Travel To Eat: The 10 Most Classic Restaurants in New Orleans, One of America's Food Meccas
New Orleans is home to one of the most exciting, diverse, and storied culinary scenes in the U.S. Whether you’re looking for a dependable classic or an exciting newcomer, here are 10 restaurants you shouldn’t miss during your next visit to the Big Easy.
Established in 1840, Antoine’s boasts the title of New Orleans’s oldest restaurant and the birthplace of Oysters Rockefeller. Today, it’s still family run (under the watchful eye of fifth-generation proprietor Rick Blount). No matter which of the grand 14 dining rooms you find yourself in, you’ll be rewarded with personable service and classic French-Creole cuisine. Cap the evening with the Cafe Brulot Diabolique, a flaming coffee cocktail dramatically presented table side.
713 St Louis Street, 504-581-4422, antoines.com
Chef Alon Shaya’s buzzy Israeli spot may be built around humble staples, but don’t be fooled—it ranks among the best in the city. All it takes is a few bites before you realize Shaya’s brilliant ability to elevate even the simplest snacks. The steamy, pillowy pitas are baked in a wood–fired oven, while the velvety hummus arrives with creative toppings, such as curried fried cauliflower and lamb ragú.
4213 Magazine Street, 504-891-4213, shayarestaurant.com
Awash in a whimsical palette of pinks and greens, the iconic establishment is best known for turning out indulgent, leisurely breakfasts of Caribbean milk punch, baked apple, and egg yolk carpaccio. But acclaimed chef Slade Rushing is proving dinner to be a must-visit affair with his sophisticated spins on local favorites. His redfish amandine, for example, gets fancy with crunchy Marcona almonds and preserved lemon butter.
417 Royal Street, 504-525-9711, brennansneworleans.com
4. Willa Jean
Named after chef and co-owner Kelly Fields' grandmother, this lively, all-day cafe in the Warehouse District embodies everything a modern neighborhood restaurant should be. The food is straightforward and deeply comforting (think pimento cheese, avocado toast, and fried chicken biscuits), the service is relaxed, and the prices are wallet-friendly. In short: it’s the kind of place you’ll want to come back to over and over again.
611 O'Keefe Avenue, 504-509-7334, willajean.com
The handsome dining room—kitted out with oversized glass windows, crystal chandeliers, and an oil portrait of founder Count Arnaud—sets an unequivocally elegant tone for dinner and Sunday brunch, but make sure to pop by the adjacent Arnaud's French 75 Bar for a more relaxed, laid-back experience with spirited, well-crafted cocktails like sazeracs and, naturally, French 75s. And no visit would be complete without a visit upstairs to the restaurant’s Mardi Gras Museum.
813 Bienville Street, 504-523-5433, arnaudsrestaurant.com
While many top restaurants in the Big Easy offer Friday lunches—the booze-filled, mid-day meals are practically an institution—you won’t find a better or more civilized version than the one at chef John Besh’s flagship restaurant in the Central Business District. Even though rich, heavy food is the city’s hallmark, the kitchen also offers an imaginative vegetarian tasting menu that satisfies even the most dedicated of carnivores.
301 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504-299-9777, restaurantaugust.com
7. Commander's Palace
Opened in 1880, this stately Victorian mansion in the Garden District attracts both tourists and locals alike with its winning combination of gracious service, refined Creole cooking by chef Tory McPhail, and an upscale, yet approachable vibe. The legendary weekend jazz brunch pairs house favorites (such as bloody marys, turtle soup, and bread pudding soufflé) with the soulful sounds of Joe Simon's Jazz Trio.
1403 Washington Avenue, 504-899-8221, commanderspalace.com
The seafood at this bustling, casual eatery in the Warehouse District might be local, but the inspiration by chefs and partners Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Ryan Prewitt are global. Make a meal out of the hearty snacks and small plates, including the smoked tuna dip with
800 Magazine Street, 504-522-1744, pecherestaurant.com
9. Caribbean Room
Situated on the ground floor of the recently renovated, historic Pontchartrain Hotel, this fine dining destination features a lush and colorful decor, with green banana leaf carpeting, white rattan furniture, and oversized murals by local artist Charles Reinike. While the food mostly pays homage to the city’s rich culinary history, there’s also original, globe-trotting creations like Tempura Shrimp Saki and short rib ravioli.
2031 St Charles Avenue, 504-323-1500, thecaribbeanroom.com
10. Dooky Chase's
For over 75 years, this beloved, family-owned mainstay has been dishing up some of the city’s finest comfort food. But given the limited hours—it’s open only for lunch Tuesday through Friday, and Friday for dinner—arrive early, and be prepared to wait. Once you’re seated, your best bet is to go with the daily buffet. From arguably the city’s
2301 Orleans Avenue, 504-821-0600, dookychaserestaurant.com