Get us in your inbox

Photograph: Gabrielle Geiselman-Milone

The best restaurants in New Orleans

Explore a world of cultures and flavors at the best restaurants in New Orleans

Written by
Gerrish Lopez

New Orleans has been a melting pot of cultures since its beginnings. French, Spanish, Italian, African and Caribbean influences can be seen in the city’s architecture and traditions, but nowhere is this cultural influence more evident than the incredible food scene. The best restaurants in New Orleans include century-old classics, creative modern upstarts, and neighborhood joints frequented by generations of regulars. Like the city itself, each meal can be a journey of discovery.

New Orleans has a slew of bucket-list restaurants, ones made famous by their chefs, longevity or celeb status in addition to amazing food. You can find the city’s most iconic foods—including gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys and beignets—at the spots where they were created. Feast on dishes featuring an array of flavors: from Cajun and Creole Italian to Vietnamese and Haitian. The options are endless and, but wherever you dine—from a white tablecloth restaurant to a hole-in-the-wall cafe—it’s sure to be a fantastic experience.

🍸 The best bars in New Orleans
🍩 The best beignets in New Orleans
🍳 The best brunch in New Orleans
📍 The best things to do in New Orleans
🏨 The best hotels in New Orleans

Best New Orleans restaurants

The crown jewel of the Brennan food empire, this landmark Garden District restaurant has been a beacon of fine dining since 1880. There’s no resting on laurels here, though: Chefs Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jaime Shannon, Tory McPhail and now Meg Bickford have nurtured the Creole menu while making their own marks. The iconic Victorian mansion is the perfect setting for an intimate meal, large celebration or relaxed 25-cent martini lunch. Turtle soup is a must; the bread pudding soufflé provides an excellent finish and everything in between will impress.

Chef Donald Link’s restaurant group is heavy on the James Beard awards, bestowed upon loads of chefs that have passed through his flagship restaurant. This Central Business District favorite is consistently packed with a mix of the after-work business crowd, local families and tourists. Local farmers and fishermen are well represented on the seasonal menu that combines French, Southern and rustic Italian influences. Daily lunch and dinner specials always impress alongside standards like house-made spaghetti with a poached farm egg or duck confit with dirty rice, all enhanced by an eclectic wine list.


This century-old Victorian cottage tucked away in the Riverbend is home to some of the best modern Creole fare in the city. Chef Frank Brigtsen updates classic dishes in a straightforward way with delicious results. Perfect after enjoying a stroll through the surrounding neighborhood, it’s an excellent option for sampling New Orleans cooking in an intimate, friendly setting that feels like a friend’s home. Each dish—from the rabbit gumbo and maque choux to shrimp rémoulade and trout meuniere—is made with care and full of flavor.

This Garden District gem has the vibe of a neighborhood bistro but the menu of a forward-thinking, adventurous kitchen. The small list changes regularly to reflect what’s fresh and local and what creative twists chef Michael Stoltzfus has come up with. Entrées have included black drum in vegetable sauce with fennel sausage and Mexican street corn-style okra and red snapper with butter beans. Can't decide? The five-course blind tasting option is always full of surprises.


This bright, welcoming spot from Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski elevates the boucherie and the flavors of Cajun country with refined takes on boudin, andouille and head cheese. Pork, seafood and produce are locally sourced and prepared in-house. The cocktail list includes flights of moonshine to get you prepped for rabbit and dumplings, cochon with cracklings, “fisherman’s style” whole Gulf fish or smoked short rib with chanterelles. The setting—anchored by heavy wood tables—is rustic yet contemporary, reflective of its Warehouse District location. Stop next door at Cochon Butcher to take home a few meaty treats.

New Orleans has plenty of restaurants serving the classics, but Gris-Gris takes them to new heights, with updates that are more than just trendy twists on the original. An oyster BLT comes with smoked pork belly, tomato jam, arugula and sugar cane vinegar, while the standout duck breast—topped with local molasses and a sugarcane demi-glace—is served with roasted sweet potato and pecan casserole. Chef Eric Cook’s mom’s recipe for chicken and dumplings is also a hit. The setting—downstairs has an open kitchen and counter seating, upstairs has a dining room and bar, and outdoor balcony seating with views of lower Magazine Street—has helped establish Gris-Gris as a go-to spot for neighborhood regulars and special occasion diners. 


Chef Alon Shaya serves contemporary Israeli cuisine with a dedication to ingredients, technique and staff wellbeing. The bright, airy Uptown restaurant provides a warm setting to enjoy shareable dishes like Shaya’s grandmother’s lutenitsa, local tomato ezme, harissa roasted chicken and hummus topped with blue crab. The pita, served fresh from the wood-burning oven, is simply heavenly. Creative cocktails and a wine list that includes Slovenian and Israeli selections are perfect complements.

Chef Justin Devillier has been creatively enhancing New Orleans classics on Magazine Street for more than a decade. Refined but lively, La Petite Grocery is where to go for a bit of edge alongside the familiar: Beignets are stuffed with blue crab and finished with malt vinegar; the gumbo features tasso and chicken confit; and turtle Bolognese is served with bucatini and a fried soft boiled egg. The LPG Cheeseburger, with house-made pickles, onion marmalade, aioli and gruyere on a brioche bun, is another crowd favorite. Chef Devillier has recently expanded his talents with Justine, but this Uptown spot remains his signature offering.


Fresh fish is the star at this French Quarter fine dining establishment. Entrées change daily to reflect the best catch. Whatever the preparation—wood-grilled, parmesan-crusted, blackened—the flavors of the fish shine through. Appetizers like lobster dumplings and New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp are constants. Try not to fill up on the delectable biscuits and cross your fingers that the “Scalibut”—a deliciously unique halibut/scallop combo—is on the menu. Be sure to try innovative dishes like dry-aged fish or the "Seacuterie" plate.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Fritai (@fritainola)

Traditional Haitian cuisine and spirits are not out of place in this Caribbean-influenced city. Fritai has made a splash since opening in Treme, and has become a destination for flavorful, authentic Haitian specialties. Start with a cocktail featuring clairin, then dig in to specialties like the fritai sandwich featuring pulled pork between two fried plantains with avocado, mango sauce and pikliz, citrusy grilled shrimp or a mirliton salad with grilled carrot and candied plantain. The bright flavors will transport you to Haiti on an exciting culinary journey.


Chef Nina Compton has made her mark on New Orleans since opening Compere Lapin in the Old 77 Hotel & Chandlery in 2015. Mixing the flavors of her Caribbean homeland of Saint Lucia with classic New Orleans cuisine, her menu has received consistent raves. The setting is intimate and buzzy with its exposed brick and wooden beams. The excellent cocktail program kicks things off, followed by must-try conversation starters like spiced pig ears and conch croquettes. The goat curry, set atop sweet potato gnocchi, is a star entrée, and seasonal updates bring exciting new flavors to palates. Following the success of Compere Lapin, chef Compton opened Bywater American Bistro, which has also proven to be a hit.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Warehouse District
  • price 3 of 4

Donald Link’s seafood-focused restaurant features fresh, local seafood (of course) much of it cooked on a wood-fired grill. Boisterous and always packed, Pêche is a great place for group dining. Small plates like smoked tuna dip and beer-battered fish sticks are shareable, as is the delicious whole grilled fish. The grill is put to good use for tuna, chicken, lamb and steak dishes. Sides and accoutrements reflect local heritage, from field peas and okra to white beans and greens. But seafood is the star, and you’ll find it fresh and delectably prepared by chef Ryan Prewitt here in the Warehouse District.


In recent years, this French Quarter stalwart underwent a change in ownership, a glamorous renovation and a chef replacement that has brought its shine back. Still an elegant, old-world fine dining experience with excellent service, the restaurant now offers a seasonally-inspired menu of classic Creole fare. Breakfast at Brennan’s is a must for locals and tourists, and you can’t miss the Bananas Foster—invented here—that still gets flambéed tableside.

Gabrielle was a long-time favorite for a night out amongst locals before it was wiped out by the floods that followed Katrina. More than a decade later, chefs Greg and Mary Sonnier returned triumphantly with their Cajun and Creole influences intact. The storied slow-roasted duck with orange-sherry sauce shares menu space with equally impressive dishes like a dark roux smoked quail gumbo, barbecue shrimp pie and seared Gulf fish served with jumbo crab cake. The cozy, classy dining room is welcoming and sets the stage for an experience that feels fresh yet like an old friend, even for those who didn’t know it originally.


Despite its Industrial space, Bywater American Bistro is a welcoming neighborhood restaurant. Chef Nina Compton’s second spot builds on the Caribbean flavors of her famed Compère Lapin. The eclectic menu continually surprises, from hogs head boudin and jerk chicken with semolina dumplings to rabbit curry and roasted Gulf fish with poblano coconut crema. Cocktails range from classic to adventurous, and the extensive wine list contains some unique picks for the perfect pairing.

This historic French Quarter cottage, with its lovely courtyard and intimate dining space, is a go-to spot for romantic dinners and special occasions. Opened by chef Susan Spicer in 1990, Bayona has risen to institution status alongside the city’s other grande dames. Her first—and best—restaurant features a changing menu of Mediterranean-influenced Southern dishes. Regularly appearing on the menu are signatures like veal sweetbreads, oyster gratin, sautéed redfish and peppered lamb. The creamy garlic soup—while perhaps not the best choice on date night—is also a must-try.


Chef Donald Link has created another winner with his French Creole restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel. Before you get to the food, you’ll be impressed by the panoramic views of the Mississippi River. The river and the Gulf of Mexico are celebrated via a menu featuring delicate crab and oyster dishes, rustic pâtès, expertly prepared fish and rich meat dishes. The wine list is long and worth exploring with the help of knowledgeable sommeliers. The service and setting make this hotel restaurant a destination for a special meal.

The loss of chef Leah Chase left a hole in the heart of New Orleans cuisine. She was an icon for her culinary contributions and role in the Civil Rights Movement, whose leaders often gathered at her restaurant. You’ll experience history while dining on some of the best Creole cuisine. From hearty red beans or shrimp Clemenceau to gumbo and crispy fried chicken, a meal at Dooky Chase’s fills the belly and the soul. For a sampling of menu highlights, try the lunch buffet. Call to make reservations.


While the Quarter is home to newer, award-winning restaurants, dining at one of New Orleans’ historic fine dining institutions is essential. Galatoire’s offers a glimpse into the city’s unique dining culture: most of the waiters, dressed in tuxedos, are locals who have worked at the restaurant for decades, and many high society folks are longtime regulars. The bright walls, black-and-white tile, and white tablecloths create a refined but celebratory atmosphere. Dine on shrimp rémoulade, trout almondine and other New Orleans classics for a memorable experience.

This family-owned, casual neighborhood joint is a top choice for classic, overstuffed po-boys. It has grown in popularity but the friendly staff still cares for the locals and welcomes tourists like family. Shrimps are fried to perfection, roast beef is sufficiently messy and the Barq's (and beer) is served icy cold. The oyster po-boy is a favorite, but it is only available Mondays and Wednesdays. For a non-traditional po-boy option, try the smoked alligator sausage or the Italian caprese. Grab a table outside and dig into one of the best po-boys found anywhere.


This Treme institution has weathered storms of all kinds and is still going strong thanks to a third generation of the Baquet family. The soul food joint is known for catfish and grits, gumbo, poboys, and fried chicken. Lunch specials and the buffet draw regulars, and breakfasts are hearty and filling. The laid-back atmosphere and walls decorated with memorabilia — of the Baquet family, the city, and the New Orleans Saints — make you feel right at home.

Chef Isaac Toups displays 300 years of Cajun family traditions at his Mid-City restaurant, and meat is his chosen platform. His fine dining training adds sophistication to rustic dishes like fried rabbit liver, pork rillettes and daily sausages. The meatery board—a selection of house-made fresh and cured meats and condiments—is a good snapshot of Toups’ skills. Entrées like the hot fried quail with smothered green beans are as impressive as the elegant lamb neck with bucatini. Fear not, meat-averse: several small plates featuring local veggies and seafood are just as delicious and satisfying as the rest of the offerings.


This cozy little cottage in Mid City is, in fact, a culinary giant. James Beard Award-winning chef Sue Zemanick presents a consistently impressive menu featuring seasonal Gulf Coast ingredients. Offerings change regularly, but a few consistent menu items include heavenly potato pierogies with gruyere and grilled baby octopus with potatoes, olives, capers and red peppers.

Located just off Bourbon Street, Arnaud’s has been a go-to destination for classic Creole cuisine and traditional service since 1918. The historic restaurant remains true to its traditions and courtesies, and the assortment of dining rooms draws locals and visitors alike for special occasion dining. Start with a pre-dinner cocktail at the award-winning French 75 Bar, then dive into classics like soufflé potatoes and shrimp remoulade. Be sure to finish with a flaming Café Brûlot and a visit upstairs to the free Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum, which features lavish Mardi Gras costumes, vintage photographs, Carnival masks, and elaborate krewe invitations and party favors.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dinner | (@dakarnola)

After years of celebrated popups, James Beard nominee Serigne Mbaye now permanently hosts his Senegalese tasting menu dinners at his Uptown restaurant. The communal dining experience presents modern twists on traditional West African and Senegalese dishes, featuring Louisiana ingredients. The meal is a journey that explores the connection between Senegambia and New Orleans.

As strange as it may seem, chef Michael Gullotta combines Asian, Italian and New Orleans cuisines into one stunning menu. The native New Orleanian started his career by melding the flavors of Vietnam and Louisiana at his restaurant MoPho; at Maypop, Gullotta goes even further. After starting with a bread course that includes coconut butter and shellfish pepper jam, things get even more interesting with options such as sweet corn Tom Yum with Gulf shrimp and Florida clams, garganelli with blue crab and Thai sausage, and lamb shank in coconut jus. The cocktails reflect Asian influences as well, many featuring ginger or lemongrass.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sylvain (@sylvainneworleans)

Sylvain maintains its status as one of the coolest places in the city to dine. This restaurant-bar hybrid is housed in a carriage house built in the late 1700s, just a block from Jackson Square. A trendy mix of locals and out-of-towners rub shoulders while enjoying an assortment of modernized Southern fare alongside locally-inspired cocktails. After drinks from the handsome bar, go big with an order of Champagne and fries, or just stick with crowd favorites like the house burger or pan-seared gulf fish.

Straddling the line between rustic and refined, Atchafalaya is often a destination for a celebratory meal. The neighborhood restaurant offers a menu of creative Louisiana fare that includes regional classics such as duck and andouille gumbo, shrimp and grits, and stuffed quail. For good food and good times, go the brunch route and indulge in the extensive Bloody Mary bar before diving into a fried oyster Benedict or bananas Foster waffle.


For a taste of the Creole-Italian cuisine that makes New Orleans so unique, follow the smell of garlic to Irene’s French Quarter home. The family-owned restaurant has cooked classics like house-made pasta topped with soft shell crab and a cream sauce, duck St. Philip, and lasagne Bolognese since 1992. Enjoying a drink at the piano bar before meals is still a great way to start. To finish? Go for the bread pudding du jour.

For fresh, salty oysters served old-school style, seasonally-operated Casamento’s is the place to venture out to. The white-and-green tiled walls and formica tables are a real throwback, with legendary oyster shuckers doing their thing behind the counter. Shucked-to-order Gulf oysters are the star of the show, but the fried oyster loaf (served on thick white bread) and other fried seafood platters are excellent options as well.


Delicately prepared sashimi does not usually come to mind when discussing New Orleans cuisine, but this tiny Uptown restaurant has created buzz and received accolades since its 2018 opening. Chef Hao Gong worked for years at the popular Sake Cafe, and he’s translated his skills into an innovative pan-Asian menu that displays Japanese and Chinese influences. Raw dishes—salmon with Asian pear, soy and basil seeds; tuna with dragon fruit and spicy soy—are super fresh and innovative, while hot dishes—tofu with shiitakes, wood ear mushrooms and lily flower; Gong’s mother’s pork-and-ginger dumplings—are creative and satisfying. All food is as photogenic as the modern, colorful decor.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Costera (@costeranola)

Two alums of chef Donald Link’s culinary empire oversee this Uptown restaurant inspired by the cuisine of coastal Spain. Studded with Louisiana influences, the menu features plenty of seafood and bold flavors. Shareable small and large plates range from the familiar (papas bravas, gambas al ajillo) to the inventive (seared yellowfin tuna with marinated blood orange and crispy leeks, pork belly a la plancha with apple, chili and walnut). The intriguing wine list includes many Iberian selections, and delightful cocktails and bar snacks are a draw for happy hour.


There are a few decent Indian restaurants around the city, but none can top Saffron, which arrived on Magazine Street to much fanfare—quickly followed by a 'best new restaurant' nomination from the James Beard Foundation. Regional Indian classics are expertly prepared and enhanced by Louisiana ingredients and flavors: The oyster bed roast features caramelized onions and curry leaf and is served with naan; a curried seafood gumbo brings together cultures with tasty results; and Gulf fish is crusted with Indian spices and served with korma sauce and mango pickle. Finish with a chai and saffron-cardamom ice cream or mango sorbet with candied ginger.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tan Dinh (@tandinhnola)

A prominent Vietnamese population and a string of restaurants primarily in New Orleans East and the Westbank bring pho-lovers out of their familiar boundaries. On the Westbank, Tan Dinh is one of the best eateries of its kind, consistently delivering cheap eats and big flavors. The extensive menu truly has something for everyone: the pho and banh mi are bright and fresh, and other Vietnamese classics are done exceptionally well. The informal strip mall setting makes it easy to kick back and try something new, like frog legs in garlic butter, or stick to standout favorites like lemongrass chicken wings or savory short ribs. It’s definitely worth the drive.

    You may also like
    You may also like