The Best Restaurants In New Orleans
Our favorite places to eat in the Big Easy.
Whether you’re in town for a bachelor party in the French Quarter or are unironically psyched to go gator-watching on a swamp tour, New Orleans is one of America’s most resilient cities and exciting places to dine in. We wouldn’t blame you if you decided to dedicate your entire eating itinerary to classic establishments that serve Creole standards like po’boys and gumbo, but you can also find incredible pizza, natural wine bars, and more.
As the city continues to evolve and redefine itself through the years, these are the places we find ourselves returning to, over and over again.
Bywater American Bistro
Just steps away from one of the best views in the city at Crescent Park, Bywater American Bistro explores the ties between Cajun, Caribbean, Creole, and Southern cooking. While you can’t go wrong with sitting inside the industrial-meets-cozy dining room, the best option is to grab a spot at the high-top just outside the front door. From there, you can watch the world pass by while you explore the menu with everything from roasted octopus and curried rabbit with coconut rice, to roasted snapper served with shishito peppers. As the younger sister restaurant to equally popular, but a little fancier, Compere Lapin, this place regularly fills up with both visitors from around the world and neighbors from down the block - all of whom will happily give you their personal recs of where to grab a drink (or four) after dinner.
If you’ve got to feed a crowd, Paladar 511 is where you head to make sure everyone’s happy. As the night wears on, this place truly comes alive as the chatter from every table inside this lofty Italian restaurant is fueled by great cocktails and one of our favorite wine lists around. Just down the way from Bywater American Bistro - a more intimate option for a date - here the menu is all about pizza, pastas, and hearty sauces, but make sure the squid ink spaghetti is on your table. With its perfectly cooked shrimp, you’ll end up fighting over who gets the last one, which come swimming in a Calabrian chili butter we’d happily buy by the jar. For pizza, order the Farm Egg, which also comes topped with bacon and collard greens and is worth every messy bite. Save room for dessert too, because the dark chocolate budino is one of the best sweet finishes in the city.
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Don’t let the outdated Sugar Park neon sign out front fool you: You can find this fun wine bar inside a small house on St. Claude in the Bywater. Here, it’s all about enjoying natural wines and a reservations-only, five-course tasting menu full of surprising dishes in a dining room reminiscent of a friend’s cozy apartment. The menu is always rotating, but think fermenting, braising, smoking, poaching—anything that can be done to get the most out of seasonal, local produce (a recent favorite featured spot prawn served with lovage and fermented tomato). If you fail to make reservations, stop by anyway when the weather’s nice and grab some wine and bar snacks on the garden patio.
Turkey And The Wolf
There’s maybe no restaurant in New Orleans that’s received as much national attention over the past few years as Turkey and the Wolf, which makes sense since their wild sandwiches are all truly excellent. But while it’s no longer the newest kid on the block - they’ve since opened breakfast spot Molly’s Rise And Shine as well - the food is still some of the best in the city.
Take a quick glance at this sandwich shop’s menu, with its fried bologna, a deep-fried chicken-pot-pie-turned-hand-pie, and a double-patty burger called “Mama Tried,” and you might think you’re getting punked. But what the team here has built is no joke. Their collard green melt might just be the best thing - it’s served as a double-decker on rye with enough melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing to keep you thinking about it even after you’ve gone home.
Stand outside of Luvi on the busy Tchoupitoulas Street corner and it could be hard to believe just how calm the tidy little restaurant is beyond the cottage’s muted blue door. More cool blues with greens and bright florals surround the intimate space, where chefs prepare dishes from Shanghai and Japan just beyond the L-shaped counter. This is the sort of place where you’ll happily lose count as you order plate after plate, many of which are small but easily shared. Delicate cuts of seared tuna and salmon come from the raw bar, but be sure to dip your chopsticks into orders of the spicy dan dan noodles, which come swimming in housemade bone broth and get their heat from a touch of ghost chili oil.
What started as a semi-secret pop-up between two college friends from New York looking for pies that tasted like home in the years after Hurricane Katrina is now a local mainstay, and makes some of the best pizza in the city. The crust has that nice little snap when you fold it, and the toppings never overwhelm the simple beauty of the red sauce. Also, you can order by the slice, but if you do, you’ll miss out on the excellent margherita, which only comes as a whole pie. Look for a rotating list of specials, too, like the roasted cauliflower, hot coppa with caramelized onions, or rosemary potato with spicy bechamel. And don’t forget to pick up a salted chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
The Best Classic New Orleans Restaurants
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Parkway Tavern has been serving po’ boys for more than 100 years, so it’s fair to say they’ve learned a thing or two about one of the most quintessential dishes of New Orleans. The counter-service and expansive patio are great for groups, but grab a table at the bar inside if there’s a spot available so you can chat with the locals who come through daily. The options span from sliced turkey to deep-fried shrimp and oysters or go for the classic roast beef, which is served dripping in gravy. Ask for it “dressed,” and it’ll be served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo exactly as it should be.
Located just on the edge of the Marigny, Morrow’s is home to one of the most interesting hybrid menus around - a mix of South Louisiana and Korea. The product of a mother-son duo, this place serves classic New Orleans dishes like grilled redfish, which comes topped with crabmeat, and perfectly buttery chargrilled oysters alongside sweet-savory Korean barbecue short ribs. Stop by on Sundays for a busy brunch service, when, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to experience the seasonal soft shell crab benedict in all its glory.
If you’ve come to New Orleans looking for an all-caps CLASSIC restaurant, head to Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, where every table is treated like Carnival royalty. This is the sort of place where regulars know to call a full year in advance to snag tables for certain days, like the Friday before Mardi Gras when members of local parading krewes will greet friends and toss beads from table to table. You’ll still need a reservation for a more typical afternoon where you can have the sort of long, lazy lunch that involves many, many courses (and drinks). Make sure you order the turtle soup (and yes, you do want the sherry to top it off) and ask for the bread pudding, which takes a little extra time, at the start of your meal. Oh, and don’t forget about one of the greatest lunch specials ever - the 25 cent martinis.
Where To Eat And Drink In The Bywater & Marigny
Dooky Chase Restaurant
There are many New Orleans restaurants with storied histories, but none quite like Dooky Chase’s, which was home to organizing meetings during the Civil Rights Movement, fed A.P. Tureaud and Thurgood Marshall, and even served its famous fried chicken to President Obama. Get a plate of that chicken for yourself while you scan the walls for works by Black artists - the restaurant was also the first gallery for Black creators here. If you happen by on Holy Thursday (the last before Easter Sunday), try to get a bowl of the gumbo z’herbes, a traditional preparation of the local dish made with nearly a dozen greens.