The 38 Essential New Orleans Restaurants, April 2014
Here, now, we present to you the updated Eater 38, our answer to any question that becomes with, "Can you recommend a restaurant..." This list is not the 38 best restaurants in our fine city, but it instead seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of where you can get a great meal regardless of mood. It covers the entire city with some lagniappe love for the West Bank, spans myriad cuisines and should satisfy all of your restaurant needs. These are listed here in no particular order. These restaurants are not where you would go for a big occasion, so no fine dining.
Coming off the map this month after lengthy durations on the Eater 38 are Stanley and Kyoto, while Casamento's bows out due to their approaching end-of-season. All making a debut appearance on this Eater 38 update: Taj Mahal, Stein's Deli, and Noodle & Pie.
Every quarter, we update this list with any restaurants that were omitted, have become newly eligible (all restaurants must have been open 6 months to appear on this list), or have improved and now warrant being included. So send your tips and your nominations right here.
· All Eater 38 Coverage [-ENOLA-]
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Cafe Reconcile underwent some serious renovations in 2012 to achieve its current beauteous lunch-serving state in Central City. To say it’s great food for a great cause doesn’t do justice to Reconcile’s operation or mission. Even if it wasn’t a successful job training program for at-risk kids, the food here would still be incredibly delicious, old-school New Orleans soul food.
Located in an unassuming strip mall in the center of a vibrant Vietnamese community in New Orleans East, Ba Mien features dishes from Northern, Central and Southern Vietnam.
Classic cafe fare, with sandwiches, salads, soups, etc, along with some great baked goods that are good any time of day. Open until 9pm every day except Sunday, Il Posto is an oft-overlooked spot for a glass of wine and a tasty dinner
New Orleans was slow to get on the burger bandwagon, but as of 2013, we're being run over by it. Cowbell rises above the competition. Open since late 2010, they still have a strong following that goes well beyond the uptown college crowd, and their menu has a slew of incredible sandwiches too.
Tan Dinh has more than just the ubiquitous Vietnamese fare. Sure, the pho and banh mi here are excellent. But regulars know that the house specialties, like the goat curry, are where it's at. Also, if you go crazy for calamari, their fried squid with jalapenos is on point.
New American, gastropub-style restaurant in the Quarter helmed by Chef Alex Harrell. Widely acclaimed as a very high-end restaurant at a price point that’s high but not terrifying.
A boucherie is a traditional Cajun day of partying and pig butchery (remember that episode of No Reservations), and Nathanial Zimet’s eponymous restaurant is a fitting (and delicious) tribute to this tradition.
Small plates and entrees both meaty and vegetarian combine for an eclectic and impressive menu at this Frenchmen Street venue. The focus here is on the music as much as the food—both are great—making it a quintessential New Orleans experience.
Some call them the best po’ boys in town. It’s Obama endorsed. And the line to the order window tends to wrap throughout the entire dining room towards the door. So they must be doing something right.
It’s barbeque, beautiful, delicious, wonderful barbeque that draws all sorts of people all the way down to the Upper Ninth Ward. Zagat loves it. Saints players love it. You should love it, too.
Amazing fried chicken, often called the best in town (or even the best in the country). Though it’s a little out of the way for many people, way on the edge of the Faubourg Treme, the food and atmosphere are quintessential New Orleans, among the best you’ll find in town.
One of the few NY-style pies in town, and honestly, the best. But don't discount the salads, pastas, and even the cookies. All are worth a try at this pop-up turned permanently awesome Bywater institution.
This is so much more than a cheese shop. With a short menu of sandwiches and salads (plus the “ploughman’s lunch,” a selection of cheeses, pork pie, chutney, salad and bread), this is a small and comfortable spot to grab a bite to eat. It closes at 6 during the week, but is open until 8 Friday and Saturday nights, making it a good spot for an early dinner (read: date night) before catching a movie at the Prytania.
This Mid City staple doesn't just excel at pizza, though the pies are great. If you've never been the mixed grill is a must order, with a selection of housemade Cajun sausages. Also of note: macaroni and cheese, jambalaya, pot pies, and a great beer selection.
Cochon Butcher is not just a fantastic butcher shop and deli hiding behind Donald Link's famed Cochon, but it's home to crazy good small plates, a pretty decent bar, rock star Rick Slave, and the best sandwiches in town. From duck pastrami sliders to muffulettas, these eats satisfy for lunch or dinner.
At this Faubourg Marigny bar and music spot, Heathcliffe Hailey offers tapas that go well beyond regular bar food, rivaling the best of any traditional tapas bar. Get there early and enjoy your food in a relatively quiet and peaceful bar setting, or get there late, dance your ass off, and feed your soul. Get the patatas bravas and thank us later.
It’s impossible to say any shop has the best po’ boys, but the ones at Domilise’s make a strong claim to that title. They’re expensive for po’ boys, but they’re large and worth every penny.
For Spanish food, this is the best bet in town. Delicious paella, plentiful sangria, and walls adorned with art for sale. Watch out for the bread, though: It’s not free, even though the servers will just keep bringing it as if it was on the house.
Another Faubourg Treme landmark famous for its soul food and its lunch buffet, Dooky Chase is now run by Paris-trained chef, Edgar Chase, grandson of founder Leah Chase. The fried chicken rivals that at nearby Willie Mae’s, and the fried catfish will be some of the best you’ve ever had.
Juan’s bills itself as a “Creole Tacqueria,” which is a pretty accurate description of this funky burrito joint on an increasingly interesting stretch of Magazine St. Combining all sorts of flavors and ingredients into normal Mexican dishes like tacos and quesadillas, Juan’s also offers regular happy hour specials on margs and mojitos.
A favorite destination on the now-busy stretch of Freret, Ancora is the only true Neapolitan pizzeria in town. It's part of the ever-expanding restaurant empire of chef Adolfo Garcia, but these guys know how to do it right. The specials, from gnocchi to market salads, are all worth it.
For most people, The Company Burger is the reigning king of the New Orleansburger joints. It doesn't hurt that chef/owner Adam Biderman opened the shop after serving as the opening chef de cuisine at famed Atlanta spot Holeman & Finch. He was responsible for the uber-famous burger there, and his solo venture in New Orleans does not disappoint.
This coffee shop down in the Bywater is known to have a line out the door for breakfast, lunch, coffee and juice. It does all of the above very well, along with having a ridiculous amount of hipster regulars.
Opened in January 2012 by a crew of "fine dining refugees" including chef Michael Doyle (formerly the sous chef at Dante's Kitchen), Maurepas Foods does fine dining quality food without any of the fuss or price. The focus is very much on the freshness of the ingredients, especially the veggies, and the cocktails are absolutely some of the most innovative in town.
Open seven days a week, and known for al fresco dining ala Bywater with live music, skeeters, and a slew of rickety furniture, Chef Joaquin Chef Joaquin Rodas offers a seasonal menu of exquisite small plates on the cheap ($12 seared scallops? hey) and owner Chris Rudge continues to amaze with a great wine selection in the cool brick storefront that's overcome quite a lot of issues in the past couple years.
A meat-centric spot by former Cuvee chef Isaac Toups and his wife Amanda. House-cured meats and house-made sausages (plus the BEST cracklins in town) are must-orders. All things are unique here, from the barbecue goat entree to the myriad Doberge cake flavors.
Banana Blossom is a small, fairly austere restaurant located in a stripmall in Terrytown. But in an area with few Thai options, they're known for being pretty good and inexpensive. The roti, spicy clams, and various seafood dishes have gained many a fan since the cafe opened in 2009, including critics like Ian McNulty, the Blackened Out boys, and chef Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's.
The Deep South-inspired casual eatery by Adolfo Garcia and Chip Apperson on Freret Street blends New Orleans classics with Delta-inspired dishes. Think cornhusk tamales, pimento cheese plates and fried catfish with hushpuppies. Mixologist Ryan Iriarte occasionally hosts a popular after hours drink pop-up with original cocktails.
West Africa meets Europe, Asia, and the Tropics at this cafe in the Warehouse District, offering a range of non gut-busting dishes. This is perhaps the only restaurant in New Orleans that actually caters to vegans and vegetarians, but exotic flavors and produce that aren't so easily found on the New Orleans dining scene make it a destination for all.
The iconic Carrollton Avenue eatery has undergone a serious upgrade in the past few years with the addition of chef Brad McGeehee, who doesn't just source locally, but in-house, creating daily specials showcasing produce (and eggs) from the restaurant's own farm. Not your thing? Po' boys and beer are still an excellent option here.
This Bywater restaurant serves Stumptown coffee and local pastries for breakfast, and a variety of street food, from ceviche to banh mi, for lunch and dinner. They also boast a solid cocktail program, usually with drink specials on the cheap. Their "Bywaterloo" instillations in the bathroom have showcased local artists, painters, and even bounce star Big Freedia.
No frills, just excellent jerk chicken, callaloo, and plantains like you get at Jazz Fest. The restaurant itself is not much to look at, besides that one poster of a Jamaican lady in a wet shirt bordering on porn-quality (maybe don't bring the kids), but the service is friendly and the "patty" pies are great too. Avoid the lunch buffet, and just order off the menu.
This classic family-owned, neighborhood haunt in Mid City serves giant frozen mugs of soda and beer, huge helpings of red beans and rice, pasta, all the fried seafood you cold ask for, and a killer shrimp remoulade. That's not even including the myriad daily specials. Plus, there are frozen bushwhackers! Bring the entire family and cram into the dining room with the rest of New Orleans.
For a taste of authentic Columbian comfort food, arepas in particular, head to this Central City eatery from former-Baru partner David Mantilla. There is nowhere else in town quite like it.
The team behind Iris chef Ian Schnoebelen and Laurie Casebonne run this casual, yet refined Italian restaurant in the Bywater, serving pizzas, pastas, and raw bar offerings that won't break the bank, but are certain to impress.