We admit it. We are foodies. No matter where we go, we seek out good restaurants with interesting dishes that reflect local cuisine and ingredients. On our numerous trips to New Orleans, we have found some favorite (and some not-so-favorite) dining adventures. This blog combines our New Orleans eating experiences for places that are currently open (listed alphabetically). Check the websites for current conditions and menus as restaurants and chefs come and go.
Dining in New Orleans Restaurants
This restaurant in the World War II museum is, from our single experience, worth a stop even for those not going to the museum. We had three very good dishes: gumbo with chicken, pork, and alligator sausage; shrimp and grits with roasted tomato and tasso ham; and fried oyster BLT sliders with parmesan-crusted oysters, tomato and pork belly.
We had a nice, albeit not especially memorable meal where we shared two appetizers and one entrée. The fried oysters were served on a bed of sautéed spinach and topped with melted brie. Shrimp remoulade (on lettuce with remoulade sauce and served with deviled egg) was the least memorable of the dishes. The best dish was the crispy, pan-fried sheepshead (a mild, flaky white fish in the drum family) with shrimp and a light coconut milk curry served over rice. We completed the meal with a very rich “Boudino” dessert–a butterscotch pudding with homemade caramel sauce and sea salt and topped with whipped cream. Our wine was a decent Stolpman Roussanne.
Arnaud’s Jazz Bistro
During our 2023 trip, we were drawn to Sunday brunch at this French Quarter’s classic Creole restaurant to hear live jazz during Mardi Gras. This was our second visit to Arnaud’s and as with the first visit, it was acceptable but uninspired. After this and a disappointing jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace, another old New Orleans institution, we have again sworn off these restaurants and their jazz brunches (at least till another trip).
This time we had a three-course meal starting with shrimp arnaud (in creole sauce) and turtle soup. Tom’s entree was seared veal scallops in a thick vegetable sauce and cheese grits. Joyce scored the better entree with her shrimp clemenceau casserole of gulf shrimp, garlic butter, peas, crisp potatoes, and mushrooms. And since we were in one of the city’s oldest, most traditional restaurants, we ended with the extravagantly prepared and flamed Bananas Foster—the sinful dessert that New Orleans made famous. During Sunday brunch, a jazz band roamed the room, took requests, and played abbreviated jazz tunes.
On a previous trip, we ate at Arnaud’s bistro which serves the same menu as the restaurant but also features a three-man jazz band that strolls among tables to play abbreviated, sanitized versions of requested songs. Our dinner began with a chilled shrimp arnaud with a bland creole remoulade. Joyce’s lump crabcakes with white remoulade sauce were somewhat better (although the crab was more minced than in solid lumps). Tom’s lightly fried frog legs provençale with herb saint garlic butter was tasty. Less so was the overly chocolatey (a taste that was not mentioned on the menu) pecan pie with candied pecans and caramel sauce. While OK, we were not impressed.
This highly regarded restaurant has been around since 1919. But for us, it was a disappointing, old-time oyster haven. We had a watery oyster stew, chargrilled oysters (no comparison with Drago’s), fried oysters (pretty good, but nowhere near the best), and softshell crab (somewhat overcooked). We will not return.
Chemin a la Mer
We had dinner at this seafood and steak restaurant that overlooks the Riverwalk and the river. We enjoyed both the view from a patio table and our meals: fried quail with broccoli rabe and buttermilk ranch sauce; and pan-seared gulf shrimp with risotto cake, English peas, and crisp ham. Along with our meal were glasses of Hendry Napa alle Albarino and Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvins Grenache/Syrah blend.
The very popular, casual Donald Link restaurant is located in a renovated warehouse. We loved each of our three dishes: wood-fired oysters with chili-garlic butter, crawfish, and green tomato casserole. But the piece de resistance was a fried oyster, bacon, and green tomato sandwich with aioli.
Commander’s Palace Jazz Brunch
Although we typically shun brunches, we happily made an exception for the weekend Jazz Brunch at this venerable institution. Speak of mixed reactions to a restaurant: Tom ordered the chef’s Jazz Brunch Special. A pretty good turtle soup with sherry, followed by two delicious courses; quince lacquered quail with pork boudin over brown butter spaghetti squash with fire-roasted chili and tabasco pepper jelly, finishing with the restaurant’s signature dessert of Creole bread pudding soufflé with whiskey cream sauce. Joyce’s selections were much less satisfying. Her appetizer of cinnamon-dusted Granny Smith apple in French pastry with candied pecans and cane syrup was good, although better suited to a dessert than to an appetizer. The crab frittata brie, tomatoes, roasted chanterelles, and white truffle oil was topped with a nice, healthy amount of crab but too salt-laden even for Joyce, who used too much. Nor was her meal redeemed by dessert—a spiced pear, cranberry, and sugarcane oatmeal crumble with vanilla bean ice cream. In addition to mimosas, Tom’s brunch special came with a bloody mary. To keep up, Joyce added in a glass of Albarino.
But we had another issue with our experience here. We decided to go here for the jazz that was part of the experience. The restaurant is divided into discrete dining rooms and a patio (where we were seated) with the jazz trio moving from one dining area to the next. The trio was literally on the last bar of its patio set when we walked in. Then, between the other dining rooms and their break, we never again saw the trio during our hour-and-a-half meal. We felt almost like we had been misled. When we mentioned this to the concierge, he made what we interpreted as a sarcastic response: “The musicians shouldn’t have taken a break.” Although Tom’s meal and the service were quite good, Joyce’s meal, combined with the lack of jazz and the concierge’s comment keeps us from recommending the restaurant.
Although we usually share different dishes, we were both so intrigued by the sound of the fried oyster sandwich (topped with a moderately-spiced pickled vinaigrette salad and pineapple tartar sauce) and a side of house-made fennel chips that neither of us was willing to share. This was a good decision as since neither of us left a bite. The one-course feast began deliciously with a wonderful buttermilk biscuit served with honey-chive butter with sea salt. We were so filled that we were unable to order a planned dessert of lemon curd with chiffon cake and poppy seed ice cream. Next time…..
Dickie Brennan’s Place Café
At this scion of the family behind Brennan’s French Quarter dining institution, we had three disappointing starters (turtle soup with sherry, shrimp remoulade, and fried oyster ravigote with celeriac ravigote. The tasty andouille-crusted sheepshead entrée was accompanied by a tasty celeriac potato puree and honey-glazed carrots. Since we had drinks on our afternoon stroll of Bourbon Street and planned to spend the evening on Frenchmen Street, we limited ourselves to a single glass of wine apiece for dinner, a 2017 Yamhill Pinot Noir.
Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse
From scion of the family behind Brennan’s French Quarter dining institution, we had three disappointing starters (turtle Soup with sherry, shrimp remoulade, and fried oysters ravigote with celeriac ravigote. The andouille-crusted sheephead fish was tasty and came with two equally tasty accompaniments (celeriac potato puree and honey-glazed carrots). Since we had drinks on our afternoon stroll of Bourbon Street and planned to spend the evening on Frenchmen Street, we each only had a single glass of a 2017 Yamhill Pinot Noir.
We had a delicious meal from this New Orleans institution, although the location in the Convention Center Hilton provides convenience at the expense of the atmosphere. We began with two of the restaurant’s oyster specialties: charbroiled oysters with herb butter and parmesan; and oyster voisin (oysters mixed with creamed spinach, bacon, and bordelaise sauce on toasted French bread. These were followed by another very good, very healthy shrimp boudin, which was served on a bed of boudin sausage mixed with rice and a moderately spicy roux-based sauce.
We shared a couple of dozen raw gulf oysters; steamed shrimp served with steamed mushrooms, corn, boiled potato, and baked garlic; and delicious onion rings.
We shared two dishes here: Louisiana shrimp, gulf fish and cucumber ceviche in a slightly tomato-y sauce topped with pepitas; and jumbo shrimp on a bed of faro, artichoke and fried maitake mushrooms. While both were fine, we weren’t excited by either.
Kingfish had totally under estimated the draw of the 2023 Mardi Gras, the first popular Mardi Gras since covid. The restaurant was out of our first choice dishes—grilled cheese and crab sandwich and seafood gratin. Joyce ended up having a huge, very good cobb salad. Tom was satisfied with (but not impressed) by the duck and andouille gumbo with steamed white rice. We ended with a small but tasty slice of pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel cream.
La Petite Grocery
The restaurant is about 3.5 miles uptown from the French Quarter on an interesting retail avenue with a nice neighborhood feel. We have eaten here several times and highly recommend it. We have had several appetizers here from our multiple visits:
- The fried oyster with beans and pickled vegetables is good but not exceptional
- Blue crab beignets filled with very rich and very cream crab filling are good
- The very rich and creamy (unlike what grandma used to make) roasted mushroom pierogi with sauerkraut and brown butter appetizers were tasty
For entrees, Tom continues to order the very tasty paned rabbit loin that is deep-fried with spaetzle (which is rather tasteless) and wilted greens on turnip puree, topped with sauce grenobloise. Joyce’s shrimp and grits with roasted shitake smoked bacon and thyme were less interesting but still good.
On one trip we were given complimentary bittersweet chocolate tort with benne wafers and vanilla bean ice cream to compensate for entrees that we originally returned as they were not warm enough. The dessert was one of the best we have had in quite some time. Our wine was a Bertille Vino Nobile Montepuchino.
Le Chat Noir
We enjoyed two dishes at our lunch here: mussels with white wine, fennel, and crème fraiche; and pan-fried red snapper with caramelized soubise, mushroom, and capers. Tom enjoyed a bloody mary, while Joyce opted for a glass of Chignon Jacquere from André & Michel Quenard VV.
We have stopped here multiple times for Luke’s great happy hour. It is worth a stop with its great happy hour oyster and wine pricing.
The happy hour freshly shucked oysters depend on which they are serving that night. Sometimes we like them. Other times we don’t. But you can’t beat the price. We also enjoy the happy hour fried oysters.
We are not always excited by the non-happy hour-priced items that we add in. On our 2023 stop, the shrimp and grits were fine but not memorable. The seafood and sausage gumbo was disappointing. But we drowned our disappointment with happy hour half-price glasses of wine: a watery Petite Chablis and a more meaty Puligny-Montrachet. Or you can pair a Crystal Eagle Pale Ale or Tom’s preferred NOLA Hopitoulas IPA
We also had a good dinner here. We began with a delicious, creamy, slightly piquant crab bisque followed by equally good baked oysters stuffed with gulf shrimp and blue crab. Tom enjoyed his entrée of buttermilk-fried quail with Alsatian onion tart, bacon, and emmentaler cheese. Joyce’s pan-fried Gulf drum almandine, however, was fine as far as it went, but not at the same level as the other dishes. Our wine was one of our favorites: a California Belle Glos Pinot Noir.
At this Asian-influenced take on New Orleans cuisine, we had two very good dishes. It started with an amuse bouche of Thai curry beignet with coconut-wasabi cream and sprinkled with lime. We both enjoyed both our entrees: wok-fried egg noodles with jumbo shrimp, turmeric curry, and pea salad; and especially crisp-skinned sheepshead (a Gulf fish) with artichoke and olive citrus marmalade. Our meal ended with espresso caramel truffles. Delicious.
On our most recent trip, Tom’s meal was supposed to begin with the seafood gumbo and then move on to a Louisiana shrimp roll (which Joyce also ordered). The wait was much longer than expected for a period in which there were few customers. When the food did arrive, the gumbo was barely lukewarm. Tom asked for it to be reheated and returned as he was finishing Joyce’s shrimp roll. The less than memorable gumbo ultimately did come back hot, but not until 20 minutes after we had finished our rolls (when he asked our server 10 minutes after we had finished, she impatiently told us if would come). The shrimp rolls, meanwhile, were huge and tasty. While they did have too much mayo for our tastes, they were loaded with shrimp with a slight tang.
On a previous trip, we started with some delicious plump oysters with a fuller taste and a more pronounced brine than previous southern oysters we had eaten. Even better was the restaurant’s specialty of grilled redfish with chili salsa. While the redfish was relatively bland, Tom enjoyed it with the salsa. Joyce, however, found the salsa too vinegary. We also got a side order of Brussels sprouts in chili vinegar. While Joyce shunned both the vinegar and the chili, Tom thought the dish was decent, although he too would have preferred the vinegar to be more subdued.
We had visited the restaurant on a couple of previous trips and were impressed enough to return. We began with flash-fried, very juicy potato crisp P&J Oysters with tarragon and pickled vegetables. Then came a lightly crisped, pan-fried pompano with red shrimp, citrus, and swiss chard; and pan-roasted scallops with celery, satsuma, and pig head meat. Although the food was imaginative and tasty and the service friendly and knowledgeable, we weren’t exactly as blown away as we had previously been. Very good, but not great.
On our 2023 trip, we again tried and were again disappointed with the blue crab beignets with a very mustardy remoulade sauce. We fared better with a second appetizer, Cast Iron foie gras with shaved ham, pear, brioche beignet, and sweet sauterne sauce. Our entrees were also a mixed bad. The gulf shrimp and blue corn grits with bacon, fennel, sweet pepper, and hollandaise was disappointing. However, Tom’s triptych of quail was good. He particularly enjoyed the southern fried quail on biscuit and sausage gravy, followed closely by the absinthe-glazed legs and wings and distantly by the less-enticing boudin-stuffed roasted quail body. The 6,000-bottle wine list included least as many $1,000+-bottles(including some at more than $20,000) as those priced below $100. We ordered a rather subdued 2019 Walt Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir.
On a previous trip, we also began with blue crab beignets, which were good but not as good as those at La Petite Grocery. Then came a very nice seared scallop and foie gras with white bean puree and bacon vinaigrette. The equally good redfish was stuffed with crawfish served with an artichoke and oyster sauce and a delicate, nicely spiced hoisin-glazed grouper over blue crab pho and thai basil. This time our wine was an older Saint-Joseph white Rhone which was nice but overpowered the food.
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