I fear that although I only spent 4 days in New Orleans, my list of where to eat is pretty long. It's amazing how many meals you can fit into a day if you try hard enough.
CAFE DU MONDE
800 Decatur Street
+1 504 525 4544
It's cliché, and not at all my usual preference to go onto the beaten path, but there is no way around it: you simply CANNOT visit New Orleans and not have beignets and chicory (drink it the way they suggest: au lait, half coffee, half hot milk) at Café du Monde. Both are sublime and if you ask me, the best way to do it is to take it to go, walk around to the side of the building and watch the beignets being made through the glass wall.
4330 Magazine Street
+1 504 895 9761
Oysters, oysters and more oysters. Oyster loaf, specifically, is what they are best known for, but anything done with seafood here is a sure bet.
6100 Annunciation Street
+1 504 895 1111
It's a bit of a trek to get there, but this former neighborhood bar and po'boy palace is now home to some of the best creole cuisine in all of Louisiana. It's upscale but far from stuffy and you can feel the history in every dish.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
+1 504 588 2123
Cochon is one of those places that you can't eat at just once. In fact in the four days we were there, we went three times (don't judge). Chef Donald Link is a fixture on the New Orleans food scene (see Herbasaint, below), and he has won all kinds of awards for good reason. It was here that I first ate alligator (fried with chili garlic mayonnaise) and everything from that to the wood-fired oysters, smoked pork ribs, rabbit dumplings,and, of course, the Louisiana cochon is sheer brilliance. It's a great spot for lunch in an area that feels more industrial than anywhere else in town, so it's a nice change of scenery. And don't miss a visit to Link's Butcher, a butcher shop, sandwich counter and wine bar, right next door.
1403 Washington Avenue
+1 504 899 8221
Nothing, and I mean nothing screams old world New Orleans charm like Commander's Palace does. It has been around forever (since 1880 to be exact) and has been home to some of the world's greatest chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, and now ,Tory McPhail. My money is on Sunday brunch in the treehouse-like dining room where you can feast on what they call Haute Creole cuisine for hours while drinking Sazerac after Sazerac. Plus, it's located in the Garden District which makes for a great after-lunch walk.
2800 Magazine Street
+1 504 265 0421
Despite the fact that the building dates back to the late 1880's and has been everything from a grocery to an auto parts stores, Coquette is definitely on the more modern end of New Orleans style. The dining rooms (there are 2, one upstairs and one down) are airy and the menu which changes daily, focuses on locally sourced products.
736 Dante Street
+1 504 861 3121
The menu here was a surprise to me for some reason. I'm not sure what I was expecting (maybe the name threw me), but I was happy to find some really inventive cooking here - the escargot, boudin rouge and chicken under a brick were standouts - and they are also huge proponents of sustainable cooking.
123 Baronne Street
+1 504 648 6020
I often find that the biggest challenge when traveling is leaving with no regrets: do not ever get on a plane saying to yourself, "damn, I should have eaten that last (fill in the blank)." Unfortunately, it almost always happens to me. Domenica was one of those cases where it was our last meal in New Orleans and we had eaten SO much, but it's a don't miss from celebrated chef John Besh. His Italian fare is inventive and really incredible.
209 Bourbon Street
+1 504 525 2021
This very well may be the most famous lunch spot in all of New Orleans and the time to go, if you can, is Friday at noon, when you'll certainly have to wait in line, and the place to sit is in the downstairs dining room, but the pomp and circumstance is part of the fun (I have been told that they do actually have a wait list and take limited reservations, but we were not privy to that info on our trip). Waiters wear dinner jackets, and for the most part are Galatoire's lifers so their menu recommendations should be taken to heart. I have also heard that Sunday brunch is high on the list of things to do, but keep in mind that for men at that time (as well as every day after 5pm), jackets are required.
701 Saint Charles Avenue
+1 504 524 4114
This was our first meal in New Orleans and it set the bar really, really high. Donald Link, who I've now mentioned a few times, is the chef here, and while Cochon is his down and dirty masterpiece, Herbsaint is the much more refined older brother. It is the first restaurant he opened and to say it is flawless doesn't even do it justice. I could talk about it all day, but instead I will give you some menu highlights and really, really insist that you make it your business to eat here. Some of our favorite dishes: housemade spaghetti with guanciale and fried-poached farm egg, muscovy duck leg confit with dirty rice and citrus gastrique and louisiana shrimp and fish ceviche with cucumbers and pepitas to name a few.
LA PETITE GROCERY
4238 Magazine Street
+1 504 891 3377
Sadly, we didn't get a chance to eat at La Petite Grocery, but we did walk by it and I have heard a ton of good things, mostly that it's a perfect stop for lunch when shopping on Magazine Street.
3637 Magazine Street
+1 504 895 1636
Another Magazine Street spot, and like Coquette, Lilette is also a bit more contemporary and Chef John Harris' menu is focused on local and fresh produce. The room is classic New Orleans and the service can't be beat. And it's pretty versatile, or - casual enough at lunch for a quick stop while shopping and then feels more refined at dinnertime.
+1 504 523 9656
As with so many of New Orleans' institutions, Mother's feels more cafeteria than restaurant, but it makes no apologies for what it is, and what it does, it does well - specifically the loaded po'boys. We happened to go to Mother's twice for breakfast while we were there and I have to admit that I fell in love with the no-frills feel and the super authentic food.
WILLIE MAE'S (no website)
2401 St Ann Street
+1 504 822 9503
Two words: FRIED CHICKEN. Yes, there are other things on the menu, but don't bother because this is, as they will tell you, America's best fried chicken. Please make it your business to get there!