...for the classy-as-hell New Orleans “Grande Dame” restaurant experience: Galatoire’s
It’s a NOLA classic, filled with traditional, elegant Creole fare (think crabmeat ravigotte, oysters en brouchette, shrimp remoulade and soufflé potatoes). Just look into reservations well in advance, especially if you’re bringing a huge party. Also, plan to dress nice and all. Bring a jacket and a decent pair of shoes, if not a tailored seersucker suit.
...and you’re looking for one of the most famous burgers in NOLA (especially late night): Port of Call
There are plenty of hamburgers to get excited about in New Orleans, but this joint has been blowing locals and visitors away for more than half a century. Make sure to load it up with shredded cheddar and mushrooms.
...and you’re looking for the best raw oysters: Casamento’s
Another historic spot, you may have to wait in line for a spell at Casamento’s (although they’re closed during the summer months), but it’s worth it. Huge, inexpensive, raw Louisiana bivalves, stellar oyster stew, and an oyster loaf served on buttery Texas toast is where you'll want to focus. Tip Mike, their shucker, and he’ll toss a raw one into your mouth from across the room.
...and you want meaty sandwiches: Cochon Butcher
The Central Grocery might have invented the muffaletta, but Butcher has perfected it with a hot version loaded full of house-cured meats, melted cheese, and olive salad. Their pressed Cuban is also well worth your attention.
...and you’re looking for BBQ: The Joint
The New Orleans barbecue renaissance is in full swing, and it’s near impossible to pick a winner amongst all the sublime swine in town. Go to The Joint for the ribs, stay for the Louisiana Chaurice sausage and a slice of peanut butter pie.
...and you want an inventive take on Gulf cuisine with gobstopping portions: Borgne
Chef Brian Landry, a 504-native, does some amazing things with the fruits of the Gulf; from crawfish, shrimp, and oysters, to blue crabs and soft shells, you name it, he serves it. And all in portions built to satisfy. The shrimp croquettas, deep-fried and packed with a decadent cheese filling, are not to be missed.
...and want some serious steak action: La Boca
There are a ton of steakhouses in New Orleans, but Adolfo Garcia’s Argentinian palace of beef is the place to hit for any seriously discerning carnivore.
...and you want fried chicken: Willie Mae’s Scotch House
There’s a reason this place is synonymous with “New Orleans fried chicken”. It really is that good.
...and want to eat at the place your grandfather loved best in New Orleans: Mandina’s
From turtle soup to gumbo, fried softshell crabs, po-boys, and a trout amandine or meuniere the size of your head, Mandina’s is a fiercely beloved Mid-City restaurant, and has been for generations. Make sure you go hungry, and pack some Zantac, because you’re gonna feel this one.
...and you want the best fried seafood po-boy in town: Domilise's
This is a subject of serious debate amongst New Orleanians, and it isn't subsiding any time soon. That said, a shrimp, oyster, or catfish po-boy at Domilise’s -- always hand-battered and fried to order on the spot -- will never disappoint you.