Following a summer stacked with back-to-back, big-deal hotel openings, it seems fall 2021 is shaping up to be New Orleans’s season of restaurant debuts. The pandemic isn’t over and Hurricane Ida undoubtedly delayed the openings of many anticipated restaurants, but the fact remains that there is a lot for New Orleans diners to look forward to this fall.
The family behind longtime Vietnamese favorite Magasin Cafe is expanding with a seafood restaurant specializing in hard-to-find products and a Metairie newcomer is launching an equally vibrant sister restaurant on Oak Street. A few miles downriver, the beloved local chef behind Gris-Gris is expanding his footprint with a contemporary Creole restaurant in the French Quarter, while Donald Link, a longtime leader in New Orleans cuisine, will open a highly-anticipated spot in the brand new Four Seasons New Orleans.
An opening date is a moving target during any restaurant opening, but maybe no more so than in the aftermath of a hurricane that left New Orleans without power for weeks. As of now, these seven exciting new restaurants are set to open this fall in New Orleans. Did we miss one? Let us know.
Where: 3200 Burgundy Street, Bywater
When: October 2021
Finally, the former home of Maurepas Foods is getting a successor restaurant, and it’s a fitting one at that — the team behind vegetarian-friendly favorite Sneaky Pickle is opening Bar Brine, a full-service dinner restaurant and bar, as part of their relocation to the corner building at Louisa and Burgundy. Owner and chef Ben Tabor calls it “casual fine-dining,” with about 50 percent meat and 50 percent vegetable dishes, and an ever-changing menu — one that will revolve around the best products available that day or week. It will also have its own bar program, separate from that served at Sneaky Pickle.
Chemin à la Mer
Where: 2 Canal Street, CBD
When: October 2021
Mid-August brought the debut of the Four Seasons New Orleans in the former World Trade Center building downtown, along with Miss River, Alon Shaya’s luxurious restaurant in the hotel. Next up is Chemin à la Mer, a restaurant from Donald Link and the Link Restaurant Group, owners of Herbsaint, Cochon, and Peche. Located on the hotel’s fifth floor, the restaurant is adjacent to a crescent-shaped infinity pool and boasts floor-to-ceiling views overlooking the Mississippi, perhaps explaining the name that translates to “pathway to the sea.” There’s not much detail about the food yet, but a release promises steaks and seafood executed with French techniques, seemingly along the lines of Cochon and Peche.
Le Chat Noir
Where: 715 St. Charles Avenue, CBD
When: Late September 2021
This fall will bring the rebirth of Le Chat Noir, a former cabaret and lounge now playing the role of upscale-casual restaurant. The new project is the result of a partnership between the owner of Bearcat Cafe, James Reuter, and Gene Todaro, who owns the new restaurant’s building and founded its predecessor, Marcello’s. The chef is Seth Temple, who will bring the vegetable-forward influence of Bearcat Cafe to the menu together with a more refined, upscale approach for dinner items like heirloom carrots with tofu hummus and chiles; white anchovies with lime and chile; and sun chokes with walnut, preserved lemon, and mint.
Where: 8201 Oak Street, Uptown
When: Early Fall 2021
The chef and co-owner behind Metairie’s vibrant new Tacos del Cartel, Julio Machado, is opening a second restaurant in close succession, taking over the Oak Street restaurant that was previously home to DTB (Down the Bayou). Machado, along with his two partners, are renovating the space to bring a similarly eye-catching vibe, though Machado says Mucho Más will be “modern and trendy” and look different from Tacos del Cartel. The menu will be different as well, with a greater focus on traditional dishes from Mexico like carne asada tasajo and snapper a la talla, with many dishes grilled on charcoal. The Tequileria, or tequila bar, will also serve cocktails, wine, and beer.
Where: 8312 Oak Street, Uptown
When: Fall 2021
The owners of Magasin Cafe, a longtime modern Vietnamese cafe on Magazine Street, are opening an exciting new restaurant called Mukbang, located in the former Chiba space on Oak Street. Mukbang, meaning “eating and broadcasting,” will specialize in “elevated seafood” with a Viet-Cajun twist, and aims to offer options less common to the area, like lobsters and clams, as well as extravagant seafood towers. The restaurant will have its own bar program, and owners say they plan to bottle and package sauces and other items for retail to be sold onsite.
Where: 1117 Decatur Street, French Quarter
When: Early October 2021
Bringing life to the former Maximo’s (which was more recently Trinity), well-known local chef Eric Cook is opening Saint John, his second restaurant after LGD destination Gris-Gris. The menu is decidedly more contemporary Creole than contemporary Southern, like Gris-Gris, with dishes like slow braised smothered turkey necks, chicken and shrimp maque choux, and baked macaroni pie with red gravy. It will serve lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch in the first and second story dining room, complete with balcony seating, which will also be available for private events. Saint John was initially set for a mid-September opening prior to Hurricane Ida; its debut is slightly delayed to early October.
The Will and the Way
Where: 719 Toulouse Street, French Quarter
When: Late September/October
The Will and the Way is technically a revamp — the address was previously home to Longway Tavern for about a year, until the LeBlanc and Smith restaurant group closed that bar in February, promising a next chapter for the building (which the group owns). Full details are still forthcoming, but the emphasis will be on wine and cocktails, and achieving a more lounge-like setting than at Longway. There will be food, just a smaller menu, and Longway’s neighborhood vibe, hard to find in the French Quarter, should endure.
Looking for New Orleans food recs or a place to chat about favorite restaurants? Join Eater NOLA’s Facebook group.