The Best Restaurants in New Orleans Right Now
Approximately 10 million tourists dine in the Crescent City annually, but fewer than 400,000 people call it home. That high resident-to-restaurant ratio means that for locals, it’s possible to eat somewhere new every day -- and still have places left to explore year after year after year. It also means compiling a list of the best restaurants in New Orleans is a formidable task -- but we (and our boundless appetites) were up to the challenge. Here’s an updated look at the best restaurants in the Big Easy now. First, we’ve lined up the latest and greatest restaurants that just opened this year, if you’re keen on trying something brand new. Then, you'll find the best New Orleans has to offer, from old standbys to the trendier spots. Here’s where to eat, right now.
Finally, great dim sum in New Orleans
The family that opened Kenner’s Little Chinatown have returned after selling the restaurant and traveling the U.S. With a dim sum offering so hotly anticipated, Dian Xin was forced to shutter for two days during its opening week to restock and reassess how it could better serve the French Quarter. Dian Xin -- itself another name for dim sum -- is exactly what locals have been waiting for. Its expansive menu runs the gamut of small plates like xiao long bao and complete entrees, plus an expansive salt-and-pepper menu, the squid being a particular standout. Not a single dish on the menu misses, be it breakfast favorites like jianbing or American Chinese comfort staples like General Tso’s chicken.
A funky French brasserie adorned with quirky decor
James Beard award-winning chef Justin Devillier and his wife, Mia, turn the stuffy brasserie style on its head at this French Quarter spot whose neon sign is just waiting to be Instagrammed. Inside, a DJ is spinning hits in an expansive dining room flanked by stencil art. The Devilliers, who run La Petite Grocery and Balise, took a more casual approach to Justine’s aesthetic but the menu is anything but basic. Decadent starters like bone marrow bordelaise and foie gras torchon anchor an impressive offering of steaks and brasserie classics like poisson amandine and moules frites.
The rich flavors of Spain served in a communal setting
Chef Brian Burns and co-owner Reno De Ranieri evoke the spirit of Spanish dining with a wide-ranging menu at Costera. Think small shareables like citrus-and-vermouth-marinated olives to a show-stopping, single-batch paella. Costera draws from what Burns believes is the common thread of relaxed, communal eating tying together Spain and New Orleans. That means blending local fare with traditional Spanish dishes, as with the gulf whiting a la plancha, but also imports standouts like the jamón Ibérico.
French bistro where rotisserie takes center stage
Dominique Macquet is back in business with Bordeaux, the revered chef’s take on a French bistro that dazzles from brunch to dinner. Macquet lets the pheasant and chicken speak for themselves care of the custom mechanical rotisserie. Bordeaux’s grilled offerings are just as juicy and decadent, as are its no-nonsense brunch with croques and omelettes galore. To truly nail the precision of French baking, Bordeaux relies on the expertise of La Boulangerie co-founder Bruno Rizzo, who also oversees the wine program. A large selection of wines hail from -- you guessed it -- the Bordeaux region of France.
A laid-back taco joint that’s anything but lazy
It might seem like a dicey idea to open a restaurant in New Orleans without a roof or walls, but that’s just about what Brett Jones did when opening up his taco joint on Tchopitoulas. Barracuda is simply anchored by a small shack, where guests can order any number of thoughtfully designed tacos and pick up a margarita poured straight out of a tap. But from there, you’ll have to find a seat on one of the picnic tables out back. Don’t let the laid back vibe fool you: This place takes it tacos seriously. Don’t forget a big order of the guacamole and queso.
A sultry little spot for cocktails and snacks
You could just as easily stop by this sexy little spot inside the Atelier Ace’s new downtown hotel, Maison de la Luz, for a nightcap as you could a full meal, but make sure you do the latter. Get an order of the accras de morue (salted cod fritters) to help soak up all the sweetness of the expertly crafted cocktails, then sit back and relax as whatever jazz ensemble is playing that night carries you away.
Caught somewhere between Texas, New Orleans, and the Caribbean
This new restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter has not had an easy opening. Thanks to the catastrophic collapse of its down-the-block neighbor, the Hard Rock Hotel, owners Amarys and Jordan Herndon are due for something as simply delightful as their Smoky Quartz, a rum cocktail laced with cashew orgeat, and an order of the Oaxacan Mole. What also helps? A service industry happy hour happens from 11pm until close.
An instant neighborhood classic
From the minds that brought you Coquette (below), comes an entirely new kind of neighborhood restaurant. Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus wanted to create something that could become a habit for the folks who live in the neighborhood, but they’ve instead got the makings for something much bigger. The menu is comprised of upscale takes on comforting classics, like a delightful bolognese, and unexpected surprises thanks to its nightly themed specials, including vegetarian Thursdays. Most impressive, perhaps, is the seamless partnership with their original restaurant as they craft dishes with an eye toward reducing waste at both.
A neighborhood eatery from celebrity chef Nina Compton’s newest offering
Compere Lapin owner, 2018 James Beard Award winner, and Top Chef alumna Nina Compton chose the Rice Mill Lofts -- the former Mariza space and a stylish, five-story masonry warehouse that’s been converted into apartments -- to open her second restaurant. From its open kitchen, Compton, husband Larry Miller, and Chef Levi Raines serve up thoughtfully sourced, seasonally- driven fare including toast with tuna bresaola, garlic, tomato, and avocado mousse and farro risotto with Maitake mushrooms and minted breadcrumbs.
Farm-to-table breakfast fare in the 'burbs
Jefferson residents no longer need to commute to Bywater for their fix of fresh-squeezed juice, organic chia pudding, or hummus-avocado sandwiches. This mural-painted, decidedly groovy cafe fills the bill nicely. From the berries in the house-made granola parfait to the yard eggs on the avocado toast, everything is guilt-free -- and delicious.
Budget-friendly breakfasts (and more) in an airy cafe
Sometimes it feels like the last thing Bywater needs is another subway-tiled, avocado toast-serving spot, and then this happens. Paloma serves Latin-and-Caribbean-tinged fare with a health-conscious edge all day, but the breakfast (available from 8am-3pm daily) is where it really shines: Think chorizo biscuits, horchata chia pudding, and sweet potato tacos (all delicious, all under $10). It’s the latest project from the folks at Birmingham’s Revelator Coffee, and it’s helmed by chefs Danny Alas and Justin Rodriguez, two of Nina Compton’s proteges.
Sizzling meats and seafood grilled tableside, Korean style
Tufted booths, a chrome palette, and blue blacklights give this Metairie eatery the sleek ambiance of a Vegas nightclub, and the garlic cloves, doenjang, and salty bean paste evoke flavors of a classic Korean barbecue joint. Spicy marinated chicken, beef tongue, jumbo shrimp, pork belly, and squid are among the meat offerings -- pick your preferred protein and grill it to perfection at your table. Vegetarians, have no fear: The menu also features tofu dishes, kimchi fried rice, and vegetable bibimbap.
Make-your-own poke bowls and Asian fare
The Hawaiian raw fish dish craze hit New Orleans with considerable Big Easy flair. Housed in a converted double shotgun house on bustling St. Claude Avenue, this casual counter-serve spot can serve as a place to grab a quick solo lunch or as a Friday night date destination. Peruse the chalkboard for specials or design your own poke bowl with a base of white or brown rice, seafood, or tofu -- and toppings including sesame oil, wakame, and fried onions. The menu has also expanded into cooked food, with delicious takoyaki and karaage don on offer now as well. Refreshing, light, and completely customizable, Poke Chan’s fare fills a need New Orleanians never knew they had.
Seafood-heavy spot for Delta fare with southeast Asian flavor profiles
A casual eatery on Broad Street just up from Tulane Avenue, Marjie’s Grill incorporates southeast Asian street food with Louisiana-sourced ingredients. For lunch, you can get P&J oysters tossed in heirloom cornmeal and sides like coal-roasted sweet potatoes and braised collard greens. And the som tam turns the concept of papaya salads as light, summery dishes on its head, using fresh ingredients to make it as hearty as a bowl of butternut squash soup. The dinner menu branches out a bit with a mix of fried and grilled plates, and everything is incredibly high-quality and affordable.
Creole flavors underpin Indian classics
Indian food lovers in NOLA, rejoice! Saffron has filled the void, providing New Orleanians with inventive versions of this woefully neglected cuisine. Southeast Asian and Louisiana flavors bring nuance to Indian staples in chef Arvinder Vilkhu’s dishes, which include its oft-mentioned curried seafood gumbo and ginger-laced oysters. Finish the meal with saffron-cardamom ice cream with rose syrup and pistachios.
Petite, pastel café serving pastries, meat pies, coffee, and espresso drinks
This sleeper of a coffee shop and bakery went viral on local social media for a hot minute thanks to its sweet and savory pastries baked 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 owner’s favorite is a beautiful kouiqn amann, which has been described as "the fattiest pastry in all of Europe." The Station also has a vast coffee program, free Wi-Fi, and books to borrow -- so you can truly spend a day here.
Sample Louisiana-accented Southeast Asian fare at this MoPho spinoff
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 cuisine. The hand-pulled noodles transform mapo tofu into a bayou delight with blue crab and sausage mingling with Sichuan chili paste. Even the bread service is innovative: crisp, yet chewy sesame rolls served with coconut butter and shellfish pepper jam. Check out the weekend afternoon dim sum service on both Saturday and Sunday, from 11am until it runs out.
Affordable, globally accented Emeril Lagasse place to make you yell, "BAM!”
Named for Emeril Lagasse’s daughter, Meril is a globally influenced small-plates restaurant where every dish is under $20. Enjoy fresh pasta, 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. On your birthday, enjoy the cotton candy, complete with a sparkler show.
The best spot for slow-cooked meats and vegetarian-approved sides
Blue Oak BBQ has gone from pop-up spot to brick-and-mortar to smoked meat champion, taking home the top prize at the Hogs for the Cause cook-off competition in 2018. 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, smoked wings, and sandwiches (the Doobin Lubin, a pulled pork and house smoked sausage sandwich, is solid), plus memorable sides (go for roasted Brussels sprouts and thank us later). Don’t forget to peruse the daily specials -- insiders know to look for Blue Oak’s spicy chicken sandwich.
Sustainably sourced Gulf seafood in a 19th-century Creole cottage
Adjacent to the Ace Hotel, Seaworthy serves oysters from the East, West, and Gulf coasts starting at 4pm happy hour. Try the gulf fish rillettes, the decadent fritto miso with shrimp and squid, and the bright and fresh red snapper with gochujang-marinated squash. There are also non-pescetarian options (Wagyu beef burger, anyone) and Seaworthy started serving weekend brunch in August. The spot gets extra points for serving food until 1am.
Inventive, award-winning sandwiches and more
Call it a humble sandwich shop. Call it stoner food. Just don’t call it anything less than a serious culinary reckoning. Former Coquette chef de cuisine Mason Hereford’s graffiti-adorned, punk rock sandwich joint has received national accolades for a reason. Ingredients like “Dorito dust” and fried bologna are scattered through the menu, which includes non-sandwich offerings like fried chicken pot pie and a wedge salad with everything bagel seasoning. Don’t miss the deviled eggs with chicken skin cracklins, the collard green melt, and the vanilla soft-serve with toppings like date molasses and tahini.
Come to gape at the raftered former church. Stay for the seasonal Louisiana fare.
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 shrimp and grits, bourbon-glazed pork chops, cheeseburgers, and desserts like Isot chile Valrhona chocolate cake.
Southern fare done with a sophisticated hand
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. In the height of seafood season, Toups offers seared redfish and lobster lasagna. The second Sunday of each month brings a four-course, off-menu "Counter Brunch" with offerings ranging from pancake battered smoked sausage to sourdough biscuit churros -- plus bottomless mimosas and cocktails. (There’s also regular brunch service Saturday and Sunday.)
Regional, seafood-heavy fare in a weathered 19th century setting
Housed in a chandelier-adorned Uptown mansion built in 1883, Cavan boasts a menu that’s commensurate with its decadent surroundings. With new executive chef Eric Vollono at the helm, the restaurant recently unveiled a completely revamped locally-driven menu that's worth diving into. What hasn't changed? The restaurant still has one of Magazine Street's best happy hours daily from 4-6pm.
Sicilian fare from a third-generation Italian, plus courtyard dining
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, crawfish cavatelli, and trout piccata, and a salad menu that may be the most delicious in town. It changes seasonally, so check specifics online.
Contemporary and raw seafood in wood ceiling-beamed space
Donald Link’s restaurant group has claimed more than half a dozen James Beard awards, and for the seventh time in as many years, Link was a James Beard Outstanding Chef nominee. (He ultimately didn’t win.) But Peche is exceptional in his roster, which includes Cochon, Cochon Butcher, and Herbsaint. Here, you’ll find an oyster bar and just-plucked-from-the-Gulf seafood roasted over a live fire. Did the cuisine inspire Solange to relocate to New Orleans? We may never know, but she and the rest of the Knowles clan have been spotted dining here.
Classic New York-style slices in a casual dining spot
What started as a weekly pop-up is now a Bywater institution. Giant, foldable, New York-style slices, perfectly greasy garlic knots, tangy Caesar salads, and housemade pastas round out the menu. Try the eggplant parmigiana pizzas, or the tagliolini with whipped goat cheese. Grab a table inside or sit outside, under the string lights. Selections change daily, but all menu items are as delicious as the pizza parlor’s name promises.
Elevated farm-to-table fare in a classy, 1880s building
This neighborhood bistro’s excellent farm-driven dishes garnered chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus a nomination for Best Chef: South from the 2018 James Beard Foundation. Essig’s brilliant brunch program (try the house-smoked beef short ribs and smoked catfish dip), as well as her "put yourself in our hands" five-course blind tasting for $70 a person are jut a couple excellent reasons to visit.
Cozy mainstay for Creole-Italian fare
Sometimes it seems that the finer the fine dining restaurant is in New Orleans, the louder its patrons talk (or sing, or yell). Judging by the decibels of the diners here, Irene’s Cuisine is top-notch -- and that’s before you taste the Creole-Italian food. Start with Oysters Irene (baked in-shell with romano, pancetta, and pimento), then tuck into rich and creamy shrimp and crab pappardelle or lamb a la Provence. You’ll reek of garlic afterward, but so will everybody else in your happily sated party.
Laid-back locals’ spot for seafood
Trendy, it’s not. But Jack Dempsey’s has thrived for more than 30 years by catering to its loyal crowd of old-school Yats, who often wait an hour for a table (a bar and slot machines in the waiting area help pass the time). Hung with Saints memorabilia and George Rodrigue prints, the dining area welcomes patrons who aren’t afraid to get messy: decapitating boiled crawfish, tearing soft-shell crabs asunder and washing it all down with frosty mugs of Abita Amber. Specials include stuffed shrimp and crab au gratin. Macaroni and cheese, fried mushrooms, and onion rings are solid sides -- but be warned. Portions are massive, and everything lands heavy.
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