Picking the right restaurant for a business lunch is a fine art. It's hard to make a good impression when the menu (or decor, or service) doesn't. If you're in New Orleans for business, odds are good that you're staying in or near the Central Business District/Warehouse District (where most of the city's larger hotels and smaller conference centers, as well as the Convention Center, are found), so it'll make sense to pick a restaurant in that neighborhood for lunch.
Not coincidentally, the CBD and Warehouse District happen to be home to many of the city's finest restaurants, many of which are perfect for a business lunch meeting. Try one of these excellent establishments to impress your associates and make the best use of your expense account.
This flagship of the Emeril Lagasse restaurant empire is one of New Orleans' most famous and most beloved restaurants. The warehouse-chic decor and impeccable service are nothing compared to the outstanding food. If you're looking for some real name-brand pizzazz to impress your business associate, Emeril's is a great choice. Don't leave without trying the banana creme pie -- it's the best you'll ever eat.
The Grill Room
The Grill Room, in the refined Windsor Court Hotel, is the perfect lunch spot if you're looking for high-class charm -- it's very old-school, in the best possible way. The breezy, French Colonial decor makes for an upscale setting, and the simple but elegant menu is accompanied by one of the finest wine lists in the South. This is one of the most popular destinations for local business people on working lunches, so take your cue there.
Celebrity chef and local hero John Besh opened this restaurant in 2001, and the accolades (which include a Food and Wine Best New Chef Award and a James Beard Award) began to roll in immediately. It remains one of the city's top-rated restaurants and excels in food (classic French with new-world touches), ambiance (warm and elegant), and service (exemplary). If you're planning a larger lunch meeting and would like a private room, August has a lovely one available by reservation.
Lüke is another John Besh restaurant, this one located in the Hilton St. Charles and modeled after a traditional Alsatian brasserie, a style of restaurant which was once quite popular in old Francophone New Orleans. It's more casual than August, but the slightly down-homier atmosphere and food (don't get me wrong, they're still impeccably classy) might be more appropriate for meetings that call for a bit less formality while still retaining the celebrity chef wow factor and a high level of service and cuisine.
Cochon is one of my favorite restaurants to send New Orleans first-timers to. With local culinary celeb Chef Donald Link at the helm, the food is spectacular, and leans toward the hearty, meaty Cajun side of things that is so easy to fall in love with. The atmosphere is trendy but jovial -- casual enough that you can wear jeans but chic enough that your associates will take it seriously. If you're trying to project an aura of "cool" with your restaurant selection, Cochon is an excellent choice.