New Orleans

New Orleans' Best New Restaurants of 2019

Courtesy of Denny Culbert
Courtesy of Denny Culbert
Courtesy of Denny Culbert

Take a first glance at New Orleans’ best new restaurants of 2019, and it might be hard to pin down exactly what thread ties them all together. After all, by its very nature, the dining scene in New Orleans is varied and eccentric. 

But take a second glance at the thoughtful wine selections at Costera and take a bite of the Oaxacan Mole at Palm & Pine, and it becomes clear: These are places that will transport you. You’ll stop in to have a meal and find something special, something you’ll remember later, which is, perhaps, exactly the thing that makes them distinctly New Orleans. Like the city that birthed them, these are places you won’t soon forget.

MORE: Check out the 12 new restaurants we named best in the nation this year.

Courtesy of Denny Culbert
Courtesy of Denny Culbert
Courtesy of Denny Culbert

Molly’s Rise and Shine

Lower Garden District
A quirky breakfast for your ’90s kid at heart
If you thought the sandwiches at Turkey and the Wolf were quirky, just wait ‘til you see what this team does with breakfast. Molly’s took over a corner storefront on the bustling Magazine Street in the final weeks of 2018 and quickly filled its built-in bookshelves with board games and figurines from a 1990s fever dream. The breakfast and brunch place usually has a line, especially on weekends, and for good reason. Don’t worry: It usually moves quickly, meaning you won’t have to wait long to get to your Grand Slam McMuffin or a sweet potato burrito.

Courtesy of Sam Hanna
Courtesy of Sam Hanna
Courtesy of Sam Hanna

Saint Germain

St. Claude
A gorgeous courtyard and an inventive menu
You have the option to choose your own adventure at this wine bar on the edge of the Bywater: Grab a bottle of wine from the carefully crafted menu and take it to the courtyard, where the staff will deliver any of its delightful bar snacks. (Go for the fresh cheese with caramelized whey and fresh herbs.) If you’re looking for something a little, well, more, then call ahead and make sure to get a reservation for the price fix menu in the dining room.

The Elysian Bar
The Elysian Bar
The Elysian Bar

The Elysian Bar

Marigny
An Instagrammable gem with food that tastes as good as it looks
Even if chef Alex Harrell hadn’t made heading to The Elysian Bar a worthy stop, you’d likely hear the recommendation anyway just to see the gorgeous renovation of the Hotel Peter and Paul that envelopes it. If it’s nice out, grab a spot in the courtyard. If not, it doesn’t matter: The cluster of dining rooms, each with its own personality, offer cozy accommodations as you nosh on the latest of Harrell’s locally flavored creations. Be sure to check out the aperitivo menu, too.

Dian Xin
Dian Xin
Dian Xin

Dian Xin

French Quarter
Finally, great dim sum in New Orleans
The family that opened Kenner’s Little Chinatown have returned after selling the restaurant and traveling the US with a dim sum offering so hotly anticipated it forced Dian Xin to shutter for two days during its opening week to restock and reassess how it could better serve the French Quarter. Dian Xin — itself another name for dim sum — is exactly what locals have been waiting for. Its expansive menu runs the gamut of small plates like xiao long bao and complete entrees, plus an expansive salt-and-pepper menu, the squid being a particular standout. Not a single dish on the menu misses, be it breakfast favorites like jianbing or American Chinese comfort staples like General Tso’s chicken.

Justine

French Quarter
A funky French brasserie adorned with quirky decor
James Beard award-winning chef Justin Devillier and his wife, Mia, turn the stuffy brasserie style on its head at this French Quarter spot whose neon sign is just waiting to be Instagrammed. Inside is a DJ spinning hits in an expansive dining room flanked by stencil art. The Devilliers, who run La Petite Grocery and Balise, took a more casual approach to Justine’s aesthetic but the menu is anything but basic. Decadent starters like bone marrow bordelaise and foie gras torchon anchor an impressive offering of steaks and brasserie classics like poisson amandine and moules frites.

Costera
Costera
Costera

Costera

Uptown
The rich flavors of Spain served in a communal setting
Donald Link Restaurant Group alumnis Brian Burns and Reno De Ranieri evoke the spirit of Spanish dining with a wide-ranging menu ramping up from small shareables like citrus and vermouth marinated olives to a show-stopping single-batch paella. Costera draws from what Burns believes is the common thread of relaxed, communal eating tying together Spain and New Orleans. That means blending local fare with traditional Spanish dishes, as with the gulf whiting a la plancha but also imports standouts like the jamón Ibérico.

Bordeaux

Uptown
French bistro where rotisserie takes center stage
Dominique Macquet is back in business with Bordeaux, the revered chef’s take on a French bistro that dazzles from brunch to dinner. Macquet lets the pheasant and chicken speak for themselves care of the custom mechanical rotisserie. Bordeaux’s grilled offerings are just as juicy and decadent, as are its no-nonsense brunch with croques and omelettes galore. To truly nail the precision of French baking, Bordeaux relies on the expertise of La Boulangerie co-founder Bruno Rizzo, who also oversees the wine program. A large selection of wines hail from — you guessed it — the Bordeaux region of France.

Barracuda
Barracuda
Barracuda

Barracuda

Uptown
A laid-back taco joint that’s anything but lazy
It might seem like a dicey idea to open a restaurant in New Orleans without a roof or walls, but that’s just about what Brett Jones did when opening up his taco joint on Tchopitoulas. A small shack anchors Barracuda, where guests can order any number of thoughtfully designed tacos and pick up a margarita poured straight out of a tap. But from there, you’ll have to find a seat on one of the picnic tables out back. Don’t let the laid back vibe fool you: This place takes it tacos seriously. Don’t forget a big order of the guacamole and queso.

Courtesy of Rush Jagoe
Courtesy of Rush Jagoe
Courtesy of Rush Jagoe

Bar Marilou

CBD
A sultry little spot for cocktails and snacks
You could just as easily stop by this sexy little spot inside the Atelier Ace’s new downtown hotel, Maison de la Luz, for a nightcap as you could a full meal, but make sure you do the latter. Get an order of the accras de morue (salted cod fritters) to help soak up all the sweetness of the expertly crafted cocktails here, then sit back and relax as whatever jazz ensemble is playing that night carries you away.

Palm & Pine

French Quarter
Caught somewhere between Texas, New Orleans, and the Caribbean
This new restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter has not had an easy opening. Thanks to the catastrophic collapse of its down-the-block neighbor, the Hard Rock Hotel, owners Amarys and Jordan Herndon are due for something as simply delightful as their Smoky Quartz, a rum cocktail laced with cashew orgeat, and an order of the Oaxacan Mole. 

Thalia

Lower Garden District
An instant neighborhood classic
From the minds that brought you Coquette, comes an entirely new kind of neighborhood restaurant. Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus wanted to create something that could become a habit for the folks who live around their newest restaurant, but they’ve instead got the makings for something much bigger. The menu is comprised of upscale takes on comforting classics, like a delightful bolognese, and unexpected surprises thanks to its nightly themed specials, including vegetarian Thursdays. Most impressive, perhaps, is their seamless partnership with their original restaurant as they craft dishes with an eye toward reducing waste at both.Sign up here for our daily New Orleans email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Big Easy.

Chelsea Brasted is a freelance writer in her hometown of New Orleans, where she formerly worked for The Times-Picayune as an arts and entertainment reporter and city columnist.

New Orleans

Where to Go on a Perfect Date in New Orleans This Spring

Woo that special someone with sultry live music and inviting outdoor date ideas.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Whether you’re searching for the perfect spot for a first date or looking to spend some time with your longtime love, you should have no problem planning a romantic outing in New Orleans. Our amazing restaurants and bars are classic settings for some quality time, but think outside the date night box and literally get outside. Spring is the most gorgeous time of year here, so you can score some serious romance points. From strolls in the park and outdoor music to cozy wine bars and sultry jazz nights, here are some can’t-miss ideas for the perfect date in New Orleans.

Spend an afternoon in City Park

Mid-City
One could spend hours strolling beneath City Park’s moss-drenched oaks, but combine this beautiful setting with the park’s other offerings and you’ve got yourself a date. Start with coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde to ease into things. Explore the collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art or stroll through the sculpture garden. Continue your romantic walk around the Big Lake, or rent a boat and paddle your way around. If things are going well, finish up with a well-earned drink and a bite at Ralph’s on the Park.

Grab bagels and bike on the Greenway

Mid-City
Bike the Lafitte Greenway and you’ll get moving while having plenty of time to connect. Fuel up at Flour Moon Bagels with coffee and stellar carbs before you hit the pavement. The Greenway’s linear path is 2.7 miles, but you can make it a longer ride by linking up with the Wisner Trail or the Norman C. Francis bike path. The Greenway goes all the way to the Quarter, but you can save that for another date. End up back where you started and cool down with a pint or two at Skeeta Hawk Brewing.

Create some Magazine Street magic

Uptown/Garden District
Magazine Street boasts six miles of unique, locally owned businesses. There are plenty of one-off date options along the street (like grabbing coffee and chocolate at Piety and Desire, having a romantic dinner at Coquette or Saffron, or ordering wine and small plates at Saba). But for a longer get-to-know-you date, the street is perfect for an all-day stroll. Browse esteemed art galleries and shops, have a well-made cocktail at Bouligny Tavern, stop for fresh oysters at Basin, taste a few wines at Spirit Wine, and admire the mix of architecture along the street. Why stop there? Shop for some vinyl at Peaches, grab a casual dinner at Picnic Provisions & Whiskey or Tito’s, then see who’s playing at Le Bon Temps.

Take in the West Bank nature and noodles

Marrero
Take the Crescent City Connection and head down to the Barataria Preserve to explore acres of secluded wetlands that’ll confirm you’re really in south Louisiana. A boardwalk winds through swampy land packed with all the best regional flora and fauna, including alligators. April is typically peak iris season, so check the bloom forecast. Before you head back across the river, stop by Tan Dinh or 9 Roses for excellent pho and other Vietnamese faves.

Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr
Nevbrown/Flickr

Go on a wine bar crawl

Various locations
A wine bar presents a perfect middle ground between grabbing casual beers and sipping superior cocktails. You’ve got chill environs, curated selections, and just enough nibbles to sustain your conversation. Second Vine Wines and Faubourg Wines are thoughtfully curated shops that serve wines by the glass, so you can start off with a couple of glasses then buy a bottle if the date moves to another location. Tell Me Bar and Pluck offer rotating selections of intriguing wines you’ll want to learn more about. And of course there’s Bacchanal, where you can enjoy wine, good vibes, and live music under the stars.

Cross the river by boat

Algiers Point
There’s something undeniably romantic about standing at the bow of a boat with wind blowing through your lover’s hair, so take the Algiers Ferry to behold the mighty Mississippi and gorgeous views of the city. Stroll charming Algiers Point, grab a drink with the locals at the Old Point Bar or Crown and Anchor, and then enjoy dinner at Tavolino, Tonti’s Hand, or Plume.

Saunter down St. Charles Ave

Uptown/French Quarter
The streetcar is an underrated date option-get to know each other while rolling past the majestic St. Charles Avenue mansions. Start with a late afternoon drink at The Chloe before hopping aboard. Once you’re in the Quarter, take a spin around the bar with a cocktail at Hotel Monteleone, take a stroll through Jackson Square, then pick from swoon-worthy dining options like St. John, Jewel of the South, Cane & Table, Doris Metropolitan, or MaMou.

Explore Lake Pontchartrain

Lakefront
Take a trip out to Lake Pontchartrain for some sun, fresh air, and seafood. Cruise Lakeshore Drive, check out the Mardi Gras Fountain, maybe take a roll down the levee to connect with your inner child, then sit and watch as the boats and birds go by. As the sun sets, head over to The Blue Crab for fresh seafood or JB’s Fuel Dock at West End Park for pizza and beers.

Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA
Photo courtesy of Three Keys NOLA

Let music and lounge vibes set the mood

Various locations
Let someone special know just how you feel by taking them out for a classy evening of fine cocktails and world-class jazz. Grab a prime spot to watch Jeremy Davenport do his thing at his namesake lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, listen to the smooth sounds of solo artists at the intimate Bayou Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel, or pop into the Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta next time you do a French Quarter outing. For a new-school option, check out a performance at the Ace Hotel’s Three Keys.

Go the extra mile with a day trip

Covington/Abita Springs
Driving the Causeway’s 24 miles will give you plenty of time to go beyond small talk, making a nearby road trip the ideal activity for upping the ante on your relationship. Head to Covington to enjoy the boutiques and galleries of the quaint historic downtown before grabbing a bite at Lola or Tavi, or rent bikes and ride the Tammany Trace to the Abita Brewery where you can take a tour and sample some of the finest local beers. Even better, head over when the brewery is hosting one of its food truck roundups or live music.

Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery
Photo courtesy of Urban South Brewery

Peel crawfish and sip local beer

Various locations
Spring means crawfish boils, and the city is loaded with experts bringing their boil skills to some of the top local breweries. Crawfish and beer make a perfect pair, and what better way to gauge relationship potential than by observing peel technique and spice tolerance? Check their calendars, but breweries including Faubourg Brewing, Urban South, NOLA Brewing, Miel, and Parleaux usually host boils on weekends throughout the season.

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Gerrish Lopez is a Thrillist contributor.

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