I’m taking a page from Alessandra’s book and putting together a list of my favorite restaurants by neighborhood. Just like Ale mentioned, I have an ongoing list in my iphone notes of my favorites, and places I want to try that I am constantly sharing with friends, family and newcomers to the city. These restaurants are those that are my tried and true, but certainly some of the best are missing as there are still so many in my “need to try” section.
Costera has remained one of my fiancé and I’s favorite spots since they opened a couple of years ago. Every dish at the coastal Spanish restaurant is consistently delicious, and the prices are very fair. Our favorite way to do it is to share everything. Don’t miss the papas bravas, shishito peppers, and the scallops.
This Italian spot by the Costera team unsurprisingly hits the nail on the head every time we have been. Since they opened, the place is always buzzing! Some of my favorites are the Burrata Con Panna, the radiatori pasta with blue crab and basil, and the grilled lamb is the best lamb dish I’ve ever had. For dessert, don’t miss the brown butter semifreddo with guava caramel. Their 4-course tasting menu at $55 per person is an amazing deal!
Mister Mao is one of the few places that has it all: delicious, creative food and the best vibes. If you’re looking for a place to have a super fun dinner with another couple, friends or you S.O., this is the spot. Don’t miss the ginger salad, the pani puri and the Kashmiri fried chicken.
Miss Shirley’s is a new addition to Magazine Street, and I’ve already visited three times. Sorry, not sorry! It’s a casual neighborhood spot for delicious dumplings, noodles and other beloved Chinese-American staples.
Saffron is an upscale Indiana restaurant with a Louisiana twist. I’ve never had something here that wasn’t spectacular. Don’t miss the truffled naan and the oyster bed roast. Their cocktail menu is also amazing.
The Barracuda happy hour is one of my all time favorites. When I’m craving Mexican, this neighborhood spot is the first that comes to mind. Their homemade tortillas, crispy fish tacos and queso are stand outs. The outdoor garden is the perfect spot to spend a beautiful afternoon.
My fiancé is the one that turned me on to Pascal Manales oyster happy hour. Standing at the oyster bar chatting with longtime shucker Uptown T is just as much a part of the experience as the most delicious Louisiana oysters in town. We typically just visit for oysters and drinks so I won’t claim to be an expert on the rest of the dining experience.
Saj is my go-to for a casual dinner with friends and take-out. Their dolmas, muhamara, and their bread which is a much thinner alternative to pita are all amazing. It’s also BYOB which is a great way to save some cash. I love to pick up wine from our neighborhood natural wine store Spirit Wine on the way.
Other noteworthy Uptown spots I didn’t cover are Brigtsens, The Chloe, Coquette, Jack Rose, Molly’s Rise and Shine, Saba, La Petite Grocery, Bouligny and Clancy’s. I’m also dying to try Dakar Nola!
Lower Garden District
Elizabeth Street Cafe
Elizabeth Street Cafe‘s first location is a popular Vietnamese spot in Austin so it was very exciting when this location was added on the grounds of the beautiful Saint Vincent hotel a couple of years ago. Don’t miss the ginger chili oil dumplings. There’s also a much higher end Italian restaurant inside of the hotel, San Lorenzo that’s equally as delicious.
I got hooked on Union Ramen during the pandemic, and I continue to crave the original tori pork ramen. I’ve also heard they have a fab happy hour, but have yet to visit. I also love the ramen at Nomiya Uptown – it’s got an extra kick to it!
A lot of people complain that the sushi scene in New Orleans should be better considering we are a Coastal city. It’s still a little higher end than your typical neighborhood sushi spot, but when Bisutoro opened in the LGD many prayers were answered. The sea dream and the satsuma roll are two of my faves.
I’m including The Bower because they have one of my favorite happy hours in town, but I will say that I’ve never had a full meal there. However, the cheese and charcuterie and whipped feta served with delicious grilled baguettes and accourtrements along with their happy hour priced wine and cocktails deserves them a spot on my list.
Birdy’s is owned by the same group as The Bower. The vibes here are immaculate. It’s impossible to walk in on a beautiful day and not feel instantly happy whether dining inside or on the patio.
I used to work right near this cafe, and that’s when I discovered how surprisingly delicious everything on their menu is. The salads are great, and my personal favorite are the whopping slices of quiche served with a side salad. It’s the perfect place to lunch and get some work done.
Other noteworthy LGD spots I didn’t cover are Lengua Madre, and of course Commander’s Palace.
El Pavo Real
This colorful neighborhood Mexican restaurant in Central City is unassuming from the outside, but one of the best. I especially love doing a casual brunch at El Pavo Real. The chilaquiles, huevos rancheros and inexpensive, but delicious cocktails are the perfect way to cure a hangover or start a party 😉
Mamma miaaa! We NEEDED Zee’s Pizza in our life and we didn’t know it. The Bye Felicia with pepperoni, ricotta, mozz and hot honey is my fave. Their garlic knots are also 🔥. This block is also popping right now – Lucy Boone ice cream just opened their first brick and mortar next store. The perfect post-pizza stop!
Central City BBQ
Central City BBQ has all of the bbq classics and some special sides that are drool-worthy like the crispy brussel sprouts and the sweet corn spoonbread.
Le Chat Noir
This city is surprisingly lacking when it comers to quality French cuisine. When the owners of beloved local breakfast spot Bearcat opened Le Chat Noir, we had high hoped and they delivered. Don’t miss the chicken liver terrine. All of the veggies and cocktails are also on point. Speaking of French cuisine, I’m dying to try the newly opened Mamou as well.
The Commons Club
The Commons Club is the restaurant inside of the trendy Virgin Hotel in the CBD. The space itself is absolutely gorg, and from Djs to drag shows, there’s always something fun going on here. I love the brunch specifically the churr fritters, the pork belly breakfast bowl and the 12 hours ahead cocktail.
Sidecar is a relatively new outdoor patio restaurant and bar connected to The Rusty Nail. Their happy hour is one of the best in town for sampling different varieties of oysters, tropical cocktails and enjoying a nice evening with friends.
Peche is one of my favorite places to send people who are in town visiting. It had its moment in the spotlight, but it’s still consistently delicious and not a tourist trap like many other places with “New Orleans” seafood. The smoked tuna dip and baked drum are my two all time favorites.
Other noteworthy CBD spots I didn’t cover are Cochon, Maypop, Gianna, Sofia, Bearcat and Willa Jean.
Bywater and Marigny
Paladar 511 is the most chic Italian restaurant in New Orleans, and is always a fun place to dine whether it’s for dinner or brunch. Don’t miss the arancini and the squid ink spaghetti on the dinner menu.
Not only is this The Elysian Bar, restaurant and hotel an absolute feast for the eyes, their food and cocktails are also spectacular.
I’m not gonna lie, I slept on Saint Germain for WAY too long. Mostly because it was pretty difficult to get a reservation. Devin and I finally had dinner there on NYE (no idea how we managed to swing that), and it was one of the best meals of my life. The menu is a ten course tasting menu that changes seasonally, and it worth every penny. However, I’ve heard you can do small bites and wine on the patio without a res which is good to know if you can’t get in.
Other noteworthy Bywater/Marigny spots I didn’t cover are N7, Pizza Delicious, The Joint BBQ, Rosalita’s, The Country Club, Elizabeths and Alma Cafe.
Downtown / FQ
I’m not gonna lie, when I first peeped the Miss River menu online, I wasn’t overly ecstatic to try it. They served dishes like red beans and rice that frankly I’m a believer are better made at home so I sort of assumed tourist trap. But no. After dining there, I can tell you it’s one of the best dining experiences in town.
Sylvain is one of the most underrated restaurants in the French Quarter IMO. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, or the vibes.
Vibes, vibes, vibes. Bijou has them. From the moment you walk in this spot, the music, staff and atmosphere are just bringing it. On top of that all of the food and cocktails are sooo good. I love the Tom Yum fried chicken and the Café au Lait Pot a Crème for dessert.
Justine is a French brasserie in the French Quarter that’s been loved by babes ever since they opened. The dishes are consistent, but the best part of visiting is the atmosphere. I mean you can’t go wrong with a pink neon sign for photo opps, am I right?!?
Other noteworthy Downtown spots I didn’t cover are Galatoires, GW Fins, Jewel of the South, Will and the Way & Mamou.
There’s no Mediterranean restaurant with a more beautiful presentation than 1000 Figs, and the food is just as tasty as it is beautiful. I love doing a date night here, and at Swirl wine bar next door.
Marjie’s s a fun, casual spot serving delicious food inspired by Thailand, Vietnam & the Gulf South. Their creative dishes and specials always keep you guessing.
Blue Oak BBQ
Blue Oak has a loyal fanbase for good reason. Everything is delicious, but the sandwiches are the stand out for me. The Pit Viber and the spicy chicken sandwich both have a cult following.
Other noteworthy Midcity spots I didn’t cover are MidCity Pizza, Zasu, Bub’s Nola, Piece of Meat and Parkway Tavern.