Delicious food is available everywhere in New Orleans from fine dining restaurants all the way down to gas stations. If you’re looking to take a load off and enjoy a sit down meal, there are a variety of cuisines to choose from. Our list of essential restaurants range from fast casual to intimate and downright fancy. Depending on your mood, the occasion and budget, there’s something to fit every appetite.
- Best fried chicken joint: Willie Mae’s Scotch House ($$)- The best fried chicken in New Orleans, and arguably the best fried chicken we’ve ever head. Period. You’ll wait in line for at least 45 minutes so plan to arrive before your stomach starts to grumble. Once you’re in, their service is fast and the fried chicken is served up extremely hot. We tried just about every side they had (we didn’t adhere to the showing up before you’re hungry rule) and the butter beans and rice were a surprise favorite.
- Best gumbo and jambalaya: Coop’s Place ($$)- A one-stop shop for all the New Orleans classics. Get the taste plate to sample gumbo, red beans and rice, and their famous rabbit jambalaya. If you’re feeling frisky try the crab claws too. Make your jambalaya supreme (add shrimp and tasso, a cajun seasoning ham). It’s located in the quarter, but don’t let that or the lines deter you!
- Best cheese plate: Bacchanal ($$) – Known as New Orleans backyard party, Bacchanal offers up a truly unique experience. Upon arrival, pick out your cheese, charcuterie and wine in a small “shop.” The staff is available to help you pick the best wine for your price point and taste, and the best cheese plate to compliment (or vice versa). For a small fee, they plate your selections with accompanying bread and spreads and bring it to you. You can dine outdoors and catch the live band playing there daily or dine inside if the backyard is full. Full disclosure, they have much more than wine and cheese–a delicious menu if you’re there for a full meal.
- Best sushi: Chiba ($$) – While we waited to see Kermit Ruffins at The Maple Leaf Bar, we had planned to dine at famed Jacque Imo’s, but the wait was going to be too much for us. Instead, on a whim, we ducked into Chiba and it was one of the happiest decisions we made during our trip. We dined at the sushi bar and had a great interaction with the sushi chef who served us up a complimentary appetizer of tuna tartare, and his recommended favorite roll, the St. Charles, quite possibly the best sushi roll we had ever had.
- Best small plates: Cochon ($$$)- French for “pig,” just about everything you eat at Cochon is made at the establishment. This renovated warehouse is a converted butchery and restaurant, home to some of the most delicious traditional creole fare completely different from what you’ll find at most tourist traps in New Orleans. Extremely busy and boisterous, we opted to sit at the bar rather than wait an hour longer for a table. We had the wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter, fried alligator slathered in a garlic mayonnaise, fried livers with pepper jelly and toast and pork cheek with raisins, turnips and almonds.
- Best fine dining: Restaurant R’evolution ($$$$)- Perfect. Restaurant R’evolution is an upscale restaurant located right off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter that offers up superlative service and a truly delectable experience. James Beard-winner Rick Tramonto from Chicago, and John Folse, assemble an imaginative Cajun Creole menu that will make you question everything you thought you knew about New Orleans food. We had a hearty sampling of the menu: the Death by Gumbo, Poached Bosc Pear Salad, Black Truffle Beef Tartare, Beer-Battered Crab Beignets (served with four remoulades), Seared Sea Scallops and Foie Gras, Paneed Veal Chop and Maple Bread Pudding Creme Brulee. The specialty cocktails were equally inventive and delicious. We had the Overnight Saint-sation and Charred Citrus Old Fashioned. Overall, the experience was formal, grand, and 100% worth the hefty price tag.
- Best date night spot: Sylvain ($$) – This hidden gem tucked away in the French Quarter, Sylvain’s cozy courtyard, dim lighting, and sensational menu make it our favorite date night spot in New Orleans. After struggling to find a decent place to eat without an enormous wait in the Quarter, we stumbled upon Sylvain’s little white hanging sign. We started off with the veal sweetbreads, buffalo style, and shared the shaved brussel sprouts salad and burger as our main course. The restaurant is known for it’s decadent appetizer of pomme frites and champagne that will set you back at least $50. While we didn’t try it this time around, we will definitely be back to order this extravagant appetizer!
Check out the whole NOLA Food series below!