There are few cities that are as renowned for their food as New Orleans, Louisiana. The Crescent City has a food culture all its own, with insanely delicious po’ boys, hushpuppies, and other specialties that put it on the map lurking around every corner. We’ve rounded up the 31 best restaurants in the city.
The culinary scene in New Orleans falls under two major umbrellas: Cajun and Creole. Cajun cuisine’s origins lie with the Acadians who were deported by the British from Canada in the 1700s, eventually settling in the southern half of Louisiana. Today, their cuisine is known for its rusticity and dark roux, with popular dishes including gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish boils, and boudin; Cochon and Jacques-Imo’s are perhaps the best-known Cajun restaurants in the city.
On the other end of the spectrum, Creole cuisine is a fusion of everyone who’s ever settled in Louisiana, with influences ranging from French to Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Native American, and African. It tends more toward classical European styles than Cajun, and was favored by the upper-classes. Traditional Creole dishes include oysters Rockefeller, shrimp remoulade, crawfish étouffée, turtle soup, trout meunière, and bread pudding; Commander’s Palace and Antoine’s are two of the more renowned Creole restaurants.
While you can get fantastic Italian food outside of Italy and great French cuisine outside of France, truly great Cajun and Creole fare is hard to come by outside of this region. And while these two culinary styles are certainly the city’s claim to culinary fame, there are world-class restaurants of just about every other stripe to be found there as well.
To assemble our ranking, we started by compiling restaurants that were included in our own rankings of the 101 Best Restaurants in America and the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in America, and rounded the list out with pre-existing rankings in both print and online from leading culinary authorities. We then scored each restaurant on food quality, level of renown, service, atmosphere, and overall experience.
So grab your Crystal Hot Sauce, loosen your belts, and read on to learn which 31 restaurants are New Orleans’ best.
31) Maurepas Fine Foods
Owner and chef Michael Doyle’s belief that Southern food is both inclusive and hip is demonstrated by Maurepas’ often lengthy wait time for a table and the stellar reviews from locals and restaurant critics alike. The chef sources most of his ingredients from local farms and food purveyors, and therefore tends to make vegetables and other produce the stars of the menu — an uncommon occurrence in most Sothern eateries. The spotlight on produce shines bright in dishes such as the strawberry salad with crème fraiche, corn bread gremolata, and molasses vinaigrette, and the truly Southern wilted greens with pickled butter beans, oatmeal gnocchi, and a parmesan broth. As a sign that Doyle doesn’t take himself too seriously, the name “Maurepas” itself is a play on words, as in French Cajun it can be translated to “bad food.” However, judging by his strong local fan base and glowing reviews from out-of-towners, this could not be further from the truth.
In May 2011, chef Nathanial Zimet was shot three times and critically wounded during an attempted robbery, but the New Orleans culinary community rallied around him; his kitchen staff kept the restaurant open, and some of his customers and colleagues threw financial benefits, local restaurants and breweries donated their goods, and other businesses donated portions of earnings and even servers’ tip to help finance his recovery. This overwhelming show of support speaks to the high regard in which the New Orleans restaurant community holds Zimet and his restaurant, Boucherie. He focuses his staff on technique and execution, which is reflected in a menu that includes fennel-braised pork belly with honey garlic butter pretzel spaetzle and candied fennel seed mustard, Saint Louis-style Niman Ranch ribs with watermelon salad and crispy fried shallots, and applewood smoked scallops with fried green tomato, toasted squash gribiche and smoked scallop white bean sausage.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers. Additional reporting by Kate Kolenda.
#31. Maurepas Fine Foods
#27. The Joint
#26. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
#23. La Petite Grocery
#20. Parkway Bakery
#18. Dooky Chase
#15. Redfish Grill
#12. Camellia Grill
#10. Willie Mae’s Scotch House
#1. Commander’s Palace