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

The Ultimate Guide to Juneteenth in New Orleans

Celebrate the newest federal holiday from New Orleans to Mississippi.

New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History

The Emancipation Proclamation effectively ended human enslavement in the United States by executive order on January 1, 1863. However, it would take more than two years for General Robert Granger and Union soldiers to make their way to the outermost reaches of the confederacy. When they finally reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, through an Executive Order, General Granger stated, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

With those words, the last enslaved people in the United States were liberated by the federal government.

A year later, the first Jubilees were held to commemorate the day that would come to be known as Juneteenth, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Emancipation Day. These celebrations first surfaced in Texas, then across the South and, later, the rest of the United States with picnics, barbecues, and other family-centred events.

But life under reconstruction and the Jim Crow South made it dangerous to celebrate without fear of repercussions and segregation forced most celebrations away from the eye of the general public into private spaces such as homes and churches. With the Great Migration, Southerners who moved north and west brought their own traditions to their new homes. In certain communities the day bears more significance than the 4th of July.

The push to turn Juneteenth into a state holiday in Texas in 1980 was a direct catalyst towards Martin Luther King Day being declared a national holiday three years later, according to Clint Smith author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. It has been a slow crawl towards bringing collective consciousness to understand the importance of Juneteenth. It was finally designated a federal holiday by President Biden last year.

As Gordon Smith writes in Juneteenth: The Stories Behind The Celebration, “Juneteenth commemorates both the long, terrible night of slavery and discrimination that preceded it, as well as the promise of a brighter future.”

During this holiday, we celebrate our ancestors for what they were able to overcome and remind ourselves of who we are, where we’ve been, and the possibilities of who we might become. Juneteenth is a celebration of collective liberation.

Here in New Orleans, where we have a wealth of Black history at our fingertips, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday. Here’s our weekend guide, complete with historical tours, festivals, burlesque shows, and more.

Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation

The Whitney Plantation

Year-round
Wallace, LA
The Whitney Plantation is the only plantation in Louisiana that focuses on the story of the enslaved, centring their voices at the core of the experience. Black peoples’ legacies and stories have been traditionally hidden from us and the world. Unlike most historical sites, that is not the case here. Learning about the past helps us to understand the struggles we have overcome and how our contributions laid the foundation for how this country was built. As Clint Black states in How Then Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With The History Of Slavery Across America, the Whitney is “an open book under the sky, that people can come here to see.”

There is nothing to hide about the truth of what the life of the enslaved was prior to their freedom and liberation. The first time I went it brought me to tears and it stayed with me for weeks. Its effects are deeply in the pores of this country today and within that are the accomplishments from our ancestors that have built the foundations on which we stand today.
Cost: General admission is $25; children ages six to eight are in for $11; and kids under six can get in for free.

Juneteenth Burlesque Soirée

Saturday June 18
Tremé
This Junteenth celebration brings together musical legends and burlesque dancers in the historic Tremé at 8 pm on Saturday at Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge. Hosted by Jeez Loueez, the creator of Jeezy’s Juke Joint: A Black-Q Revue, the only Black burlesque festival in the United States, the event aims to celebrate Black people and Black bodies in a unique way. “I want to bring burlesque back into Black communities where it started,” says the award-winning burlesque performer, Loueez. “Jazz and burlesque are two things that go hand and hand.”
Cost: $20, plus cash to tip.

New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History
New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History

Saturdays at New Orleans African American Museum: Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18
Tremé
“The contributions of African Americans in Tremé, New Orleans, and our nation are so vast and important to American culture that at the New Orleans African American Museum, we situate ourselves as an international cultural epicentre,” says Gia M Hamilton, executive director and chief curator of the museum. To celebrate the museum’s special place in American culture and history, it brings together Black business vendors, farmers, and local artists every third Saturday to build community and envision a future centred in Black existence.

This week, the museum is hosting a special Juneteenth edition on Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. The family-friendly instalment aims to give visitors the resources to educate themselves on Black history by offering the space and tools to navigate the world with a sense of purpose. There will be time to celebrate, educate, discuss, and reflect.
Cost: Free

Afro Freedom / Afro Feast ‘22

Sunday, June 19
Petal, MS
Chef Serigne Mbaye started his Dakar NOLA Pop-Up in the midst of COVID. He serves Sengelase fare with a modern twist in a communal setting using fresh local ingredients while telling the story of the deep cultural connection between Sengambia and New Orleans. In addition to a recent stint at Mosquito Supper Club with James Beard Foundation (JBF) award-winner, Melissa Martin, he also recently was nominated as a rising chef by JBF.

To celebrate Juneteenth, Mbaye is spearheading a gathering of top local culinary talent-including chef Charly Pierre, of Fritai Restaurant; chef Martha Wiggins, of Cafe Reconcile; chef Indigo Martin, of Indigo Soul Cuisine; and chef Sim J Harris, of House of Brown Sugar-with another one of his acclaimed communal feasts. Dishes will be mostly cooked over live fire in the tradition of the ancestors. Cocktails will be curated by my organization Turning Tables (a local non profit that advocates for equity in the hospitality industry) and will feature Black owned producers and distillers, using produce from farms in the surrounding region. It takes place on the farm of Ben Burkett on Sunday from 3 – 6 pm.
Cost: $150

Ascendance Gemini Season

Saturday, June 18
St. Roch
The mission of Ascendance “is to heal and affirm our people through celebration, joy, and spiritual commune with each other and our ancestors.” The Ascendance monthly celebration takes place this Saturday June 18 from 11 pm – 2:30 am, celebrating both Pride and Juneteenth at Cafe Istanbul.
Cost: $15

WBOK 1230AM
WBOK 1230AM
WBOK 1230AM

First Annual WBOK Juneteenth Festival

Sunday, June 19
Central City
WBOK is commemorating Juneteenth with their inaugural city-wide Juneteenth Freedom Fest. This festival celebrates the culture and spirit of those enslaved peoples, their fight for freedom, equal rights, and equitable treatment in all areas of life. From 11:30 am – 6 pm on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. between Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and St. Mary Street, attendees can enjoy shopping, music, food, celebration, and panels including “My Ancestors Taught Me: Health and Healing from Africa to the Americas,” “For Us, By Us: Creating Generational Wealth and Economic Empowerment in the Black Community,” and “FatherHood: Celebrating and Supporting Black Fathers.”
Cost: Free

Juneteenth Freedom Gala

Saturday, June 18
Tremé
This Second Annual Juneteenth Freedom Gala is highlighting community leaders and artists in a night of Black beauty and excellence on Saturday starting at 7 pm at Tremé Market Branch. The semi-formal evening includes a dinner (vegan-friendly options available), live band, film screening, Black trivia, and an artist presentation and auction by artist Alina Allen. Wear your best formal red, black, and green or African attire.

Touré Folkes is a beverage consultant and the Executive Director of Turning Tables. Born in NYC and shaped by many places along the east coast and south, Folkes now calls New Orleans his home. He holds close to his core principles of equity and belonging in all of his endeavours.

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