Of course, New Orleans has hundreds of restaurants, and this only scratches the surface. But it's a good start!
THE NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANT SITUATION IS IN FLUX AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE FAILURE OF THE LEVEES! I apologize for this page being out of date ... as of first quarter 2007 I'm finally getting to updating it as best as I can. (Remember, I'm a one-man operation with a full-time job and a radio job on the side, so my free time has been limited. Lame excuse aside, not to worry, I'm getting to it.) Please call any restaurant you're considering visiting to check on their status and hours.
I'm trying at least to get all the places listed first, and I'll get to all of the reviews and details as time permits. As these are my picks, I mostly list places where I've dined, but I've also got a few recommendations from trusted souls for places I haven't been yet. If you've got a recommendation you don't see here, email me with it and convince me you're trustworthy! Any questions, email me and ask!
And, you may wonder, am I deliberately omitting a few places that I want to save for myself? Probably ...
In New Orleans, going to a restaurant isn't something you do before you go out. It's why you go out. The meal is the focus of the experience, and it's something you take a few hours to savor. Dining is, to New Orleanians, a high art form -- one created by the chef, and one in which you fully participate when you partake of the fruits of his or her labor. It's serious pleasure, not to be taken lightly or rushed through. Dine at some of these places and you'll see why. Before we get into my listing, read about my dining trip that I took back home to New Orleans in October of 1994. I ate at Andrea's, Antoine's, Bayona, Brigtsen's, Christian's, Emeril's, and Galatoire's; I also had a muffuletta from Central Grocery, a Ferdi from Mother's, an omelette at the Camellia Grill, an all-you-can-eat seafood orgy at the House of Seafood in Bush, Louisiana, and attended a cooking demonstration by Chef John Folse, where his demo product was consumed afterward. It was the first of several semi-annual trips I've made home to do nothing but eat in restaurants. (Well, to visit friends and family too ...)
Now ... the list!
Les Nouveaux - New Orleans' Newer RestaurantsThese are some of New Orleans' newer restaurants -- newer meaning having opened during the latter half of the 20th Century. :-)
Seriously, in the last dozen or so years a whole new generation of exciting young chefs have opened some of the City's best and most innovative restaurants that are among the finest restaurants in the country. When in New Orleans, do yourself a favor and eat in at least a couple of these establishments; you'll have a meal you'll remember for a very long time.
- Andrea's, 3100 19th Street, Metairie. 834-8583.
- Chef Andrea Apuzzo was the executive chef at the Royal Orleans Hotel before he opened Andrea's in New Orleans' western suburb of Metairie, and it quickly became one of the city's finest. His specialty is Northern Italian cuisine, but a lot of it is in the vein of Creole-Italian, a delightful combination bestowed on New Orleans by its many Italian immigrants and their descendents. Superb.
- Bayona, 430 Dauphine St., French Quarter. 525-4455.
- One of the city's top dining experiences, Bayona is well-beloved by savvy New Orleanians, and is a personal favorite of mine. In fact, my friend Dean Leone and I were showing my friend Michael Yasui around the Quarter and then broke into spontaneous applause as we passed the Dauphine Street restaurant. Chef Susan Spicer, who honed her considerable skills and talents in France and at The Bistro at the Maison de Ville, offers elegant eclectic contemporary cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean flavors in a two century-old French Quarter Creole cottage; you may dine indoors where it's dark, quiet and intimate, or out in the courtyard for a charming, romantic meal you won't soon forget -- definitely bring your sweetie here. Begin with one of Chef Spicer's daily soups, always superb, or the cream of garlic soup, a perennial favorite. Appetizers include grilled shrimp with a cilantro sauce and black bean cakes, or delicate veal sweetbreads sautéed with scallions and diced potatoes in a sherry vinaigrette. Don't be hesitant to try the sweetbreads; you don't have to consider it an "adventurous" choice, and you'll be amply rewarded by their incredible flavor. Past entrées that knocked us out have included lamb chop and medallions of lamb loin with a subtly perfumey lavender honey aïoli, and a Zinfandel demiglace sauce; or a grilled pork chop stuffed with fontina cheese, fresh sage and prosciutto. The chop was over an inch thick, perfectly grilled, tender and juicy; the flavors of the stuffing were intense, and there was a beautifully flavorful seasoning crust on the outside. Heaven. The entrées are also served with a well-balanced selection of sides, such as herbed sautéed new potatoes or gnocchi, puréed butternut squash, fresh sweet corn or steamed haricots verts. The wine selection is extensive, and the wait staff is extremely helpful in assisting you in choosing the right wine for your meal. Desserts are varied and exciting, and range from towering creations like a triple-layered stack of pistachio meringues alternated with a rich, intense chocolate-orange mousse to such simple pleasures as a coffee crème brulée or a fresh watermelon sorbet. After a quiet, romantic evening at Bayona, sampling some of the best food our city has to offer, you may well applaud next time you pass by.
- Brigtsen's, 723 Dante St., Riverbend/Uptown. 861-7610.
- Chef Frank Brigtsen worked under Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul's for many years, and opened his own restaurant in 1990. It's one of the best, and Brigtsen has taken quite a departure from his old boss' style. Great seafood, sauces, dressings, and lots of terrific rabbit dishes.
In a setting both elegant and homey, Chef Frank Brigtsen offers you some of the city's best contemporary Creole cuisine. Nestled in a converted 19th Century house at the Riverbend, Brigtsen's is a warm, intimate, romantic dining experience where the individual dining rooms are small and cozy, and the daily menu is written in the chef's own hand. Chef Brigtsen has a special touch with rabbit, and one of his most mouth-watering dishes is the appetizer of Rabbit Tenderloin on a Tasso Parmesan Grits Cake, with Sautéed Spinach and a Creole Mustard Sauce -- one could almost order two or three of these fabulous dishes to make a full meal. The rabbit and andouille gumbo is delicious as well, intensely flavored and well-balanced with the delicacy of the rabbit meat. You can't miss with any of the soups, especially the lovely butternut squash shrimp bisque. There's something to please everyone on the entrées menu, which at last visit offered chicken, duck, veal, beef, rabbit (this time in a sesame crust, with spinach and that yummy Creole Mustard sauce) and three seafood preparations. One of Brigtsen's most popular dishes is the Roast Duck with Cornbread Dressing and Pecan Gravy, with the duck skin roasted to a delightful crackle. We tried the broiled fish of the day (sheep's head on a recent visit) with a crabmeat Parmesan crust and a delicate, tangy lemon mousseline sauce, and a pan-roasted drum fish topped with lots of lump crabmeat and chanterelle mushrooms, surrounded by a wonderful crab broth. Save room for dessert, including the signature Banana Bread Pudding with Banana Rum Sauce, Pecan Pie with Caramel Sauce, or on the lighter side, a vanilla champagne sabayon with fresh berries, or the always excellent housemade sorbets. Brigtsen's also has one of the best deals in town -- arrive between 5:30 and 6:30pm and you can get the early bird dinner, a limited menu (two choices of appetizer, entree and dessert) for only $15. If you're staying downtown or in the Quarter, hop the streetcar, ride down St. Charles, and hop off at the Riverbend for the short walk to Brigtsen's for one of the loveliest evenings you'll spend in a Crescent City restaurant.
- Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar, Loews New Orleans Hotel, 300 Poydras St., Central Business District. (504) 595-3305.
- Along with Cuvée and Commander's Palace, one of my three favorite restaurants in the city. This is the latest triumphant addition to the Brennan family jewels. It's named after Adelaide Brennan, "Auntie Mame and then some," whose favorite sayings appears on my weblog -- "Eating, drinking and carrying on" -- that's what she liked to do, and that's what we love about her. Operated by Adelaide's nieces Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, it's just about the most fun restaurant in town, too. You're going to have a great time here, as well as great drinks (the Swizzle Stick is one of the best bars in town, a true cocktailian bar thanks to Ti and her cocktail chef Lu Brow) and the fantastic food of Chef Danny Trace. Have a look at my collection of food porn photos taken at Café Adelaide over the last couple of years, drool, wipe your mouth, then call and make a reservation.
- Emeril's, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., Warehouse District. 528-9393.
- Emeril Lagasse is not just the boisterous and charismatic chef that's gained nationwide popularity from his programs on cable TV's Food Network, but is in fact one of the Crescent City's finest chefs, and one of America's finest as well. There are some arguments about the service at Emeril's -- some diners find it zealous and enthusiastic (I like it, myself); others have told me that they find it overly attitudinal. Your mileage may vary. What is never in question, though, is the quality of the food. Chef Emeril's specialty is what he calls New New Orleans Cuisine, based upon and using key ingredients of the Creole classics but taking them in new and exciting directions, and his menu goes way beyond Creole to bring you new American cuisine at its best. Everything in his bustling, noisy Warehouse-district restaurant is homemade, from the bacon to the Worcestershire sauce to the andouille and home-cured tasso. Portions are Gargantuan, each plate dances with color and texture, and side dishes are perfectly paired with their entrees (such as grilled Creole-seasoned chicken with a savory corn and andouille sausage bread pudding). The menu often changes, although some favorites remain, and the daily specials are always exciting and wildly varied (such as crawfish and morel mushroom stuffed artichoke bottoms with a foie gras and roasted onion ragoût and a drizzle of celery purée). For one of the most luxurious dining experiences you'll have in New Orleans or anywhere, try Emeril's degustation menu, which is $75, changes daily, and presents you with a seven-movement symphony of flavors. There are wines specially chosen to go with each degustation course, and the wine list in general is extensive. The number of choices on the entrée menu is surpassed by that of the dessert menu, overseen by Emeril's pastry chef "Mr. Lou" -- his signature dessert, the astonishingly rich Banana Cream Pie with Banana Crust and Caramel Drizzle Sauce, will leave you moaning and pounding on the table (I've seen it happen). Just do it.
- Gabrielle, reopening Uptown in 2007.
- This restaurnat, one of my favorites in the city, seemed to be another victim of the failure of the levees post-Katrina. The Esplanade location near City Park was a goner, but after some difficult negotiations with the neighbors Chefs Greg and Mary Sonnier are going to be able to reopen in 2007. Keep an eye out!
"Owner/chefs and New Orleans natives, Mary and Greg Sonnier first met when they were working for at K-Paul's. Mary was the dessert chef and Greg was a line cook. After a couple of years they married, and Mary started her own catering business and Greg went to work as the sous chef for Frank Brigtsen at Brigtsen's. After six years there, they opened Gabrielle's in March of 1992. Greg does all of the cooking with a staff of 2 apprentices, and Mary makes all of the desserts and works the front door as hostess. Gabrielle's has been a smashing success since the day it opened and the restaurant has recieved praise from both the local food critics and the national press. In 1994, Greg was voted one of the Top Ten Young Chefs in North America by Food and Wine magazine." [RS] And the food, to say the least, is fabulous.
- Gautreau's, 1728 Soniat St., Uptown. 899-7397.
- Status: Still closed after Katrina. We keep our fingers crossed.
- NOLA, 534 St. Louis Ave., French Quarter. 522-6652.
- Emeril Lagasse's newest, less pricey, more informal French Quarter restaurant is a companion to Emeril's, his shining star, and might be a bit more accessible to a diner who wants to savor Emeril's cooking for a little less money. Somewhat less extensive menu, but the food is still fabulous. A bit more geared toward locals. Definitely worth a visit.
- Upperline, 1413 Upperline St. (at Prytania), Uptown. 891-9822.
- One of New Orleans' greatest restaurants, in every way.
While some other restaurants might get lots of attention, Upperline quietly and consistently serves some of the best food in the city, with some of the best atmosphere to be had. Owner JoAnn Clevinger is your hostess, and she's one of the city's great characters -- she'll make you feel completely at home, take good care of you and even entertain you a bit, all the while being part of your experience there rather than intruding into it. If you're going for the first time, I recommend the three-course, seven-dish "Taste of New Orleans", which among its wonders includes the stunning Louisiana Oyster Stew with Pernod, and the late Chef Tom Cowman's wonderful Duck with Ginger-Peach Sauce. Reservations are essential, since locals and foodies in the know make a beeline to this place. Enjoy.
New Orleans' Classic Creole RestaurantsThe joy of some of these classic dining establishments is their consistent high quality. At some of these places, the menu itself is the star of the show and hasn't changed much in decades. When you've got a restaurant that invented some of the City's most famous dishes, a restaurant whose cooking defines a cuisine, you leave it alone.
While a totally different experience from the nouvelle places, these are no less luxurious or spectacular. Step into one of these places and step into the past, into tradition, into foundation of Creole cuisine. Here are my favorites.
Note: Some of these places require a jacket and tie for gentlemen after 5:00pm and on Sundays. Phone ahead to make sure.
- Antoine's, 713-717 St. Louis, French Quarter. 581-4422.
- Arnaud's, 813 Bienville St., French Quarter. 523-5433.
- Brennan's, 417 Royal St., French Quarter. 525-9711.
- One of the Quarter's finest old Creole restaurants, and my parents' favorite. Read a review from Gambit, New Orleans' weekly newspaper.
- Broussard's, 819 Rue Conti St., French Quarter. 581-3866, (800) 248-5423.
- Owned by Chef Gunter Preuss, formerly of Versailles, and under the direction of Executive Chef Harvey Loumiet, Broussard's has come a long way since its opening 75 years ago, completely remade by Preuss into one of the city's finest and most elegant French-Creole-Acadian restaurants. Dine in one of three beautifully accommodated dining rooms, or in the courtyard patio (Broussard's also offers a piano lounge with live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.) As certain other grand old Creole restaurants have withered in quality, the renaissance of Broussard's is a best bet for classic Creole dining in the Quarter.
- Christian's, 3835 Bienville St., Mid-City. 482-4924.
- Sadly, Christian's did not survive the failure of the levees after Hurricane Katrina. We miss them. (If you want to see the old review, look at the page's source code; it's commented below.)
- Commander's Palace, 1403 Washington Blvd., Garden District.
- The crown jewel of the Brennan family restaurants, and the crown jewel of New Orleans' restaurants. Over the years, Commander's has consistently brought the finest cuisine of the city's finest chefs to diners from all over the world as well as fiercely loyal locals. Many famous chefs began their careers here -- Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse -- and current Executive Chef Jamie Shannon upholds the tradition with truly marvelous food. The turtle soup au sherry is a classic, best anywhere, and highly recommended for a first visit. Choose three courses, prix-fixe, or from the à la carte or specials menu (there's always something interesting on the specials menu). For dessert, you simply must have the legendary bread pudding soufflé, one of the city's best desserts.
- Dooky Chase, 2301 Orleans Avenue, Tremé.
- Haute Creole from Chef Leah Chase, with down-home cooking in very elegant settings. Don't miss the gumbo. Security parking provided.
- Galatoire's, 209 Bourbon St., French Quarter. 525-2021.
- Few concessions to the modern age have been made here in the last 75 years, but it annoys me that Galatoire's now allows gentlemen to dine for lunch without a jacket. (I always had to wear one!) At least reservations are still not accepted, for a place that's worth waiting in line for (although they do now accept credit cards, and with the reopening of the second floor the long lines have mostly diminished). One of the great Creole establishments, Galatoire's is noisy and wonderful, where you'll be pampered by your waiter and where the recipes haven't changed in years (there's no chef here, only line cooks who prepare their dishes from decades-old recipes). An essential New Orleanian dining experience.
Great New Orleans "Neighborhood" Restaurants
- Camellia Grill, 626 S. Carrollton Ave. at St. Charles, Uptown/The Riverbend
- Feared to be another Katrina casualty, the Camellia was bought by some local restauranteurs and has its grand reopening on April 20, 2007!
Twenty-two stools around the counter, white-jacketed waiters who dote on you, the best omelettes on the planet, great burgers and sandwiches and blue plate specials, and pecan pie to die for. I practically grew up in the place during my school days. The potato-onion-cheese omelette is my favorite.
- Casamento's, 4330 Magazine Street.
- The best fried oysters in town. This classic, black-and-white tiled establishment still unapologetically fries their erstas in lard, and lemme tell ya, talk about good. Closed annually during June, July and August -- these folks have sense and get the hell outta town when it's miserably hot!
- Franky & Johnnie's, 321 Arabella St., Uptown.
- One of my favorite neighborhood joints, Uptown down by the river. Boiled and fried seafood, great red beans, daily specials. Crawfish pies and killer stuffed artichokes. I've enjoyed every meal I've ever had here, but I wish they'd get rid of the goddamned video poker machines ...
- Jack Dempsey's, 738 Poland Ave., Lower Ninth Ward/Bywater.
- Right around the corner from my family's "old neighborhood" down in the Ninth Ward, Jack Dempsey's is one of the last of the great neighborhood joints in this part of town. It's generally packed with locals, so expect a bit of a wait. The menu is divided into fried seafood and broiled seafood, beautifully done, in huge quantities.
- Liuzza's, 3636 Bienville St. at Telemachus, Mid-City.
- This year, Liuzza's climbed up to the position of Chuck's Very Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant in New Orleans.
This venerable Mid-City neighborhood institution (since 1947) is home to the "Frenchuletta" (a muffuletta on French) and scads of wonderful Creole-Italian cuisine. It's fairly small, usually rather crowded and you'll often have to wait a bit, but you can pass the time in the bar by quaffing a cold draft beer from a giant frosted globe mug. Start your visit by ordering two appetizers: the fried onion rings (heavenly) and, believe it or not, the battered, deep-fried dill pickle slices. You won't believe how good they are, even if you don't like pickles. One astonished visitor was overheard commenting, "You people will batter and deep-fry anything that isn't nailed down!" While the fried sweet potatoes on special sounded better than they actually were, the delicious fried eggplant sticks did not fail to satisfy. Don't forget to check the daily specials, as there's usually something that'll make you say, "Oooooo". Recommended menu items are the Galboroni Pasta (spaghettini with spicy marinara sauce, pepperoni strips and stuffed artichoke hearts), shrimp-artichoke fettuccine, and their mega-rich Fettuccine Alfredo. For po-boy lovers, you can't go wrong with the excellent fried seafood po-boys, be it shrimp, oysters, catfish or soft-shell crab, and if it's a carbo-overload you seek, you can still get a french-fried potato po-boy here (the sandwich for which the name "po-boy" was first coined). Great, inexpensive food in an establishment dripping with New Orleans atmosphere. Don't miss it.
- Mandina's, 3800 Canal St.
- In a city renowned for its small, funky neighborhood joints as well as its fine dining establishments, dis is da ultimate neighbahood New Awlins restaurant. Tommy Mandina's family has owned and operated this restaurant and bar since the late 1800s, and the menu hasn't changed much in the last 50 years or so. This is a good thing. Mandina's gets crowded for lunch, so try to go a little early or late to beat the crowd. And don't be afraid of your waiter -- surly or gruff as he may be, his advice is always good. Standouts among the appetizers are the greasy but yummy fried onion rings, an excellent, tangy Shrimp Remoulade, or the tremendous Crawfish Cakes. Their soups are always fine as well, especially seafood gumbo and turtle soup au sherry. Go for the wonderful red beans and rice with Italian sausage (but only on Mondays, of course), trout meunière or grilled trout, and always look at what's on special (I go for the specials whenever I can). If you're in the mood for fried seafood, you can't go wrong with the shrimp or oyster loaves, or soft-shell crab when in season. Finish up with the rum-soaked Creole bread pudding, and you'll have a such taste of New Orleans you'll feel like a native, from da old neighbahood. Fantastic, hearty, and very affordable.
- Sclafani's, 9900 Hayne Blvd., New Orleans East.
- In my not-so-humble opinion, the only reason to go to that depressing, suburban blight that is New Orleans East (unless you've got relatives there, or something). Fine Creole-Italian fare, now under third-generation chefs Pete and Gino Sclafani.
- Uglesich's, 1238 Baronne St., Central City.
- Yes, I know I declared another place to be my favorite neighborhood joint, but Uglesich's isn't just a neighborhood joint - although it looks like ... um, well, a bit of a hole in the wall to be polite, it is one of the very best restaurants in New Orleans. In fact, some say that it is the best in town (prominent local chefs are often seen dining here).
Right next door to da Brown's Velvet Dairy, and only open for lunch (until 4pm), because after dark the neighborhood is a bit scary. Forget about atmosphere; there ain't none. What they do have is some of the best food New Orleans has to offer. An oyster po-boy to die for, perhaps the best in the city - in fact, all their fried seafood is beyond compare. Also try Catfish Uglesich, Crawfish Hugo, the marvelous Shrimp Uggie, and the astonishing Shrimp and Grits (get it!!!) ... everything is great. Don't let the wait put you off; you might have to end up waiting 45 minutes, but trust me, it's worth it! This is very much off the beaten path for tourists, and is primarily a locals' joint. Soak it in.
- Ye Olde College Inn, Carrollton Ave., Uptown.
- Good, solid Uptown neighborhood joint. Good po-boys. I used to eat here fairly often when I was at Loyola, and I've always liked this place every time I've eaten there, but I must confess that it's always a "Plan B" for me. When the lines elsewhere are long and I don't feel like waiting at Franky & Johnny's or Mandina's or the Camellia, I go to College Inn ... and I always enjoy my meal. Check it out as a "Plan A" sometime.
Restaurants in New Orleans' Grand Hotels
- The Caribbean Room at the Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St. Charles Avenue.
- The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St.
- See above.
- The Rib Room at the Royal Orleans Hotel, 621 St. Louis St.
- "Cozy atmosphere. It's in the Quarter. Great food. Tables looking out on Royal St. Quiet. Solid service. Time was when the Rib Room was just another hotel restaurant. That didn't make it bad, just undistinguished. The kitchen has improved immensely since those days, making the Rib Room one of the best places to eat in town. The furnishings, location, and overall ambience make it a great place for a memorable evening." [EB]
- Sazerac at the Fairmont Hotel, 123 Baronne St.
- "In many other towns, going out to the fanciest place around for dinner means going to a restaurant like Sazerac. The catch is that this is New Orleans, so the food is also as good as the atmosphere. This is traditional grand dining, with dishes like Dover Sole and Beef Wellington, but with a bit of a Creole flair. It's hard to beat Sazerac for decor and atmosphere. While many places in town pride themselves in the fact that they don't spend a lot of money on atmosphere and looks, Sazerac is a class act." [EB]
- Windsor Court Grill Room, 123 Gravier St., CBD.
- "Lots of antiques, artworks, and chandeliers make this one of the most beautiful places in town to get a meal. The food is innovative and some of the best in town. There are only half a dozen places in town that most critics locally rate as 5-star, and The Grill Room is one of them." [EB]
Po-boy Joints and Sandwiches
- Central Grocery, 923 Decatur St., French Quarter.
- Owned by the Tusa family, this is the home of the famous muffuletta sandwich: ham, genoa salami, mortadella, provolone, seasoned olive oil drizzled on the inside of the specially baked seeded round Italian loaf, and the crowning touch - a marinated olive and vegetable salad in a thick layer on the sandwich. The pinnacle of the sandwich-maker's art. There are plenty of places that serve muffs, but Central was the first and is still the best. Don't try to eat one of these by yourself, or it could be incapacitating. Or what the hell, be a pig and do it at least once. This is also a terrific little Italian grocery store, with lots of imported products.
- Also check out Progress Grocery. They used to be next door, made a great muffuletta but now are a mail-order only business, shipping muffulettas to the jonesing visitor and expat native alike.
- Domilise's, 5240 Annunciation St., Uptown.
- Home of the world's greatest hot sausage 'n gravy po-boy, a sandwich to die for. Make sure you get it with Creole mustard, too. Also good fried shrimp and oyster po-boys, but I come here for the hot sausage and gravy.
- Mother's, 401 Poydras St. at Tchoupitoulas, CBD.
- Many call it the best po-boy joint in town, home of the "Ferdi Special": piled high with their baked ham (the best anywhere), roast beef, gravy, and roast beef "debris" (the little tiny bits that fall off the roast beef and float in the gravy as it cooks). Fantastic breakfasts (try the ham biscuits), jambalayas and gumbos, and the best turtle soup in town (better than Galatoire's). Worth the wait in line, anytime.
- Parasol's, 2533 Constance St. in da Irish Channel.
- Best roast beef po-boy anywhere, and the heart and soul of the Irish Channel (and THE place to be in/near on St. Patrick's day, if you can get anywhere close). You want characters and local color? Go to Parasol's, have a beer and a po-boy and strike up a conversation.
Cajun RestaurantsNew Orleans is a Creole city and is not known for Cajun food, but there are some good places for country-style Cajun food, plus more elegant versions of it as well.
- Alex Patout's Louisiana Restaurant, 221 Royal St., French Quarter. 525-7788.
- The most elegant and upscale of the Cajun restaurants in town, Alex Patout's cuisine shines. He does a marvelous job of bringing the country into the city. Recommended dishes are the Oysters Alexander, any of his gumbos, and anything from the menu section that's actually entitled "One Pot Cooking", a technique that epitomizes country-style Cajun cooking. Lots of these recipes have been in his family for a long time, which is always a good sign - they have staying power, and you'll see why.
- K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, 416 Chartres St., French Quarter. 524-7394.
- The one that started the whole Cajun craze. While I'm not a fan of blackening in general, it's really good when it's done right, and this is the best place to get it done right 'cause it's done by the guy who invented it. Chef Paul also makes things a little hotter than I like, which led to the idea that Cajun food is always really hot -- I think this is perhaps because Chef Paul's tastes tend to run toward the hot side. But the food is inventive here, really good in fact, amidst a no-frills, homey setting. Chef Paul is also responsible for training some of New Orleans' best and most creative chefs, like Randy Barlow of Kelsey's, Greg Sonnier of Gabrielle, and Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen's. Come see where they learned what they know.
- Mulate's, 201 Julia St., Warehouse District. 522-1492.
- A huge dance floor and nightly live Cajun music by the likes of Steve Riley are the major draw to "The World's Most Famous Cajun Restaurant", which originated in Breaux Bridge, La. And hey, the food ain't nothin' to sneeze at either. Large quantities of tasty food, and any place that gives you a choice of frog's legs done two different ways is OK in my book. And you can dance off some of those calories while you're at it, too.
Thanks to all the review contributors! Reviews not written by me are indicated thusly: [EB] Ed Branley <email@example.com>, [RS] Robert Stickney and [MT] Marie Taggart.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)