With its world-famous jazz clubs, colorful architecture, ornate above-ground cemeteries, and beautiful parks and gardens, there's no place like New Orleans. The city is one of the country's best food destinations, where you can find everything from traditional gumbo, fried catfish, and beignets to Caribbean, Italian, and Asian fare.
And while the lively French Quarter has some notable spots, like sustainable seafood institution GW Fin's and must-visit Killer Po' Boys, don't neglect other New Orleans neighborhoods, like Bywater, Tremé, Uptown, and the Garden District, which offer everything from casual neighborhood mainstays to intimate dining rooms and romantic patios.
From the casual family-owned soul food at Barrow's Catfish to the playful, nostalgic sandwiches of Turkey and the Wolf to the classical elegance and can't-miss 25-cent lunch martinis at Commander's Palace, these are the best restaurants in the Crescent City.
Chef Nina Compton playfully and expertly blends the flavors of her homeland, Saint Lucia, with classic New Orleans cuisine at this buzzy spot located inside the Old 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Snag a seat at the bar or in the exposed-brick dining room for must-have dishes like the spiced pig ears with smoked aioli, conch croquettes with pickled pineapple, and the curried goat, served on a bed of sweet potato gnocchi and topped with cashews. Compton's other restaurant, the intimate Bywater American Bistro, is also worth a visit.
It's not a proper visit to New Orleans without a least one po'boy, and Killer PoBoys serves some of the city's best. What started as a pop-up (and now a designated window) inside the popular French Quarter dive bar Erin Rose has evolved into a second, permanent brick-and-mortar location on Dauphine. Both offer innovative takes on the classic Louisiana sandwich, including coriander lime gulf shrimp, roasted sweet potato, and Moroccan-spiced lamb, all served on fresh bread from local Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong.
From its 19th century exterior to its glamorous chandeliers, exposed brick walls, and innovative Southern menu, this Garden District bistro is elegant yet never pretentious. Pull up to the long bar for a drink from the extensive list of wine, cocktails, and beers and a snack like onion dip with trout roe or chicken liver mousse. The concise menu also includes vegetable-forward small plates and larger dishes like smoked beef short rib with fresh turmeric, cashew, and puffed rice. A five-course tasting menu is available for $65, with wine pairings available for an additional $35.
Housed in a bright turquoise-colored Victorian mansion, this Garden District institution has been a fine dining destination for visitors and residents alike for decades. Come dressed—business attire is encouraged—for the 25-cent martini lunch (yes, really!) and stay for the sherry turtle soup and other house classics like the house Creole gumbo and wild Louisiana white shrimp curry. Save room for dessert: the Creole bread pudding soufflé is excellent.
Turkey & the Wolf
Yes, a sandwich shop is one of the city's best restaurants. Those in the know line up around the block for chef and owner Mason Hereford's playful, creative takes on classic childhood sandwiches, all made with mostly locally sourced ingredients. Try the fried bologna sandwich, loaded with meat, hot mustard, mayo, shredded lettuce, American cheese, and potato chips for extra crunch and whimsy. The vegetarian-friendly collard green melt is another house specialty. Visit sister restaurant Molly's Rise and Shine for the same nostalgic, fun approach to brunch.
Year after year, this small, elegant restaurant in the Central Business District serves some of the city's most consistently good food. The vibe is a mix of casual tourists and the buttoned-up post-work crowd, and the food is classic New Orleans fare with Italian and French influences. The small plates like seasonal salads, gumbo, and shrimp and fish ceviche are perfect for happy hour snacks, and don't miss the house-made pasta or the duck leg confit served with a citrus gastrique and dirty rice.
This family-run spot—one of the city's longest operating Black businesses—originally opened in 1943 as Barrow's Shady Inn, serving a simple menu of fried catfish, potato salad, buttered white bread, and lemonade. The menu eventually expanded, but the restaurant had to shutter due to Hurricane Katrina. In 2018, the family revived the business, serving up catfish and seafood platters, gumbo, crawfish and corn bisque, barbecue ribs, and classic Southern sides like baked beans and sautéed spinach.
With a kitchen helmed by New Orleans born and raised Eric Cook, expect creative riffs on classic Southern fare, all in a laid-back, lively environment. Think chicken and andouille gumbo, oyster pie, shrimp and grits, and whole Creole-fried redfish. Snag a seat at the chef's table on the restaurant's first floor, or sidle up to the second-floor bar or balcony. The weekend brunch is one of the city's best. Your order: the crawfish omelet with Louisiana crawfish tails, spinach and mozzarella, and crab fat hollandaise.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Expect a long line: Parkway is the go-to spot in New Orleans for delicious, authentic po'boys. The generous shrimp po'boy is always a solid pick, but the roast beef and surf and turf options are also outstanding. Come on Monday or Wednesday for the famed oyster po'boy. And don't skip the fries: both the regular and sweet potato varieties are available with "debris," a delicious gravy with bits of roast beef—perfect for fueling a long day of exploring the city or recovering the day after a long night enjoying the city's jazz and bar scene.
Another spot that shuttered and then re-opened due to Katrina, this family-run local favorite in Tremé offers creative twists on Cajun cuisine. The dining room is intimate and warm, and the restaurant has sidewalk seating as well. Menu highlights include the slow-roasted duck with orange-sherry sauce, barbecue shrimp pie, and a duo sausage gumbo bowl, with house-made green anise chicken sausage, andouille sausage, and popcorn rice in a rich, dark roux. For dessert, opt for the peppermint "Patti," an ice cream sandwich made with chocolate chip cookies and peppermint ice cream covered in chocolate sauce.
Look for fine dining in the French Quarter? Head to GW Fins's, where entrées rotate daily based on the supply from local, sustainably-minded seafood suppliers. Expect both chilled and hot appetizers like tuna tartare and lobster dumplings as well as main dishes that range from local grouper to sea scallops, halibut, and black bass, all with pristine white tablecloths, impeccable service, and the backdrop of the Quarter as you dine.
This airy Marigny mainstay is California cool meets classic Italian trattoria. Come for the house-made pasta and pizzas: you can't wrong with the classic tomato, mozzarella, and basil combo or the lamb sausage with garlic confit, roasted pepper, pine nut, and tzatziki. The seasonal salads and vegetable plates are excellent as well. And don't sleep on the drink menu: Paladar has some of the city's best restaurant cocktails, plus an extensive wine list heavy on French varietals.
Expect the unexpected at Maypop, where chef Michael Gulotta effortlessly marries the flavors of New Orleans, Southeast Asia, and Italy. Take the fried oysters, with bourbon barrel soy aïoli and Manchego cheese, the gulf fish swimming in crawfish coconut cream, and the crawfish étouffée curry, with gnocchetti pasta and puffed rice crust. Don't miss the weekend Dim Sum brunch, where you'll find traditional Bloody Marys and mimosas along with innovative dishes like turnip cakes with smoked andouille and head cheese and blue crab soup dumplings.
Located in a former donut shop in a small and colorful cottage in Uptown, LUVI features food from the chef's hometown of Shanghai and other Chinese and Japanese-inspired fare. While the menu changes often, expect staples like dumplings and dan-dan noodles and raw bar items like ceviche and sashimi. Try the dragon boat, with fresh seared tuna, black caviar, and smoked soy sauce, or one of several vegan-friendly dishes, like spicy stir-fry bean curd with jalapēno, red onion, and black bean chili.
This Mid-City neighborhood spot, helmed by Herbsaint alums Marcus Jacobs and Caitlin Carney, serves some of the city's most creative food. Expect a mix of Asian and Delta cuisine, like local chili butter gulf shrimp with lemongrass sambal butter and crispy pig knuckles with cane syrup, chilis, and herbs. The restaurant also offers several vegetable dishes as well, like grilled broccoli and braised greens.
Dooky Chase Restaurant
From its modest beginnings as a sandwich shop and lottery ticket outlet, this family-helmed restaurant in Tremé grew into one of the city's best fine dining spots due to the cooking and vision of award-winning chef Leah Chase, the late "Queen of Creole" cuisine. Dooky Chase has served its renowned red beans and rice, fried chicken, gumbo, and shrimp Clemenceau to everyone from musicians to Civil Rights leaders to presidents. The lunch buffet is offered from Tuesday through Saturday, with a special Friday night dinner menu weekly.