Each year, our Essential 100 dining guides takes the measure of New Orleans restaurants, showcasing the homegrown flavors, new influences, rejuvenation and continuity that makes dining out in this city so fulfilling.

Lists like the one below break down the 100 picks in the overall guide to more specific recommendations I often field.

You can find more here, and the complete Essential 100 here.


Eat in the French Quarter Without Feeling Like a Tourist

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Paul Greagoff (right) and Christoph Dornemann prepare cocktails at Arnaud's French 75, which was recognized for its outstanding bar program by the James Beard Foundation. 

Arnaud’s Restaurant

813 Bienville St., (504) 523-5433

Why: Step into the bar and back in time, add French Creole bar snacks to make it a meal

In 2018, this French Quarter classic marked 100 years of history. The bigger story of Arnaud’s lately though has been its future. Winding through many rooms, set to a scale they just don’t make anymore, Arnaud’s is an evolving demonstration for how to preserve the grand French Creole approach while working in the interests and influences of the next generation. Dinner here is a dress-up occasion, a true outing that feels historic without feeling stuck in time. Take some time to soak it in, and make sure that includes a stop at its acclaimed French 75 bar. Dinner daily, brunch Sun. $$$$$


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Cane & Table has a long courtyard with an evocative feel in the French Quarter.

Cane & Table

1113 Decatur St., (504) 581-1112

Why: Subtle, well-tuned island flavors, deeply evocative French Quarter setting

The ranks of true destination bars in the French Quarter got a boost when Cane & Table first opened in this evocative space. The kitchen took a step up more recently when chef Fredo Nogueira took the helm. The island-style flavors of seafood cocktail, ropa vieja and whole roasted fish are straightforward, well-crafted and show more of a Spanish influence these days. The current of the Caribbean running through Cane & Table starts with cocktails, inspired by classics, reinterpreted with modern verve, always fun. Flickering with candles, layered with patina, stretching on through a long courtyard, the place oozes old New Orleans ambiance. Dinner daily, late night Fri., Sat. (till midnight), brunch Sat., Sun. $$$


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 The courtyard at Doris Metropolitan offers outdoor dining in the heart of the French Quarter.

Doris Metropolitan

620 Chartres St., (504) 267-3500

Why: Mediterranean steakhouse in the middle of the Quarter with an international edge

This modernist Mediterranean restaurant has a style quite unlike anything else in New Orleans. The fixation is beef, dry aged, prepared reverentially and, if you order the most rarified cuts, priced through the roof. The rest of the menu has intricately conceived, delicious explorations of beets, tuna tartare, sweetbreads and local fish. The bar and open kitchen are natural focal points in a space with a series of discrete dining areas. Here, you can feel like you've escaped New Orleans while dining right in the heart of it. Dinner daily, lunch Fri. $$$$$


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Meauxbar on North Rampart Street serves contemporary bistro cuisine in an upscale/casual setting.

Meauxbar

942 N. Rampart St. (504) 569-9979

Why: The Quarter’s intimate neighborhood bistro

The notion of the cozy French bistro gets a timely and stylish update at Meauxbar. It is perhaps the most intimate upscale restaurant in the French Quarter, an area calling out for just this type. The menu lets you know you’re in New Orleans, with fish almandine and the unusual addition of yakamein soup. But chef John Bel’s menu of pâté and tartare, steak frites and even the mercilessly addictive French onion grilled cheese all put more French in the French Quarter. Passing streetcars seem like an extension of the dining room ambiance. Dinner daily, brunch Fri.-Sun., late night (midnight) Fri., Sat. $$$$


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The Norwegian bagel sandwich is part of the menu at Small Mart in the French Quarter.

Small Mart

1303 Decatur St., no phone

Why: True street food – fast, cheap, portable

Think small and some good things can happen, especially in the French Quarter, desperately in need of more owner-operator spots aimed at the locals. This take-out deli is a vital pit stop for quick, inexpensive street food, with a menu of mostly vegan dishes, daily curries and crispy pakoras packed into crusty po-boy loaves or smothered in chutney. The shop isn’t fully vegan. Its bagel bar is as close to the New York standard as New Orleans gets (lox is the only meat). Coffee is always just a dollar, and there’s local kombucha on tap. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $


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The courtyard is a quiet, cloistered space at Sylvain in the French Quarter.

Sylvain

625 Chartres St., (504) 265-8123

Why: Right by Jackson Square, with courtyard and all, and not a shred of tourist shtick

Sylvain starts with everything we love about our old French Quarter restaurants — the evocative space, the intimate scale, the cloistered courtyard — and adds a much-needed dose of modern style and flavor. What we used to call a gastropub is better understood now as a tavern, a place to eat drink and linger, not necessarily in that order (see also Sylvain’s nearby sibling spot, Longway Tavern). The staple dishes — the chicken sandwich, the Brussels sprout salad, the pappardelle Bolognese — are consistent standards; the noshing potential has grown with a wider array of small plates; cocktails are first-rate. Dinner daily, lunch Fri., brunch Sat., Sun. $$$



Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.