9 classic New Orleans restaurants

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New Orleans is a foodie heaven with many unique local dishes that focus on the abundance of the Gulf. Here you can find prawns, oysters, crabs and fish served in different ways. Then there are the other specialties like muffulettas, beignets and gumbo. Here is a selection of nine classic New Orleans restaurants and their famous dishes, listed in no particular order.

1. Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House

Located in the French Quarter, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House is all about local, seasonal seafood. The menu includes prawns and oysters of all kinds, such as prawn creol, prawn po’boys, prawns and grits, and shrimp-stuffed Mirliton. The oyster range is just as tempting, with grilled oysters, Rockefeller, fried and half-shelled.

I ate bourbon shrimp and grits more than once during my stay. It sauts golf prawns and andouille sausage, along with mushrooms, spring onions, and mixes into its New Orleans-style barbecue sauce that will make you come back for more.

Get the best of both worlds and choose a dish made from bourbon, like the bourbon yaki baby back ribs. The café offers more than 250 American whiskeys and has the largest bourbon list in New Orleans. If you’d rather not drink it straight away, try the bourbon milk punch for a tasty treat.

Pro tip: If fishing is your thing, plan the Dickie Brennan’s family of restaurants and join the company’s Catch and Cook program. They catch it and they cook it.

Chocolate dessert at Commander’s Palace (Photo: Amy Piper)

2. Commandant’s Palace

Located in the Garden District, Commander’s Palace Restaurant with cyan, blue and white striped awnings opened in 1893. Since opening, Commander’s Palace has won six James Beard Foundation Awards. The chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme started at the Commander’s Palace. The type of restaurant served, known as haute cuisine, is a mix of Cajun and Creole dishes.

We were delighted by the jazz trio at our Sunday jazz brunch, including guitar, trumpet and bass. The band moved from table to table, which was decorated with balloons, taking inquiries.

Brunch was a three-course, fixed-price menu that was served at the table. I chose the Commander salad with prawns and grits and a Creole bread pudding soufflé for dessert, served with a warm whiskey sauce poured by the waiter. If you’re an adventurous diner, try the classic turtle soup with sherry.

The characteristic Creole bread pudding soufflé, served with a warm whiskey sauce, is light and airy. I expected this to be more reminiscent of bread pudding; it was more soufflé, however. The waiter pokes a hole in the center of the soufflé and adds the sauce at the table. Schedule this treat as it takes 20 minutes to cook.

Pro tip: The jazz style was second-line jazz with songs like “You Are My Sunshine”. Be ready to take part!

Hummus at Shaya, a restaurant in New Orleans.
Hummus at Shaya (Photo: Amy Piper)

3. Shaya

Set amid a foodie scene that emphasizes local seafood with French, Cajun, and Creole influences, Shaya stands out if you want something a little different. Shaya offers innovative Middle Eastern Mediterranean cuisine with a southern twist. The light and airy furnishings create an upscale yet informal atmosphere. It also has a terrace for al fresco dining.

In the far corner of the blue and white room is the star of the show, the blue-tiled wood-burning stove. I love the puffy flatbreads that the staff bakes to order. It arrives warm at your table. Paired with hummus, the pita was a challenge to stop eating, but should save space for your starter. While Shaya offers a variety of hummus, from cauliflower with caramelized onion and coriander to delicata squash with brown sage butter and pecans, I enjoyed the traditional variety with tahini, extra virgin olive oil, and Aleppo peppers.

Pro tip: I suggest making reservations online.

4. Café du Monde

Located in the French Market on Decatur Street, Café du Monde has been around since 1862. Today, Café du Monde is an icon in New Orleans. Its green and white striped awning protects against the elements, as food is only served outdoors. Open 24 hours a day, whenever you have an appetite for these light and airy pillows of sweetness, you don’t have to curb that craving. Its trademarks are beignets and café au lait. Beignets are square donuts that have no holes and are heavily sprinkled with powdered sugar. They mix half chicory coffee and half hot milk to create the café au lait.

Pro tip: If the queue is long for a table, you can go to the takeaway window and grab your café au lait and beignets to take away. You can find benches in Jackson Square or climb the stairs next door and take a bench along the elevation to take in the view.

5. Oceana Grill

Oceana Grill, on the corner of Bourbon and Conti in the French Quarter, serves Cajun and Creole cuisine with fresh seafood, as the name suggests. But don’t despair vegetarians and landlubbers. Vegetarians will appreciate the spinach ravioli, vegetarian pasta, or a vegetarian Cajun stew. Landlubbers will enjoy the bone-hard grill ribs or the 20-ounce Angus-certified beef porterhouse steak.

Oceana Grill serves a modern Louisiana menu with seafood from the Gulf, oysters – fresh, grilled or Rockefeller. You will also find prawns and crabs. The Taste of New Orleans combination plate offers a variety of local specialties. The dish consists of Creole jambalaya, lobster etouffee, red beans and rice, served with smoked sausage. The lobster etouffee is braised in a brown roux, and lead shrimp fill the Creole jambalaya.

Although the restaurant is located in a 200-year-old house, the atmosphere in this family-friendly, casual restaurant is colorful and bright.

Pro tip: If you’re unfamiliar with Cajun and Creole cuisine, the staff will be happy to show you how to handle that crab claw or those peel-and-eat shrimp.

Tacos and corn at the Red Fish Grill in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tacos and corn in the Red Fish Grill (Photo: Amy Piper)

6. Red fish grill

The Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street offers fresh seafood in a casual setting. The exposed brick bar has an oyster bar serving cocktails. In addition, you will find a colorful redfish decor that will add a little whimsy to the interior.

The chef relies on local fishermen and farmers to deliver fresh seasonal golf rewards for the raw food bar. It is famous for its barbecue oysters, which are briefly fried and tossed with crystal BBQ sauce. Another typical dish is the grilled redfish and crab meat with a lemon butter sauce. For dessert, be sure to try the double chocolate bread pudding.

Pro tip: Ask your server about gluten-free and vegetarian options. The products are fresh so the choice is yours.

7. The court of two sisters

The Court of Two Sisters has a lovely wisteria-covered courtyard with a fountain that will add a nice atmosphere to your al fresco dining. Whether you prefer to dine in the courtyard or inside, the Court of Two Sisters offers a jazz brunch buffet 7 days a week from 9 am to 3 pm

The buffet has New Orleans favorites like turtle soup with sherry, red beans, and rice, and chicken and sausage gumbo. Other favorites are the shrimp etouffee and corn maque choux. I also like that the buffet offers the opportunity to try the traditional carnival specialty King Cake all year round.

The property has existed in various forms since 1726. The dining room inside is bright and elegant, with white tablecloths and glasses. For dinner you can order from the menu. A standout dish is the blackened golf fish with fried rice with Creole prawns and a pineapple beurre blanc.

Pro tip: Jazz brunch is popular, so make a reservation in advance.

Soufflé potatoes at Arnaud's in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Soufflé potatoes at Arnaud’s (Photo: Amy Piper)

8. Arnauds

Opened in the French Quarter in 1918, Arnaud’s is a classic, upscale Creole restaurant in New Orleans. The menu includes casserole snails, Burgundy snails baked in individual ceramic pots, with a dash of Pernod and garlic herb butter. We had the filet mignon au Poivre with a classic French brandy cream sauce and the soufflé potatoes. The fillet is tender enough to cut with a fork. The soufflé potatoes happened by chance when the chef of French King Louis Phillipe put fried potatoes in very hot oil to reheat them. As a result, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons. Arnaud’s serves the potatoes with bearnaise sauce.

Pro tip: After dinner, head upstairs to explore the Mardi Gras Museum. Admission is free.

9. Pat O’Briens

Pat O’Briens is just plain fun. It has been around since 1933 and has three bars – the main bar, the piano lounge, and the terrace. In the middle of the 4,000 square meter courtyard is a burning fountain. The copper fountain looks like a champagne glass and lets a flame sprout in the flowing water. The piano lounge features dueling pianos that vie for your attention.

It’s famous for its hurricane cocktails and you can even order the mix online. It offers a variety of other specialty drinks – the Zyklon, Mint Julep, and Bloody Mary. Pat O’Brien’s offers bar food such as wings and alligator bites. A burger and french fries are an excellent accompaniment to a draft beer.

Pro tip: You can buy a wide variety of Pat O’Brien glassware from the gift shop if you want to try to mix up the hurricane at home. If you’re looking for more New Orleans restaurants to try, check out New Orleans’s Best Hidden Gem Restaurants.

While in New Orleans, check out these other attractions as well:


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