You Can Get Reservations for Free Dinner in Taco Bell's Insane Test Kitchen
Pho ga with quail eggs
Lilly's CafeAddress and Info
This unassuming Vietnamese spot near the Magazine split-off quickly became a favorite of Tom, Padme, and other food-lebrities when Top Chef was filming in NOLA, and for good reason: their rich chicken broth is one of the best in the city.
Smoked catfish dip
CoquetteAddress and Info
The original recipe for the smoked catfish dip at this modern American hotspot helmed by couple Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus can be found on the CVB website, but the new version blows the beloved classic out of the water. Pickled carrots give the dish a burst of crunch and balance of texture while the mint and dill truly bring out the flavor of the filets. The menu says it’s “to share,” but you won’t willingly want to give up a single bite.
Crawfish sausage (topped with crawfish etouffee)
Dat DogAddress and Info
There was a time, friends, when the hot dog options in NOLA were limited to two: dirty water Lucky Dogs, and having to make your own at home, neither of which sound all that appetizing. Now, thankfully, we have Dat Dog, with its crazy sausage and topping options, of which the crawfish-on-crawfish is definitely a winner.
Chilled corn bisque with crabmeat and avocado
LiletteAddress and Info
OK, Lilette is expensive. But you nearly always get what you pay for, especially when it comes to this chilled soup, one of the best things to eat in New Orleans during its hottest months that isn’t a frozen daiquiri or a sno-ball. (Note: it’s not on the current menu, owing to seasonality, but it’s definitely coming back when things warm up.)
Casamento'sAddress and Info
There are other items on the menu at this perennial NOLA favorite that dates back to 1919, like oyster stew and oyster loaves served on buttery Texas toast. But really, it’s all about the raw ones here, which are kept in a proprietarily designed stainless steel oyster chiller that keeps the bivalves cold without watering them down in an ice bath. Genius.
AvoAddress and Info
Nick Lama has a great thing going on in the former Martinique Bistro space. For proof, just try the lamb loin, a rarely utilized cut that truly shines with a long, loving braise.
Hummus and pita
ShayaAddress and Info
It says a lot about the talent of a chef when they decide to cook from the heart and turn that passion into the hardest-to-snag reservation in New Orleans... especially if that passion is for Israeli cuisine. But this James Beard-winning walk-off home run by Alon Shaya does just that. Here, you will literally be graced with (sans metaphor or hyperbole) the BEST hummus and pita of your life. Also, the pomegranate lacquered lamb shank is a rich, flavorful out of control feast.
Bagel with lox and cream cheese
Stein's DeliAddress and Info
For visitors and transplants from the East Coast, finding a solid bagel in NOLA has always been something of a challenge. But you can’t go wrong at Stein’s, even with proprietor Dan Stein’s famously gruff ‘tude. And they have fantastic matzoh balls, too.
District: Donuts.Sliders.BrewAddress and Info
Locals started flocking to this spot for the wacky donut concepts (maple bacon with Sriracha and candied thyme, SAY WHAAA?!), but you really don’t want to miss the sliders here, which are perfect little handfuls of hamburger (or chicken) joy.
Del Fuego TaqueriaAddress and Info
Elotes are the unsung hero of the street taco movement, and Del Fuego’s version is the best in town, using local ingredients for an especially fresh sweet and creamy roasted corn. Just make sure to grab some extra napkins.
A pie with prosciutto and arugula
PIZZA DomenicaAddress and Info
There are too many Italian joints on Magazine to list here, but of course PIZZA Domenica is worthy of your attention with its bubbly crust and always fresh and interesting toppings. Go for the prosciutto with arugula, and you can basically pass it off as having a salad for dinner.
Cafe AbyssiniaAddress and Info
New Orleans may not be well-known for its Ethiopian offerings (there are literally only two of them), but the two we have we do the cuisine justice, especially at Cafe Abyssinia, where you’ll find a king-sized sampler of veggies (everything from greens to peas to lentils) atop that wonderful spongy injera bread. For the more adventurous, try the crazy spicy doro wat, which is definitely not for the weak.
BaruAddress and Info
A raw bar isn’t really a novel concept in NOLA, but one dedicated to traditional crudos and ceviches is, which is where Baru’s upstairs bar distinguishes itself from the pack. Excellent for date night.
The Flying Burrito
Juan’s Flying BurritoAddress and Info
The eponymous dish at this institution is some serious bang-for-your-buck action, stuffed generously with steak, shrimp, and chicken, cheddar and jack, black beans, yellow rice, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. You will not leave hungry. Also, bonus points for cheap and stiff margaritas!
A burger and a beer
The BulldogAddress and Info
Sometimes you can’t go wrong with the standards, and while plenty of places have better burgers than the ol’ Bulldog (looking your way, LPG), you can’t beat the atmosphere on game day. Add to that a SERIOUS beer list, and you’re headed for a gratifying sports bar experience on any damn day.
A roast beef po-boy
Tracey'sAddress and Info
Speaking of sports bars, Tracey’s bears a nod here for their roast beef, from the same folks who made the famous po-boys at Parasol’s. Just be sure to get there early on weekends if you want a place to sit.
AmiciAddress and Info
The anitipasti and coal-fired pizza at Amici are always satisfying, but their pastas are really where it’s at. A traditional, meaty Bolognese over pappardelle is often just what the doctor ordered. And then you say, “I’ll have what the doctor is having, because that looks delicious.” (Again, sorry.)
Red beans and rice with hot sausage
Joey K’sAddress and Info
Outside of ya mama’s house, this plate of good, old-fashioned red beans -- complete with a charred, hot sausage link -- is exceptionally difficult to best.
The Creole Slammer
Slim Goodies DinerAddress and Info
There’s always a line at Slim’s on the weekends, and one visit there will tell you why: its rich Southern breakfast plates will all but annihilate a hangover. For the uninitiated, try the Creole Slammer, which piles crawfish etouffee and a buttermilk biscuit on top of eggs cooked to your preference.
Pho Cam LyAddress and Info
Hailing from the Northern Vietnamese City of Cam Ly, known for its stunning waterfalls, the restaurant that bears its name offers myriad pleasures for the palate. Their beef pho is outstanding, but don’t miss the brilliant egg rolls, wrapped in tapioca (not wanton wrappers) and filled with funky, fermented Chinese sausage.
Crispy Brussel sprouts
Bouligny TavernAddress and Info
Eating right just got way more delectable with Bouligny’s offering of veggies. The true star of getting your allotted amount of greens at this restaurant is the crunchy Brussels sprouts, cooked to perfection in brown butter and garnished with hazelnuts.
Blue crab beignets
La Petite GroceryAddress and Info
Chef Justin Devillier is definitely having a moment right now. Between his success at LPG and Balise, his outpost in the Warehouse District, he’s sitting in the catbird seat. Which, of course, he deserves, and you’ll realize exactly why when you pop one of these hot, savory, crab-stuffed fritters into your face. You will immediately want more. They are that kind of good.
Guy’sAddress and Info
True, it’s not the most lauded sandwich shop in NOLA, but there’s little not to love about Guy’s, and local chefs (who will be generously unnamed herein) absolutely adore the place. Outside of a few other options -- Domilise’s, c, R&O, etc. -- few local restaurants can achieve this Platonic Ideal of po-boy mastery.
Poke with Crystal Hot Sauce aioli
Poke LoaAddress and Info
The poke trend finally comes to New Orleans and gets a Louisiana spin with Crystal Hot Sauce aioli. The Irish Channel spot offers customizable bowls, but no matter what rice and protein you order, you have to stick with local flavor.
Jellyfish with garlic and cucumber
Jung’s Golden DragonAddress and Info
Jung’s Kenner location may be gone but its Magazine St digs still deliver quality Chinese food in an unassuming space. The jellyfish stands out not just for its novelty but because of its delicious spicy preparation.
NirvanaAddress and Info
Move over, turducken. Murgh Sonya is ground lamb stuffed into chicken and cooked in a decadent cream sauce. The nuts and dried fruit make up for the lack of a third meat while adding a particularly complex mix of sweet and savory accents.
Surrey’sAddress and Info
The beloved BLT gets an upgrade with lox, cream cheese, and fresh avocado at Surrey’s, which has two locations on Magazine. Spend the couple extra bucks and get it on a bagel, and wash it down with some fresh-squeezed juice.
Island-style Cuban steak
Rum HouseAddress and Info
If you think red meat is better with pineapple, Rum House’s Cuban steak is your new go-to dish, marinated in ginger and soy and topped with cornbread dressing. For those missing the tortilla, there’s always the calypso beef tacos, made with flank steak, guacamole, and lime cream.