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Explore the Best Women-Led Restaurants in New Orleans for 2019

March 8th is International Women’s Day. In celebration, we created a list featuring some of the most exceptional women in New Orleans’ culinary scene. This colorful, flavorful city—alive with costume parades, French vibes, and creole food—is musically big and easy to love. Next time you’re in town, we invite you to celebrate women (and eat something delicious) at one of these top spots.

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The OpenTable Team
Updated February 03, 2023
A photo of Mr. B's Bistro restaurant

Mr. B's Bistro

French Quarter
4998 reviews
Mr. B's Bistro, one of the most celebrated restaurants in New Orleans, owes its continuing success to two women: owner Cindy Brennan and chef Michelle McRaney. Cindy Brennan, of the venerable, multi-generation Brennan family of restaurateurs, is also an owner of Commander's Palace in New Orleans and Brennan's in Houston, and is the author of The Mr. B's Bistro Cookbook. She opened Mr. B's Bistro in 1979 and has steered its success for four decades. Executive chef Michelle McRaney took a job at Mr. B's as soon as she graduated from culinary school, which she attended following prior ventures in business and baking. From an entry-level position, she rose to sous-chef within a year. After further culinary adventures across the country and back, she returned to Mr. B's and continues to turn out the exemplary Creole classics that make this French Quarter restaurant famous. Visitors and regulars adore the signature Gumbo Ya Ya, barbecued shrimp, and Creole bread pudding with Irish whisky sauce.

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Red Fish Grill

French Quarter
7520 reviews
The owner and namesake of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group joined the famous family business over 30 years ago, and his own venture continues its legacy of celebrating the culinary heritage and contemporary treasures of Louisiana. Over half the restaurant group's team is female, among them corporate chef Haley Bitterman who oversees the brand's culinary program. Bitterman works to ensure consistency across the group's restaurants, which includes Red Fish Grill, Brennan's, Cafe Noma inside the New Orleans Museum of Art, and outside New Orleans, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen at Disneyland. She also maintains relationships with farmers, fishermen, and other suppliers to ensure they’re getting the best resources. Bitterman worked in several of Brennan's restaurants after graduating from culinary school, spent some time training in Italy, and at 27 years old became the first woman to head a kitchen at a Brennan family restaurant, BACCO.

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Vessel NOLA

Contemporary American
Mid-City / City Park
2151 reviews
Chef Amandalynn Picolo and pastry chef Amelia Watts drive the menus at Vessel, a Mid-City restaurant famously housed in a former church. Diners are drawn to the circa-1914 building, which retains its original stained glass windows and architectural details inspired by a ship's hull. The space, one block from the Canal Street streetcar line, is a stunning venue for Picolo's coastal cuisine, which reflects Mediterranean, Californian, and Pacific Rim influences in its small and large plates and sides. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are the focus. Some stand-out menu items include the mussels with lemongrass, ginger and five-spice shrimp broth, and crispy pork belly. Pastry chef Amelia Watts, formerly of Compere Lapin and Restaurant August, brings a Southern influence to the dessert menu. Critics adore her buttermilk pie with pickled blueberries. Classic cocktails are a specialty of Vessel too too. Happy hour brings great deals on such locally inspired concoctions like La Louisiane, Royal Pearl, and St. Charles Punch.

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A photo of Arnaud's restaurant


French Quarter
6434 reviews
Arnaud's is a true New Orleans institution, founded in 1918 by Arnaud Cazenave and spanning almost a full city block in the French Quarter. This formal fine-dining institution, whose famous French 75 bar was once for gentlemen only, is now ironically owned by a majority female team comprising Katy Casbarian, her mother Jane, and brother Archie. The Casbarian family purchased Arnaud's in 1978 and reinvigorated its impeccable offerings of classic and contemporary Creole cuisine as well as renovating the building, notable as the largest restaurant in New Orleans. It also houses a fascinating Mardi Gras museum. A number of dishes have remained on the menu since the restaurant's opening, including shrimp Arnaud in a remoulade sauce, oysters Bienville (invented in Arnaud's kitchen) and turtle soup. The cafe brulot, a citrus- and spice-infused coffee, is flambéed tableside in a dramatic fashion befitting the restaurant's special-occasion vibe. If you’re looking for brunch with a side of entertainment, the Sunday jazz brunch is very popular.

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