New Orleans Restaurants: Ten Tasty Gems
- New Orleans Travel: Where's the Party
To say New Orleans is a party town is perhaps an understatement. It is probably THE party town of the United States. You can speculate on how it got that way, but the likely culprit were the French Creoles,...
Ten Tasty New Orleans Restaurants.
Bucktown - Mr. Ed's, 1001 Live Oak. 838-0022.
Mr. Ed's might be called a typical New Orleans neighborhood restaurant, but it is actually in Metairie, a close suburb. You won't find many tourists here but you will find good traditional seafood and New Orleans Creole Italian dishes and good service by attentive wait staff. It is a place I will stop at if I am on my way home, still another 30 miles across the lake, when I want food like my mother cooked and it is time to dine. I will also take out of town visitors there there for a more genuine taste of the New Orleans I knew in the 1960s.
Elizabeth's - Bywater, 601 Gallier. 944-9272.
Another neighborhood restaurant, one that is best for breakfast. Sandwiches are available. Bywater is a century old working class neighborhood (some houses are older) that has become the most Bohemian area of town after both the French Quarter and Marigny got too expensive. It is a gay friendly area. A stop at Elizabeth's for a fine late breakfast could be the beginning of a morning or day visiting the new, close-by art galleries along St. Claude Ave. At Elizabeth's you'll find nice oddities like praline bacon, boudin balls, and poached eggs on fried green tomatoes.
Ye Olde College Inn - Carrollton, 3016 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-3683
This is the restaurant on this list with the most average food, but I had to include it. It is a neighborhood restaurant that has been around since the 1930s. Again, you will find old New Orleans neighborhood dishes like a 1950s wife may have cooked for her family in her half of that shotgun house. Stick with the specials. I know the owner and he is a great guy who also owns the locally famous Rock N' Bowl. Katrina destroyed the old building but the tradition remains in the new quarters. If you are a visitor, and you want to try something different away from the normal tourist area, this place is worth a lunch.
Drago's - CBD and Metairie, 3232 N. Arnoult Rd. 888-9254
Almost an upscale restaurant. Certainly a very, very good one. Home of charbroiled oysters and Maine lobster. The Metairie location is almost a neighborhood place but not quite. It is one of the best seafood restaurants in a city known for seafood. Try the newer Central Business District location or stop at the Metairie location on the way to the airport. Your last food memory of New Orleans will be one to remember for quite some time.
Del Porto - Covington, 501 E Boston. 985-875-1006
Who would expect to find a Tuscan Italian restaurant in the once sleepy St. Tammany Parish town of Covington? Not many people, but that is one of the great food mysteries of the New Orleans area. The standard for food excellence is so high that it is permeating even old towns in new exurban areas (or suburban). The food is great with good service and fine atmosphere. It is a bit pricey.
Cafe Giovanni - French Quarter, 117 Decatur. 529-2154
Chef/Owner Duke LoCicero almost single handily restored the first block of Deactur Street off Canal Street with his fine Italian restaurant. The dining environment is great. The food is a splendid combination of Creole, Sicilian, and touches of the rest of the world. Try the tasting menu, and go one night when the opera singers are out to entertain you as you dine. One festive Christmas, I listened to them sing carols as I had one of the finest meals in my recent memory.
Johnny's Po-boys - French Quarter, 511 St. Louis. 524-8129
What's a trip to New Orleans without a po-boy? This is a place where locals still eat regularly. You can pick up a wonderful roast beef po-boy on your way back to your hotel and enjoy it as you unwind from a day of sight seeing or conventioneering. Don't miss a stop at Johnny's if you want a taste of old, every-day New Orleans.
Le Parvenu - Kenner, 509 Williams Blvd. 471-0534
Here is another reason to get out of the city for a dining treat -- and another stop on the way to the airport if you have the time and energy after a few days in the city. Billed as a Contemporary Creole restaurant, it is the place to do for residents of Kenner and the River Parishes. It is fine dining in the oldest part of one of the city's newest suburbs. It does well what so many contemporary New Orleans restaurants now feature: contemporary dishes with classic influences and with the freshest ingredients available.
La Provence - Lacombe, 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662
Perhaps the top Northshore gem, this St. Tammany restaurant set the standard for fine dining in this suburb/exurb 35 miles north of New Orleans. It is Provence in the pine woods. Opened by legendary Chef Chris Kerageorgiou, the restaurant is now owned by about to be legendary John Besh . Combining superb food, a great wine list, and a splendid atmosphere, here is a another reason to take your palate out of the city when visiting the New Orleans area. Where else will you find quail gumbo or Daube de Cabri?
Liuzzas - Midcity, 3636 Bienville. 482-9120
There are two Liuzzas in New Orleans. Both are in Midcity. The other is usually known as Liuzzas by the Track, being close to the Fairgrounds race track. The Bienville location is often the first place I will take a visitor when I want to show them a traditional New Orleans neighborhood cafe. When you visit you will never know that it sat under six feet of water after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city. This restaurant alone is reason enough for hurricane recovery. Here you will once again find the kind of meals that New Orleans homemakers once cooked and that found their way into the city's street corner eateries. Try the Fenchuletta, their version of the famed Muffuletta. Like many older New Orleans restaurants you can find Sicily in the food fairly easily.
This list should get you started on your next trip to New Orleans. The list avoided the usual suspects purposefully. I once had a New Orleans restaurant owner tell me that you could eat three meals a day in the city for two weeks and never come close to an average meal. He probably understated that reality.