4 Must-Try New Orleans Restaurants
A city of eclectic cuisine and culture, New Orleans is chock full of historic cafés and interesting eateries. There are so many in fact, that it could take eating out every night for more than a year to get close to trying them all, and that’s a lot of Po’ Boys, Jambalaya, Boudin, Gumbo, and more. So, let’s narrow the list a little. Should you find yourself in the Big Easy, here are four of the top New Orleans restaurants my family thinks you should try.
Favorite Places to Eat in New Orleans
Neighborhood: Irish Channel
Housed in a beautifully renovated old shotgun house, Atchafalaya has a casual and colorful atmosphere that draws people in. Live music fills the interior. Art lines the walls. We’d overheard multiple hotel guests at Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue rave about the breakfast here so we decided to check it ourselves, and we were not disappointed.
Adults will enjoy the constructing their own Bloody Marys from a Make-Your-Own bar that included okra, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, and curried cauliflower. Our kids loved the French toast with a generous portion of bananas on top. It does come with a Bananas Foster Rum Syrup but it is on the side, if you don’t want your kids to have it.
I took the advice of a gaggle of Hilton business travelers and ordered the Shrimp and Grits. It was a generous portion of head-on gulf shrimp, Andouille sausage, and smoked tomatoes atop cream cheese grits. It was so savory, creamy, and filling that I was good to go for much of the day. We also shared a side of alligator sausage. If you haven’t tried alligator sausage, you should because it has a nice spicy bite to it! (Excuse the pun.)
Neighborhood: Business District
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
One of the restaurants inside Hilton New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue, our home base during our New Orleans stay, we hit up Lüke for our first breakfast as well as one dinner during our trip. The long dark wood bar, the neat lines of crisp linen on the tables and the dark wood accents in the restaurant instantly reminded me of the brasseries I frequently visited during travels through Europe. New Orleans was once home to quite a few of these grand old spots.
We kicked off our NOLA explorations with a Southern Breakfast (it seemed appropriate): two organic eggs cooked any style with bacon, cane syrup sausage or ham, biscuits and creamy grits. Those after lighter, healthier selections at our table went for the Healthy Start: local yogurt with homemade granola and berries. We ate surrounded by business travelers and tourists who like ourselves were fueling up to execute big plans.
We returned for dinner a few days later, this time taking a table with a full view into the windowed kitchen rather than in the front room. The kids enjoyed watching the flurry of activity — chopping, sauteing, stirring and plating — taking place right in front of them.
Everything delivered to our table was a delicious surprise. The matzo ball and roast chicken soup was something we didn’t expect on a Southern-influenced menu. The Jumbo Louisiana Shrimp en Cocotte with roasted jalapeño cheese grits, Andouille and green onion sausages was amazing, and the Washington Parish Roasted Chicken with rustic rosemary potatoes, garden herbs and natural jus was savory and delicious. The Lüke Burger was well-received by both of our kids. Accessorized with bacon, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, it was accompanied by house-made fries.
We topped dinner off with Brendan’s Bread Pudding, which was served with vanilla bean ice cream and hot pecan sauce. We had ours with four spoons because one serving of this decadent dessert was satisfying enough to please our whole family.
Neighborhood: Warehouse Arts District
The inspiration for this restaurant comes from the traditional Caribbean folktales featuring a mischievous rabbit named Compère Lapin. Chef Nina Compton enjoyed these stories as a child and draws on their themes of exploration and play for creating recipes influenced by both her Caribbean roots and New Orleans itself. Compton was the runner-up in Bravo’s 11th season of Top Chef, which was filmed in New Orleans.
Located in the Warehouse Arts District, the restaurant has a decidedly industrial scheme with a fun and playful vibe. There’s a reminder on the menu to, “Eat Your Vegetables.” (It’s the name of an actual dish on the menu.) My family highly recommends the marinated shrimp with roasted jalapeño jus as well as the roasted chicken with corn grits and sausage jus. The menu items are served on small plates making them easy to share.
My husband and I really enjoyed this place. Despite the whimsical story linking it to a collection of Caribbean folktales, I wouldn’t recommend bringing kids to this restaurant. There was no kids menu, although our kids managed to find something to eat in this fine establishment. I suggest getting a sitter for the kiddos so that you can linger a little longer and savor a date night here.
Court of Two Sisters
Neighborhood: French Quarter
Meal: Jazz Brunch
When you can combine live jazz and brunch in New Orleans go for it, especially if it is at the Court of Two Sisters. Named for sisters Emma and Bertha Camors, who once had a shop at this address, Jazz Brunch is offered here daily. Fill your plate with hot and cold Creole recipes like: boiled shrimp with Creole remoulade, Duck à l’ orange, Crawfish Louise, and Creole Jambalaya, and head out into the lovely shaded courtyard to enjoy it with some live Jazz music. Then go back as many times as you wish because there is plenty to try!
The brunch includes a huge salad bar filled with creative recipes like Zesty Cajun Pasta, Sweet Potato w/Andouille Sausage, Creamy Crawfish and Spinach Pasta, and Ceviche. The craziest thing we tried by California standards was Turtle Soup!
The kids’ eyes lit up at the sight of the dessert selections. Even during breakfast hours there was an amazing sampling of desserts, including pecan pie, king cake, brownies, and Courtyard Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce. The service is friendly and helpful. You may just want to linger in this lovely setting all day!
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Know Before You Go
- New Orleans is known as “The Big Easy.”
- The National WWII Museum is one of the top-rated museums in the country. Don’t miss checking it out!
- The famous Café Du Monde is open 24 hours a day to get your beignet fix.
- If you plan to go during Mardi Gras, pack comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.