In the past few years, New Orleans has experienced a heady renaissance, and nowhere can that be seen more than in its food. While everyone knows that NOLA prides itself on its eats (and drinks, of course), what the town is experiencing, culinarily speaking, is nothing less than an embarrassment of riches. It’d be damned near impossible to list every single good thing to eat in town, so here are some of the current best bets that never fail to satisfy, from the old school to the new.
The 18 Best Dishes in New Orleans
Arnaud’s Restaurant (address and info)
How on Earth does someone take a simple tater and turn it into something so wonderfully airy, pillowing, salty, and magical as they do at Arnaud’s? Its Soufflé Potatoes, served with a creamy béarnaise sauce, are, hands down, the best bar snack ever invented. Enjoy them with a brandy crusta or a French 75, but just be wary that you very well may have to fight your friends for the last one.
Cochon Butcher (address and info)
Everyone flocks to the Central Grocery for a taste of the original muffaletta sandwich, but Donald Link’s version -- served hot with house-cured meats -- takes muffaletta magic to the next level. It is the best version of the this classic sandwich that the city has to offer, period.
Casamento's (address and info)
Okay, so raw bivalves aren’t really a “dish” per se, but that’s just semantics when it comes to the oysters at this Magazine St institution, nearly 100 years old now. A special stainless steel “oyster cooler” makes sure these guys are always cold, but never watery. We’ll take three dozen. To start.
Tableau (address and info)
Chicken never seems to get a whole lot of respect on restaurant menus (unless it’s deep fried, naturally), generally the choice for picky eaters who want something safe. Well, Tableau clearly didn’t get that memo; its namesake herbed-chicken dish, featuring a juicy sous-vide cooked breast and a crispy thigh, both topped with béarnaise and chicken demi-glace, will satisfy every time. Not to mention that it’s a true bargain at only $20.
Kanno California Sushi Bar (address and info)
Named after Kanno’s chef's/owner’s affectionate nickname, the Elvis Roll features no rice, substituting snow crab (no cheap fillers here!) inside colorful soybean paper, and topped with colossal lump crabmeat and a secret sauce. It would make the King himself proud, if he were still with us.
Kebab (address and info)
The newcomer to St. Claude Ave almost immediately found a kind of cult following, and for excellent reason: its Dutch/German street food is spot-on, especially the dark meat chicken doner, which has no equal in town.
Wood-fire roasted cauliflower
Domenica (address and info)
Wait... a vegetable is on this list? And a cauliflower, at that? How could this be? Well, if you cook your cauliflower in Alon Shaya’s fashion -- sous-vide for tenderness, then roasted in a wood-burning oven and served simply with sea salt and air-light whipped feta cheese -- you’ll quickly see why.
Maurepas Foods (address and info)
With the influx of new Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries in NOLA, the taco competition is pretty fierce these days. At the forefront, however, are Maurepas’ inimitable roasted goat tacos, which come with a bright green cilantro harissa sauce, pickled green tomatoes, and a variety of house hot sauces.
Milkfish (address and info)
In 2014, New Orleans got its first official brick-and-mortar Filipino restaurant with Milkfish, and a meal there will make you realize that we probably don’t need any more, because this place is going to be pretty damned hard to top. A favorite here is sisig, a traditional Filipino dish of roasted pork face (yes, pork face) and liver topped with a fried egg and served with garlic rice.
Crispy P&J Oysters
MoPho (address and info)
This is what you get when the former chef de cuisine at John Besh’s flagship restaurant August, Michael Gulotta, decides to head off on his own to create a Mississippi-Delta-meets-Mekong-Delta fusion joint. There’s much to love about the menu here, but the fried P&J Oysters, served with pickled bleu cheese, sliced Easter egg radishes, and “MoPho mayo,” are serious business, and need to be eaten to be believed.
House Bowl ramen
Noodle & Pie (address and info)
There wasn’t a single place in New Orleans where ramen aficionados could get their fix of deeply flavored bone broths and hand-made noodles until the advent of Noodle & Pie, and thank goodness it's come to save the day. Order the House Bowl, and you’ll forget the existence of sad, dorm room microwave noodles entirely. Also, it has pie!
Pho Cam Ly (address and info)
The owners of this relatively new Magazine St Vietnamese spot brought their family’s traditional pho recipe all the way from the town of Cam Ly, and it’s worth seeking out. But if you’re headed that way, don’t miss out on the fantastic egg rolls, made with funky, fermented Chinese sausage nestled in tapioca (not wonton!) wrappers.
Pho Ga with quail eggs
Lilly's Café (address and info)
Lower Garden District
In a city brimming with Vietnamese options, the options for a hot, filling bowl of pho are myriad, but Lilly’s has one of the very best chicken soups on this side of creation. It's excellent when you’re cold, or if you have a cold, or, you know... it’s Wednesday. The depth of flavor in the broth is astounding, and the addition of boiled quail eggs really makes the dish pop.
Roast beef po' boy
R & O's (address and info)
This one is a perennial favorite for a reason: you absolutely cannot find anything quite like it in town. The roast beef -- chopped, not sliced -- simmers in a rich, extra dark and thick gravy until heaped on a loaf of seeded Leidenheimer French bread, and then served “dressed” with the standard lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and plenty of mayo. All those Downtown hipsters who instinctively gag at the thought of driving to the other side of the 17th St Canal will never know what they’re missing.
Slim Goodies Diner (address and info)
How can you make a giant platter of hash browns and eggs even better? Top the whole thing with crawfish étouffée, of course. Just make sure to get there early on the weekends to avoid the (very much deserving) line out the door.
The Joint (address and info)
The barbecue game has been seriously raised in NOLA in recent times, and different spots are great for different aspects of classic barbecue. When it comes to pork ribs, however, The Joint is the place to beat. It won’t be easy, if at all possible.
Toups’ Meatery (address and info)
If there was going to be any place in the Crescent City that featured a giant lamb’s neck on the menu, you know it has to be Toups', emporium of all things meaty and delicious. You don’t see this cut very often, but Chef Isaac Toups hits this one out of the park, pairing it with fennel and a black-eyed pea salad.
The Company Burger
The Company Burger (address and info)
Los Angeles has In-N-Out, New York has Shake Shack, and, when it comes to fast-food-style burgers and fries made with love and only the best ingredients, New Orleans has The Company Burger. There are plenty of outstanding burgers in the Big Easy, but this one just never fails to satisfy.
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1. Arnaud's Restaurant813 Bienville St, New Orleans
2. Cochon Butcher930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans
3. Casamento's4330 Magazine St, New Orleans
4. Tableau616 Saint Peter St, New Orleans
5. Kanno California Sushi Bar3205 Edenborn Ave, Metairie
6. Kebab2315 Saint Claude Ave, New Orleans
7. Domenica123 Baronne St, New Orleans
8. Maurepas Foods3200 Burgundy St, New Orleans
9. Milkfish125 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans
10. MoPho514 City Park Ave, New Orleans
11. Noodle & Pie741 State St, New Orleans
12. Pho Cam Ly3814 Magazine St, New Orleans
13. Lilly's Café1813 Magazine St, New Orleans
14. R & O's216 Metairie Hammond Hwy, Metairie
15. Slim Goodies Diner3322 Magazine St, New Orleans
16. The Joint701 Mazant St, New Orleans
17. Toups' Meatery845 N. Carrollton, New Orleans
18. The Company Burger4600 Freret St, New Orleans
Known as a "Grande Dame" resto in New Orleans, Arnaud's has been serving Cajun and Creole fare in the French Quarter since 1918.
Donald Link's love letter to Louisiana, Cochon, is back at it again with this meat-centric offshoot. Build your ultimate, meaty sandwich at this hybrid butcher shop, deli counter, and wine bar in the Warehouse District. Inspired by old-world meat markets, Cochon Butcher specializes in house-cured meats, terrines, and sausages. The lines can get long at lunch, making the simple pleasure of sitting at the bar with a drink and a bite feel like a luxury.
A New Orleans landmark since 1919, Casamento's is the grandaddy of all oyster bars, serving up fried oyster po' boys and equally delicious raw oysters, shucked right in front of you. The space is small and completely tiled, because the owners know oyster juice spillage is inevitable when you're marathon-slurping your meal.
Tableau captures all the magic and pizazz of the French Quarter: bistro-style balcony seating overlooking Jackson Square, situated in a historic townhouse spanning 3 stories and decorated with gilded fleur-de-lis and crystal chandeliers for optimum class. Another outpost in Dickie Brennan’s Southern dining empire, the kitchen serves authentic French fare with bold Creole flair, resulting in standout dishes like creamy crawfish au gratin and craft beer-spiked barbecue shrimp and grits -- both of which can be paired with several selections from their curated wine list.
Don't let the coziness of this Metairie spot fool you: Kanno California Sushi Bar may be small in size, but the menu boasts big flavors. Usual suspects like yellowtail scallion and Philadelphia rolls prove wholly satisfying, but signature rolls like "The Elvis" -- which substitutes snow crab meat instead of rice in a winning combination of salmon, avocado, and blue crab for the finish -- are the clear standouts and a nod to regional delicacies.
This Bywater eatery immediately found a cult-like following after moving in and for excellent reason: its Dutch/German street food is spot on, especially the dark meat chicken doner, which has no equal in town.
Named after the Italian word for 'Sunday,' this spot in the CBD's Roosevelt Hotel is meant to evoke feelings of dinner at your nonna's casa. The menu takes simple, rustic fare to the next level. The thick crusted pies here are the show-stoppers, especially the Tutto Carne with bacon, salami, and sausage, all topped with a farm egg.
Maurepas plates fine American cuisine, whether it's soups, salads, sandwiches, hot plates or desserts. And if you care for an adult beverage, their house "Intoxicologist" can arrange it to your liking.
After years of popping up around town, this resto now has a permanent Mid-City location, while still serving up modern riffs on Filipino classics. Its namesake, the Milkfish, is grilled then topped w/ coconut milk curry and a spicy kimchee-esque red cabbage slaw.
This Mid-City eatery is run by former chef from John Besh's August, and the quality is apparent. It combines the flavors of the Gulf with the flavors of Vietnam making for a fresh exploration into classic Vietnamese dishes. The drink program is just as eclectic as the eats, with house cocktails and spiked boba teas. The space feels modern and trendy for a strip mall spot, with a blue and orange color palette and wooden accents. On Saturdays, they roast a full pig, meaning you should probably cancel your other weekend plans.
Ramen and pie is the speciality at this Asian fusion restaurant. The move at Noodle & Pie is to start with a few small plates (okonomiyaki fries, deep-fried Brussels sprouts, Korean fried chicken) before moving on to a bowl of shoyu chicken ramen and finally, a slice of pie -- like the spicy Thai peanut butter cup with chocolate crust -- for dessert.
This Uptown Vietnamese spot dishes out classic Viet-sammies and solid pho at a good value, and if you're feeling ambitious, try their Pho Challenge, which is 4lbs of delicious noodles and meat.
This spot became a quick favorite of celeb Chef Tom Colicchio while Top Chef was filming in NOLA, and for good reason. It serves up delicious options like roasted pork spring rolls and huge bowls of hot pho.
R & O's plates a variety of Creole/Cajun dishes, but they're best known for their po' boys and other tasty sammies.
There’s a line out the door of this Magazine Street eatery every morning, and it’s no surprise: locals and tourists alike recognize that Slim Goodies Diner is a breakfast haven. The neighborhood haunt (complete with plush red leather booths and polaroid photographs of regulars and famous folk tacked onto art-laden walls) marries bold Cajun flavor with breakfast staples, resulting in satisfying plates like the Creole slammer, a glorious stack of perfectly crisped hash browns dressed with crawfish étouffée, two eggs, and a biscuit, because you’re going to want to soak up every last spoonful. Many items can be made gluten-free or vegetarian too, so everyone can get their “swamp power” on regardless of dietary needs.
The Joint is a New Orleans BBQ spot with a full bar that's serving up house-smoked chicken, ribs, and pulled pork until 10pm every night. As far as the editors at Thrillist are concerned, The Joint is one of the best barbecue places in America. The next time you are in New Orleans, you need to stop by The Joint.
As the name implies, this Mid-City spot is a meat mecca with bold Cajun flavor. Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Isaac Toups, the kitchen serves a carnivore-centric menu of authentic Creole fare. Large entrees like the grilled Georgia quail with farm-fresh seasonal vegetables and saba satiate and surprise; light bites range from addictive cracklins and deviled eggs with smoked trout roe. Minimalist metal chairs and refurbished wood surfaces give the place a cabin-like feel, furthering the relaxed, convivial vibe.
These guys take their burgers seriously. Translation: the pickles and mayo are homemade, and the twin patties in the house burger weigh a grand total of 6.5oz. You'll leave feeling full and satisfied, after washing it all down with one of Company's American brews on tap, of course.