On a trip to New Orleans, everyone should make time to visit the French Quarter and take in the architecture, history, world-class cocktails bars and the restaurants on nearly every block. You can’t possibly eat at them all, but it’s worth putting some time into trying a selection of the best.
The French Quarter in New Orleans isn’t very big, but it still manages to be home to a lot of flavor. Most visitors to the area come looking to try seafood and Cajun and Creole classics. While city chefs are more than happy to dish those up, be sure to also try something a little more adventurous – a restaurant revival after Hurricane Katrina brought influence from around the world that’s worth exploring.
Restaurant, Cajun, $$$
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in a French Quarter kitchen who knows more about local seafood than chef Tenney Flynn. Scan the menu here for upscale takes on locally recognizable flavors, particular favorites are the Abita beer-glazed shrimp and local drum with a chicken cracklin’ crust.
You enter chef Susan Spicer’s classic New Orleans restaurant by stepping down an alleyway, through a romantic courtyard and into a transformed home at the heart of the French Quarter. Try to sit outside if you can; it’s not always a guarantee you’ll get good weather in this Gulf Coast city, but the meal is definitely something you can count on.
There are few food experiences you can have in New Orleans that match up to a boozy, milk-punch soaked brunch at Brennan’s, topped off with a flambéed bananas foster. Dress to impress and make sure to order the eggs sardou.
If your visions of New Orleans included darkly lit restaurants, too many Sazeracs and stumbling home at the end of an unforgettable night, then head to Longway. This restaurant at the heart of the French Quarter is just steps away from Bourbon Street, so you can watch the bacchanalia from afar while enjoying your meal. If you’re feeling unstoppable, check the drinks list for the suggested boilermakers.
There are few things better than a perfectly cooked steak. Fortunately, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Doris Metropolitan. Owned by a pair of friends who got their start dry-aging beef in an Israeli butcher shop, every dish is served with an exquisite attention to detail. Plus, the restaurant is less than a block away from the St Louis Cathedral, so you can enjoy an easy stroll to walk off the incredible meal.
A long lunch at Galatoire’s with a big group of friends is a rite of passage in New Orleans. Nabbing a table at the Bourbon Street restaurant on certain holidays means you’ll get treated to a who’s-who of local society, with a parade of classic New Orleans dishes, like oysters, a choice of gumbos and shrimp Creole, coming out of the kitchen.
Within days of opening in 2019, Dian Xin had to limit its hours to ensure it could handle the long lines of people who instantly found a new favorite. Thankfully, the pause was a brief one and since then, Dian Xin has been slinging beautifully steamed dumplings and other Chinese specialties. It’s a lovely stopping point when you’re looking for something a little unexpected between all the shops and cocktail bars.
Perched on the edge of the Quarter, a trip to Meauxbar feels like what New Orleans would have been if Napoleon had never sold off Louisiana. A contemporary French bistro, you’ll find escargots and hanger steak au poivre next to a seasonal gnocchi preparation and a yakamein, a broth and noodle soup known locally for its hangover cure.
Head to this location for its ambience and its Pimm’s Cups; Napoleon House is named thusly because it was once envisioned as the home in which Napoleon Bonaparte would have lived had his exile not directed him elsewhere. Today’s guests would be smart to order the beautifully toasted muffaletta, a local sandwich made popular by the Italian immigrants who once lived throughout the Quarter. (If you don’t have time for a sit-down, head to the nearby Central Grocery for what’s considered to be the original.)
New Orleans is home to some amazing Vietnamese cuisine thanks to the immigrants who arrived in the city throughout the 1970s and after the Vietnam War. Many of their restaurants are in New Orleans East and on the West Bank, including Nine Roses, which also opened an outpost in the French Quarter. Stop in here for the pho and the vermicelli bowls.