Avenue restaurant. From New Orleans couple Kimberly Rollins and Ned Stalks, Mr. Potato offers a dream lunchtime (or anytime menu) of either loaded fries or baked potatoes, filled or stacked with various combinations of seafood, steak, cheese, vegetables and herbs, and other sustenance. Located downtown next to the courthouse it’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

July

Union Ramen — Union Ramen is a long-anticipated restaurant from Nhat “Nate” Nguyen, the opening chef at Gert Town ramen gem Kin who left the restaurant in 2016 to start his own pop-up. The casual, counter service restaurant by the same name just debuted on Magazine Street, serving a menu of chicken broth-based ramen, poke, and Vietnamese small plates. Order online for pickup 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. or for delivery via Waitr or D’livery Nola.

Saj Mediterranean Now open in the renovated space of the former Magazine Street location of Mona’s, Saj serves a menu of dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, and muhammara; falafel, kebabs, Lebanese sausage, chicken shawarma, along with plenty of wraps, salads, and vegetable dishes. Takeout, dine-in, and outdoor seating available daily, 4 to 9 p.m.

Plume Algiers — After a year of restaurant pop-ups serving regional Indian cuisine, Tyler Stuart and Merritt Coscia have opened their restaurant Plume Algiers at 1113 Teche Street for takeout. The opening menu includes Kozhi, a spicy fried chicken stew with coconut dumplings, Recheado shrimp salad, chow mein, and aloo chaat. Open for takeout 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Yo Nashi Yo Nashi is an inviting new CBD restaurant serving eight-to-ten course tasting menus in the Japanese dining style of omakase, meaning the meal is in the hands of the chef. One or two plated appetizers (like Kombu-cured scallop with beet vinaigrette, black sesame tōgarashi cracker, purple radish, and crab roe bottarga) is followed by a round of five nigiri, like a lightly-torched chūtoro nigiri with seared foie gras; then one or two savory courses with proteins like New York strip or pork belly; then dessert. The menu will change slightly every day, with big changes happening weekly. Open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.

June

Cho Thai — First announced early this year, Cho Thai is the latest from BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group). It opened at the end of last month for takeout and delivery, taking over the former Magazine Street space of Warbucks, the restaurant group’s now-closed attempt at modern comfort food. BRG partnered with Jimmy Cho of Banana Blossom Thai Cafe, a family-run restaurant that’s been serving contemporary Thai food on the West Bank for a decade. Small plates include spicy clams, pork rolls, and crab claws with chili basil broth and roti; entrees include Louisiana crab fried rice, ka pao gai, and green curry soft shell crab. Open 4 to 9 p.m. daily.

Vals — From the CureCo team, including Matthew Kohnke, Neal Bodenheimer, Turk Dietrich, and Cane & Table chef Fredo Nogueira, Vals opened in late June in a former service station at the corner of Valence and Freret. It’s described as a casual, laid-back restaurant and bar serving regional Mexican dishes, tacos, and agave-based drinks. The to-go window is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m., serving an abbreviated food menu.

February

Double Dealer — Located under the Orpheum Theater, The Double Dealer is intended to be a “one-of-a-kind speakeasy” celebrating Dixie Bohemia, a term describing the writers, artists, and hangers-on in the New Orleans art scene of the 1920s. With designers Farouki Farouki behind the interior (they also did worked with Saffron and Justine), it should feel vibey indeed, and the cocktail menu seems refreshingly unpretentious — they’re even all under $12.

Nagomi — The eagerly-anticipated Nagomi opened in the Bywater on February 12, but it’s going to be a tough to land a reservation anytime soon. Calling itself New Orleans’s first omakase sushi bar (a Japanese dining style where the order is left to the sushi chef), the 12-seat restaurant showcases the skills of local sushi chef Kazuyuki “Kaz” Ishikawa, a longtime Shogun sushi chef. Reservation-only, Nagomi has two seatings per night for meals starting at $65, Wednesday through Saturday.

Sorella5 Opened last month, Sorella5 is the newest addition to a buzzing area of the CBD, with a promising approach to “home cooking and New Orleans-style cuisine.” Owned and operated by five(!) sisters, the menu is based on family recipes like red beans and rice, po-boys, and other homestyle cooking. Sorella5 is open for lunch Monday; from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

January

Blue Giant — The long-awaited Blue Giant is now slinging reinvented Chinese takeout standards for lunch and dinner in the LGD. The extensive menu of “straightforward American-Chinese food with the best ingredients we can find” includes peking duck, fried rice, egg foo young, shrimp wontons, blue crab rangoon, dan dan noodles, and blanched bok choy with a sauce made from Louisiana oysters. Appetizers range from $3 to $10, with noodle and entree dishes between $14 and $18 (except for the whole peking duck for $65).

Seed — While not technically brand new, Seed’s reopening brings new life to a restaurant that has arguably been New Orleans’s top destination for vegan and vegetarian fare since its 2014 opening. The new owners (also the trio behind local favorite District Donuts) brought in a head chef who’s background skews fine dining, Dan Causgrove, most recently head chef at the Ace Hotel’s Seaworthy. The new menu is reflective of Causgrove’s experience, with small plats like carrot cavatelli and masa gnocchi and cauliflower katsu, a kelp po-boy, and eggplant schwarma.

Lotus Bistro — Lakeview has a new sushi restaurant, quietly opened a few weeks ago (a grand opening party is on February 4). The wide-ranging menu covers noodles, soups, fried rice, and lunch bentos in addition to a huge selection of sushi rolls and sashimi. The best part? The woman-owned Lotus Bistro named a few specialty rolls after notable women in Japanese history, like Tomoe Gozen and author Mineko Iwasaki. Yay for more sushi options in New Orleans proper.

Laurel Oak — A new CBD hotel brings with it a solid contemporary Southern restaurant, under the consultation of star Colorado chef Troy Guard. Guard brought in Houma native Wesley Rabalais for the head chef role, and Rabalais executes on refined versions of Louisiana classics like boudin, barbecue shrimp, and Gulf fish entrees. The excellent gumbo is made with poblano peppers instead of green, the twist on a shrimp cocktail is delightful, and the fried oyster dish hits all the right flavors.

Swamp Room — This longtime Metairie hangout is back, reopening just down the street on Vets Boulevard. It feels as close to it once did as is possible in a new location, with the same menu of juicy burgers topped with shredded, not sliced, cheese (among other options). Keep an eye out for a forthcoming attached venue intended for DJ nights and private events.

Long Chim — Taking over the now-closed Superfood Bar on Magazine Street, Long Chim is now serving up dumplings, soups tom yung and khao soi, and “unicorn noodles,” a glass noodle dish with a purple tint from being soaked in butterfly pea flower. For now it’s just open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 4113 Magazine St., Irish Channel.

Nola Caye — First announced last spring, NOLA Caye is a fast-casual Caribbean restaurant from the owners of the Westbank’s Restaurant des Familles, now open in the Warehouse District in a new mixed-use condo building. The menu offers ceviches and various ahi tuna dishes, tacos, burgers and sandwiches, and a fairly basic list of protein-based entrees. 898 Baronne St., Warehouse District.

Aqua S — Aqua S is an Australian ice cream shop known for whimsical soft-serve creations, rotating monthly flavors, and an Instagram-friendly, vibrant aesthetic. The specialty shop that originated in Sydney first announced the New Orleans location in March, part of its U.S. expansion that includes Houston and Virginia Beach. It finally opened over the holidays with apple cinnamon, signature sea salt, and toppings like lychee, popcorn, “fairy floss,” etc. 1000 Girod St. #4B, CBD.

Bearcat Cafe — A Jena Street city favorite for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dining, Bearcat Cafe recently expanded with a new downtown cafe. The menu is split into Good Cat and Bad Cat sections, and is open for breakfast and lunch with vegan rancheros, vegetarian portobello Philly, and vegan queso, to name a few. 845 Carondelet St., Warehouse District.

Breads on Oak — Another downtown expansion now open is Breads on Oak, an all-vegan bakery offering breads, pastries, king cake, biscuit sandwiches, salads and vegan versions of muffulettas, burgers, and more. Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 222 Carondelet St., CBD.

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