LSU and Clemson are coming to New Orleans hungry for victory in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship.
The fans following them to town will be hungry too — for good food, no doubt, and some might even arrive with a bit of a thirst. When New Orleans is the destination, that's just on the itinerary.
Monday's game starts at 7:15 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. That puts a long weekend ahead of kickoff — and a lot of time to eat and drink.
The New Orleans restaurant and bar scene has been changing rapidly in recent years. Below are some of our picks, updates and advice on particular areas of interest this time of year, including our short list of some of our New Orleans favorites and top spots for quick stops to drink and eat around the Dome
The short list
These are not necessarily the highest profile or most ambitious restaurants. They range from a po-boy shop making its mark to a destination historic treasure reinvented. This is still the short list we’d hand anyone who wants to take a deep dive into New Orleans food.
2510 Tulane Ave., (504) 821-4110
Old school po-boy shops are rooted in New Orleans as deeply as the oaks. Around since 2012, Avery’s on Tulane owners Christy and Justin Pitard didn’t open their spot to change the sandwich game. Our craving is for their Buffalo shrimp po-boys, roast beef with horseradish sauce and fried pickles and the dueling gumbos (seafood, chicken and sausage — both legit). New Orleans flavor lives in small, family-run, everyday places like this, and Avery's does double duty by adding to the ranks of po-boy shops while also adding its own personality and creativity to the mix. Lunch, Monday to Saturday; dinner, Monday and Thursday to Saturday. $
417 Royal St., (504) 525-9711
When it returned a few years back under a different branch of the family and with a new direction, Brennan’s felt like a revival, a restoration. Today, it feels like a statement about modern New Orleans. The setting is suitably grand. This address has been a high-profile landmark restaurant for generations. Under the direction of Ralph Brennan’s company, it has carefully, brilliantly navigated the intricacies of recalibrating a classic to the styles and tastes of the present. The cuisine is modern, sometimes playful and still rooted in the Creole equation. The wine list is increasingly deep and interesting, and not just for the big spenders. You can smell sizzling butter around Brennan’s dining rooms as waiters flambé desserts from wheeled carts. You can look around the courtyard and feel transported to old New Orleans. And maybe, between it all, you can feel something in tune with the convergence of tradition, change and renewal so evident around New Orleans today. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $$$$$
723 Dante St., (504) 861-7610
Brigtsen's, a bistro run by husband-and-wife team Frank and Marna, is forever tied to the late, great Paul Prudhomme, who was instrumental in helping his protégé get his own start here. Regulars have come to their Riverbend bistro through three decades for soft shell crabs in brown butter pecan sauce, velvety shrimp bisque, blackened tuna and cochon de lait under curls of cracklin’. Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday. $$$$
527 Julia St., (504) 875-4132
One of the city’s most unique and compelling restaurants is also its most progressive, and it started as a simple deli. Carmo began with sandwiches, healthy salads, a bit of Brazilian flavor from chef Christine Honn‘s homeland and a conviction for sustainability that she and her chef husband Dana share. It has grown room by room to become an unlikely grassroots culinary hub in the middle of the increasingly chic Warehouse District. The menu tells a story of tropical foodways across the globe, from Africa to Southeast Asia to the Gulf of Mexico. The raw bar serves a variety of local fish you might not ever see otherwise, thanks to a dedication to direct sourcing. The staff and clientele are together as diverse as they come, thanks to the restaurant’s culture, its open ambiance and its accessible prices. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday. $$
4500 Freret St., (504) 754-1336
This is the restaurant we probably recommend more than any other in New Orleans because it represents a timely reinvigoration of the type of restaurant most people want — the affordable, accessible, consistent neighborhood spot with a sense of place. The menu bridges Creole standards with down-home Deep South flavor. The key to High Hat is that it all feels classic and modern at the same time, thanks to an embrace of the fresh and seasonal. Chef Allison Richard’s kitchen fields a dark gumbo, bright salads and daily fish, boudin and burgers and irresistible pies to end it all. The first-class cocktails get this treatment too, and even the soft drinks are interesting here. Lunch and dinner daily. $$
To check out more of our favorites, visit NOLA.com.
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Drink & eat around the Dome
There's less room for traditional tailgating around the Superdome these days because many of the nearby surface parking lots have become sleek new developments. These buildings have brought new restaurants and bars, joining many other new arrivals as a downtown building boom rolls on.
The upshot is the walking routes to the Dome are dotted with many more places to eat and drink. Some are upscale, but many are casual and well suited for a football weekend romp or quick stop en route to the action. Here’s a selective list, starting near the Dome and radiating out:
Borgne (601 Loyola Ave. in the Hyatt Regency Hotel), the upscale seafood house with a huge bar, good beer list and many TVs
The Company Burger (611 O'Keefe Ave.), fast/casual burgers and a killer bar
Aglio (611 O'Keefe Ave.), deli with meat plates, drinks
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Cellardoor (916 Lafayette St.), stylish tavern, tucked away feel
Seaworthy (630 Carondelet St.), upscale oyster bar, late hours
Juan's Flying Burrito (519 Baronne St.), taco stop with good margaritas
Otra Vez (1001 Julia St.), modern Mexican, with fast/casual taco bar
Central City BBQ (1201 S. Rampart St.), low-and-slow barbecue, closer than it looks
Copper Vine (1001 Poydras St.), wine bar and tavern (next to Walk-On’s, the sports bar/tavern with a heavy LSU connection)
Johnny Sanchez (930 Poydras St.), modern taqueria from chef Aaron Sanchez
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Pythian Market (234 Loyola Ave.), food hall for falafel to fried chicken (and full bar)
Victory Bar (339 Baronne St.), craft cocktails, bar snacks
Pisco Bar (914 Union St.), snug den in a boutique hotel, with vegan Asian menu
Voodoo Two (330 Carondelet St.), refreshingly straightforward watering hole
Flamingo A-Go-Go (869 Magazine St.), a colorful, playful bar with huge patio
Auction House Market (801 Magazine St.), food hall for Indian roti to raw oyster bar (and full bar)
Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar (701 Tchoupitoulas St.), classic downtown bar and grill
Barcadia (601 Tchoupitoulas St.), tavern meets arcade
Ernst Café (600 S. Peters St.), old school bar and tavern between the hotels and Dome
Manning's Sports Bar & Grill (519 Fulton St.), come for the Manning sports family dynasty memorabilia, leave with a go-cup