Newcomer's Guide to New Orleans
New Orleans is a food lover's paradise, but trying to decide where to eat (and once there, what to eat) can be overwhelming. Here’s a first-timer's guide to some of the best places and dishes to eat in NOLA.
Welcome to New Orleans
Mr. B's Bistro
201 Royal St.
One word: classy. This French Quarter staple, owned by the well-pedigreed Cindy Brennan, is as justly famous for its wait staff and cooks as its finely tuned Creole classic dishes and its cool, casual atmosphere.
Must-Try Dishes at Mr. B's
The must-eat? Barbecued Shrimp. Erase whatever that name conjures. This is an only-in-NOLA dish of shrimp sauteed with garlic, Worcestershire, Creole seasoning and butter, lots of it. The soft slices of French bread are for sopping up the delicious sauce. Don’t be afraid to ask for more bread. The surprise is Chicken Pontalba, which is only available at brunch. Created by the venerable Paul Blange, the former chef of Brennan’s, it’s one of the older classics of the New Orleans pantheon, though increasingly hard to find. The rich recipe consists of seared chicken served over diced potatoes, ham and mushrooms. A luxurious bearnaise sauce coats the whole thing.
1403 Washington Ave.
From Paul Prudhomme to Emeril Lagasse and now Tory McPhail, what famous New Orleans chef hasn’t worked here? Located in the lush Garden District across from moss-draped trees and an ancient, above-ground cemetery, this 100-year-old restaurant is truly family owned — Ella Brennan, the proprietress and grande dame of New Orleans, lives next door. A meal here is a major treat from beginning to end. A team of waiters winds you through room after room — on a parade of coolness paramount to Ray Liotta walking through the kitchen of Copacabana in the movie Goodfellas. As you approach your table, the waiters pull out your chair — a waiter for every chair!
Must-Try Dishes at Commander's
209 Bourbon St.
Every day at Galatoire’s is a special event, but the Friday lunch is legendary: Many customers take their table at lunch and totter away long after dinner. The waiters are as good as the food; some of them have been working there since the 1960s, serving three to four generations of many local families.
Must-Try Dishes at Galatoire's
High Hat Cafe
4500 Freret St.
A newcomer on a street that has taken off in recent years — from the cocktail haven Cure to The Company Burger — this neighborhood haunt is the type of place we could eat at every night. Adolfo Garcia, one of the owners, is an affable fellow who executes down-home dishes perfectly in a vein he terms “the Delta meets the Bayou.”
Must-Try Dishes at High Hat Cafe
616 St. Peter St.
Dickie Brennan has many restaurants in town, but this one — his newest (and dearest) — celebrates old New Orleans in a way that’s nostalgic and tasty at the same time. Nestled in the same building as the Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre (the oldest community theater in the country), Tableau has all the trappings of a new classic establishment: a formal staff, romantic courtyard lighting and a menu chock-full of spins on traditional fare.
Must-Try Dishes at Tableau
115 Bourbon St.
You can’t walk down Bourbon Street without noticing this rollicking bastion of seafood. Despite its sprawling size and bustling demeanor, it’s a populist restaurant that does everything right.
Must-Try Dishes at Redfish Grill
813 Rue Bienville
This old French Quarter lady was rescued and renovated by the Casbarian family in the late 1970s. Arnaud’s is everything a New Orleans restaurant should be: mysterious, inviting and delicious. (Check out the Mardi Gras museum on the second floor.)
Must-Try Dishes at Arnaud's
777 Rue Bienville
The brainchild of Louisiana’s chef-in-chief John Folse and Chicago’s Rick Tramonto, this elegant French Quarter restaurant evokes the spirit of the city in a series of finely crafted renditions of old-style dishes.
Must-Try Dishes at Restaurant R'evolution
845 N. Carrollton Ave.
Despite the cuisine’s widespread popularity, Cajun restaurants are few and far between in New Orleans. Hence, Chef Isaac and Amanda Toups' decision to open Toups' Meatery, which is nothing short of a new Cajun masterpiece. Isaac is from Rayne, La., (in the heart of Cajun country) and cooks a lot of the food here just as he learned from his family.