Long associated with its reputation for culinary greatness, the city of New Orleans continues to produce some of the finest restaurants. Thanks to its blend of French, Creole and Cajun cultural heritage — as well as close proximity to seafood and other top quality ingredients — chefs in the Big Easy draw on a flavor palette of influences other cities can only dream of. Today's crop of chefs are taking Southern food into the future by offering new takes on classics as well combining local cuisine with influences from abroad. Expect big things from the Big Easy's latest restaurants.
Square Root — Sitting down to the expansive tasting menu at Chef Phillip Lopez's Garden District eatery is an opulent and intimate experience. With just 16 seats per tasting, expect one-on-one time with chefs and a detailed knowledge of the ever-changing offerings. Expectedly, getting a seat is no small task and the best time to book is mid-week. With happy hours and a more open schedule, this is the optimal time to taste some of the most inventive cuisine in a food-first atmosphere the city has to offer. Plus, the surrounding area is perfect for an after dinner stroll while taking in historical architecture.
Meauxbar — Over the past decade, Meauxbar has gained a loyal following of locals and visitors alike. Following a recent move along with a new chef and team, this French Quarter favorite continues to offer a French-inspired menu, now with creative twists from the highly regarded Chef Kristen Essig. With an impressive cocktail and beer list, this late night dinner spot is the perfect place to take in local creative culture. Balancing creativity with comfortable approachability, Essig's menu is a decidedly contemporary take on Franco-New Orleans cuisine. Drop by during the week and grab a seat at the bar for the local experience.
Angeline — Located in the French Quarter's Hotel Provincial, Angeline compels diners to reimagine Southern cuisine. Offering a fresh, light, healthy take on local seafood and regional dishes, chef Alex Harrell brings inventive influences from the Mediterranean and rural Italian cuisine. Harrell has focused his menu on freshness with quality of ingredients at center stage. The restaurant recently began offering brunch services on weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Expect seasonal changes with standby favorites like country fried steak, brioche french toast and plenty of fresh pastries.
Balise — With New Orleans gastronomy pedigree from La Petite Grocery, the opening of Balise has been highly anticipated since its announcement. With a focus on offering the best of New Orleans cuisine, chef Justin Devillier made a statement with his crudity-centric menu. The space itself has the cozy feel of the New Orleans townhouses that characterize the city's more well-heeled architecture. Peppering in European influences, Devillier keeps the menu fresh and his guests coming back for the latest from the mind of this celebrated young chef.
Boucherie — Located blocks from the Mississippi River and Tulane University, Boucherie's menu brings Southern heritage cuisine into the modern age. This charming eatery is such a hit, it recently moved around the corner from its original location to allow for expanded seating. As its name suggests, meat is centric to the menu with Waygu Beef Brisket a standout favorite. Midweek happy hours with specials on drinks and small plates make this a must-visit venue for those looking for a taste of New Orleans. Be sure to save room for dessert – the restaurant's Krispy Kreme bread pudding is worth the trip alone.
St. Roch Market — The opening of South 7th Ward's St Roch Market — in a refurbished market space — was highly anticipated when diner's first tasted the offerings of 13 vendors. Ranging from local Creole fare to Korean to African with an outstanding cocktail and juice bar to match, the brainchild of Will Donaldson and Barre Tanguis has met and arguably exceeded the strong buildup from the city's food lovers. Pop-in midweek to beat the crowds of locals and visitors alike that flock to this stunning new collection of eateries.
Sac-a-lait — While Warehouse District eatery Sac-a-Lait may have just opened its doors, its owners are seasoned New Orleans seafood veterans. Chef Cody Carroll along with his wife Samantha Carroll have gained wide acclaim for their Cajun/Creole seafood restaurant in New Roads, LA. Sac-a-Lait brings the same reputation for quality and freshness with a contemporary air of refinement. The Carrolls draw on local fish, seafood and game and combine these premium ingredients with precision preparation. Start with the Turtle Boudin and don't miss the Deviled Crab.
Shaya — For a ray of Mediterranean sunshine in New Orleans look no further than Shaya. Chef Alon Shaya's bright eatery in the Touro neighborhood offers Israeli cuisine that draws influence from the whole Mediterranean region. With a wood-burning oven expect fresh breads to accompany a wide array of spreads including an ultra-rich labneh. For brunch, try the Turkish-influenced shakshouka — baked eggs with a smoky spiced blend of tomatoes and peppers.
Brennan's — Far from a new restaurant, Brennan's is a New Orleans institution though it has undergone a major renovation of late. Open since 1946, this French Quarter landmark features the classic Creole cuisine New Orleans is famous for. Highlights include the turtle soup, gumbo and buttermilk fried frog legs. Stop by midweek for the bubbles happy hour, with specials on some of the finest Champagnes and sparkling wines in the Big Easy.
Red's Chinese — Despite the rich culinary fabric of New Orleans, Chinese food is one of the more under-represented categories. Newly minted Red's Chinese in the Bywater area is looking to bring novel Chinese cuisine to the city with no shortage of southern influence. Chef Tobias Womack (formerly of Mission Chinese) forgoes authenticity in favor of bold new flavor combinations, seen in his Kung Pao Pastrami, General Lee's Chicken and across the vibrant menu. Explore the boho-casual eatery's newly added cocktails menu for worthy accompaniments to their nouveau Chinese-Southern fusion offerings.