Consistently rated one of the top food cities by U.S. News Travel, New Orleans is known for perfecting Creole dishes, delivering vibrant flavors, and offering one-of-a-kind dining experiences. Influenced by a variety of cultures including French, Italian, African, Spanish, and the Caribbean, New Orleans cuisine pays homage to its heritage while paving the way for a new culinary world.
While you might jump to staples like red beans and rice, gumbo, and beignets when you think of New Orleans, there is so much more diversity for visitors to experience in the food scene.
In a city with over 1,400 restaurants, visitors can choose between classic Creole establishments, hole-in-the-way neighborhood diners, or the large variety of authentic international cuisines throughout New Orleans.
We’ve rounded up the 20 best New Orleans restaurants by neighborhood to take the guess-work out of your visit.
A Jewish-Italian market in the heart of the Lower Garden District, Stein’s Market and Deli has been a neighborhood favorite since 2006.
Stein’s is a diversion from the more traditional po-boy sandwich shops of Nola, offering New York-style sandwiches that showcase its quality meats and cheeses. Noisy wall decor and crammed tables add to the diner vibe you might imagine from a beloved hole-in-the-wall joint.
We recommend trying the Muphuletta, Stein’s take on the Italian muffuletta sandwich beloved by locals. Stein’s Market and Deli is open Tuesday-Sunday for breakfast and lunch. With endless amounts of sandwich options and fresh coffee and juice daily, it’s the perfect low-key place to start your day or enjoy a lunch break.
There’s nothing quite like Turkey and the Wolf, both in New Orleans and around the world. Opened in 2017 by Mason Herefield and inspired by his early 90’s childhood, Turkey and the Wolf is a unique sandwich shop in the Lower Garden District.
It is known for its quirky decor, inventive sandwiches, and unique dining experience. While it may feel like you’ve gone back in time with the colorful diner atmosphere and vintage tableware, Turkey and the Wolf is anything but dated.
Mason and his team revamp traditional classics like ham and cheese and turn them into crafted masterpieces with ingredients such as smoked ham, aged cheddar, and spicy arugula. It’s no wonder it made Bon Appetit’s 2017 best new restaurants list in the U.S.
Just a few blocks from Audubon Park, Clancy’s Restaurant has been a predominant presence in the Uptown neighborhood since the 1940’s.
Originally, Clancy’s served the community as a neighborhood bar and po-boy shop. However, it was transformed into a fine-dining Creole restaurant in the 1980’s and has remained so ever since.
With a rotating menu featuring local ingredients, Clancy’s offers lunch on Thursdays and Fridays and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Regularly serving Creole staples such as chicken and sausage andouille gumbo, shrimp remoulade, and fried gulf fish, it is the ideal spot for visitors to get a full immersion into New Orleans cuisine in a warm, yet refined atmosphere.
Reservations are required and taken one month in advance.
Bistro Daisy is a hidden gem in the Uptown neighborhood. Opened in 2007, Bistro Daisy is located on Magazine Street in a quaint, yellow cottage with an intimate dining room. This family-owned New American restaurant is known for its seasonal, fresh ingredients that celebrate local produce.
The entree menu features items such as a saute of Gulf shrimp, crispy leg of duck confit, and seared yellowfin tuna, to name a few. Bistro Daisy is all about quality, from its ingredients to its wine list to its impeccable service.
The dress code is business casual and reservations are recommended.
A landmark in the city since 1893, Commander’s Palace has won multiple James Beard Awards and is regularly rated the top restaurant in New Orleans.
Known for its Creole cuisine and extravagant interior, Commander’s Palace stands out among the New Orleans fine dining options as a timeless choice consistently providing a memorable dining experience.
We recommend trying their famous turtle soup and their pecan-crusted Gulf Shrimp. Commander’s also offers a weekend brunch with live jazz music, where you can enjoy a Bloody Mary while listening to Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio.
We recommend making reservations well in advance for a weekend visit to Commander’s Palace as it usually books up fast. Dress code is Business Attire.
Pro Tip: Commander’s Palace has been serving $.25 martinis for ages, and it’s the best drink deal in town!
Located in the Lower Garden District, Lengua Madre is a stand-out on our list because there is truly nothing that comes close to it in New Orleans.
Taking on a modern approach to authentic Mexican cuisine, Chef Ana Castro has created a masterpiece in taste, ambiance, and overall experience. Entering the sign-less corner spot is like stepping into another world. A neon-pink hallway ushers you into a funky, yet elegant interior dining room facing an open kitchen.
Lengua Madre offers a rotating 5-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings that celebrates Mexican ingredients and culture. Chef Castro’s vision and execution has landed her on Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2022.
Reservations are required.
Open daily for breakfast and lunch, Willa Jean is a contemporary bakery serving Southern breakfast dishes in a relaxed, modern atmosphere.
With a seasonal menu featuring fresh ingredients, Willa Jean is known for their homemade biscuits, such as the fried chicken and tabasco honey biscuit. Serving coffee, pastries, breakfast plates, and sweets until 3 pm daily, Willa Jean makes for the perfect breakfast or midday stop on your trip.
Opened in 2018, Copper Vine is a Wine Bar & Restaurant in the Warehouse District of Downtown New Orleans. Copper Vine boasts a refined wine list, classic American dishes, and a modern atmosphere with indoor and patio seating.
With brunch, lunch, and dinner options, it is one of the few restaurants that you can enjoy at any time of the day during your visit. Copper Vine offers weekday happy hour from 2pm-6 pm where guests can get an $8 flight of wines to taste.
With appetizers to share such as the black truffle fries, Louisiana crawfish beignets, or Cajun carrots, it is the perfect blend of Southern and New American cuisine.
Cochon has been a favorite spot in the Big Easy since its opening in 2006. Serving authentic Cajun dishes with locally-sourced ingredients, Chef Donald Link utilizes traditional cooking methods that pay tribute to his Southern roots.
Here you will find an elevated take on classic dishes like fried boudin, alligator, and pan-fried catfish. On the not-so-traditional list, you can even order half of a hog’s head for your table to enjoy!
If you’re looking for eloquent comfort food in a warm, inviting atmosphere, this is your place.
When it comes to celebrating Gulf Coast seafood, GW Fins is unparalleled. This classic French Quarter establishment showcases nature at its finest through high-quality Gulf ingredients and skilled butchering techniques that celebrate the whole fish.
With impeccable service and a warm, elegant atmosphere, the entire dining experience is special from start to finish.
The stand-out menu items include Lobster Dumplings and Tempura Fin Wings for appetizers, the dry-aged fish dishes for entrees, and the Coconut on the Half Shell for dessert. Of course, drinks are an entire experience here with one-of-a-kind specialty cocktails and an exceptional wine list.
Reservations are recommended; bar seating available first come, first served. Dress code is business casual.
It is impossible to do a round-up of the best restaurants in NOLA without mentioning the Brennan family. With 13 restaurants across New Orleans proper, they have made a legacy for themselves by offering reliably high-quality dining experiences.
Brennan’s, the original Brennan family restaurant, opened in 1946. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, it remains the quintessential New Orleans restaurant a century later. Brennan’s is known for many staples, one of which is their famous Eggs Hussarde, a spin on the classic Eggs Benedict, served at Breakfast at Brennan’s.
If you’re looking for an elegant, celebratory, classic New Orleans experience, this is the place for you. Reservations are required and open 30 days in advance. We recommend booking as soon as possible if you plan to visit as they fill up quickly.
Fun fact: Brennan’s invented the original Bananas Foster that we know around the world, which remains a staple on their menu to this day!
Bourbon Street isn’t necessarily known for its classy establishments but Galatoire’s stands out as a distinguished fine dining spot amidst the daiquiri bars. Having won multiple awards including Best Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, Galatoire’s is considered a classic New Orleans restaurant offering French Creole cuisine and a celebratory atmosphere for any occasion.
But the real event is Galatoire’s Friday Lunch, a weekly celebration on the first floor complete with cocktails, seafood platters, and even a second line to finish your meal. No reservations are taken for Friday lunch, and guests are known to line up at 7 am to secure their spot!
If you’d like a more relaxed atmosphere, step away from the bustle of Bourbon Street and into the French-inspired bistro for lunch or dinner Wednesday-Sunday.
Reservations recommended and business casual required.
With a large Vietnamese population in New Orleans, there is no shortage of incredible authentic Vietnamese restaurants. A corner spot across from Tulane Medical School, Pho Tau Bay stands out among the rest as a local favorite.
Upon entering, you’ll find exposed brick walls and a modern aesthetic, perfect for lunch or a relaxed dinner. Between their endless pho options and banh hoi menu, the Vietnamese version of po-boys, you cannot go wrong here for a quick and tasty meal.
Open Monday-Friday for lunch and dinner.
If you’ve been to Katie’s, you love Katie’s. Katie’s is a cozy neighborhood restaurant and bar serving the Mid-City neighborhood since 1984.
Hurricane Katrina threatened to close its doors permanently when it endured seven feet of flooding. But, five years later, in 2010, Katie’s reopened and has been a staple in the neighborhood ever since.
The quaint, unassuming corner building opens into a warm and intimate dining area. People come for the Nola classics like the Cochon de lait, chargrilled oysters, or crawfish beignets. However, they stay for their wood-fired pizzas, consistently rated some of the best in the Big Easy.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, this is the perfect low-key spot to cozy up and feel like a local.
Originally established in the historic Treme neighborhood before moving to Mid-City, Willie Mae’s Scotch House is an iconic New Orleans restaurant featuring all of the best Southern comfort food you can imagine.
There might be hidden gems on most corners of New Orleans, but this one is special and you’ll know why as soon as you enter its doors.
Willie Mae’s is known for serving the best fried chicken in the city alongside classic Southern sides like butter beans, cornbread, and of course bread pudding for dessert. The line may be long, but your taste buds will thank you later.
As one of the newest restaurants on our roundup, Queen Trina Lisa is making a name for itself as an unforgettable Caribbean restaurant in the heart of Mid-City.
Opened by Chef Lisa Nelson at the end of 2021, this lively corner spot pays reverence to Nelson’s Trinidad & Tobago heritage through its food and ambiance. Between the award-winning BBQ jerk chicken, oxtail soup, and the Caribbean-style spinach, it’s everything you’d want and more from a soul food spot.
Open from noon-evening Tuesday through Saturday.
Zasu is the quaint fine dining eatery Mid-City has been waiting for and it has not disappointed since its opening in 2019. Offering a refined seasonal menu featuring fresh Gulf Coast ingredients, Chefs Sue Zemanick and Jeff McLennan deliver tasteful, balanced, memorable meals every time.
The atmosphere is moody and sophisticated, making it the perfect spot for an intimate dinner. With a concise menu that celebrates its seafood ingredients, we recommend trying their chorizo-spiced baby octopus for an appetizer and red snapper for your entree.
Right at the edge of the French Quarter and Marigny lies Dian Xin, an authentic Chinese restaurant offering Asian staples like dim sum, dumplings, and more. When your taste buds are looking for something other than Creole or Cajun during your stay, this is the perfect spot for you.
Consistently rated the best Chinese food in Nola, Dian Zin is loved by locals and visitors alike. While there is typically a wait, for very good reason, the service is quick and the dumpling soup coming your way is well worth it.
And with a second location in the French Quarter, it’s an easy stop no matter where you are.
The Franklin is one of those restaurants that effortlessly takes on the personality of its community. Housed in a former corner store between the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, The Franklin is both sophisticated and eclectic all at once.
And while the menu screams elevated dining, the sultry atmosphere allows guests to unwind and enjoy a slow meal in a moody, casual setting. While we could rave about menu items like their Espresso-Rubbed Hanger Steak or Steamed Mussels, we would be remiss not to highlight the exceptional cocktail menu.
The Franklin bartenders are mixologist magicians, and you won’t go astray with either a classic cocktail or an original creation.
What began as a small wine shop became what locals have dubbed “Nola’s Backyard Party” spot and for very good reason. Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits is the epitome of New Orleans culture.
The wine shop was an integral part of the revitalization of New Orleans post-Katrina when it began Bacchanal Sundays, a pop-up to support local chefs who’s restaurants had been destroyed. The community gathered for good food, wine, and backyard parties in support of the city they love and the people who make it special.
To this day, Bacchanal is the premiere spot to enjoy small plates, an extensive wine list, and live music seven days a week.
No reservations and guests must be 21+ to enter.
As you can see, there is no shortage of food options in the Big Easy. Visitors can find any cuisine, atmosphere, and price point they are craving from neighborhood-to-neighborhood. And while it is near impossible to have a bad meal in New Orleans, this list will get you started on some of the best that Nola has to offer.
Here are our tips for making the most of Nola’s food scene:
With this, you’re ready to take on the New Orleans food scene head on! With incredible restaurants strewn throughout the city, more than a handful of these spots will be within walking distance or just a short ride away from your vacation rental home. Whether you’re in the mood for Cajun or Creole classics or just a filling meal, you’ll get more than you bargained for in this foodie paradise.
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