In the past few years, it’s been serious boom times for the New Orleans restaurant scene (and of course the drinking scene), and few places is that fact more readily apparent than the stretch of Magazine St from the Lower Garden District all the way down to Audubon Park. But not all restos were created equally, of course. Sometimes, winners gotta win, and when it comes to the cuisine of Magazine, there are some serious winners. Here are our favorites.
Pho ga with quail eggs
This unassuming Vietnamese spot near the Magazine split-off quickly became a favorite of Tom, Padme, and other food-lebrities when Top Chef was filming in NOLA, and for good reason: their rich chicken broth is one of the best in the city.
Quail with chaurice sausage, oats, and pickled vegetables
You will rarely, if ever, find a person who’s had a bad meal or experience at Coquette. The food is refined Southern, and always both elegant and filling, especially when it comes to their treatment of game. Are you game for this quail? You damn well should be. (Sorry.)
Crawfish sausage (topped with crawfish etouffee)
There was a time, friends, when the hot dog options in NOLA were limited to two: dirty water Lucky Dogs, and having to make your own at home, neither of which sound all that appetizing. Now, thankfully, we have Dat Dog, with its crazy sausage and topping options, of which the crawfish-on-crawfish is definitely a winner.
Chilled corn bisque with crabmeat and avocado
OK, Lilette is expensive. But you nearly always get what you pay for, especially when it comes to this chilled soup, one of the best things to eat in New Orleans during its hottest months that isn’t a frozen daiquiri or a sno-ball. (Note: it’s not on the current menu, owing to seasonality, but it’s definitely coming back when things warm up.)
There are other items on the menu at this perennial NOLA favorite that dates back to 1919, like oyster stew and oyster loaves served on buttery Texas toast. But really, it’s all about the raw ones here, which are kept in a proprietarily designed stainless steel oyster chiller that keeps the bivalves cold without watering them down in an ice bath. Genius.
Nick Lama has a great thing going on in the former Martinique Bistro space. For proof, just try the lamb neck, a rarely utilized cut that truly shines with a long, loving braise.
ALL THE HUMMUS AND PITA
It says a lot about the talent of a chef when they decide to cook from the heart and turn that passion into the hardest-to-snag reservation in New Orleans... especially if that passion is for Israeli cuisine. But this walk-off home run by Alon Shaya does just that. Here, you will literally be graced with (sans metaphor or hyperbole) the BEST hummus and pita of your life. Also, the pomegranate lacquered lamb shank is a rich, flavorful out of control feast.
Bagel with lox and cream cheese
For visitors from the East Coast (or former residents, like the author of this list), finding a solid bagel in NOLA has always been something of a challenge. But you can’t go wrong at Stein’s, even with proprietor Dan Stein’s famously gruff ‘tude. And they have fantastic matzoh balls, too.
Locals started flocking to this spot for the wacky donut concepts (maple bacon with Sriracha and candied thyme, SAY WHAAA?!), but you really don’t want to miss the sliders here, which are perfect little handfuls of hamburger (or chicken) joy.
A relatively recent addition to the Magazine St restaurant scene, Del Fuego stands out from lesser taco joints by offering the traditional tongue (and even cabrito) tacos, all of which come with a variety of salsas from mild to face-melting.
BBQ chicken with Alabama sauce
A number of BBQ joints in NOLA have specialties, but McClure’s really shines when it comes to their sauces, which include every major regional version, from Carolina mustard sauce to the thick, tomato-y Kansas City sauce. The stand-out, though, is the white sauce, which is probably had outside of Big Bob Gibson’s in Alabama. Order the chicken to smother it with.
A pie with prosciutto and arugula
There are too many Italian joints on Magazine to list here, but of course PIZZA Domenica is worthy of your attention with its bubbly crust and always fresh and interesting toppings. Go for the prosciutto with arugula, and you can basically pass it off as having a salad for dinner.
House bowl ramen
It took a while for the ramen craze to hit NOLA, but the gents at Noodle & Pie were ahead of the game. The house bowl, featuring shoyu chicken broth, slow cooked pork shoulder, soft egg, greens, enoki mushrooms, and shredded nori, is always a winner, especially on those frigid, humid winter days that creep into your bones.
New Orleans may not be well-known for its Ethiopian offerings (there are literally only two of them), but the two we have we do the cuisine justice, especially at Cafe Abyssinia, where you’ll find a king-sized sampler of veggies (everything from greens to peas to lentils) atop that wonderful spongy injera bread. For the more adventurous, try the crazy spicy doro wat, which is definitely not for the weak.
A raw bar isn’t really a novel concept in NOLA, but one dedicated to traditional crudos and ceviches is, which is where Baru’s upstairs bar distinguishes itself from the pack. Excellent for date night.
The Flying Burrito
The eponymous dish at this institution is some serious bang-for-your-buck action, stuffed generously with steak, shrimp, and chicken, cheddar and jack, black beans, yellow rice, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. You will not leave hungry. Also, bonus points for cheap and stiff margaritas!
A burger and a beer
Sometimes you can’t go wrong with the standards, and while plenty of places have better burgers than the ol’ Bulldog (looking your way, LPG), you can’t beat the atmosphere on game day. Add to that a SERIOUS beer list, and you’re headed for a gratifying sports bar experience on any damn day.
A roast beef po-boy
Speaking of sports bars, Tracey’s bears a nod here for their roast beef, from the same folks who made the famous po-boys at Parasol’s. Just be sure to get there early on weekends if you want a place to sit.
The anitipasti and coal-fired pizza at Amici are always satisfying, but their pastas are really where it’s at. A traditional, meaty Bolognese over pappardelle is often just what the doctor ordered. And then you say, “I’ll have what the doctor is having, because that looks delicious.” (Again, sorry.)
Red beans and rice with hot sausage
Outside of ya mama’s house, this plate of good, old-fashioned red beans -- complete with a charred, hot sausage link -- is exceptionally difficult to best.
The Creole Slammer
There’s always a line at Slim’s on the weekends, and one visit there will tell you why: its rich Southern breakfast plates will all but annihilate a hangover. For the uninitiated, try the Creole Slammer, which piles crawfish etouffee and a buttermilk biscuit on top of eggs cooked to your preference.
One of the best Japanese spots on Magazine is also one of the most underrated (or even talked about). It may be unassuming, but the nigiri, sashimi, and maki at this place can go head to head with almost any sushi bar in town. And they deliver!
Hailing from the Northern Vietnamese City of Cam Ly, known for its stunning waterfalls, the restaurant that bears its name offers myriad pleasures for the palate. Their beef pho is outstanding, but don’t miss the brilliant egg rolls, wrapped in tapioca (not wanton wrappers) and filled with funky, fermented Chinese sausage.
There’s much to love about Bouligny, from its couger-y, late 1960s vibe to the fantastic bar program. As a lounge (not a bar), it fits the bill handsomely. Add to that a great burger and lovely small plates -- including a refreshing salad incorporating grilled octopus -- and you have the recipe for a real winner.
Blue crab beignets
Chef Justin Devillier is definitely having a moment right now. Between his success at LPG and Balise, his new outpost in the Warehouse District, he’s sitting in the catbird seat. Which, of course, he deserves, and you’ll realize exactly why when you pop one of these hot, savory, crab-stuffed fritters into your face. You will immediately want more. They are that kind of good.
True, it’s not the most lauded sandwich shop in NOLA, but there’s little not to love about Guy’s, and local chefs (who will be generously unnamed herein) absolutely adore the place. Outside of a few other options -- Domilise’s, c, R&O, etc. -- few local restaurants can achieve this Platonic Ideal of po-boy mastery. (Note: in true NOLA fashion, Guy’s is closed right now since a drunk driver crashed his vehicle into the restaurant, but keep an eye out for their grand reopening!)
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Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans who is convinced that a dozen raw oysters and an oyster loaf at Casamento's is what heaven will be like. Follow him on Twitter: @scottgold
1. Lilly's Cafe1813 Magazine St, New Orleans
2. Dat Dog5030 Freret St, New Orleans
3. Lilette3637 Magazine St, New Orleans
4. Coquette2800 Magazine St, New Orleans
5. Casamento's4330 Magazine St, New Orleans
6. Avo5908 Magazine St, New Orleans
7. Shaya4213 Magazine St, New Orleans
8. Stein's Market and Deli2207 Magazine St, New Orleans
9. DISTRICT: Donuts. Sliders. Brew.2209 Magazine St, New Orleans
10. Del Fuego Taqueria4518 Magazine St, New Orleans
11. McClure's BarbecueNOLA Tap Room, 3001 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans
12. PIZZA domenica4933 Magazine St, New Orleans
13. Noodle & Pie741 State St, New Orleans
14. Café Abyssinia3511 Magazine St, New Orleans
15. Baru Bistro & Tapas3700 Magazine St, New Orleans
16. Juan's Flying Burrito2018 Magazine St, New Orleans
17. The Bulldog Uptown3236 Magazine St, New Orleans
18. Tracey's Bar2604 Magazine St, New Orleans
19. Amici Ristorante & Bar3218 Magazine St, New Orleans
20. Joey K's3001 Magazine St, New Orleans
21. Slim Goodies Diner3322 Magazine St, New Orleans
22. AJ & J's Asian Bistro2240 Magazine St, New Orleans
23. Pho Cam Ly3814 Magazine St, New Orleans
24. Bouligny Tavern3641 Magazine St, New Orleans
25. La Petite Grocery4238 Magazine St, New Orleans
26. Guy's Po-Boys5259 Magazine St, New Orleans
Many New Orleanians are just a stone’s throw from delicious Vietnamese food. But Lilly’s Café in the Lower Garden District dishes out pho with some of the best broth in the city, simmered for more than eight hours and served velvety smooth in a vast bowl of rice noodles. If the steamy New Orleans heat is too overwhelming for broth, opt for lighter menu items like the summer rolls with shrimp, pork, ham, lettuce, mint, and vermicelli noodles, which are equally satisfying and a lot less scorching.
Founded as a UK doghouse by a NOLA native, Dat Dog's shed has since become one of the most popular eateries on Freret St. The pork-friendly menu here spans everything from a duck sausage dog served with blackberry sauce to alligator and crawfish dogs on the menu. Beer, wine, and cocktails await at the full bars both upstairs and downstairs, and the spacious floor plan, energized with a rainbow burst of paint spread over tables, walls, and lighting, establishes a casual, yet lively atmosphere.
This French bistro plays up the classic white tablecloth concept with a burnt rose color scheme and a mod dressing of the bar area. Diners generally dress up in suit jackets and blouses for the occasion, in time for the main event of gourmet meat, like veal scallopini and roasted muscovy duck breast.
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.
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.
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?
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 Jewish-Italian deli in the Garden District offers the best of both cuisines in the form of exceptional sandwiches, like the fan-favorite Mumbler with prosciutto, arugala, Balsamic vinegar, and Talleggio cheese on toasted ciabatta. The other must-try item on the extensive menu at this divey, bare-bones icon is the muffaletta, a now-national treasure that originated in NOLA, which keeps the sandwich's traditional innards (a combination of ham, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, and, most distinctive, an olive salad spread) while swapping the usual Sicilian sesame seed bread for a French roll typically used for po-boys. You'll find other miscellaneous items sold here, too, like local craft beer, wine, candy, and T-shirts.
As the name implies, DISTRICT excels at coffee, sliders, and donuts, all while making innovative changes to each. In lieu of your average breakfast sandwich, expect "croquenuts" (a hybrid of a croque madame and a donut) or bacon & egg on a miso-praline biscuit. Donuts, meanwhile, range from the simple glazed and cinnamon sugar to the more unconventional Sriracha-maple, candied thyme, and cereal & milk. While you could pair your sugary goodies with a basic brew, we suggest you opt for house staples like Vietnamese cold brew or the "Sproca-Cola," a winning combination of cola, espresso, and chocolate milk.
This Uptown Mexi-spot (run by Chef David Wright) doles out tasty tacos (obvi) and a host of other delicious options that are all made from scratch. And to wash it all down, they also feature a selection of more than 100 mezcals and tequilas.
One of NOLA's finest BBQ joints, McClure's cooks his meats in a gigantic courtyard smoker and gives you the option of selecting from a variety of sauces, including North Carolina-style, sweet Kansas City sauce, and white Alabama sauce.
The pizza at Domenica, Alan Shaya's spot in the Roosevelt Hotel, was so good that he decided to dedicate an entire restaurant to it. The Uptown pizzeria focuses on Neapolitan pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients and house-cured meats. The menu features speciality pies, like the ode-to-NOLA muffaletta pizza, plus a few salads and appetizers, like top-notch garlic knots and house-smoked chicken wings.
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 family-run restaurant on Magazine St is one of the (very) few Ethiopian restaurants in New Orleans. The menu includes lamb, beef, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, which should be eaten the right way: with your hands. All spectrums of spicy are represented on the menu, so brave the wat at your own risk.
This Garden District tapas spot offers a plethora of small plates and sides inspired by the cuisine of Latin America. The lively scene is perfect for dining with groups. Munch on mazorca (grilled corn and salao cheese), chow down on chorizo, sip on sangria... you get the picture.
Juan's Flying Burrito serves up Tex-Mex fare with a Creole twist, and there's plenty of Mexican and domestic beer available. If tequila's more your speed, have no fear: it's got more than 15 different varieties available, as well as a selection of top-shelf margaritas.
Bulldog is a low-key tavern on the corner of Magazine and Pleasant with a vast beer selection and a popular, dog-friendly patio (hence the name). The neighborhood watering hole boasts 48 mostly craft and local beers on draft and more than 100 bottled, plus a pub menu of burgers, seafood, and signature dishes like crawfish banditos and Tex-Mex eggrolls. It's the ideal lineup for the fans who pack the place during football season thanks to Bulldog's many flat-screens. But, if you're not crazy about sports, the twinkle-lit, brick-walled patio is worth a visit, offering a gorgeous and relaxing spot to people-watch on one of the most popular thoroughfares in the city.
Established in 1949, Tracey's is an Irish Channel favorite, slinging booze, po-boys, and gourmet soups, in front of 20 televisions, as well as housing the Upper 9 Doughnut Company every Saturday. We think that Tracey's is one of the best Irish bars in New Orleans.
This spot is all about tradition-- housed in an old Victorian manse and working off a menu of family style Sicilian fare, Amici is one of those places you coming back to. Its coal-fired pizzas hit the sweet spot of being not too soft and too not too crispy, with a bubbly, charred crust and a warm, saucy center. The spacious bar area features over 30 beers on draft and a full bar.
Located at the heart of Magazine St, Joey K's is a local favorite for homestyle NOLA specialties like jambalaya, po-boys, catfish, and red beans & rice.
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.
Sushi: it's what's for dinner at AJ & J's Asian Bistro in the Garden District. The modern, sleek space offers up an extensive menu of sashimi, nigiri, and hand rolled maki. We love the appetizer house special: AJ & J's Tartare, made with guacamole, fresh tuna, and balsamic vinegar. Also be sure to peep the cocktail menu!
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.
Located right outside the Garden District, this cozy eatery's all about family style serving up delectable small plates like duck confit, steamed clams, and tempura green beans to share and wash down with classic cocktails with cool names like the Upside Down Apple.
Converted from a historic grocery store, this bistro and bar features plates crafted by James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Devillier. The menu includes all-time hits like blue crab beignets, turtle Bolognese, and a gruyere cheeseburger. La Petite Grocery is true Louisiana, as evidenced by its 19th century Creole architecture and craft cocktails like the double rye whiskey Bee Hive.
This cash-only, counter-service hole-in-the-wall may not look like much, but the po-boys at this neighborhood joint have more than won the hearts of locals over the years -- both for their cheap price and for their no-nonsense style. A couple of suggestions? The crispy, not-too-greasy fried shrimp po-boy, and the fried oyster po-boy, which combines top-notch local oysters with juicy pickles and local Blue Plate mayonnaise on fresh French bread.