AOL Travel

Best New Orleans Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Eating in New Orleans is a sensual, unforgettable experience and a reason to visit the city in itself. Local chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme and John Besh have become world-renowned, and they serve signature dishes in their own establishments, which are undoubtedly some of the best New Orleans restaurants. Entrees such as Roasted Farm Raised Quail Milton, Shrimp Creole and Redfish with Lump Crabmeat and Pan-Fried Rabbit Tenderloin with Creole Mustard Sauce can only be found in New Orleans. And while the city is home to world class restaurants, you’ll also find that some of the best dining experiences can be found in casual corner neighborhood eateries. At Mandina’s and Parkway Bakery, the fried seafood and po-boys are legendary. Just a few of New Orleans’ signature items include: red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo (usually seafood gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo), etouffee (pronounced a-too-fey), shrimp Creole, Oysters Rockefeller, muffulettas, beignets, bread pudding, pralines and bananas Foster. Finally, there is the po-boy, the almighty sandwich where just about anything is placed inside a loaf of French bread and “dressed” with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The best New Orleans restaurants range from elaborate fine dining to hole in the wall establishments. We promise—the food here is as unforgettable and exciting as the people.

Emeril's New Orleans

Neighborhood: Arts District Price: Expensive
If you’ve ever wanted to sample some of Emeril Lagasse’s cuisine, then Bam!, here’s your chance. Emeril owns and operates a number of restaurants in New Orleans but this is the first and original. It’s a fine dining experience that offers some of the best food the city has to offer. Ermeril's New Orleans is one of the best places to eat in New Orleans for traditional, mouth-watering cuisine. Our favorite item off the menu are the jumbo gulf shrimp, which are dusted with saffron-chili, grilled, and served alongside sweet-potato-smoked corn grits. Dress is casual. Do bring your wallet: You can get dinner for under $100 per person but you probably won’t want to. The lunch menu offers a whole different choice of entrées, still excellent, for at least 30 percent less than you’ll pay for dinner.

More Details on

Emeril's New Orleans »


Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Expensive
Brennan’s is one of the best places to eat if you're willing to splurge for an extraordinary culinary experience (hands down, it is one of the best New Orleans restaurants). There are about a dozen dining rooms in the restaurant ranging from the main room to cozy corners and a second floor balcony to a glass-enclosed area near the courtyard. The celebrities and politicians who are regulars come not just for the ambiance but the menu. Dinner selections include everything from shrimp creole and redfish with lump crabmeat to turtle soup and trout kottwitz (trout sautéed with artichoke bottoms and mushrooms). The restaurant wine cellar has more than 3,000 bottles of wine. Brennan's is also famous for its breakfast. Be sure to book a reservation at least one month in advance during the busy season.

More Details on

Brennan's »

Arnaud's Restaurant

Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Expensive
Perched on the corner of Bienville and Bourbon Street, Arnaud’s offers a fine dining experience that takes visitors back in time. The restaurant opened in 1918 and in the décor has changed very little. The main dining room is splendidly decorated with details from the turn of the last century—crystal chandeliers, beveled glass windows and black-and-white Italian mosaic tile floors. Start your meal with the mushrooms Veronique appetizer and then order either the roast Louisiana quail Elzey or the veal tournedos Chantal. There’s also live jazz in the main dining room nightly and two bars to enjoy a drink while you’re waiting for a table. Ask a waiter to show you the costumes and memorabilia in the Mardi Gras Museum.

More Details on

Arnaud's Restaurant »

Jacques-lmo's Cafe

Neighborhood: Uptown Price: Moderate
Jacques-Imo’s is quintessentially New Orleans; the décor is downright funky—you can even dine in the bed of a small pickup truck in front of the restaurant—so go figure that proprietor Jacques Leonardi is originally from upstate New York. Jacques-Imo’s is located on Oak Street next to the Maple Leaf club and the menu is just as tasty and creative as the music next door. Jacques-Imo's is one of the top New Orleans restaurants, especially in their price range, for dining as eccentric and exciting as the city. Shrimp and alligator cheesecake (it’s actually a quiche), grilled duck breast, fried mirliton, rabbit tenderloin, steamed mussels and roasted acorn squash. A few of the unique entrées include paneed duck with sweet potato shrimp sauce, chorizo stuffed redfish roulade and bronzed swordfish with jalapeno pecan meunière. Be sure to get there by 7PM on the weekends because there’s often a wait.

More Details on

Jacques-lmo's Cafe »

Mulate's Cajun Restaurant

Neighborhood: Arts District Price: Moderate
Mulate’s, right across from the Convention Center, is popular with  visitors. The food is okay by New Orleans standards but Mulate’s is one of the few places where you can see live Cajun music and dancing while you eat. That alone makes it well worth a visit and makes for long lines on the weekends. Mulate's is one of the best New Orleans restaurants to fully experience Louisiana Cajun. When it comes time to eat, the menu features a large selection of New Orleans favorites including fried seafood, grilled alligator, seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, barbecue shrimp, frog legs and shrimp remoulade. The live music and dancing starts every night at 7pm. If you don't know how to two-step, don't be shy, there's a quick dance lesson on some nights (dates vary, so call ahead to confirm when lessons are being offered) and always someone willing to show you how to dance to the Cajun beats.

More Details on

Mulate's Cajun Restaurant »

Red Fish Grill

Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Moderate
Right at the end of Bourbon Street near the corner of Canal, this French Quarter restaurant features great seafood and local cuisine at moderate prices. It’s a cool, casual atmosphere and although there's often a wait, the bar is a fun place to kill time with a few drinks. The menu is strictly New Orleans cuisine with a Red Fish Grill twist and includes alligator sausage and seafood gumbo, BBQ oysters, Herbsaint Flamed Catfish and softshell crab with crawfish-corn maque choux (a kind of succotash made with corn, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes). Other good bets include the Hickory Grilled Redfish and the Sugar Cane Yellowfin Tuna. There are usually good lunch specials here (especially during the weekdays) if you're looking to get a taste of the cuisine at a good price.

More Details on

Red Fish Grill »

Port of Call

Neighborhood: French Quarter/Faubourg Marigny Price: Budget
There isn't anything fancy about this dark hole-in-the-wall place but people line up outside nightly for some of the best burgers in town. The burgers are ground fresh, weigh in at a half pound, are served with baked potatoes and are darn delicious. There isn't much else on the menu—a couple of salads and a steak. Port of Call is one of the best places to eat in New Orleans for an unpretentious burger and a good time. It's a fun restaurant that has a happening bar area as well. Be sure to try the Monsoon (a blend of light and dark rums and fruit juices) but go easy—it’ll knock you off  your feet if you're not careful.

More Details on

Port of Call  

Café Maspero

Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Budget
You can usually find Cafe Maspero (not to be confused with Pierre Maspero's on Chartres St.) by looking for the long line of people on Decatur. There is almost always a wait here but things move along quickly. The atmosphere is casual and the menu of inexpensive New Orleans specialties makes it a popular place with locals and visitors. Delicious, fried seafood is the main reason to come—you can get everything from catfish po-boys and seafood platters to calamari and softshell crabs. Other items include gumbo, jambalaya and burgers and other standard dishes for those who (for some odd reason) aren't into New Orleans cuisine. It's not the cleanest place in town and the service isn't that great (it usually isn't at the budget joints in the French Quarter) but for the price it's not a bad bet. Get a window seat for a view of Decatur and also be advised that payment is by cash only.

More Details on

Café Maspero »

Parkway Bakery & Tavern

Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Budget
If you come to New Orleans looking to try all kinds of local cuisine, you need to get a po-boy. And if you’re looking for po-boys, Parkway Bakery is the place to go. Sitting just a block off Bayou St. John, this casual place takes just about everything and puts it on po-boy bread. There’s catfish, oyster, shrimp, hamburger, turkey breast, alligator sausage, chicken breast and corned beef. And if you’re prepared to get a little messy, try the roast beef po-boy which locals order “extra sloppy.” It’s doused in so much gravy you’ll have to eat it with a fork. Parkway also has plenty of outdoor dining and it’s often packed on the weekends when there’s live music.

More Details on

Parkway Bakery & Tavern »

Central Grocery

Neighborhood: French Quarter Price: Budget
There isn’t an expansive menu here but diners flock to Central Grocery as it’s the birthplace of the muffuletta, a New Orleans staple invented here in the early 1900s. The sandwich consists of salami, provolone and ham topped with a layer of olive salad (celery, olives, carrot, olive oil and a variety of seasonings). A whole muffuletta is usually enough to feed two people and comes on a hamburger-shaped bun the size of a plate. You can also order a half. Central Grocery has a few other sandwiches and stocks a selection of the things needed to make your own mufalettas at home.

More Details on

Central Grocery »
See All New Orleans Restaurants »