6 Must-Book Restaurants in New Orleans Right Now

Ora king salmon with French lentils at Chemin à la Mer | Credit: Chemin à la Mer

Although some beloved New Orleans restaurants, such as Upperline and Green Goddess, closed during the pandemic, an astonishing number of new gathering places opened, proof positive that the city’s love affair with food is everlasting. Here are six restaurant reservations to make right now, spots homey and haute, all delivering the gracious New Orleans welcome for which the city is world-renowned. 

NOW OPEN

Dragonfly Café (Garden District)

Powered by decades of experience from working in Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, manager Thaddaeus Prosper and chef Gregory Thomas are behind this homespun breakfast and lunch spot. The neighborly café, which opened in November, is a collaboration between the Raphael Academy and the Guild (a learning hub for young, differently abled people) that offers vocational training for adults with development differences. The all-day breakfast and lunch menu emphasizes healthy, seasonal ingredients along with master baker Tammy Patterson’s outstanding crusty bread. Try the house-cured salmon and pickles, served with herbed cream cheese on crostini and the paddle, a veg-forward spin on a charcuterie board. There’s a robust coffee and tea program, along with Richard’s Water—a brand that uses filtered rainwater for still and sparkling water. The trio—Patterson is Prosper’s sister—chose the café’s name for its many meanings: the dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization, which fits their mission to a T. 

Chemin à la Mer (Central Business District)

Chemin à la Mer | Credit: Christian Horan

The wow-factor is strong at Chemin à la Mer, James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link’s French restaurant that opened in the swanky Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans in November. French for “path to the sea,” the fifth-floor restaurant’s wall of windows and wrap-around patio serve spectacular river views. Inspired by restaurants in Paris, Burgundy, and Barcelona, Chemin is a seafood and steak spot with a distinct French accent. There’s a grand oyster bar and dishes steeped in French traditions, such as ora king salmon with French lentils, pan-seared jumbo shrimp with white beans, and a platter of charcuterie and foie gras. With its beautifully curated wine list and stellar service—the côte de boeuf for two here is carved tableside—Chemin delivers an experience, so dress to sparkle and shine. 

Crescent City Brewhouse (French Quarter) 

This pioneering craft brew pub was about to celebrate its 30th anniversary when the pandemic shut the city down. Founder Wolfram Koehler, who brought his experience in German beer making to the taps three decades ago, took the year to renovate before reopening in February 2021. Hurricane Ida dealt another knock-out punch, closing the convivial spot once again until January. Despite its past, there are nothing but good vibes at Crescent City Brewhouse, a haven for six house brews and a menu of well-executed tavern eats. Find raw and char-broiled oysters, gumbo, fried alligator, and a German-influenced charcuterie plate made with housemade sausage, house pickles, mustard and sauerkraut. The shrimp and grits and gulf fish, with sauce piquant, are both excellent. Ask for a table on the balcony or patio and settle in—this local fave is back.

Laurel Oak Restaurant (Central Business District)

Credit: Laurel Oak

Laurel Oak in the lovely Magnolia Hotel, built circa 1863, reopened in December after being closed since March 2020— and the restaurant, a bastion of Southern specialities and hospitality, is better than ever. Chef Troy Guard from the Denver-based TAG Restaurant Group is behind the menu, which focuses on local produce, whole animals, and fish, all elegantly prepared. The small plates entice with dishes such as tuna crudo with avocado and mint, black pepper honey hushpuppies, and maitake mushrooms with preserved lemon and hummus. For the mains, choose from a daily gulf fish, jerk-spiced duck, and a prime hanger steak. A side of Cajun duck fat fries? Yes, please. An approachable wine list and a lineup of craft cocktails sweeten the deal. 

OPENING SOON

Palace Café (French Quarter)

The Palace Café was a star in the Dickie Brennan & Company restaurant family—of Bourbon House and Tableau fame—since it opened in 1991. The four-storied showplace at the foot of Canal Street in the Beaux Arts building once housed Werlein’s, a beloved music store. Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on the roof, creating the kind of damage that was channeled into an opportunity to upgrade both the interiors and the dining experience. On track to host private Mardi Gras events in mid-February, the restaurant will open for public dining in mid-March. The menu pays tribute to local cooking traditions, with signature dishes such as a decadent crabmeat cheesecake, catfish pecan meuniere, and white chocolate bread pudding. Then there’s the andouille-crusted gulf fish with greens and a fabulous duck au poivre with foie. And don’t count the burger out—served medium, with aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and red onions on a Leidenheimer bun with pommes frites, it’s one of the best in town.

The Gloriette (Covington)

Plan ahead to dine at The Gloriette, the new restaurant opening in the next few months at the lovely Southern Hotel in Covington. Occupying the former site of Oxlot 9, a contemporary American restaurant from chef Jeffrey Hansell, the highly anticipated restaurant will be overseen by the hotel’s new executive chef, Steven Marsella. Marsella brings a storied resume to the table, from kitchens like the Blue Point Oyster Bar in Providence, Rhode Island and the Summer House in Nantucket to Brigtsen’s Restaurant in New Orleans, among others. The posh Gloriette, which means “pergola” in French, will offer a French-influenced American menu with plenty of Louisiana seafood. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for brunch on weekends, the restaurant’s lush indoor garden setting includes verdant murals that invite the outside in.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.