It was a pathbreaking year for restaurants in New Orleans, one that brought the arrival of genre-expanding renditions of Indian street food, Caribbean comfort food, Louisana-Creole classics, and more. As the year winds down, though, Eater New Orleans is taking a look back at the restaurants and bars that left the city’s culinary scene in 2022.
So, before we look forward to what’s ahead for 2023, let’s take a few moments to remember the best establishments New Orleans lost this year.
Chefs Nhat and Bobby Nguyen imbued good faith in a loyal Mid City fanbase over their six years on Banks Street, bringing bold, global flavors to a menu of Southern-meets-Southeast-Asian. Though inspired mashups consistently introduced diners to something new, it was perhaps best known for having one of the best cheeseburgers in the city. After a number of months with inconsistent or shortened hours and eventually an unknown status, the restaurant closed for good in December.
Mid City Pizza
On Saturday, December 10, the proprietors of the almost ten-year-old Mid City Pizza announced its closure, three years after the death of founder Rand Owens. The announcement explained that owners “tried as best as we could to uphold and honor Rand’s legacy in this shop,” but were no longer able to do so. MCP Uptown, which Owens opened as a second Mid City Pizza in 2016, and Banks Street Bar, which Owens bought in 2018, remain open and are still owned and operated by a small group of Owens’s family members and friends.
Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard’s funky, much-loved Mexican restaurant closed in May nearly ten years after Hugo Montero, a Mexico City native and longtime New Orleans artist, opened it along with Green Project founder Linda Stone. The restaurant hosted near-nightly Latin American music acts, displayed works by Mexican artists, and invested in services like composting and glass recycling, as well as being one of few New Orleans restaurants specializing in food that could be found in Mexico City. Recently, Montero has brought Friday night Latin music acts back to the restaurant.
Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse permanently Emeril’s Delmonico in the spring after keeping it shuttered throughout the pandemic. Emeril’s Restaurant group said it has decided to sell the property at 1300 St. Charles Avenue, where Lagasse took over Delmonico in 1997 — the restaurant first opened as Delmonico in 1895. “The past 2 years, while challenging, have been an opportunity to evaluate and assess all of our brands and where our talent and energy is best channeled to bring the experience we expect for our customers,” said the statement. Representatives have told Eater there are plans for more local restaurants in the works.
Vegan Wit’ a Twist
Vegan Wit’ a Twist was the trailblazing vegan soul food kitchen from three New Orleans barbers — Roy Joseph, Ryan Billew and Ollie Williams — who came together to turn what used to be a sno-ball stand into a trendsetting restaurant. Not too long after relocating downtown, owners announced the restaurant was closing, teasing that “This isn’t goodbye.”
Husband-and-wife team Brack May and Krista Pendergraft-May opened Cowbell in 2010 at the top of Oak Street where it meets with Leake Avenue along the river, bringing a cool, low-key tavern for high-end but playful versions of comfort food like burgers, mac and cheese, and tacos. Brack was one of the first local chefs to work directly with local farmers, producers, and even foragers for menu ingredients, from greens to goat cheese to rabbit. The pair closed for good in January following a decision not to renew the lease at the end of 2021, saying that repeatedly closing and reopening throughout the pandemic had taken its toll and losses from Hurricane Ida sealed its fate.
Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine
Dunbar’s, known as a pre-Katrina destination for Creole cuisine and soul food specialties that launched the greatest restaurant comeback of 2017, closed its doors for good in early 2022, five years after its hard-fought revival. Tina Dunbar confirmed that the closure was brought on by the financial hardship imposed by Hurricane Ida during a time when the restaurant was already struggling. Dunbar said she planned to do some catering, and didn’t rule out some future iteration of the restaurant.
New Orleans chefs Paul Artigues and Chris DeBarr first opened the endearing Exchange Alley restaurant the Green Goddess in 2009. The French Quarter cafe’s era of serving eclectic, vegetable-forward meals in a courtyard setting officially ended in early 2022, prompted by a temporary l closure following Hurricane Ida at the end of August 2021 that became permanent. Luckily, Artigues and his wife, Olivia Artigues, together opened a new restaurant and bar in the Marigny at the end of January: Breakaway’s R & B, serving New Orleans staples and sno-ball cocktails, in the former address of much-loved dive bar Lost Love Lounge.