Where to eat in New Orleans

By Mike Welch

Photo by va103/Getty Images

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November 2016

No trip to New Orleans is complete without a thorough exploration of the city’s vibrant food scene. Whether you’re looking to splash the cash, grab and go, or opt for something cheap and cheerful, resident Mike Welch shares his top picks.

Cheap and cheerful


At classic New Orleans diner, Camellia Grill, the waiters’ jackets are white, the cloth napkins are crisp, and everything from the service to the prices will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time. There are no tables – just a long countertop – so grab a seat and wait to be charmed by the friendly staff.

If you only eat one thing: The chicken and sausage gumbo followed by the chocolate pecan pie.

Find it: 626 South Carrollton Ave, 70118

If culinary excellence were a crime, the chefs at Galatoire’s Bistro would certainly do time

Hidden gem

New Orleans is overflowing with markets, but the new-ish Roux Carre market, with vendors serving ready-to-eat dishes, is a cultural standout. Head to Estralita’s Express for Nola staples, jambalaya and gumbo, or visit The Splendid Pig, whose chefs will be busy whipping up blue crab cakes and twisting pork into shredded (cochon de lait) po’boys. Meanwhile, Johnny’s Jamaican Grill is the place to go for jerk chicken and curried shrimp.

If you only eat one thing: Look out for The Papusa Lady, who fries up delicious Salvadorian cheese and meat patties, and also makes a mean ceviche.

Find it: 2000 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, 70113

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  • A signature southern dish at Galatoire’s

    Look sharp

    Don’t get caught out by Galatoire’s dress code, which is business casual (so no shorts or T-shirts). Men must wear a jacket after 17:00 during the week, and all day on Sundays. To make a reservation call +1 504 525 2021.

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  • Interior of Lilette © Eugenia Uhl

    Plan your night

    If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy pre-dinner drinks, the wine bar-cum-gastro pub Bouligny Tavern right next door is chic and friendly. Leave your phone number with Lilette and they’ll call you when your table is ready.

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  • Waffles at Camellia Grill © Joshua Brasted


    Not even Hurricane Katrina could stop the Camellia Grill, which first opened for business in 1946. While it shut for a two-year refurbishment following the storm, it reopened on South Carrollton Avenue in 2007 and spawned a second location in the French Quarter in 2010.

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Grab and go


Built in 1832 on Royal Street – a block whose previous inhabitants include governors, Supreme Court Justices and the 12th president of the USA, Zachary Taylor – the Court of Two Sisters was once a shop owned by a pair of seamstress, who outfitted rich locals in Mardi Gras costumes. Now a restaurant, the Court of Two Sisters serves à la carte creole dinner with dishes including catfish, shrimp and grits, turtle soup and trout almondine. A daily ‘Jazz Brunch’ (soundtracked by a three-piece band in the shaded French Quarter courtyard) features hot and cold seafood and meats, eggs any style and dozens more buffet items.

If you only eat one thing: Flaming desserts such as sweet bananas foster are served tableside.

Find it: 613 Royal Street, 70130

  • Presentation station: the kitchen at Lilette © Les Schmidt

    Book a table

    Lilette is open for dinner between 17:30 and 21:30, Monday to Thursday, and 17:30 to 22:30, Friday to Saturday. Reservations are essential. To book, call +1 504 895 1636.

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Hidden gem

While New Orleans Cake Café and Bakery is known as a breakfast spot, it also boasts one of the best lunch menus in the Marigny neighbourhood – not to mention the best people-watching from its outside tables. Try the café’s twist on the traditional shrimp and grits, or boudin rice sausage and eggs. During Mardi Gras, it’s fun to see the bakery make its elaborate signature ‘King Cake’ with apple and goat cheese filling. If you want something sweet for yourself, every meal comes with a huge homemade cupcake for just one dollar.

If you only eat one thing: The crab-and-brie cheese sandwich on homemade challah bread is unparalleled.

Find it: 2440 Chartres Street, 70117

Splash the cash


It’s often been said that if the walls could testify at Galatoire’s half of New Orleans’s movers and shakers would be jailed. And, if culinary excellence were a crime, the chefs at this century-old restaurant would do time. Galatoire’s offers a dozen takes on local fish, from redfish to sheephead, plus abundant shellfish dishes, including herby crabmeat ravigote. Built in 1905, the period décor has been preserved inside, with high ceilings and ornate mirrors. While you can make a reservation for the second floor dining room, downstairs is for walk-ins only. Prepare to queue on Nola’s famous Bourbon Street.

If you only eat one thing: Try the signature shrimp Marguery, which features a sauce made with both béchamel and hollandaise.

Find it: 209 Bourbon Street, 70130

Hidden gem

When a restaurant boasts quality as high as Lilette, it normally doesn’t remain a hidden gem for long. Yet this French Quarter spot still flies under the radar for most tourists. In an intimate space made of old-school southern tin ceilings, cast iron columns, and tiled floors, the chef creates imaginative French and Italian inspired cuisine, heavy on the seafood. Expect classics, including veal scaloppini, and more adventurous options, such as roasted Muscovy duck breast with sautéed cauliflower in a toasted shallot sauce.

If you only eat one thing: The lunch menu includes a tempura soft-shell crab sandwich, and sautéed flounder in hazelnut brown butter with gnocchetti.

Find it: 3637 Magazine Street, 70115

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