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14 restaurants vital to New Orleans

New Orleans is a city revered for its food scene, from the humblest mom-and-pop cafes to the hautest of white tablecloth restaurants. Its best restaurants are woven into the fabric of daily life in the Crescent City, beloved as traditional places to mark family milestones and come together to celebrate everything from Valentine’s Day to Mardi Gras. Because of the centuries-old cultural gumbo that is New Orleans, the city’s gastronomy is an inimitable mix of Creole, French, Spanish, Italian, and African influences that combine in a distinctive way. It’s hard to imagine New Orleans without its iconic po-boys or muffuletta sandwiches—or the hallowed halls where oysters Rockefeller were first created in 1889. Whether you live in New Orleans or get there as often as you can, a meal at these restaurants offers a taste of what it means to call it yours. Read on for a guide to the city’s 14 best spots to book now.

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Beth D'Addono
14 Restaurants
Updated March 28, 2023
Restaurants:Arnaud's, Antoine's, The Bower
Price Range:$$ - $$$$
Cuisines:Creole, Contemporary American
Neighborhoods:French Quarter, Lower Garden District
A photo of Arnaud's restaurant

Arnaud's

$$$$
Creole
French Quarter
4.6
6590 reviews

Founded in 1918 by French wine salesman Arnaud Cazenave, this restaurant has long occupied a beloved spot in the city’s culinary lexicon. Taking up nearly a full city block just off of Bourbon Street on Bienville in the Quarter, Arnaud’s is striking without a hint of flashiness. The tiled main dining room is justifiably legendary, with its glowing chandeliers, flickering candles, and tall leaded-glass windows. The French 75 Bar, which earned a 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, is the perfect place to meet before dinner.



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A photo of Antoine's restaurant

Antoine's

$$$$
Creole
French Quarter
4.2
9470 reviews

A New Orleans culinary stalwart since 1840, the shadow that Antoine’s casts in the Crescent City can’t be overestimated. As the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America, Antoine’s is still run by its founding family. Antoine Alciatore, the restaurant’s namesake, is considered the father of Creole cooking, and his restaurant was where oysters Rockefeller first sizzled. At the restaurant or at its Hermes bar, don’t miss the salty crunch of its trademark souffle potatoes.



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A photo of The Bower restaurant

The Bower

$$$$
Contemporary American
Lower Garden District
4.6
538 reviews

Louisiana-born chef Marcus Woodham—a force who helped open other standouts such as chef John Besh’s Luke—is the powerhouse behind this sprightly newcomer in the Lower Garden District. With its menu of brilliant small plates, housemade charcuterie, and pastas, the Bower spotlights produce from Sugar Roots farm in Algiers. Must-orders include the cured Ora king salmon with wasabi cream potato salad and smoked trout roe along with local seafood and heritage meats—always fresh and in season.



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A photo of La Petite Grocery restaurant

La Petite Grocery

$$$$
French
Garden District
4.7
5261 reviews

The Uptown building that houses this restaurant has enjoyed a past life as a coffee and tea depot, butcher shop, florist’s studio, and a grocery store, which explains its name. La Petite Grocery is an emblem of fine French cuisine. In 2004, chef Justin Devillier (the 2016 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: South) and his wife Mia Devillier transformed the space into one of the most romantic dining experiences in town. The blue crab beignets, a sweet and tender delight, are renowned citywide.



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A photo of Vyoones Restaurant (Yvonnes) restaurant

Vyoones Restaurant (Yvonnes)

$$$$
Contemporary French
Warehouse District
4.3
607 reviews

Vyoone’s (pronounced vee-ahn’s) is a hidden gem with its charming courtyard, representing a labor of love from owner Vyoone Segue Lewis, a fourth-generation New Orleanian with Afro Creole and French roots. The restaurant dishes up local seafood with a distinct French accent, resulting in intricate dishes such as crab cakes fried and topped with crawfish cream sauce and bouillabaisse over homemade linguine.



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A photo of GW Fins restaurant

GW Fins

$$$$
Seafood
French Quarter
4.9
17755 reviews

GW Fins, a handsome French Quarter restaurant on Bienville, sets a high bar for sustainable and fresh seafood. Chef Michael Nelson works directly with local fisherman harvesting from the bays, inlets, and bayous that feed into the mighty Mississippi River. His daily changing menu might feature triple tail, cobia, black fin, barracuda, and tuna. And his techniques for utilizing the entire fish—fins, skin, ribs, and collars—deliver remarkable flavors without a bit of waste. Most recently he started dry aging whole fish yielding a remarkable concentration of umami.



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A photo of Emeril's Restaurant restaurant

Emeril's Restaurant

$$$$
Contemporary American
Warehouse District
4.5
9911 reviews

To the rest of the world, Emeril Lagasse is a celebrity chef, cookbook author, and creator of a line of specialty seasonings. But to New Orleanians, he’s chef Emeril—the guy who wowed at Commander’s then followed up with his eponymous flagship in the Warehouse district in 1990, long before the neighborhood became fashionable. When he finally reopened in September 2021 after the long pandemic shutdown, his world-famous barbecue shrimp—a spicy peppery simmer of Gulf shrimp in Worcestershire, butter, wine, and hot sauce—never tasted better. Emeril’s son E.J. now commands the kitchen, serving the more casual bar area with an a la carte menu and a seasonal three- and seven-course feast in the dining room.



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A photo of MoPho restaurant

MoPho

$$$$
Southeast Asian
Mid-City / City Park
4.8
405 reviews

Michael Gulotta’s marriage between Vietnamese and Louisiana cuisine is playful and brilliant—take his “traditional” Monday red beans and rice, for example. Gulotta turns the dish on its head by cooking red beans with XO sauce, then pairs the legumes with crispy sticky rice cakes and cured pork belly (it’s not always on the menu, but it’s always available on Mondays). As one of the most innovative chefs in town, Gulotta’s hangover pho, steam buns, and vermicelli and rice bowls have earned him legions of happy regulars.



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A photo of Crescent City Steak House restaurant

Crescent City Steak House

$$$$
Steakhouse
Mid-City / City Park
4.6
1352 reviews

New Orleanians love their beef. Although this is the city that birthed Ruth’s Chris Steak House in 1965, for many locals, the gold standard is the bacon-wrapped filet at Crescent City Steaks. Founded by Croatian immigrant John Vojkovich in 1934, the family-owned restaurant was the first in New Orleans to serve slabs of prime-aged beef sizzling with butter. But beyond the fair prices, comfortable setting, and stellar steakhouse fare, Crescent City oozes a particular brand of hospitality that is the calling card of a true New Orleans institution.



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A photo of Brennan's restaurant

Brennan's

$$$$
Creole
French Quarter
4.8
9732 reviews

This dapper fine-dining spot is a 2022 James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Restaurant and fuels New Orleans’s culinary bragging rights. Led by Ralph Brennan, a local restaurateur whose portfolio includes the more casual Red Fish Grill and the historic Napoleon House, Brennan’s is a grande dame in the French Quarter that has been in business since 1946. Dishes range from seafood gumbo to eggs Hussarde, a meatier spin on eggs Benedict featuring coffee-cured Canadian bacon. Executive chef Ryan Hacker mines Creole cooking traditions in the storied Breakfast at Brennan’s, a feast for the ages featuring everything from turtle soup to bread pudding.Enjoy it all against an enchanting backdrop, a cluster of decadent dining rooms that border a charming fountain-clad courtyard. Dessert is practically mandatory: Brennan’s is the birthplace of bananas foster (fittingly, the Brennan family is known for bringing bananas to the South)—one of the restaurant’s most-ordered dishes.



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A photo of Miss River restaurant

Miss River

$$$$
Creole / Cajun / Southern
Central Business District
4.6
883 reviews

Miss River is James Beard Award-nominated chef Alon Shaya’s love letter to Louisiana in the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. His wife Emily Shaya’s award-winning red beans and rice is a side, fried chicken is presented whole to the table, then carved at a food stage in the center of the restaurant, and Gulf snapper is presented encrusted in salt. There’s a seafood grand plateau and caviar service, among other swanky touches. Ditch the budget—this is an experience worth splurging on.



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A photo of Mr. B's Bistro restaurant

Mr. B's Bistro

$$$$
Creole
French Quarter
4.7
5168 reviews

Expect to be greeted and treated like kin at this warm Brennan family restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter. The menu has a decidedly Louisiana accent, from the barbecued shrimp to locally sourced Creole-seasoned sheepshead with sauteed Louisiana crawfish tails and bacon wrapped shrimp and grits. Don’t skip the famous bread pudding with Irish whiskey sauce for dessert.



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A photo of Luke restaurant

Luke

$$$$
French
Central Business District
4.5
8421 reviews

This bustling brasserie pays homage to the grand old Franco-German restaurants that once reigned in New Orleans. The handsome space oozes New Orleans swagger and is defined by a beautiful carved-wood bar. Luke’s seasonal menu might include seared duck with dauphinoise potatoes, shrimp and grits, and an impressive seafood tower. Chef Erick Loos is at the helm and occasionally offers Alsatian dishes such as pork schnitzel with mushroom sauce that are especially memorable.



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A photo of Shaya restaurant

Shaya

$$$$
Israeli
Uptown
4.8
4495 reviews

Although he recently opened Tavi in Covington, Lebanon-born chef Fariz Choumali still oversees Shaya with his signature attention to detail. Expect Israeli staples with Southern flavors and modern techniques, a balance between innovation and tradition. The menu includes hummus with fried chicken and falafel with green tahini on housemade pita. Lassoing influences from all across the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa, Shaya brings global flavors and textures to the table. The dining room’s wood-fire oven is central to both the menu and the dining experience.



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