New Orleans restaurants will always get people talking, and the topic is a pretty sure way to get people arguing too.
It should, and I hope that never changes. New Orleans prides itself on food, and the restaurants that showcase it mean a great deal. Behind the arguments of which is better, which is best and what the dining scene needs next is a community's deep connection with one corner of its culture.
That’s what gives our restaurant scene its spark and its character. That’s also why making restaurant recommendations in this town can’t just be about analyzing aesthetic excellence or ranking relative prominence.
The restaurants we value most can tell you stories or help you express something you feel. They can surprise you, reveal something new or remind you of what you love and why. They can also furnish a quick, cheap meal that’s still gratifying, and in the moment that can be just as valuable.
This dining guide is my annual, ever-evolving attempt to distill the hungry fascination of all that to a concise number, and give you enough information to decide which are the right places for your dining dollar.
One hundred restaurants sound like a lot, until you cast the net over a dining scene that is layered with classics, that is constantly adding new players, that has never been more diverse nor possibly more competitive, and that is seeing changes in styles, tastes, economics and demographics ripple through.
Throughout this guide, my goal was to create something I could give a friend who wants to experience what’s new and to reconnect with what’s timeless in New Orleans restaurants.
New this time around is my own short list, a tight focus on 10 restaurants that tell the tale of New Orleans dining today.
This is not your standard Top 10 restaurant list.
You’ll find dining destinations for a big splurge and everyday eateries, places that honor the timeless standards and others setting new ones. You'll see some familiar names, and undoubtedly some new ones to explore.
The bottom line is they have to be delicious, consistent and fulfilling. That's the spirit of this guide.
A few practical notes: I don’t include restaurants that opened in just the last few months (my rough cut off is three) since of course even the best-run operations need time to reveal what they are, or what their customers dictate they will be. And when chef-led kitchens have a change in leadership, I reset the clock again to see how things settle in.
Of course, restaurants are always worth taking about and even arguing over. It's food, and it's New Orleans. It's important.
The character of New Orleans comes through in its restaurants. This dining guide pulls together a story of that character and puts 100 recomme…