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.
New Orleans restaurants will always get people talking, and the topic is a pretty sure way to get people arguing too.
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.
The character of New Orleans comes through in its restaurants. This dining guide pulls together a story of that character and puts 100 recomme…
This is not your standard Top 10 restaurant list.
Late night dinner
Why: Middle Eastern 24/7, with attached imported food shops
Cleo’s built a following with well-composed, inexpensive Arabic standards and became one of the best options for quality food after midnight. The second location in the French Quarter greatly expands the range with stylish design, a broader menu and an in-house pita bakery. Hummus augmented with fried cauliflower or za'atar shrimp and tagines, Egyptian seafood soup, steak and koftes join the familiar wraps and dips. At either location, check out the collection of imported candy and sodas. BYOB. Both locations 24/7 $$ (Canal) and $$$ (Decatur)
Why: Steaks and fries through midnight, Thu.-Sat.
Adolfo Garcia’s downtown steakhouse is a darkly seductive, refreshingly straightforward showcase for the Argentine way with meat. It can be an adventurous alternative to the familiar American steakhouse or the go-to choice for those who have developed a taste for this style, marked by lower heat, slower cooking and deep-set flavor. There are double-crisp fries to dip in chimichurri, bubbling skillets of provoleta cheese and empanadas sealed with neat braids of dough. Malbecs and a finale of amaro wash it all down. Dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Thu.-Sat. $$$$
Why: Romantic neighborhood bistro, til midnight Fri., Sat.
The notion of the cozy French bistro gets a timely and stylish update at Meauxbar. It is perhaps the most intimate upscale restaurant in the French Quarter, an area calling out for just this type. The menu lets you know you’re in New Orleans, with fish almandine and the unusual addition of yakamein soup. But chef John Bel’s menu of pâté and tartare, steak frites and even the mercilessly addictive French onion grilled cheese all put more French in the French Quarter. Passing streetcars seem like an extension of the dining room ambiance. Dinner daily, brunch Fri.-Sun., late night (midnight) Fri., Sat. $$$$
Why: Your 24/7 po-boy, boiled seafood, daiquiri stop
Down home New Orleans food at home is the ideal. Down home New Orleans food at a quick, inexpensive, all-night hot counter is Melba’s niche, and that can be pretty close to ideal when you need it. The loose vibe, the good prices, the all-hours access draws nearly every walk of New Orleans life for po-boys, plate lunches, gumbo in a cup, crawfish in season, daiquiris and even their laundry, with an attached washateria humming away under the same roof. Located at a junction of changing neighborhoods, this is a crossroads spot in more ways than one. 24/7 $