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Red beans and rice with fried chicken is a mainstay at Dunbar's Creole Cuisine.

Dunbar’s Creole Cafe

7834 Earhart Blvd., (504) 509-6287

Like Barrow’s just up the road, Dunbar’s is the return of a beloved restaurant of pre-Katrina vintage. At its new spot, opened in 2017, Celestine Dunbar and her family serve up a connection not just to a piece of the city’s past but their own particular take on Creole flavor, one with roots in black family cooking of the River Parishes transported to the city. You can taste it in the gumbo, its thin roux teeming with many meats and essence of seafood, and in the generous platters of smothered okra with catfish, smothered cabbage and greens with turkey necks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun. $


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Liuzza's by the Track

Liuzza’s by the Track

1518 N. Lopez St., (504) 943-8667

This quintessential backstreet tavern follows a rhythm of draft beer in icy chalices, horse track talk that continues in the offseason and the doings of neighborhood life framed by the big windows. The bar doubles as a lunch counter for gumbo inspired by an old bayou country family recipe (with just-poached seafood), barbecue shrimp po-boys with a mudslide of butter and pepper and bistro-worthy shrimp remoulade. Lunch and dinner (kitchen closes at 7 p.m.) Mon.-Sat. $


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A soft shell crab gets a summery, seasonal preparation with tomatoes and cucumbers at High Hat Cafe in New Orleans.

High Hat Café

4500 Freret St., (504) 754-1336

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


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Creole gumbo is a calling card of Li'l Dizzy's Cafe in New Orleans.

Lil Dizzy’s Café

1500 Esplanade Ave., (504) 569-8997

Mornings at Li'l Dizzy's bring Creole breakfast to the tune of fried catfish with eggs and the standout seafood omelet po-boy, sealed with cheese. Breakfast also shows the tenor of its Treme neighborhood, as all walks of life coming through. By lunch, it’s time for the buffet, stocked with stuffed peppers one day, crabcakes the next and superb gumbo at all times. Breakfast and lunch daily, brunch Sun. $$


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A red street car rolls up Canal Street past Mandina's Restaurant in New Orleans on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

Mandina’s Restaurant

3800 Canal St., (504) 482-9179

Seeing the pink neon tubes and the families congregating outside Mandina’s feels as much a part of Canal Street as the streetcars rolling past. This is a vintage restaurant that upholds its own traditions and instills habits in those who get to know it. It’s a place where trout almondine and chicken Parmesan are natural companions on a menu that is a catalog of local comfort food. Rest an elbow on the stand-up bar, order an old fashioned cocktail and take a good look around at a New Orleans original. Lunch and dinner daily. $$


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Melba's is a busy, 24/7 eatery for po-boys, boiled seafood, hot plates and daiquiris, with a laundry attached.

Melba’s

1525 Elysian Fields Ave., (504) 267-7765

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 $


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Smothered pork chops with potatoes and carrot souffle is a weekly special at Neyow's Creole Cafe.

Neyow’s Creole Café

3332 Bienville St., (504) 827-5474

Starting with the greens, beans and gumbo of New Orleans home cooking, Tanya Dubuclet built a restaurant that was soon packed to the seams. She built a new much larger restaurant next door and promptly drew a line that snakes out the door. The success of Neyow’s is a ringing validation of the New Orleans appetite for good Creole soul cooking, even amid all the trends and changes coming through the city. It’s smothered pork chops, okra with shrimp, chargrilled oysters and scoops of carrot soufflé that could pass for dessert. Go early to (perhaps) avoid the wait. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. $$



Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.