The 38 Essential New Orleans' Restaurants, January 2013
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. While Domenica's happy hour truly kicks ass, they yield this month to Freret Street's casual Chicago style pizza parlor The Midway. Cochon has been removed from the list, though Donald Link's more affordable option, Cochon Butcher, remains. And after several complaints about Mandina's not being so hot lately, the charbroiled oyster destination, Drago's comes onto the list.
Every quarter, we'll 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 here.
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All the hot dogs your heart (and stomach) could desire. Also sausages and other sorts of deliciousness. Dat Dog quickly outgrew its little storefront in the first year of business, and moved into its current digs, which also serves boozy booze. Next up, expansion to Magazine.
Cafe Reconcile has been undergoing some heavy duty renovations, and by the end of January, they'll be serving lunch again 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.
This spot in Gretna doesn’t look like much, in a shopping center with a couple sketchy businesses and a boarded-up bowling alley. But the pho is outstanding, and folks living on the East Bank make the drive across the river in droves for that and the banh mi.
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. It’s also worth tracking down Boucherie’s food truck, The Que Crawl.
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.
Jacques-Imo’s brags about its “bad food, warm beer, and lousy service,” but in reality it offers nothing of the sort. Most of the menu is straight-up Creole, among the best in town. It’s a popular date spot for kids from nearby Loyola and Tulane Universities and for regular people alike. The dining room is cramped and you will likely have to wait for a seat, but the Maple Leaf Bar is half a block away, so it’s no big deal.
Popular, casual, and (relatively) inexpensive sushi. The city has a handful of comparable sushi spots (but let’s be honest, nobody comes to New Orleans for the sushi). This one on Prytania draws a healthy following uptown.
Dick & Jenny’s is close to fine dining, but eating in the funky little restaurant in an uptown barge board cottage feels like dining in a friend’s home. It’s a locals’ restaurant, always good for a fun night out.
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.
Helmed by Chef Cindy Crosbie, Mondo is Susan Spicery’s family-oriented restaurant with a cuisine intentionally spanning the continents. (Mondo? Get it? Like “world” cuisine?) Service is comfortable but attentive and the food is great, as expected in a Spicer operation.
This pizza pop-up turned permanently awesome Bywater restaurant is open 7 days a week. Started by a couple of Tulane grads originally from New York, this is one of the few NY-style pies in town.
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.
Not just a pizza joint, this Mid City staple also excels at a variety of straightforward casual fare options like salads, sandwiches, and lately, pot pies. The best (or at least most whimsical) dish? “A Link,” which is one link of sausage, whatever the chef feels like sending your way.
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.
Featured extensively in HBO’s “Treme,” Lil’ Dizzy’s is perfect for a creole or soul food lunch from the lunch buffet. Call for hours.
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.
Like po’ boys, every oyster house can claim to have the best chargrilled oysters in town. But for decor, local renown, and general deliciousness, Casamento’s is hard to beat. You can’t go wrong with the chargrilled or raw oysters or the legendary oyster loaf.
Though it’s primarily a wine bar, The Delachaise has small plates and snacks that are, one, filling enough to have for dinner, and two, delicious enough to bring you here even if you don’t want to drink. The Delachaise offers classic French cafe fare, along with more international offerings like a daily pasta/risotto special, chicken tagine, and Bangkok-style shrimp clemenceau.
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.
The casual counterpart to Scott Boswell's masterpiece, Stella! Because it is a Boswell restaurant, everything is exceptionally well prepared. They have a great reuben and soft shell crab po boy.
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.
Matt Murphy, a Dubliner and the former executive chef at the Ritz, opened The Irish House in an effort to re-create the best public houses in Ireland. The setting is comfortable enough for a couple pints after work, while the menu combines pub staples as well as more innovative, sophisticated dishes.
Opened in January 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. Like at Dante's Kitchen, the focus is very much on the freshness of the ingredients, especially the veggies.
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.
ames Beard Award winning Chef Frank Brigtsen brought this Harahan family restaurant back to life with great local seafood that's fried and then some. The elusive shrimp calas are reason enough to make the trip down Jefferson Highway, because there's really nowhere else you'll find them.
Deep Dish Chicago style pizza from the dudes behind the Kingpin? Yes, sir. It's a friendly, around-the-corner pizza joint on Freret that parents can take their kids to, but still order a craft beer (the parent, not the kids).