Taste Test: How to Cool Down a Spicy Mouth
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome: any of the seafood
Central Business District
You can’t go wrong with the seafood selection here at the hands of Chef Brian Landry, but you absolutely must pair it with their phenomenal duck poppers loaded with jalapeño and bacon.
Crescent City Connection: a banh mi
These twin bridges spanning the mighty Mississippi are quite a sight. And if you happen to find yourself driving on one of them (particularly headed to the West Bank), a stop at the HKM is a must for amazing produce, giant vats of kimchi, and, naturally, their house-made banh mi sandwich which costs less than four bucks. And grab some roasted duck for the road, because who doesn’t love roasted duck?
Lee Circle: citrus-glazed jumbo shrimp with Cajun grain rice, bacon, and almonds
Central Business District
It’s unclear how long this traffic roundabout (formerly Tivoli Circle) will be named after General Lee, but the fact still stands that there are too many amazing restaurants in the CBD to even count. Donald Link’s flagship is a perennial favorite, though, and you should go there for the amazing, elegant Southern fare.
Audubon Park: smoked, fried soft-shell crabs (in season)
This joint is a heralded favorite of the well-heeled Uptown set, the kind that like to order Jeroboam-sized bottles of wine on the corporate card and make sure everyone notices. But don’t let the crowd fool you; Clancy’s is a favorite for good reasons, not the least of which is a plate of smoky fried soft shells that have no equal in the Big Easy.
French Market: burger with veggies on an English muffin
Oh, so you thought we’d go with a muffaletta at the Central Grocery here, didn’t you? Well, that’s a classic, but Chef Matthew Kopfler’s pop-up at Molly’s is still one of the best edible secrets in town. The menu changes seasonally, of course, but the burger with veggies on an English muffin is a clear winner every time.
Frenchmen St: grilled yellowtail neck
Oddly for a neighborhood as lauded as the Marigny, there aren’t a ton of “destination restaurants” (certainly not compared to the Quarter). But if you’re having a night out on Frenchmen, Yuki offers some surprisingly refined Izakaya-style fare along with their live music, excellent fuel for what will clearly be a long and fun night.
Armstrong Park: seafood gumbo
There are obviously too many fantastic restaurants in the vicinity of Armstrong Park to even list, but should you find yourself in the Treme, the gumbo at Li'l Dizzy’s is a city-wide favorite.
City Park: fried P&J oysters with pickled blue cheese salad and nuoc cham mayo
It’s difficult to suggest anything but Bud’s Broiler when you’re near the park, but if anyone’s gonna best those grease bombs with hickory sauce, it’s Michael Gulotta. There are myriad fried oyster dishes in this city, but the Fried P&J oysters with pickled bleu cheese salad and nuoc cham mayo is a masterful combo of Asian and Gulf Coast influence, exemplifying what makes MoPho so great.
Bourbon St: the Galatoire's goute
Forget the horrible pizza and fried chicken losers on Bourbon. You’re better than that. If you’re dining on one of the most famous streets in NOLA, you need to hit Galatoire’s for the celebrated “goute,” a classic Creole combo of shrimp remoulade, Crabmeat Maison, and oysters en brochette (yes, those are fried oysters wrapped in bacon). Everything else on the menu is just fine, fine gravy.
Crescent Park: a slice and whatever special pasta's on the menu
It took two frustrated Yankee Tulane grads to finally bring true NYC-style slices to the Big Easy, and thank goodness for those wonderful gents. Their authentic, foldable slices are the real deal, but don’t miss out on the house-made pastas, one of the best dining steals around, which would easily cost twice as much at a joint with white tablecloths instead of a Bywater slice shop.
The New Orleans Museum of Art: escargot
It’s weird to think that in a city with such a storied French history, there are so few continental-style French eateries around. But at least we have Cafe Degas and its excellently buttery snails, perfect for sopping up with a crusty baguette.
The National WWII Museum: house-made potato gnocchi with blue crab and black truffles
Central Business District
Chef John Besh has become one of the most notable cooks in NOLA, a lot which has to do with his restaurant business savvy (not to mention that TV-perfect smile), but also with his actual skill in the kitchen. You can and should find this plainly evident in the famed crab and truffle gnocchi at his flagship, Restaurant August.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1: shrimp and tasso Henican
Should you find yourself in the Garden District admiring the old live oaks and the famous cemeteries, you’d be a fool not to stop into Commander’s for a bite, especially when it comes to one of their most brilliant, complex, and refined dishes, Shrimp Henican. Just make sure to wear a jacket (or cocktail attire), or they WILL turn you away at the door. It’s that kind of classy.
Fair Grounds: the Frenchuletta
This Italian-Creole spot is famed for serving up pre-Jazz Fest cocktails and post-race beers, but don’t ignore the menu, which includes a heart-stopping muffaletta served on toasted garlic bread, the kind of sandwich that would make your cardiologist wet himself. Totally worth it.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY): boiled crawfish, crabs, and shrimp
If you need just one last taste of NOLA before heading to your next destination, consider hitting this joint in Kenner before you fly for boiled crawfish, crabs, and shrimp.
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Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans who could spend and entire day and an entire paycheck at the Hong Kong Market. Follow him on Twitter: @scottgold