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The Best Restaurants in New Orleans Right Now

Published On 10/05/2017 Published On 10/05/2017
SHARON PYE
Angeline

Angeline

French Quarter

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.

Courtesy of Compère Lapin

Compère Lapin

Warehouse District

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.

Amir Rekic

Bacobar

Covington

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.

Randy Schmidt

The Caribbean Room

Garden District

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.

Scott Gold

Blue Oak BBQ

Mid-City

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.

Eugenia Uhl

Meril

Warehouse District

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.

Trinity Restaurant New Orleans

Trinity

French Quarter

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.

Courtesy of Seaworthy

Seaworthy

Warehouse District

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.

Nora McGunnigle/Thrillist

Turkey & the Wolf

Irish Channel

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.

Courtesy of Avo

Avo

Uptown

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.

Courtesy of Vessel

Vessel

Mid-City

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.

Pizza Delicious

Pizza Delicious

Bywater

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.

Courtesy of Toups South

Toups South

Faubourg Lafayette

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.

Coquette New Orleans

Coquette

Garden District

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. 

Maypop Restaurant

Maypop

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.

Petit Lion
 

Petit Lion

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.

Lula Restaurant Distillery

Lula Restaurant Distillery

Central City

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.

Freret Beer Room

Freret Beer Room

Freret

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.

Marjie's Grill
 

Marjie's Grill

Mid-City

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.

The Station Coffee Shop & Bakery

The Station Coffee Shop & Bakery

Mid-City

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.

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1. Angeline 1032 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Chef Alex Harrell is behind this stately restaurant in the French Quarter, where he serves Southern plates inspired by Northern Mediterranean cooking. Combining Gulf Coast ingredients with French and Italian culinary techniques, he prepares elegant dishes that change with the seasons, such as Mississippi rabbit milanese, Gulf shrimp & country ham, and smoked lamb shoulder. The service exemplifies true Southern hospitality, so don't hesitate to ask the polished waitstaff for recommendations when it comes to the expertly curated wine and cocktail lists.

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2. Compère Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Lead by Top Chef contestant Nina Compton, Compére Lapin is Caribbean-meets-Louisiana-Creole cuisine that is thoughtful and refined, but not fussy. Add a killer bar program (headed by NOLA barkeep Abigail Gullo from SoBou), and you've got yourself your next Friday night dinner reservation. Located in the Warehouse District, the space is a stunner, with exposed brick walls, wood finishes and a mosaic tile floor.

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3. Bacobar 70437 Hwy 21, Suite 100, Covington, LA 70433

Chefs Carl Schaubhut and Jean Pierre Guidry, formerly of the kitchens of Cafe Adelaide and Commander's Palace, bring an Asian-Latin fusion to Covington in the form of Bacobar, which 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. Almost everything is touched by Cajun and Creole influence, and the chefs try to source their ingredients from as many local sources as possible. Plus, the cocktail list, created by Lu Brow of Brennan’s (and formerly Cafe Adelaide), is well worth checking out.

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4. The Caribbean Room 2031 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130

If anyone could revive this much beloved but long defunct restaurant in the Pontchartrain Hotel, it’s John Besh. We’re happy to say that the man has done it again with the Caribbean Room, which pays homage to its former glory 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 Crab Remick and, of course, their famous Mile-High Pie, which is well worth a trip there.

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5. Blue Oak BBQ 900 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119

New Orleans' barbecue game gets an upgrade at Mid-City's Blue Oak. And though they aren't doing anything wacky or crazy-inventive (that's not what real American barbecue is about, after all), their low-and-slow game is on point. The menu features excellent ribs and sandwiches, plus solid sides like roasted Brussels sprouts. Just don't ignore the specials board; if you're lucky, you'll come across a Flintstone-sized whole steer rib, which is just as fulfilling as it sounds.

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6. Part & Parcel 611 O'Keefe Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113

Part & Parcel is what would happen if your corner deli finally decided to join the 21st century. Located in the South Market District in Downtown NOLA, Part and Parcel offers innovative takes on deli goods; here, greens salad undergoes a facelift and emerges as “Compost Salad,” made with avocado, tomato, hard-boiled egg, radish, popped corn, carrots, and Calabrian chili vinaigrette, while your classic B.L.T. is transformed into a T.A.S.T.E., stacking fried turkey, avocado, seasonal sprouts, tomato, fried egg, and chipotle aioli on moist bakery ciabatta. This bonafide adult deli is complete with a wine and craft beer selection, as well as a cocktail menu, because why not?

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7. Meril 424 Girod St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Named after Emeril Lagasse’s daughter, Meril is the illustrious chef’s most casual eatery in New Orleans. Its menu showcases some of Emeril’s personal favorite dishes to eat and is largely inspired by his world travels, featuring snacks like Vietnamese spring rolls and Spanish-style croquettes. A wood-fired oven churns out flatbreads, like an upside-down cornbread, with pineapple and house bacon marmalade, while a Japanese robata-style grill heats meats, including candied five-spice pork ribs. All pastas feature noodles from Dan Esses’ local company, including fennel rigatoni tossed with gulf shrimp, broccoli, spicy Italian sausage, and pecorino. Take a seat around the horseshoe-shaped bar, where you can peer into the open kitchen and watch the creative culinary process unfold.

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8. trinity 1173 Decatur St, New Orleans, NY 70116

Trinity Restaurant is Chef Michael Isolani’s elevated Creole masterpiece, offering a seasonal menu with southern flavors that embodies modern New Orleanian cuisine. The food program opens with a collection of raw, smoked, baked, and broiled oysters, followed by finger-friendly appetizers like duck fat hush puppies. Next, “Forks” offer light entrees, like smoked salmon and zucchini salad, with parmigiano-reggiano, dill, and lemon, followed by “Knives,” the menu’s heavy hitting large plates, like roasted polenta, seared snapper, and roasted duck breast. There is both old and new world charm at Trinity; guests can both dine al fresco on a traditional ironwork balcony and enjoy leather seating, modern lighting, and an open kitchen to provide a culinary spectacle while awaiting their meals.

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9. Seaworthy 630 Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Housed in a rustic 1832 Creole cottage adjacent to the Ace Hotel, chic raw bar Seaworthy serves fresh oysters from the East, West, and Gulf Coasts during happy hour and dinner, along with other treasures from the sea like chilled lobster tail, smoked sturgeon brandade, crab claws, and steamed littleneck clams. If you're feeling extra fancy, there are a few different caviar options on offer. You'll want to tap into the solid drink selection, too, which includes refreshing concoctions like the Goldfinch, mixed with cocchi americano, fino sherry, lemon, orange bitters, and club soda.

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10. Turkey & the Wolf 739 Jackson Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

With a menu divided into “Sandwiches” and “Not Sandwiches,” Irish Channel’s The Turkey and The Wolf establishes the senses of quirkiness and irony that is apparent both in the food and the atmosphere. Menu items tend to include everything but the kitchen sink, like the fried bologna sandwich, which stacks meat, hot English mustard, potato chips, “shrettuce,” mayo, and American cheese, or the wedge salad, which is topped with “everything bagel crunchy stuff.” Tables are set with mismatched plates and vintage saltshakers, and there’s a collection of framed napkin art in the bathroom.

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11. Avo 5908 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

Chef Nick Lama is a NOLA native, third-generation Sicilian and grew up working in a seafood market his family owned. His authentic Italian and New Orleans background shines in inventive ways at his Uptown restaurant in both his pastas and entrees. The candle-lit courtyard provides a romantic and intimate atmosphere, and it holds their happy hour on Monday through Thursday. Don't forget to leave room for the decadent Italian desserts. Gelato, anyone?

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12. Vessel 3835 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70119

Like much of NOLA, Vessel, (or at the least vessel it occupies) comes with a history. Once a Lutheran church, the Iberville Street landmark was nearly destroyed in Katrina. Years later, the parts were salvaged by Vessel's restauranteurs who rebuilt the space in 2016, working hard to maintain the regality of its original church structure. Tucked into the heart of Mid-City, this social hall offers a full menu of Mediterranean eats with some classic New Orleans influence -- things like parmesan flatbread topped with shrimp and collared greens, or Louisiana wild boar ragu over house pappardelle pasta. The specialty cocktail list offers an expansive roster of house-creations featuring additions like basil, cayenne, and plum, without completely discounting the classic rum-heavy, sugar saturated NOLA favorites -- by way of cocktails, cuisine and construction, Vessel is a contemporary nod to its Louisiana roots.

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13. Pizza Delicious 617 Piety St, New Orleans, LA 70117

Located on Bywater's Piety Street, this New York-style slice shop was started by two Long Island guys who, surprisingly, had never made pizza before. The menu incorporates local produce and features daily pizza specials like an Italian sausage pie with caramelized onions and peppers.

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14. Toups South 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113

Considering this industrial-chic restaurant from Isaac Toups is located in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, you know the home-style and barbecue dishes are going to be authentic. Toups even uses BBQ king Aaron Franklin’s original smoker (which was donated to the museum) to cook refined plates of smoked leg of lamb, foie gras terrine, and brown sugar-glazed pork belly. You'll also find regional dishes like black-eyed peas, sourdough biscuits with crab fat butter, and heritage pork boudin on the menu.

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15. Coquette 2800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

Situated inside an 1880s Garden District building, Coquette serves a daily changing menu of innovative, locally sourced Southern cuisine alongside an extensive selection of wine, New Orleans-inspired cocktails, and craft beer. The refined bistro's dishes are consistently farm-driven, and there's a mix of small and large plates, as well an option for a five-course "blind" tasting based on the chef's daily ingredients.