The Best Restaurants In New Orleans' Central Business District
Randy Schmidt / Luke
What began in the late 18th century as New Orleans’ first expansion beyond its original French Quarter footprint, today the Central Business District is a mainstay for many of the city’s finest and most exclusive eateries. From Southern and Caribbean to Brazilian and European-inspired fare, these are the best restaurants in New Orleans’ Central Business District.
Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant
Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, French, American, $$$
Located on the historic Saint Charles Avenue, Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant is Chef Donald Link’s posh Central Business District eatery. Aside from its acclaimed French and Italian-inspired menu, this modern bistro features creative takes on Southern tastes, such as fried catfish with green rice and chillies, and a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with city ham, plus a dynamic wine list. Often regarded as New Orleans’ most consistently excellent restaurant, Herbsaint is open every day of the week but Sunday from 11:30 am until 10pm.
Run by Top Chef’s Nina Compton, Compère Lapin (pronounced kom-pare la-pan and translated to “brother rabbit”) is a contemporary restaurant where Creole and Caribbean-inspired fare meet New Orleans’ unparalleled flavors. Based inside The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, this Warehouse Arts District eatery has become a local favorite, thanks to Compton’s delicious creations, such as house-made biscuits, spiced pigs’ ears with smoked aioli, and boiled shrimp, as well as for its creative cocktail confections and bustling atmosphere. Compère, perfect for those looking to savor traditional city tastes on dishes indigenous to Europe, welcomes hungry crowds from Monday to Friday starting at 11:30 am, and on weekends at 10:30 am.
Run by Pastry Chef Kelly Fields of Besh Restaurant Group, and Pastry Chef Lisa White, Willa Jean is a retro-chick café and restaurant serving Southern-contemporary fare, baked goods, freshly brewed-coffee, and specialty cocktails. This brick-walled hotspot, open seven days a week from 7 am, is ideal for those looking to experience flavors indigenous to the Port City. From their buttered banana bread and corn syrup cornbread to their seared drum and chicken pot pie, Willa Jean is hard to beat when it comes to authentic austral cooking.
Southeast Asian, West African, Caribbean, and South American flavors combine at Carmo, a tropical café and bar serving innovative, vegan-friendly fare with tropical flavors. This NOLA-based open-kitchen eatery, founded in 2010, prides itself on its “commitment to providing vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike with healthy and affordable” dining options in a laid-back atmosphere. Menu favorites at this CBD restaurant, open Monday from 9 am–3 pm and Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am–10 pm, include the carmo salad, the rico sandwich, or any of the appetizers featuring avocado. Because duh.
Offering a five-star dining experience in the heart of the CBD, Restaurant August is Chef John Besh’s award-winning flagship restaurant. Located in a historic 19th century French-Creole building, this chandelier-studded eatery features contemporary French fare and creative cocktails all week starting at 5 pm, except for Fridays, when the restaurant opens at 11 am. Can’t-miss dishes at August include the lightly battered and fried potato crusted oysters, the slightly frizzled flounder topped with shrimp and crab, and the richly buttered shrimp etouffee.
Luke is a New Orleans brasserie that specializes in German and French fare with an evident Louisiana flare on all the menus, especially the brunch menu. From classic breakfast choices like eggs Benedict to more upscale options like Creole influenced crepes, Luke can fit a particular breakfast and brunch need. This is a fine-dining brunch, so it has an elaborate drink menu as well.