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Nited States. Louisiana. New Orleans. Canal Street
The Canal Street streetcar
Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Best Spots for a Pre-Carnival Parade Bite on Canal Street

Navigating the chains and duds on the major New Orleans thoroughfare

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The Canal Street streetcar
| Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A century ago, Canal Street was a swank retail hub for New Orleanians. The wide avenue, with its pronounced neutral ground, was home to fancy department stores like Maison Blanche and D. H. Holmes, places where ladies lunched and shopped for daywear and Mardi Gras gowns. Like so many downtown shopping streets, Canal Street floundered as shoppers hit the suburbs and the urban economy downturned. Save for the opening of the Shops at Canal Place in 1983, Canal Street lost its luster.

That’s changing. New hotels and restaurants, as well as branded retail, are transforming the street for the good. Of course, eating along Canal is also getting better. While the street has not entirely lost its grit, there is more to munch on than fast food and greasy burgers. This line up offers plenty of options, whether you are on Canal Street pre-parades, before a show at the Orpheum or Saenger, or out for a stroll. Note: the tragic and ongoing disaster at Canal and Rampart affects businesses in every direction. There’s no better time to support those folks who make their livelihood on this thoroughfare.

Did we miss your favorite spot on Lower Canal Street? Leave a comment or send an email.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine & Grocery

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Cleo’s has long been a destination for vegetarians, service industry folks, and anyone with a penchant for excellent hummus. It serves up some of the best Mediterranean food in the city all day and night in the Canal Street location, which opened in 2018 just around the corner from the original. Even with the addition of a more traditional restaurant location in the French Quarter last year, the Cleo’s on Canal is still high-quality, open 24/7, and connected to a solid convenience store.

The Ruby Slipper Cafe

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This local chain, founded here in 2008, is known for a great brunch, a potent bloody Mary, and creative eggs Benedicts with plenty of Southern flare. Ruby Slipper serves a terrific bananas foster pain perdu, there’s a kids’ menu, and a full range of eye opening cocktails. Open for breakfast and lunch only.

Tempt is the breakfast, lunch and dinner joint in the sassy Saint Hotel, a handsome space facing Canal Street. The menu is kind of funny — everything is “wicked”; “sexy”; or an “aphrodisiac.” The burgers and sandwiches are tasty and the variety — from shrimp and grits to boudin balls and salads — gets the job done.

The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

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The very ritzy Ritz-Carlton on Canal offers a produce-driven experience at M Bistro with an emphasis on local ingredients and French and Creole specialties including shrimp and grits and bouillabaisse. At Davenport Lounge — where crooner Jeremy Davenport holds sway — light fare and cocktails are served to the sounds of live jazz. It’s a kid-friendly music and eats experience too.

Grilled octopus salad from M Bistro
The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans/Facebook

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse

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Handsome gauchos delivering meat on swords, check. All you can eat steak, chicken, lamb and sausages, check. This Brazilian steakhouse, or churrascaria, has been delighting carnivores since 1979, with the New Orleans location of Fogo de Chao opened since 2015. For about $50 it’s all you can devour, along with a sizable salad, grain and veg bar.

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

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Ok, so it’s a chain, but it started here (in Arabi!) and the marinated fried bird is legend. For a budget refuel — two pieces with a side and damn good biscuit — Popeye’s delivers. The lines for the occasionally available chicken sandwich make national news — and check this, the company just launched its own fashion line inspired by Beyonce, a fan with a free chicken for life VIP card.

Palace Café

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Dickie Brennan’s Palace Cafe has delivered solid Creole cuisine at the foot of Canal since 1991. From a lively jazz brunch to a good deal happy hour, this tasty spot is rock solid. Try the signature crab cheesecake, get the scallops with coconut rice and for dessert, say yes to the cafe au lait creme brulee. Street views from the second floor are a bonus.

Jazz brunch at Palace Cafe
Palace Cafe/Official

New Orleans Marriott

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This conference hotel offers a surprisingly inviting lobby eatery, 55 Fahrenheit, with menu items like charbroiled oysters and redfish tacos. Super happy hour deals from 5 to 7 p.m., daily. From gumbo to crab cakes, red beans and rice to pizza, the menu is a crowd pleaser. For breakfast and lunch, 5fifty5 is the hotel cafe.

Shake Shack

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Shack Shake brings Danny Meyer’s fast casual homage to the all-American burger to Canal Place and it’s good stuff. Meyer is an epic hospitality figure and this concept, which went public in 2014, as a hot dog cart in Central Park in 2001. SS now sells $455 million in burgers, fries and shakes annually — and Kelly Field is in the house too — her chocolate chip cookies from Willa Jean are for dessert.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Morton's The Steakhouse

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It’s a chain, but in this case that means that Morton’s delivers consistent quality in an upscale setting, just about every time you dine. Happy hour is 5 to 6:30 p.m. every day but Saturday, with $7-9 apps (steak tacos, wedge salad bites) and reduced drink prices. The regular menu is a pricier, but the quality is top shelf.

The Westin New Orleans

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Recently treated to a $30 million renovation, the sparkling redone Westin dishes two show-stopping venues, Observatory Eleven, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant with sweeping river views and Bistro on the Bend, a breakfast lunch and dinner spot, also on the 11th floor. Both are wows, with diners treated to floor-to ceiling vistas and a menu of Creole and Cajun-inspired dishes.

The new BIstro at the Bend in the Westin
Westin

Harrah's Casino New Orleans

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Enter Harrah’s from Canal Street and the one sure thing to expect is good eats. That door is the portal to not one but two great steakhouses, a noodle bar, a few cafes for a quick bite, an Acme Oyster House and a buffet, if that’s your jam. Gordon Biersch, a brew pub with straight ahead American fare and Grand Isle, a wonderful seafood restaurant, are also under the Harrah’s umbrella.

Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine & Grocery

Cleo’s has long been a destination for vegetarians, service industry folks, and anyone with a penchant for excellent hummus. It serves up some of the best Mediterranean food in the city all day and night in the Canal Street location, which opened in 2018 just around the corner from the original. Even with the addition of a more traditional restaurant location in the French Quarter last year, the Cleo’s on Canal is still high-quality, open 24/7, and connected to a solid convenience store.

The Ruby Slipper Cafe

This local chain, founded here in 2008, is known for a great brunch, a potent bloody Mary, and creative eggs Benedicts with plenty of Southern flare. Ruby Slipper serves a terrific bananas foster pain perdu, there’s a kids’ menu, and a full range of eye opening cocktails. Open for breakfast and lunch only.

Tempt

Tempt is the breakfast, lunch and dinner joint in the sassy Saint Hotel, a handsome space facing Canal Street. The menu is kind of funny — everything is “wicked”; “sexy”; or an “aphrodisiac.” The burgers and sandwiches are tasty and the variety — from shrimp and grits to boudin balls and salads — gets the job done.

The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

Grilled octopus salad from M Bistro
The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans/Facebook

The very ritzy Ritz-Carlton on Canal offers a produce-driven experience at M Bistro with an emphasis on local ingredients and French and Creole specialties including shrimp and grits and bouillabaisse. At Davenport Lounge — where crooner Jeremy Davenport holds sway — light fare and cocktails are served to the sounds of live jazz. It’s a kid-friendly music and eats experience too.

Grilled octopus salad from M Bistro
The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans/Facebook

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse

Handsome gauchos delivering meat on swords, check. All you can eat steak, chicken, lamb and sausages, check. This Brazilian steakhouse, or churrascaria, has been delighting carnivores since 1979, with the New Orleans location of Fogo de Chao opened since 2015. For about $50 it’s all you can devour, along with a sizable salad, grain and veg bar.

Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

Ok, so it’s a chain, but it started here (in Arabi!) and the marinated fried bird is legend. For a budget refuel — two pieces with a side and damn good biscuit — Popeye’s delivers. The lines for the occasionally available chicken sandwich make national news — and check this, the company just launched its own fashion line inspired by Beyonce, a fan with a free chicken for life VIP card.

Palace Café

Jazz brunch at Palace Cafe
Palace Cafe/Official

Dickie Brennan’s Palace Cafe has delivered solid Creole cuisine at the foot of Canal since 1991. From a lively jazz brunch to a good deal happy hour, this tasty spot is rock solid. Try the signature crab cheesecake, get the scallops with coconut rice and for dessert, say yes to the cafe au lait creme brulee. Street views from the second floor are a bonus.

Jazz brunch at Palace Cafe
Palace Cafe/Official

New Orleans Marriott

This conference hotel offers a surprisingly inviting lobby eatery, 55 Fahrenheit, with menu items like charbroiled oysters and redfish tacos. Super happy hour deals from 5 to 7 p.m., daily. From gumbo to crab cakes, red beans and rice to pizza, the menu is a crowd pleaser. For breakfast and lunch, 5fifty5 is the hotel cafe.

Shake Shack

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Shack Shake brings Danny Meyer’s fast casual homage to the all-American burger to Canal Place and it’s good stuff. Meyer is an epic hospitality figure and this concept, which went public in 2014, as a hot dog cart in Central Park in 2001. SS now sells $455 million in burgers, fries and shakes annually — and Kelly Field is in the house too — her chocolate chip cookies from Willa Jean are for dessert.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Morton's The Steakhouse

It’s a chain, but in this case that means that Morton’s delivers consistent quality in an upscale setting, just about every time you dine. Happy hour is 5 to 6:30 p.m. every day but Saturday, with $7-9 apps (steak tacos, wedge salad bites) and reduced drink prices. The regular menu is a pricier, but the quality is top shelf.

The Westin New Orleans

The new BIstro at the Bend in the Westin
Westin

Recently treated to a $30 million renovation, the sparkling redone Westin dishes two show-stopping venues, Observatory Eleven, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant with sweeping river views and Bistro on the Bend, a breakfast lunch and dinner spot, also on the 11th floor. Both are wows, with diners treated to floor-to ceiling vistas and a menu of Creole and Cajun-inspired dishes.

The new BIstro at the Bend in the Westin
Westin

Harrah's Casino New Orleans

Enter Harrah’s from Canal Street and the one sure thing to expect is good eats. That door is the portal to not one but two great steakhouses, a noodle bar, a few cafes for a quick bite, an Acme Oyster House and a buffet, if that’s your jam. Gordon Biersch, a brew pub with straight ahead American fare and Grand Isle, a wonderful seafood restaurant, are also under the Harrah’s umbrella.

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