Seafood is a birthright here in New Orleans, where the Gulf waters inform every aspect of the culinary landscape. The city’s chefs wrangle an embarrassment of crustaceans, mollusks, and finned fish every which way: broiled, fried, sautéed, and richly sauced. While po’ boys and platters overflowing with fried oysters, catfish, and shrimp are impossible to resist, this line-up delivers decadent seafood treats served in places special enough for date night, venues best reserved for a celebratory evening.Read More
Where to Splurge on Seafood in New Orleans
The best New Orleans restaurants specializing in over-the-top, decadent feasts from the sea
For those on the other side of the Lake, Tchefuncte’s in Madisonville impresses beyond date night — it’s downright proposal worthy. That’s partly the stylish surroundings but mostly chef Ryan Gall’s innate sense of making seafood sing. His menu includes steelhead crudo with lemon cream fraiche, diver sea scallops with a spiced mango chutney and fresh squid ink ravioli with crab and ricotta.
Station 6 is a seafood-centric restaurant in funky Bucktown close to the lake. The founder hails from a family of fishermen, and the photos around the restaurant tell the tale. From garlicky crawfish boils in season to crab on crab, a special that features lump crabmeat on a fried soft shell that always sells out — this seafood spot delivers the goods.
Try rare imported fish at the occasion-worthy Yakuza House, chef Huy Pham’s groundbreaking sushi hub in Metairie. Dressed nigiri are works of art, centering proteins like cuttlefish, salmon belly, yellowtail, fatty bluefin, saltwater eel, and more. Sashimi serves as another vessel to try some of the freshest fish in town, as does the wide range of temaki handrolls. For a special splurge, choose the omakase option which serves 10 to 12 courses; heavily featuring nigiri.
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James Beard Award-winning chef Sue Zemanick’s Zasu is approachable but upscale, with the feel of a neighborhood bistro. While every item on the tight, thoughtful menu expertly showcases Zemanick and company’s talent, it particularly shines through dishes like sea scallops with roasted grapes, pickled sultanas, and cauliflower-almond puree; sunflower seed-crusted grouper with vegetables, chickpeas, and green harissa; and Ora king salmon with shiitakes, bok choy, crispy rice, and charred scallion-ginger broth.
Sustainability is the driver at GW Fins, where chef Michael Nelson is a leading proponent for Gulf-to-plate dining and using the entire fish in innovative ways. His delicious tempura fin wings are one example of how this kitchen walks the walk. The seafood gumbo swims with sea creatures from local waters, including crab, shrimp, and oysters. Served with a scoop of potato salad, Cajun style, this version of gumbo is one of the very best in town.
Seafood is the name of the game at Galatoire’s, from the crab Maison and shrimp remoulade starters to lump crab-topped pompano, soft shell crab, and trout. Options are endless at this grandiose tradition, where regulars soak up a convivial scene of table-hopping, martini drinking, hoots of laughter, and lots of happy birthday singing.
Love this bustling French brasserie so perfect for pre-theater dinner and a lively date night. Luke offers an extensive raw bar known for one of the city’s best seafood towers, along with BBQ P&J oysters, a fried oyster salad, and shrimp etouffee. Try the Asian take on moules frites, Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with chili garlic and thyme served with french fries.
Miss River, the show-stopping Four Seasons restaurant from Alon Shaya, has an upscale menu that pays tribute to the waterways of Louisiana, from river to lake to Gulf. A few examples are a Grand Plateau of Louisiana seafood that feeds four; redfish court bouillon with oysters, crab, and shrimp; and blackened Gulf snapper with spinach, Creole mustard, and whipped cauliflower pureé.
King Brasserie + Bar
King opened in spring 2023 in the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot as a sister restaurant to the vibrant Peacock Room. Chef Samuel Peery’s menu is a seafood splurge dream: There’s a stacked raw bar menu including a soaring seafood tower, lobster bouillabaisse, and grilled whole fish with herb pistou. An exciting dessert menu involves many French techniques, with tarts and entremet complemented by fresh sorbet and ice cream.
Expect seafood dishes that blend the Caribbean with French technique and a whole lot of creativity from Nina Compton, like tuna ceviche with yucca, broiled shrimp with Calabrian chile butter, and a gorgeous pompano with jerk carrot. Splurge on a mix of shareable small and large plates to share, look out for any seafood specials and don’t miss the seasonal cocktails.
The Ace Hotel’s marquee oyster destination is just that — a true destination for all things seafood: chilled, raw, ceviche-d, boiled, fried, and roasted. It’s one of few places in town to find a few specific things: a seafood tower with oysters, shrimp, and crab claws; oysters that come from places other than the Gulf (here they come from the East Coast, West Coast, and beyond); and a shrimp or lobster roll. The Gulf fish preparation is well done, as is the cioppino entree. Try to snag a spot in the courtyard as opposed to the narrow dining room, and don’t forget the hushpuppies.
Pêche Seafood Grill
With the same unflinching focus they apply to piggy goodness at Cochon, chef/owners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski troll for seafood at Peche, an industrial chic eatery in the Warehouse District. This place is all about local and line-caught seafood, most of it cooked on a hardwood fire grill. Chef/partner Ryan Prewitt, who was named Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation, delivers intriguing dishes like grilled tuna with butternut squash and almonds and baked drum with coconut and greens. The whole grilled fish is always a good idea.
Chef Marcus Woodham orchestrates a Gulf and farm to table menu at The Bower, an inviting space in the Lower Garden District with a lovely outdoor patio and chill vibe, inside and out. His tuna tartare with cucumber and avocado is accented with Asian flavors, including goji berries and a yuzu and mirin vinaigrette. Then there’s a whole roasted branzino with black rice and fennel and a spectacular seared scallops option with farro, Maggie mushroom conserva, hot coppa, and basil. Really, everything is so good.
Pigeon and Whale
This recently-opened Freret Street restaurant does not limit itself to the traditional bounties of the Gulf: There’s lobster from Maine on a warm, tarragon-laced lobster roll; chargrilled mussels from Prince Edward Island; steamed Atlantic clams in a curry broth; and raw oysters from three coasts — most from the East and West coasts, with only one or two varieties from the Gulf. Plump, substantial octopus tentacles are grilled to tenderness, and jumbo scallops from the North Atlantic are seared in crab fat. The clamshell vessel and accouterments for caviar service follow a theme of sea creature-themed decor dotted throughout the ship-like space.
Mosquito Supper Club
Melissa Martin’s Mosquito Supper Club in the Milan neighborhood honors the seafood-rich cuisine of Louisiana, serving food that’s been passed down through generations in a homey, eclectic space. The restaurant celebrates Gulf coast seafood with items like raw oysters, shrimp okra gumbo, oyster soup, stuffed crab, fried shrimp boulettes, and more — the menu changes often, but always heavily features seafood.
Chef Meg Bickford puts a spin on Creole dishes along with honoring the standards that make Commander’s Palace such an experience. Besides the Creole seafood gumbo and turtle soup, there’s a pecan-crusted fish topped with Prosecco poached jumbo lump crab, and a garlic and pepper seared shrimp made with wild Louisiana white shrimp, served with autumn vegetables and smokey tomato butter.
Because Serigne Mbaye’s dazzling Dakar NOLA bridges the coastal capital of Senegal and Louisiana through cuisine, his tasting menu dinners rely heavily on the bounty of seafood. Dishes might include soupa konja topped with lump crabmeat; red snapper yassa served with roff, parsley oil, and onion mustard sauce; and crab-laced black-eyed peas braised in palm oil, a special dish that is Mbaye’s homage to what is known as the Last Meal. Dakar NOLA holds one seating per evening, Wednesday through Saturday.
Dine at LUVI’s chef counter and watch chef Hao Gong’s mastery of seafood in a range of preparations, from the many raw bar options to double fried yellowtail collar. While the menu covers Japanese and Chinese noodle and soup specialties, Gong especially nails dishes of raw and nearly raw fish — try the Monkey Snack, a salmon and sesame encrusted banana, and the Feed me a la Carte off the raw bar menu for the full experience (as well as any specials).