With more than a handful of recent James Beard Award nominees, not to mention dozens (hundreds?... thousands??) of other remarkable local eateries, one might think there isn’t enough room in New Orleans for new restaurants. Well, one would be totally, embarrassingly wrong. Here is a lineup of newbies (and forthcoming newbies) to the NOLA cuisine scene that should get your taste bud mojo moving...
New Orleans' 13 Best New Restaurants of 2015 (So Far)
Something of a restaurant switcheroo happened this year: when Chef Dominique Macquet abruptly left his own namesake restaurant -- a space that soon became Shaya -- Macquet found himself rebranding the restaurant Baie Rouge, just up the street, as Saveur. Fans of the much-lauded chef will find good things at Saveur, including ceviches and crudos, a variety of flatbreads, and a kaffir lime-marinated whole-roasted Gulf fish, among other tasty items.
“Modern Southern” is the hallmark of this new North Carrollton St eatery, another welcome addition to the Mid-City dining scene. Right out of the gate, its lunch offerings aren’t kidding around. Fried pickles? Pork rinds? Check and check. T.L.T. (tasso, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich and a fried chicken and waffle sandwich? You’d better believe those are checks. Come hungry.
For those looking to help out, and check out, the future chefs of New Orleans, you need look no further than Press Street Station, which will feature dishes dreamed up by students at NOCCA Institute’s culinary arts program. As an added bonus, there’s live entertainment from NOCCA’s theater, writing, and music students, as well.
Jack Petronella and Coleman Jurnigan, the dynamic duo behind decadent bakery and coffee shop Manhattan Jack, have been planning for some time to open their dream American-Italian eatery Uptown, and it looks like it’s finally happening. There will be lots of meat and red sauce, you can be assured.
The latest local culinary star in the New Orleans firmament is obviously Alon Shaya, who, after winner gullets and minds with his work as chef at Domenica and PIZZA Domenica, goes back to his roots with this eponymous new Israeli beauty. A massive, custom wood-fire pita oven dominates the kitchen, which issues its modern versions of Mediterranean fare like hummus, tabouli, baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves, not to mention a pomegranate-lacquered, fall-off-the-bone lamb dish that will blow your mind.
Petronella and Jurnigan aren’t the only bakers expanding their game in town; the dream team of Kelly Fields and Lisa Marie White, who design all the baked goods for John Besh’s restaurant empire, plan to open their Southern-style bakery and cafe early this year. And if you’ve ever had Fields’ banana pudding at August or White’s lemon ricotta cake at Domenica, you’ll certainly want to be there.
Chef Justin Devillier has been killing it with La Petite Grocery (that turtle bolognese is difficult to beat) in recent years, and in 2015, he doubles down with a second eatery, Balise, a handsome affair with a distinctive seafaring bent. Not that there isn’t plenty of meat on the menu, which sports a rabbit roulade, roasted lamb loin, and a “PattiMelt” with “comeback sauce.” We’ll be coming back.
Pizza and beer are the obvious focal points for this new Warehouse District gastropub. With such a classic combo, how can you go wrong? Bonus points for the ability to build your own pie, featuring an extensive list of options. Anchovies, eggs, Gorgonzola, and pesto, anyone?
Another entry into the NOLA pizza scene is the brand-spankingly new Paladar 511 (as of March 9th), which aims to give Pizza Delicious a little competition in the Marigny/Bywater pie arena. But this is far from your corner slice joint, with more elevated fare, including pizzas topped with braised artichokes, spinach, garlic, and Parmesan Mornay sauce, or one with a farm egg, shiitakes, roasted asparagus, and a truffled Pecorino.
It took Chef Ryan Hughes years of running the restaurant Purloo as a pop-up before he could finally realize his dream inside the newly (finally!) opened Southern Food and Beverage Museum, but it’s clear that his vision and hard work has paid off. Focusing -- obviously -- on regional cuisine of the Southern states, Purloo’s opening menu features everything from pimento cheese to lowcountry style She-crab soup, lemongrass curried goat, and a “burgoo of Pickett Farms lamb,” among other highlights.
The next move for local restaurateur Adolfo Garcia is all about two things: fire and meat. Hence the name, we’re sure. While full details aren’t available quite yet, the idea of Garcia behind a carnivorous carnival is a welcome one, not to mention that the central focus of the kitchen will be a custom-built fire pit. We’re on board.
Does the Big Easy need another place where one can go to town on some boiled crawfish? ALWAYS. They’re boiling up hot and spicy over at Clesi’s, with the added bonus of live music. And also jambalaya cheese fries with Crystal-infused batter, which sounds about right for this city.
It was a bit of a shock when Chef Alex Harrell, who put his distinctive stamp on the fare at Sylvain, abruptly left the restaurant. Fortunately, it was to open a new French Quarter spot, Angeline, which aims to open soon in the space formerly occupied by Stella!. Harrell hopes to keep the price point friendly, and the Southern fare “warm and inviting.”
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1. Press Street Station5 Press St, New Orleans
2. Shaya4213 Magazine St, New Orleans
3. Willa Jean Bakery611 O'Keefe Ave, New Orleans
4. Balise640 Carondelet St, New Orleans
5. Wood Pizza Bistro & Taphouse404 Andrew Higgins Dr, New Orleans
6. Paladar 511511 Marigny St, New Orleans
7. Saveur4128 Magazine St, New Orleans
8. Purloo1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans
9. Clesi's4413 Banks St, New Orleans
10. Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar231 North Carrollton Ave Suite C, New Orleans
Located at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Press Street Station features students from the institute's culinary program whipping up dishes like coconut pancakes and The Margee with garlic-roasted beets.
This Uptown spot doles out "modern Israeli cuisine," and is run by the same man behind the ever-popular Domenica and PIZZA Domenica, and there's just as much fanfare. A massive, custom, wood-fire pita oven dominates the kitchen, which cooks up modern versions of Mediterranean fare like hummus, tabouli, baba ganoush, and stuffed grape leaves, not to mention a pomegranate-lacquered, fall-off-the-bone lamb dish that will blow your mind.
This Central Business District bakery is run by the dream team of Kelly Fields and Lisa White, who design all the baked goods for John Besh's restaurant empire. Expect Southern-style baked goods, as well as a host of eats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Willa Jean serves up Intelligentsia Coffee, and the varied cocktail menu will have you frequenting this sleek, sophisticated bakery for more than just its food.
Balise celebrates the history of New Orleans as a port city with Creole and Cajun seafood dishes, including blue crab cocktail and fried flounder, as well as a variety of meaty meals to satisfy proud carnivores.
Wood Pizza Bistro & Taphouse allows patrons to play chef and build their own pizzas. If the pressure of creating your own pizza is too much to handle, however, the pizza and beer spot also offers a great selection of pies and slices already on the menu.
Paladar 511 isn't your average pizza joint. Located in Marigny, the restaurant serves slices for the adventurous and sophisticated with toppings including braised artichoke, roasted asparagus, and yogurt. The restaurant's warehouse-like decor nicely compliments its seasonal menu.
Fans of the much-lauded Chef Dominique Macquet will find good things at Saveur, including ceviches and crudos, a variety of flatbreads, and a kaffir lime-marinated whole-roasted Gulf fish, among other tasty items.
Purloo has been about roots long before transitioning from pop-up shop to restaurant. Chef Ryan Hughes' revamped Southern dishes like fried catfish pistolette and She-crab soup celebrate the history of Southern regional cuisine.
They’re boiling up hot and spicy eats over at Clesi’s, like jambalaya cheese fries with Crystal-infused batter, which sounds about right for this city.
Brown Butter's take on Southern comfort foods, including the truffled egg salad sandwich and sweet potato chips, are sure to become your new go-to dishes.