Where to Eat in New Orleans Right Now

Fire up the ‘Gram for picture-perfect pastel cafes and so much more.

Bar Marilou
Bar Marilou | Courtesy of Rush Jagoe
Bar Marilou | Courtesy of Rush Jagoe

Spring has arrived in New Orleans, and the city is slowly but surely beginning to feel optimistic again now that vaccination numbers are steadily on the uptick. The season is typically busy with festivals as we all make an attempt to enjoy the outside world before the dead heat of summer arrives, but with large gatherings still a no-go, the focus instead turns to the city’s reinvigorated dining scene. While some treasured restaurants sadly fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, many more survived and even thrived. Get back to enjoying the transition from a lazy afternoon cocktails to a boisterous dinner surrounded by vaccinated friends, and maybe even try a few new places that managed to get their doors open in spite of it all. Here’s where to eat in New Orleans right now.

Birdy's

Lower Garden District

The gist: This funky and fun brunch and breakfast joint took over the space recently vacated by one of the Satsuma outposts and immediately expanded the restaurant’s footprint. The result is deeply Instagrammable, complete with touches of Millennial pink and festive wallpaper—oh, and the food’s great, too. 
The food: An assortment of breakfast pastries, toasts, lunch, and brunch options await. Think: Beautiful huevos rancheros, house-made tater tots, and a bubble waffle that’ll have you smearing whipped cream over every single bite. 
The cost: Pastries and sides $2 - $6, breakfast mains $8 - $16, lunch mains $11 -  $18, brunch mains and shareables $8 - $35, coffee and smoothies $2.50 - $9, cocktails $8 - $18. 
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Cafe Sbisa

French Quarter

The gist: The restaurant has been around since 1899, but chef and co-owner Alfred Singleton has breathed new life into Cafe Sbisa’s Creole menu after partnering with local businessman Craig Napoli. 
The food: Dig into New Orleans classics like crawfish beignets, crab cakes, shrimp and grits, barbecue shrimp, and delectable trout Eugene. They recently reopened after a pandemic-fueled hibernation, so swing by ASAP for dinner or Sunday brunch. 
The cost: Starters and small plates $10 - $16, dinner mains $15 - $35, brunch mains $15 - $22, beverage prices vary.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

NOLA Pizza Co.

Lower Garden District

The gist: Tucked inside NOLA Brewing, the NOLA Pizza Co throws down the city’s most authentic New York-style pizza—seriously, they went so far as to reverse-engineer the exact composition of New York water. Is it all a little ridiculous? Absolutely. But is the pizza incredibly good? Without a doubt.
The food: Start by picking your pie—red sauce, white sauce, or square-cut—then add on a few hero sandwiches and salads for good measure. Toppings are a little inventive without getting weird, like the perfect sausage, sage, and pecorino, or roasted mushrooms with cream and lemon.
The cost: Pies $18 - $24, heroes $6 - $13, salads $7 - $8, beverage prices vary. 
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order take-out via Toast.

The gist: Longtime favorite pop-up Budsi’s Thai finally got a brick and mortar home. Track down every coveted dish from husband and wife duo Budsaba and Jared Mason, who have been slinging homemade Thai fare for years.
The food: Family recipes from the Isan region of Thailand anchor the menu. Look for pork dumplings, Issan sausage, Budsi’s Royal Pad Thai, and Budsi’s noodles—but don’t leave without indulging in the mangos and sticky rice dessert.
The cost: Starters $6 - $10, mains and shareables $7 - $14.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast.

Here Today

Lower Garden District

The gist: This acclaimed pop-up collaboration between Coquette, Lucy Boone Ice Cream, and Patron Saint Wine took over the short-lived Thalia. And, as the name implies, this smash hit may not be around for long, so make sure to get it while it’s hot. 
The food: Coquette’s fried chicken sandwiches and other tasty specials join forces with a bounty of natural wine and some of the most insanely good ice cream you’ve ever had. Pro-tip: If Lucy Boone has the s’mores on tap, make sure you snag a scoop of that irresistible chocolate-laced ice cream loaded with homemade marshmallows.
The cost: Chicken sandwiches $7, specials $8 - $25, ice cream and wine prices vary. 
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order take-out via Toast.

Cho Thai

Irish Channel

The gist: Banana Blossom’s Jimmy Cho partners with BRG to take over the space vacated by Warbucks, which means you no longer have to go to the West Bank to taste Cho’s Thai creations.
The food: Cho looks to both his native Thailand as well as his own mother’s cooking for inspiration, which finds its way to the table as crispy calamari, fried chicken with garlic and Thai chili, green curry soft shells, and Louisiana crab fried rice. 
The cost: Starters $5 - 15, signature entrees $15 - $20. 
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order takeout online.

The gist: Kyle Payer and Mackenzie Broquet teamed up to create an omakase restaurant that was due to open just as social distancing began.   
The food: Each thoughtfully crafted meal presents locally sourced ingredients in the traditional Japanese style specific to omakase, meaning each dish is an opportunity to be surprised.  
The cost: $89 for an 8-10 course omakase meal, cocktails $12-15.
How to book: Make reservations through OpenTable.

Val’s
Courtesy of Val's

Val’s

Freret Street

The gist: The team behind Cure Co. headed down Freret Street to open Vals, a taco stand with pitch-perfect mezcal margaritas and a big, gorgeous patio, making it a great pick for those who aren’t yet ready to dine indoors.
The food: You’ve got “not tacos” (elotes, a beautiful tuna tostada, chips, various salsas) and tacos (crispy beef belly, sweet potato, chicken in green mole, fried fish, and pork shoulder). 
The cost: Starters and side $5 - $10, tacos $3, beer are $4 - $5, frozen margaritas $10 - $70.
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order take-out online.

The Anchor

Madisonville

The gist: When Chef Michael Gottlieb planned to open a two-part dining concept right on the Tchefuncte River on the North Shore, he got started here with the Anchor. The compound also includes Tchefuncte’s, a fine dining destination upstairs.
The food: Most ingredients are sourced within about 25 miles, which means local fish and chips plus smoked meats and oyster and shrimp po-boys. 
The cost: Starters and sides $4 - $16, mains $9 - $28, BBQ by the pound $9 - $36, beer $5 - $7, wine $8 - $12, cocktails $8 - $35.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 985-323-4800 for take-out.

Blue Giant

Lower Garden District

The gist: When it first opened earlier in 2020, waits of two hours or more were common at Blue Giant. During the pandemic, Blue Giant turned to take-out only but the original model is now back in action, so if you want to get your hands on one of their massive egg rolls, you’ll have to score a table. 
The food: Look for spicy stir-fried eggplant guaranteed to make your eyes water, blue crab rangoon, and an egg roll that’s big enough to share (not that you’ll want to).
The cost: Starters $3 - $14, mains and shareables $11 - $16.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Dian Xin

French Quarter

The gist: The family that opened Kenner’s Little Chinatown have returned after selling the restaurant and traveling the country. Dian Xin—itself another name for dim sum—is exactly what locals have been waiting for. 
The food: The menu runs the gamut from small plates like xiao long bao clear through heartier entrees. Not a single dish on the menu misses, be it the jianbing, salt and pepper squid, or good old-fashioned General Tso’s chicken.
The cost: Dim sum $5 - $12, mains and shareables $9 - $16. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out online.

Justine

French Quarter

The gist: 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 food: 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 cost: Starters $8 - $12, mains $16 - $25. 
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Costera

Uptown

The gist: Chef Brian Burns and co-owner Reno De Ranieri evoke the spirit of Spanish dining with a wide-ranging menu at Costera. 
The food: Think small shareables like citrus-and-vermouth-marinated olives to a show-stopping, single-batch paella. Burns blends local fare with traditional Spanish dishes, as with the gulf whiting a la plancha, but also imports standouts like the jamón Ibérico.
The cost: Plates typically range from $7-29.
How to book: Dine in or takeout. Reservations can be made through Resy.

Bar MariLou
Bar Marilou

The gist: 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. The cocktail program, which has been expanded to include around-the-world tastes, is also not to be missed.
The food: Get an order of the pommes marilou, which are topped with a bit of creme fraiche and a bowfin caviar, for a salty foil to whatever cocktail you have the bartender shake up. There’s also a burger, if you’re feeling more peckish. 
The cost: Starters and mains $9 - $18, cocktails $11 - $15, beer and wine prices vary.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.

Palm&Pine

French Quarter

The gist: Situated at the top of the French Quarter, it’d be easy to walk right past Palm & Pine, but you’d be making a mistake. Stop in for the fusion of Louisiana and Caribbean, Mexican, and Central American flavors, and stay for the mezcal selection. 
The food: Dig into a crab claw cocktail, beef picadillo-stuffed yuca fritters, and the chile butter tacos, but don’t forget to check out the latest specials like the Upper Quarter Pounder, which became a veritable pandemic staple.
The cost: Small plates $8 - $14, mains $21 - $26.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Hippie Kitchen

Old Jefferson

The gist: Get farm-to-table breakfast fare in the suburbs. These days, you can partake family-style, so plan to pick up some extras for later in the week—or just down a half-dozen chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. We’re not judging. 
The food: Get your fix of fresh-squeezed juice, organic chia pudding, or hummus-avocado sandwiches. This mural-painted, decidedly groovy cafe offers options that are both guilt-free and delicious.
The cost: Sandwiches and pizzas $8 - $14, snacks and baked goods $1.50 - $10. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out online.

The gist: For much of the pandemic, chef Nina Compton’s first New Orleans restaurant, Compere Lapin, remained closed. It has since reopened, but the long-term laser-focus on Compton’s second location means the already great restaurant never lost a beat.
The food: Compton’s St. Lucian roots mix with a New Orleans neighborhood restaurant in dishes like the snapper, which is served with okra and lima beans, and the not-to-be-missed curried rabbit. 
The cost: Starters $10 - $18, mains $18 - $31, beverage prices vary. 
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

The gist: While this petite pastel café serving pastries, meat pies, coffee, and espresso drinks has yet to reopen its dine-in space, the porch is open and offers both spacious seating and excellent neighborhood people watching. 
The food: The sweet and savory pastries are baked from scratch daily. Expect cakes topped with buttercream and cream cheese frosting alongside vegan oatmeal cookies, kolache, meat hand pies, and sausage rolls. The owner’s favorite is a beautiful kouign amann, which has been described as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.” 
The cost: Sweets and sandwiches ~$8, full cakes, quiches, and pie prices vary. 
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order catering online.

Blue Oak BBQ

Mid-City

The gist: Blue Oak BBQ went from pop-up to brick-and-mortar to smoked meat champion, taking home the top prize at the Hogs for the Cause cook-off competition in 2018. These days, it’s got an expansive covered patio so you can appropriately socially distance while gorging yourself on saucy goodness. 
The food: Daily specials are featured on Instagram to keep things interesting, plus Blue Oak finally added its fan-favorite spicy chicken sandwich to the regular rotation. You also can’t go wrong with the classics like the pulled chicken sandwich, the Doobin Loobin, and pretty much any meat plate. Just don’t forget to ask for the roasted garlic mac and cheese, too. 
The cost: Sandwiches $12.25 - $15, BBQ plates $12.25 - $17.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast.

Turkey and the Wolf

Irish Channel

The gist: This inventive sandwich shop acts as chef Mason Hereford’s own culinary playground—and it’s received a boatload of national accolades for a reason. Though dining is limited to outdoor seating and take-out, the vibe is as fun and inviting as ever. 
The food: 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 collard green melt, the Tacos Inautenticos, or the cabbage salad, which surprises the senses with a spicy kick and a sprinkling of pig ear cracklins.
The cost: Starters and mains $4 - $13.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via UpServe.

Avo

Uptown

The gist: This lovely little restaurant from Nick Lama recently got a beautiful renovation, and the Sicilian food here is as good as ever. 
The food: Enjoy the homestyle touch on dishes like the octopus, a short rib lasagna, or the portobello ravioli. As always, the daily specials are still worth eyeing up, too. 
The cost: Dishes are $14-29 and sides are $7-9. 
How to book: Order take online through the website. Reservations are available for dine-in through Resy.

The gist: What started as a weekly pop-up is now a Bywater institution. There are few things as comforting as pizza, which means you, too, can wrap yourself in a warm cocoon of floppy, New York-style slices and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. (Oh, just me?)
The food: Giant foldable slices, perfectly greasy garlic knots, tangy Caesar salads, and housemade pastas round out the menu. 
The cost: Sides and salads $4.50 - $8.50, pies $16 - $23, pastas $10 - $28, beverage prices vary. 
How to book: Order take-out online.

Chelsea Brasted is a contributor for Thrillist.