It shouldn’t come as any surprise that New Orleans is consistently ranked at or near the top among all leading American foodie destinations. Known worldwide for its fabulous Cajun and Creole cuisines native to Louisiana, visitors have more than 1,400 dining establishments to choose from, whether it’s a café serving delectable beignets or it’s an iconic dining institution backed by some of the most famous celebrity chefs on the planet. For the first time visitor or even the repeat traveler, picking a spot to enjoy a great meal in the Big Easy can be a little daunting. To make things a little simpler, here are carefully selected recommendations to five of the most quintessential restaurants in New Orleans, all of which are guaranteed to provide an exceptional culinary experience.
713 St. Louis St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Established in 1840 by French immigrant Antoine Alciatore, Antoine’s is the oldest restaurant in New Orleans and among the oldest family operated restaurants in the U.S. Over its storied history, the beloved French-Creole restaurant has amassed a bevy of high-profile awards, including among Zagat’s Most Popular Restaurants in New Orleans and Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Must-Visit Classic Restaurants. Led by fifth generation family member and CEO Rick Blount and Chef Michael Regua, Antoine’s features 14 lavish dining rooms, including the magnificent Rex Room and is world famous for creating delectable yet moderately priced dishes, such as the Oysters Rockefeller, Eggs Sardou, and Pommes de Terre Souffles. Located in the heart of the French Quarter near Hotel le Marais, Antoine’s is open for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and due to its extreme popularity, advance reservations are a must.
813 Bienville St.
New Orleans, LA 70122
Celebrating its 100th anniversary just last year, Arnaud’s is one of the four Grand Dames of Creole dining and the largest restaurant in the entire city. Founded in 1918 by French wine salesman Arnaud Cazenave, Arnaud’s has been under the ownership of the Casbarian family for more than 40 years and fourth generation family members Katy and Archie Casbarian now lead the staff, along with their mother Jane and Chef De Cuisine Tommy Digiovanni. Also in the heart of the French Quarter near Bourbon Street, Arnaud’s is open for dinner and brunch and offers 14 dining rooms, included the Main Dining Room with its fluted columns and Italian mosaic floor, and supremely elegant private dining rooms such as Creole Cottage and the Irma Room. The recipient of multiple awards, Arnaud’s was named the Best Classic New Orleans Restaurant by Frommer’s and among the Best Places for New Orleans’ Most Iconic Dishes by Forbes. A La Carte and Prix Fix menus are available and the 100th Anniversary Table D’Hote menu is still being offered online. Suggested dishes include Oysters Bienville, Shrimp Arnaud with Creole Remoulade sauce and the famous Souffle Potatoes. Visitors to Arnaud’s should also take time to visit the restaurant’s admission-free Mardi Gras Museum located next to French 75 Bar, named one of the Top Five Bars in the Country by Esquire Magazine.
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417 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Clearly a New Orleans original, Brennan’s has been enticing customers with its exceptionally delicious cuisine since 1946. Founded by New Orleans native Owen Brennan, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is widely acclaimed for its authentic Creole creations by James Beard nominated Chef Slade Rushing, with such standouts as Louisiana Seafood File Gumbo and Crispy Shrimp Crepes Robuchon. However, Brennan’s is most famous for its decadent dessert creation from 1951, Bananas Foster, prepared right at the table with bananas and vanilla ice cream with a rich sauce carmelized over a flambé. Breakfasts are praised nearly as much, with its famous Eggs Hussard, Turtle Soup and the luscious and highly recommended Baked Apple. Unsurprisingly, Brennan’s is a perennial winner of leading restaurant awards, included being named one of America’s 38 Essential Restaurants by Eater, a Top 10 New Orleans Restaurants for 2019 by NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune, among Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Restaurants in the World and its extensive Wine Cellar has been honored with Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, among several others.
1403 Washington Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Often cited as one of America’s finest restaurants, Commander’s Palace is likely the most awarded dining establishment in New Orleans. Located in the historic Garden District, the business dates back to 1893 and is led Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin who last year were the recipients of the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage at the James Beard Awards. In all, Commander’s Palace has received seven of the coveted James Beard Awards, including one for Chef Tory McPhail in 2013 and a Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Ella Brennan, the matriarch of the highly influential Brennan family. Adding more to its widespread fame, past executive celebrity chefs at Commander’s include Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme and Jamie Shannon. Commander’s Palace is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and several notable Haute Creole dishes from Chef McPhail are worth enjoying. This includes the King Cake Beignets, New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp, Classic Commander’s Duck Cassoulet and Grilled Tournedo of Black Angus Beef. While any dining experience is amazing at what’s consistently called the best restaurant in New Orleans, the Sunday Jazz Brunch is particularly lively and entertaining, complete with live jazz music, Lally and/or Ti on hand to greet customers and tantalizing cuisine.
209 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Once named the Outstanding Restaurant in America by the James Beard Awards, Galatoire’s, is another one of the grand dame restaurants of New Orleans. Established in 1905 by French immigrant Jean Galatoire, the highly praised namesake restaurant is led by Chef Philip Lopez, a New Orleans native who previously worked at other acclaimed restaurants like John Besh’s Restaurant August, Michel Richard’s Citronelle and most recently Square Root, known as the most expensive restaurant in the city. Any of the French-Creole dish on the lunch or dinner menu is worth a try but some of the top recommendations are Shrimp Etouffee, Chicken Clemenceau and the fabulous Duck Crepes. In addition to being given the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in America, Galatorie’s has also been named one of the Top 10 World’s Greatest Restaurants by the New York Times and among the Top Celebration Restaurants by Bon Appétit. Galatoire’s is also offering Pre-Theatre 3-Course Dinner Menu through March 30, for those who plan to attend a performance of Hamilton at the nearby Saenger Theatre.