It raised more than a few eyebrows when chef Alex Harrell left Sylvain to open his own shop, but that definitely turned out for the best. Angeline wins for its deceptive simplicity, while courting complex flavors, all in a charming Vieux Carre environment. The crispy smoked pork cheeks, Georgia clams with wild boar sausage, and roasted gulf oysters are outstanding starters, while the lamb leg & boudin noir and gulf shrimp & cornflour bucatini are entrees that are not to be missed.
Few found it surprising when Top Chef New Orleans contestant Nina Compton decided to open her restaurant in... New Orleans. What was surprising, though, was how far out of the park she’d hit it with her effort, especially considering that she’d be cooking creole in creole country. The key is the Caribbean influence and Compton’s fastidious technique -- big flavors in tight packages -- not to mention one of the best new cocktail bars in the city. If you can’t get a table, you can always be satisfied with drinks and snacks here, especially the spiced pig ears and the dirty rice arancini.
Across Lake Pontchartrain, the Northshore is starting to up its culinary game. Chefs Carl Schaubhut and Jean-Pierre Guidry, formerly of the kitchens of Cafe Adelaide and Commander's Palace, have brought an Asian-Latin fusion to Covington that has locals lining up out the door, and inspiring waves of New Orleanians to take that trip across the Causeway. The eponymous "bacos" are Asian-inspired tacos served in bao, and that's just the start of the tasty crossovers on this menu. Plus, the cocktail list, created by Lu Brow of Brennan’s (and formerly Cafe Adelaide), is well worth checking out.
The Caribbean Room, stationed in the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, pays homage to its 1940s heyday while still fitting in adroitly with the current NOLA dining scene. The prices aren’t cheap, but it’s worth saving your pennies to sample chef Chris Lusk’s menu, which includes renewed versions of old classics like red snapper Pontchartrain and, of course, the famous Mile-High Pie, which is well worth a trip there.
The NOLA barbecue game gets upped one step higher with the opening of Mid-City’s Blue Oak (in the former Fellini’s space, RIP). It's not doing anything wacky and "inventive," but of course, that’s not what real American barbecue is about. The Blue Oak "low-and-slow" game is on point, with excellent ribs and sandwiches, plus solid sides (go for the roasted Brussels sprouts and thank us later). And don’t ignore the specials board; on one occasion, this writer came across a Flintstone-sized whole steer rib, which was just as fulfilling as it sounds. Consider the gauntlet thrown, other New Orleans barbecue joints.
Emeril Lagasse’s first New Orleans restaurant in 18 years, Meril (named for Lagasse’s daughter) is a globally influenced small-plates restaurant where every dish is under $20. Enjoy fresh pastas, grilled meat and fish, and items from the wood oven like roasted Louisiana oysters and a variety of flatbreads. There’s also a menu of tasty snacks like crispy turkey neck, Louisiana Cajun caviar, and shaved Iberico ham.
Tucked between Cane & Table and Molly’s at the Market on lower Decatur (near the French Market), Trinity is a beautiful space with gorgeous food by chef Michael Isolani and cocktails by Adam Orzechowski. Oysters are available in a variety of ways (the smoked deviled egg preparation is particularly unique), and the rest of the menu is built of seasonal options like duck fat hushpuppies, fried redfish brandade, and Gulf Coast frutti di mare.
Adjacent to the Ace Hotel, Seaworthy serves oysters from the East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast from when it opens at 4pm for happy hour. Try the chilled lobster tail, smoked sturgeon brandade, or steamed littleneck clams, or opt for a seasonal caviar. There are non-pescetarian options as well. Seaworthy gets extra points for being open until 2am and serving food until 1am.
Former Coquette chef de cuisine Mason Hereford’s graffiti-adorned, punk rock sandwich joint is now a James Beard nominee. Ingredients like “Dorito dust” and fried balogna are scattered through the menu, which includes non-sandwich offerings like fried chicken pot pie and a wedge salad with everything bagel seasonings. Don’t miss the deviled eggs with chicken skin cracklins, and the vanilla soft-serve with toppings like data molasses and tahini.
The southern Italian/Sicilian food made by Nick Lama evokes a rustic vibe with local ingredients and a homestyle touch. The charred octopus is a must-try, and the chef specializes in hearty Italian dishes with proteins like lamb, lobster, and pork belly, and a salad menu that may be the most delicious in town. It changes seasonally, so check specifics online.
Housed in a refurbished church, Vessel features an altar-like dark wood bar and stained glass windows. The fresh coastal dishes here are complemented by creative cocktails (some served by the carafe) and a large-format beer list that evokes a friendly, communal dining experience. You'll find housemade pasta dishes like spicy lamb sausage tagliatelle, and desserts like Isot chile Valrhona chocolate cake.
The braintrust behind this Bywater favorite used their summer vacation to expand Pizza D’s space and install a draft system for cocktails. Expansion was imperative, since folks lined up every day for a slice, a whole pie, or pasta, and things were getting cramped. Try the Greg & Mike’s Homemade Meatball or rosemary potato pizzas, or the orecchiette with house-made boar sausage. Selections change daily, but never fear, all menu items are as delicious as the pizza parlor’s name promises.
Located in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Isaac Toups’ second restaurant expands his repertoire from Cajun-focused food to dishes from all over the South. Using Aaron Franklin’s original smoker -- a donation to the museum -- Toups and chef de cuisine David Barbeau provide smoked leg of lamb, foie gras, goat, and other meats. Regional dishes like black eyed peas, sourdough biscuits with crab fat butter, and a big ol’ pile of bone-in fried pork chops round out the menu.
This neighborhood bistro has put out consistently excellent farm-driven dishes since opening, but the arrival of chef Kristen Essig has given Coquette a bit of fresh air. Joining partner/chef Michael Stoltzfus and the considerable kitchen talent, Essig has spearheaded a new brunch program (think bacon dashi with duck confit or house-smoked country ham) as well as a "put yourself in our hands" five-course blind tasting for $70 a person.
Central Business District
Michael Gulotta’s fusion culinary empire expands into this CBD eatery in the Paramount Building where the menu draws influences from Asian, French, Italian, and Louisiana cuisines. Expect fusion dishes like homemade rice bean noodles with andouille Bolognese, cured speckled trout with the eponymous maypop fruit vinaigrette, and duck confit crépinette sausage. Pro tip: check out the weekend afternoon dim sum service on both Saturday and Sunday, from 11am until it runs out.
Central Business District
As the restaurant in the area’s new indie hotel The Troubador, Petit Lion packs a wallop of local cred with chef Phillip Lopez helming the kitchen and Twelve Mile Limit’s Cole Newton supervising the cocktail menu. The house burger is one of the best in the city, and the fried chicken, foie gras torchon, and crab stuffed deviled eggs are a few other stars of the menu. Serving from breakfast till 11pm, this place is also great to get a late lunch, available until 5pm.
A new concept for New Orleans, this spot is much like your basic brewpub, but instead of beer brewed on-site, it specializes in spirits. The Cajun/Southern-influenced menu is more diverse than typical bar fare, with dishes like buttermilk Cornish hen, a pickled pork rueben, and blackberry glazed ribs. You can get several cocktails on tap, like a cucumber Vodka Collins, Bee’s Knees with house gin, or Lula’s special Planter’s Punch.
The Freret Beer Room is a beer-focused restaurant that explores the intersection between food and beer flavor profiles. With a farm-to-table ethos and one of the best beer lists in the state, this place is to beer as neighboring Bar Frances is to wine. Chef Charles Vincent has created an ever-changing menu with a few staples such as the house gumbo made with chicken, andouille, and okra and the Prince Edward Island mussels served with a smoked oyster and tomato aioli instead of a broth (ask for an extra piece or two of grilled bread to sop everything up). The cheese board, seasonal vegetable sides, and desserts are unsung heros of the small but diverse menu, while the satsuma-glazed confit chicken with kimchee fried rice, soft-boiled egg, and black sesame seeds is a showstopper.
A casual eatery on Broad Street just up from Tulane Ave, Marjie’s Grill incorporates southeast Asian street food and bar snacks with Louisiana-sourced ingredients. Lunch is a terrific “meat and three” plate featuring sweet and spicy, head-on wok cornmeal fried shrimp with chili-beer butter or slow-grilled pork shoulder with a green garlic chili marinade, and sides like coal-roasted sweet potatoes and braised mustard greens. The dinner menu branches out a bit with a mix of fried and grilled plates, and everything is incredibly high-quality and affordable.
This sleeper of a coffee shop and bakery went viral on local social media for a hot minute thank to its sweet and savory pastries cooked from scratch every day. Expect chocolate chip scones, cakes topped with buttercream and cream cheese frosting, and cinnamon pinwheels along with kolache, meat hand pies, and sausage rolls. The Station also has a vast coffee program, free WiFi, and books to borrow, so you can truly spend a day here.