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An heirloom tomato salad from Oxlot 9
Oxlot 9/Official

The Essential Restaurants of Covington

Cross the Causeway to an impressive dining destination

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An heirloom tomato salad from Oxlot 9
| Oxlot 9/Official

Cross the 24-mile Causeway over Lake Pontchartrain, and be ready to be quietly dazzled. Just 45 minutes’ drive but a world away from New Orleans, the towns like St. Tammany Parish – Abita Springs, Covington, Folsom, Lacombe, Madisonville, Mandeville, and Slidell are more than bedroom communities for the Big Easy. All have good food (shout out to Hambone and Lakehouse in Mandeville), but Covington is a true dining destination.

With some 30 restaurants dishing everything from crispy spear-caught pompano to the best chicken salad you ever ate, Covington is worth the time. Anchored by Del Porto, Oxlot 9 and Lola, with chef Pat Gallagher at Gallagher’s Grill just up the road, there are also more casual spots serving Thai, Cuban and Japanese eats, and mom-and-pop po’ boy spots within easy strolling distance.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Shack

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Big, bold island-inspired flavors supercharged chef Thomas “LoLo” LoPresti’s menu at this fetching, funky spot. The Shack riffs on LoPresti’s Caribbean roots - he met his partner and wife Christine Clouatre when she was in St. Croix post-Katrina. Think comfort food with Latin flair, including a fine Cubano, lime tequila-glazed shrimp and carne asada tacos on house corn tortillas. Bonus: there’s a nice backyard, making for a super family friendly scene.

Newish Japanese restaurant Aki rolls the freshest and prettiest sushi on the Northshore. Wowing even sushi snobs and L.A. transplants, chef Oui commands the counter and his wife Lin runs front of the house. Pristine sashimi and sushi are the draws here, served au natural or in dishes like the Atlantic salmon, with a fan of striped fish swabbed with ponzu and a hint of truffle oil. Try a bento box for lunch.

Lola chefs Keith and Nealy Frentz have been upping the culinary bar in Covington for a decade, creating game-changing New Louisiana fare at this stylish downtown train depot-turned-restaurant. At lunch, tuck into homespun baked goods and from-scratch platters (tip: get the chicken salad). For dinner, expect a white tablecloth setting with crispy wild catfish with collards or seared scallops with a silky sweet corn veloute.

Louisiana seafood curry
Lola/Facebook

Gavin Job creates some powerful good wood-fired pizza at his modern Italian eatery Meribo, a loose translation of “southern food” to Italian. That means you might see collard greens and local mushrooms on that wood-fired pizza and a crawfish boil gnocchi made with Louisiana crawfish tails and sweet corn. The fusilli with confit chicken, pesto and tomatoes is a beautiful thing, too. If you’re on the New Orleans side of the lake, there’s a second Meribo in the spiffy Pythian Market in the CBD.

Bear's Restaurant

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You’ll need at least two napkins, maybe three, after a gravy-soaked roast beef po’ boy at Bear’s, a local institution and the gold standard for po’ boys on the Northshore. Really all the po’ boys are just about perfect, served on Leidenheimer French bread, natch. Get the hand battered onion rings, fried to order.

Roast beef po-boy
Bear’s/Official Photo

Oxlot 9

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Chef Jeffrey Hansell and wife Amy are the talent behind white-table cloth eatery Oxlot 9 in Covington’s posh Southern Hotel. Hansell, a native of Waveland, Mississippi, dishes creative coastal-inspired Southern fare, supported by an impressive cocktail program. The restaurant is pricy but worth it, thanks to polished dishes such as Royal Red shrimp ceviche with avocado, pan-fried Louisiana rabbit with house tasso and mozzarella. Sunday jazz brunch is an affordable way to enjoy this special spot.

Heritage pork chop
Oxlot 9/Facebook

Del Porto

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Take one bite of the house-made tagliatelle with locally foraged mushrooms and truffled mushroom jus, and it’s crystal clear why Del Porto chef/owners David and Torre Solazzo are three-time James Beard semifinalists for Best Chef in the South. Sophisticated, flavorful and gorgeously composed contemporary Italian plates will please to no end, while the yellowfin crudo and seafood risotto are swoon-worthy.

Gallagher's Grill

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Chef Pat Gallagher, one of the Northshore’s favorite chefs, produces top-notch steaks and seafood at Gallagher’s Grill locations in Covington and Mandeville, with a third restaurant coming soon in Slidell. Gallagher’s warmth and hospitality radiates at his neighborhood grills, serving one of the best steaks on either side of the lake. Don’t miss the key lime pie.

Pho Cong Noodles & Grill

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Don’t go to Pho Cong Noodle & Grill for the ambiance, because there’s none. But this new Vietnamese place in a highway strip center is the real deal, owned by members of the Dong Phuong family, of New Orleans’ Dong Phuong Bakery fame. There’s good pho, and the bacon wrapped torpedo shrimp isn’t traditional but it’s damn good.

The Dakota

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The Northshore’s oldest fine dining restaurant can come off a tad stuffy, but the food coming out of the Dakota kitchen is lit, thanks to chef Kim Kringlie’s creative heft in the kitchen. Jackets are suggested (but not required), but in any case, it’s a menu worth gussying up for. The lump crabmeat and brie soup is ridiculous good, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the seasonally forward menu.

The Shack

Big, bold island-inspired flavors supercharged chef Thomas “LoLo” LoPresti’s menu at this fetching, funky spot. The Shack riffs on LoPresti’s Caribbean roots - he met his partner and wife Christine Clouatre when she was in St. Croix post-Katrina. Think comfort food with Latin flair, including a fine Cubano, lime tequila-glazed shrimp and carne asada tacos on house corn tortillas. Bonus: there’s a nice backyard, making for a super family friendly scene.

Aki

Newish Japanese restaurant Aki rolls the freshest and prettiest sushi on the Northshore. Wowing even sushi snobs and L.A. transplants, chef Oui commands the counter and his wife Lin runs front of the house. Pristine sashimi and sushi are the draws here, served au natural or in dishes like the Atlantic salmon, with a fan of striped fish swabbed with ponzu and a hint of truffle oil. Try a bento box for lunch.

Lola

Louisiana seafood curry
Lola/Facebook

Lola chefs Keith and Nealy Frentz have been upping the culinary bar in Covington for a decade, creating game-changing New Louisiana fare at this stylish downtown train depot-turned-restaurant. At lunch, tuck into homespun baked goods and from-scratch platters (tip: get the chicken salad). For dinner, expect a white tablecloth setting with crispy wild catfish with collards or seared scallops with a silky sweet corn veloute.

Louisiana seafood curry
Lola/Facebook

Meribo

Gavin Job creates some powerful good wood-fired pizza at his modern Italian eatery Meribo, a loose translation of “southern food” to Italian. That means you might see collard greens and local mushrooms on that wood-fired pizza and a crawfish boil gnocchi made with Louisiana crawfish tails and sweet corn. The fusilli with confit chicken, pesto and tomatoes is a beautiful thing, too. If you’re on the New Orleans side of the lake, there’s a second Meribo in the spiffy Pythian Market in the CBD.

Bear's Restaurant

Roast beef po-boy
Bear’s/Official Photo

You’ll need at least two napkins, maybe three, after a gravy-soaked roast beef po’ boy at Bear’s, a local institution and the gold standard for po’ boys on the Northshore. Really all the po’ boys are just about perfect, served on Leidenheimer French bread, natch. Get the hand battered onion rings, fried to order.

Roast beef po-boy
Bear’s/Official Photo

Oxlot 9

Heritage pork chop
Oxlot 9/Facebook

Chef Jeffrey Hansell and wife Amy are the talent behind white-table cloth eatery Oxlot 9 in Covington’s posh Southern Hotel. Hansell, a native of Waveland, Mississippi, dishes creative coastal-inspired Southern fare, supported by an impressive cocktail program. The restaurant is pricy but worth it, thanks to polished dishes such as Royal Red shrimp ceviche with avocado, pan-fried Louisiana rabbit with house tasso and mozzarella. Sunday jazz brunch is an affordable way to enjoy this special spot.

Heritage pork chop
Oxlot 9/Facebook

Del Porto

Take one bite of the house-made tagliatelle with locally foraged mushrooms and truffled mushroom jus, and it’s crystal clear why Del Porto chef/owners David and Torre Solazzo are three-time James Beard semifinalists for Best Chef in the South. Sophisticated, flavorful and gorgeously composed contemporary Italian plates will please to no end, while the yellowfin crudo and seafood risotto are swoon-worthy.

Gallagher's Grill

Chef Pat Gallagher, one of the Northshore’s favorite chefs, produces top-notch steaks and seafood at Gallagher’s Grill locations in Covington and Mandeville, with a third restaurant coming soon in Slidell. Gallagher’s warmth and hospitality radiates at his neighborhood grills, serving one of the best steaks on either side of the lake. Don’t miss the key lime pie.

Pho Cong Noodles & Grill

Don’t go to Pho Cong Noodle & Grill for the ambiance, because there’s none. But this new Vietnamese place in a highway strip center is the real deal, owned by members of the Dong Phuong family, of New Orleans’ Dong Phuong Bakery fame. There’s good pho, and the bacon wrapped torpedo shrimp isn’t traditional but it’s damn good.

The Dakota

The Northshore’s oldest fine dining restaurant can come off a tad stuffy, but the food coming out of the Dakota kitchen is lit, thanks to chef Kim Kringlie’s creative heft in the kitchen. Jackets are suggested (but not required), but in any case, it’s a menu worth gussying up for. The lump crabmeat and brie soup is ridiculous good, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the seasonally forward menu.

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