The black drum jubilee at Atchafalaya restaurant offers a bounty of local seafood and its own colorful backstory.


901 Louisiana Ave., (504) 891-9626

Brunch here is the jam. It can feel like a house party on weekends, with a great band cooking in the bar, a self-serve bloody mary bar and a living room vibe around the whole restaurant, one that spills out to the oak-shaded sidewalk. Day or night, chef Jacob Cureton works some impressive modern style through the regional staples. This authoritative version of shrimp and grits can be a centerpiece for brunch or dinner, the local pastured meats (for the house-made ham, or a recent lamb special) give new depth to familiar riffs. Dinner daily, brunch Thu.-Mon. $$$$


The charcuterie plate at Boucherie takes the shape of shumai, soup dumplings, crispy pig ear, Chinese sausage and mushrooms.


8115 Jeannette St., (504) 862-5514

Boucherie made a short move back to familiar turf, relocating right around the corner to its original spot. This tiny cottage is where most got to know chef Nathanial Zimet’s style. This has evolved into a bold blend of Southern comfort food flavors and the fresh spark of Asian influence. A charcuterie plate that could have been assembled from a dim sum cart and a smoked chicken over lemon grass curry noodles are new, boudin balls, mussels in potlikker and Thai chili chess pie remain in place. See also the adjacent and related Bourree butcher shop and beer garden. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Wed.-Sun., brunch Sat., Sun. $$$


DTB has made gnocchi from cornmeal and ricotta, complemented with hot sausage and broccoli rabe.


8201 Oak St., (504) 518-6889

When I want something different, but I also know I need something that tastes like Louisiana, DTB is practically an automatic. Many of the names of the dishes are familiar, but it’s the way chef Carl Schaubhut’s kitchen blends playful creativity and serious craft that earns its reputation. Original but still approachable, ambitious but not pretentious, it’s always reliable for compelling food with local roots. When the casual dining room and bar are buzzing, it can feel like an integral part of Oak Street’s nightlife scene. Dinner daily, lunch Fri., brunch Sat., Sun. $$$$


The oyster BLT at Gris-Gris is not a sandwich but a dish combining fried oysters, pork belly and tomato jam. 


1800 Magazine St., (504) 272-0241

The open kitchen and dining counter here was once center stage for the highly ambitious Square Root. Today, as Gris-Gris, taking the same seats feels like pulling up around the home kitchen while your host cooks. That could be Eric Cook, the chef who made this striking spot into an approachable den for modern New Orleans and Southern flavors, to the tune of seafood-stuffed crabs, redfish courtboillion and chicken gizzard grillades. Downstairs feels like an upscale-casual diner; the second floor is like a Creole tavern, and Gris-Gris feels right as a neighborhood spot. Lunch and dinner daily, $$$


Gulf fish almondine is a menu staple at Patois.


6078 Laurel St., (504) 895-9441

After a decade plus, chef Aaron Burgau’s bistro is the established, more contemporary counterpoint to its more traditional Creole neighbor, Clancy’s. But even after all this time, Patois consistently tastes new and exciting. The food is familiar, regionally relevant and wrought with a creative eye and deep flavors. Most of all it pushes the goodness of the raw ingredients into the spotlight. That goes for the classic fish almondine, gorgeously composed salads, smoky lamb ribs and scallops with Asian greens and grapefruit butter. It’s a restaurant for meals that are fine, upscale and modern but still easygoing. Lunch Fri., dinner Wed.-Sat., brunch Sun. $$$$


Whole fish is the specialty of Peche Seafood Grill in downtown New Orleans.

Pêche Seafood Grill

800 Magazine St., (504) 522-1744

See full listing in 10 restaurants to define New Orleans dining today.


The oyster bed roast sizzles with butter, ready to be sopped by naan bread, at Saffron NOLA. 

Saffron NOLA

4128 Magazine St., (504) 323-2626

See full listing in 10 restaurants to define New Orleans dining today.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.