600 Poland Ave.
One of the great convivial eating and drinking spaces of New Orleans is also among its most unlikely, a multifaceted, two-story outpost of wine, good food and live music adjoining a yard that looks more like a mini-festival grounds than a restaurant patio. Get your wine by the bottle at the retail shop up front and scope out a roost under the strings of lights, or climb the stairs to the breezy upstairs dining room for a roof over your head and a full bar at your service. Queue up to order at the kitchen window from Joaquin Rodas’ always-changing, Mediterranean-based menu of small plates and full-fledged bistro-style entrees. Bacchanal founder Chris Rudge died, tragically young, this spring. But the scene he established keeps going strong, and Bacchanal reports no plans to change any time soon.
Lunch and dinner daily. $$
2600 Dauphine St.
The room presents itself as small nooks and chambers, composed sightlines and luminous fixtures. It’s as darkly stylish as any craft cocktail lounge and has the drinks list to serve as one. But the Franklin recommends itself first and foremost as a restaurant, especially for late night meals with a contemporary edge. There’s culinary exotica to the tune of steak tartare mixed with strawberries, and seared steak with foie gras ice cream. There’s also a strongly local component on a menu that has slabs of grilled redfish (with rice bundled in lettuce wraps) and offers Gulf oysters prepared five ways.
Dinner and late night daily. $$$
Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant
738 Poland Ave.
Long before the Bywater was anything like a dining destination, Jack Dempsey’s was on the mental map for some New Orleanians with its mix of good food, neighborhood character and sheer quantity. This restaurant prepares a seafood platter “for two” that still feels like too much food when split four ways. Soft shell crabs and frog legs are fried, redfish is broiled and the lighting seems to come exclusively from wall-mounted beer signs. This is an old-school survivor that never lets you forget the neighborhood’s roots. It will remind you the next day, too, when you’re still working through the inevitable take-out cartons of leftovers.
Lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner Wed.-Sat. Cash only. $$
701 Mazant St.
The Joint was an early outpost for the school of slow-and-low barbecue in New Orleans. While it has more company in that niche now, the primal appeal of smoked pork, brisket, chicken and ribs still casts a spell strong enough to draw fans from all over to its door at the far end of the Bywater. The pit masters work a variety of regional styles, so the brisket is more Texas inspired and sauces have a Carolina edge. The ribs are the masterpiece, smoky throughout with varying textures across each piece. Amenities are spare but the full bar can set you up with some interesting pairings.
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. $
2315 St. Claude Ave.
The name spells out the specialty here, but don’t expect the familiar Middle Eastern restaurant template. At this Kebab, falafel, gyro and chicken doner (a pressed blend of rotisserie meat) are stacked on burly, crusty-capped rolls baked in house and similar to ciabatta, then lavishly dressed with pickled vegetables and tzatziki, aioli or the garlicky, herbal-green sauce called skhug. Fries, hummus and a few daily specials complete a menu that’s tiny but full of memorable flavors. Since opening last spring, the counter service cafe has added beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Lunch, dinner and late night Wed.-Mon. $
2900 Chartres St.
The refurbished industrial setting is stripped-down, smart and stylish, and that describes some of the most compelling dishes here, too. A modern Italian restaurant from the people who brought you Iris (chef Ian Schnoebelen’s first and now-closed restaurant), a meal can start with crudo glistening with oil and sea salt and crostini and bruschetta stacked with rich cheeses and vividly fresh produce. Not everything here is as simple as it sounds, but by focusing on the elemental pleasures of regional Italian cooking, packaging it in a seductive setting of brick, iron and flowers, and aiming at the mid-range niche, Mariza has quickly become a favorite. Popularity plus a no-reservations policy does recommend you arrive early or prepare to wait by the bar.
Dinner Tue.-Sat. $$
3200 Burgundy St.
The menu starts very far from the New Orleans norm and then pushes further still, but chef Michael Doyle’s kitchen could not be more closely rooted in traditional south Louisiana food. It’s all right here — oysters and andouille, sheepshead and soft shell crab, citrus and strawberries — though the presentations and preparations are modern and original. And, while it’s not remotely a vegetarian restaurant, the vegetables come first, filling the menu with unexpected iterations of familiar flavors from local producers. While creativity runs high, prices remain reasonable and the casual, colorful room, while sometimes loud, is always inviting.
Dinner Thu.-Tue., brunch Sat. and Sun. $$
3162 Dauphine St.
It’s often hard to tell if Oxalis is more bar or restaurant. As a high-style, low-wattage lounge in thrall to whiskey, it offers a progression of bars and increasingly secluded patios with small, cloistered spaces conducive to close conversation. But chef Jonathan Lestingi’s menu is about more than elevated bar food. Beyond the salumi boards and pickle plates, dishes like steak frites and grilled fish with succotash, the salads and the Bywater bo ssam (a Korean cluster of fatty pork, sticky rice and sharp kimchi) offer a downscale version of bistro dining. Whether it’s a bar or restaurant, it feels very much in step with its neighborhood right now.
Dinner daily, brunch Sun. $$
617 Piety St.
There are many different ideals for pizza, and Pizza Delicious is the place in New Orleans for the one that aligns with the New York style. Toppings are minimal, and choices on any given night are slim. But it’s the fundamentals of crust and sauce that make the case here. The crust achieves that golden mean of pliant and crisp, and the oversized pies yield slices so large they really must be folded. Whole pies are the way to have this pizza at its best; the reheated slices are handy for snacks and meals on the run. Salads are much better than you might expect from a counter-service pizzeria, as are the handful of pasta dishes.
Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. $
3048 St. Claude Ave.
The reputation of Red’s Chinese may have preceded it. Chef Tobias Womack worked at Mission Chinese Food in New York with chef Danny Bowein, who has been lauded nationally for a highly unconventional approach to Chinese cooking. The influence is clear enough at Red’s, though the result is more accessible than it sounds and the space itself is more welcoming than its scruffy exterior presents. If you’re game for silken noodles, hearty broth, fiery peppercorns and vegetables that keep company with both tahini and fermented chile paste, you’ll want to buckle in for the ride. Snag one of the two-seat, counter-style booths by the open kitchen to watch it all come together.
Lunch and dinner Wed.-Mon. $$
3218 Dauphine St.
7901 Maple St.
Every neighborhood should have a breakfast/lunch/anytime-coffee-and-juice spot like this, and Satsuma Café has been doing its part, expanding first with an Uptown edition and more recently with the downtown offshoot Pulp & Grind. The counter-service kitchen spins locally sourced raw ingredients into affordable meals that feel healthy and taste delicious. If you order the ham and Brie melt on crusty ciabatta instead of the raw vegetable salad with apple cider vinaigrette, you have only yourself to blame — or thank, whichever way you’re feeling.
Breakfast and lunch daily. $