Projecting the opening date of a restaurant is never an exact science, but in New Orleans that’s almost comically true. From opening day hurricanes to a City Hall hack halting the permitting process, aspiring restaurateurs in this town have experienced it all. The pandemic has made opening projections even more tenuous, yet somehow, dogged chefs and proprietors are still managing to bring their longtime dreams to life. Remarkably, all of last year’s most anticipated restaurants have opened, and already in 2021 a popular backyard taco stand became a restaurant and a longtime Thai pop-up realized plans for a permanent home in the Marigny.
With the unpredictability of our new reality in mind, here are the restaurant openings Eater New Orleans is most looking forward to this year. Check back with Eater for opening updates and more on 2021’s most anticipated restaurants, and remember, the below is subject to change.
Address: 4501 Tchoupitoulas St., in the former Dick & Jenny’s
Key Players: Chef Sophina Uong and husband William “Wildcat” Greenwell
The closure of Uptown bistro Dick & Jenny’s right before the onset of COVID-19 was certainly a loss for the neighborhood, but the restaurant taking over the Tchoupitoulas Street address is about as exciting as it gets. Mister Mao is from Cambodian-American chef Sophina Uong and her husband William “Wildcat” Greenwell, veterans of Rockrose in the CBD and the Elysian Bar, respectively. They’ve been popping up under the name for the last few months at local spots Congregation Coffee and Zony Mash Beer Project, serving tropical small plates like achari chicken tikka tacos with tamarind and coriander; Cambodian hot and sour soup with pork riblets; quesabirria de res; and escargot yakitori. The pair’s been documenting their renovation work on Instagram, and plans to open the “fun, spunky, tropical roadhouse” this spring.
Address: 8400 Oak St.
Key Players: Marjie’s Grill owners Caitlin Carney and Marcus Jacobs
After the huge success of Mid City restaurant Marjie’s Grill, Caitlin Carney and Marcus Jacobs are expanding their New Orleans footprint with Seafood Sally’s, planned as a family-friendly spot with a raw bar, Viet-Cajun seafood boils, and all-you-can-eat crab feasts. Taking over the Oak Street space most recently home to La Casita, the pair has plans to add more outdoor seating, ensure takeout-friendly service, and one day, serve as a neighborhood gathering place for seafood boils and other communal feasts. Seafood Sally’s is projected to open Spring 2021.
Four Seasons Hotel Restaurant
Address: 2 Canal St.
Key Players: Chef Alon Shaya and Emily Shaya/Pomegranate Hospitality, the Four Seasons
The forthcoming Four Seasons in New Orleans has been big news for years, and its restaurant equally anticipated. It was welcome news that the hotel was partnering with Alon Shaya and wife Emily’s budding Pomegranate Hospitality restaurant group, best known for Shaya’s first post-John Besh restaurant Saba. While the hotel restaurant’s name and menu are still under wraps, the Shayas shared a few details with Eater in December, like plans for food unlike what we’ve seen from the chef at prior restaurants. The pair says the menu is inspired by their 18 years living and cooking in New Orleans, including by the cuisine’s West African, Central American, and Vietnamese influences as well as the specialties of Cajun country.
The 160-seat restaurant will be broken up into sections meant to encourage spreading out — the floor plan includes a bar/lounge area, large dining room, an outdoor terrace with enough space “for a marching band to fit between tables”, and a wine tasting station. They intend a Galatoire’s-esque, progressive experience that takes diners from the bar lounge to the dining room to the terrace. The hotel, restaurant, and bar lounge are expected to open in Spring 2021.
The return of Vaucresson Sausage Co. to New Orleans’s Seventh Ward has been anticipated for some time now, with generations of Vaucressons working to build a multi-faceted business in the company’s former address. The century-old butcher is one of the original and most popular Jazz Fest food vendors, and the family’s Vaucresson’s Creole Cafe in the 1960s was a rare Black-owned business in the French Quarter at the time. Now, third-generation proprietor Vance Vaucresson has confirmed that plans for a restaurant and meat market are back on track for late 2021 (in addition to affordable-rate apartments the property will house). With help from Chase, the revival of Vaucresson’s Creole Cafe will feature the peppery sausage its famous for, as well as hogs head cheese, chaurice, and other meats served in gumbo, po’boys, and atop grits.
Elizabeth Street Cafe
Address: 1507 Magazine St., in the forthcoming Hotel Saint Vincent
Key Players: Zach Kupperman, Christian Strobel, Liz Lambert, and Larry McGuire of MMH, an Austin-based hospitality group
The pair of hoteliers have partnered to turn the former St. Vincent Guest House in the LGD into the boutique Hotel Saint Vincent, featuring two promising restaurants. Most intriguing are plans to replicate popular Austin restaurant Elizabeth Street Cafe at the hotel, which will serve pastries and “French-Vietnamese favorites” for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. The hotel’s dinner restaurant, to be called San Lorenzo, is “inspired by coastal Italian resort destinations,” and will offer a menu of seafood and lighter dishes “infused with local Cajun flavors.” The hotel and restaurants are expected to open in Spring 2021.
Address: To be announced
Key Players: Chef Huy, cook at Shogun sushi restaurant
Sandos, a Japanese convenience store staple that have recently taken the US by storm, have arrived (belatedly as usual) in New Orleans, thanks to Yakuza House. Chef Huy is a first-generation Vietnamese-American who fell in love with Japanese cuisine while working at Cafe Zen as a teenager. He’s been developing Yakuza house for the last few months (while working at Shogun in Metairie), and recently held his first-ever pop-up at Union Ramen, where he served a menu of sandos made with soft, white Japanese milk bread (made by home baker Instagram star Banh’s Vi) and filled with a crispy pork or chicken cutlet, tamago omelette, or strawberries and mascarpone cream. Future pop-ups in advance of opening Yakuza House are planned; follow Instagram for updates.
Do you have a restaurant tip? Noticed a spot in your neighborhood opening or closing? Leave a comment or send an email.
Looking for restaurant recs or a place to chat about favorite restaurants? Join Eater NOLA’s Facebook group.