Pleasing the palate in New Orleans

A roundup of some of New Orleans’ most famous edibles and eateries

Jeffrey Bouley
The crème de la crème
 
 
A sampler platter of some of New Orleans' mostfamous dining establishments
 
 
NEW ORLEANS—Here's a mix of the upscale to theaccessible for your dining venues, but all of them with strong reputations forquality. With the more famous restaurants, of course, you may needreservations, and those may be hard to come in some cases unless you've madethem long in advance.
 
On the bright side, though, if you can't get thereservations, there are many other great places to eat, and it will just giveyou more reason to return to the city.
 
 
Antoine's Restaurant 
713 Saint Louis Street
(504) 581-4422
 
More than just one of the city's consistentlytop-rated restaurants, Antoine's has significant history as well, having servedFrench-Creole cuisine all the way back to 1840. The restaurant offers astaggering 14 dining rooms, each with its own unique history and with memorabiliaassociated with its many notable guests, like dignitaries from the Britishroyal family to Pope John Paul II, American presidents and military leaders, andperformers like Judy Garland and Carol Burnett. Antoine's capable ofentertaining events with more than 700 guests. This is not casual dining by anymeans, with jackets preferred, though not required.
 
 
Antoine's is also said to be the birthplace ofsuch culinary classics as oysters Rockefeller, so rich and buttery they had tobe named after America's richest man; eggs Sardou, named for Victorien Sardou,a famous French dramatist, and consisting of poached eggs topped with artichokehearts, ham, anchovies, truffles and hollandaise sauce; and pommes de terre soufflés,puffed potatoes that the restaurant helped popularize. Of course, with the Frenchinfluence, one of the other many treats here is escargot, with the escargots ala bordelaise said to be particularly decadent.
 
 
Bayona 
430 Dauphine Street
(504) 525-4455
 
 
Bayona features a trio of dining rooms: the DyerRoom with its trompe l'oeil depicting the Mediterranean countryside; the BayonaRoom with its stained-glass accents and picture window; and the main diningroom, which is dominated by colorful arrangements of flowers. A patio is alsoopen most of the year, weather permitting, and it greenery, fruit trees andfountain are said to evoke the way that Creole families maintained theirprivate gardens in centuries past. Not bound to the traditions of Louisianacuisine alone, chef Susan Spicer serves up dishes that bring in elements of theMediterranean, the Far East, North Africa, France and Italy and incorporatedishes from across the United States. The restaurant also prides itself onbeing vegetarian- and vegan-friendly
 
 
Brennan's Restaurant 
417 Royal Street
(504) 525-9711
 
 
Brennan's goes back to 1946, so it doesn't havequite the history of Antoine's, but it does possess quite the reputation forculinary quality, and it's been family-owned since the start. Drinks hereinclude a variety of absinthe-style ones, breakfast fare that ranges fromribeye steak to grillades and grits to veal pecan, and dinners that run therange of regional traditions and new spins, with an emphasis on the manyseafood options that abound here.
 
 
Café du Monde
800 Decatur Street
(504)587-0831
 
 
This may well be the most famous eatery you canget into in New Orleans that won't require reservations (but perhaps a littlepatient waiting). The original Café du Monde coffee stand was established in1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The current incarnation is open 24 hoursa day, seven days a week, and only gets closed down by Christmas Day or if a Hurricanepasses too close to the region. The most important fare to note here is the darkroasted coffee and chicory, which is served black or au lait—with the latterbeing the preferred method and meaning that it is half coffee and half hot milk—andthe fresh beignets, which are square French-style doughnuts that are generouslydusted with powdered sugar. You can also get white milk, chocolate milk,fresh-squeezed orange juice, iced coffee and soft drinks. But if you go therefor any of those things as your primary goal, you may need to re-examine yourpriorities in life.
 
 
The café also has a location at RiverwalkMarketplace at 1 Poydras, Suite 27, and several other locations outside NewOrleans, including one at the The Esplanade Mall, located in Kenner, just fifteenminutes from downtown New Orleans—it was the first expansion from the originallocation in 1985, with the Riverwalk location opening the next year.
 
 
Commander's Palace Restaurant 
1403 Washington Avenue
(504) 899-8221
 
 
Purchased in 1969 by the Brennan family (seeBrennan's Restaurant above), it remains owned by members of the family but isnot affiliated with Brennan's—in fact, the family has a rather rocky historyand some nasty splits associated with various expansions and disagreements overthe years, going back to the 1970s. The original restaurant dates back to 1880, though,having entertained such famous people as Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain.
 
ChefTory McPhail focuses strongly on Creole cuisine for inspiration and  has a "dirt to plate within 100 miles" policy,meaning that he strives for 90 percent of our ingredients coming in from withina hundred mile of the restaurant.
 
 
Emeril's Restaurant 
800 Tchoupitoulas Street
(504) 528-9393
 
 
Yes, that same Emeril who made the word "Bam!" andthe phrase "Let's kick it up a notch!" so famous in his cable televisioncooking shows on the Food Network. You also likely know him from the manysauces and other prepared food products that now bear his face and name ingrocery store aisles, plus he owns a dozen restaurants nationwide. That said,being ubiquitous doesn't mean he's just a personable and famous face. Emeril Lagasseknows how to cook, and here you can get a variety of fare, including chickenand waffles, burgers, glazed salmon, Thai barbecue lamb ribs, crawfish tails increole cream sauce, sorghum smoked duck breast, pork chops and steaks.
 
 
Galatoire's Restaurant 
209 Bourbon Street
(504) 525-2021
 
 
With a pedigree that dates back to 1905, Galatoire'ssits between an icons like Antoine's and one like Brennan's on the historicalspectrum and is now in its fourth generation of family ownership andFrench-Creole cuisine, with the owners saying that the same "ageless NewOrleans favorites grace her menu" just as they did when it first opened. Amongthe restaurant's specialty entrees are poisson meunière amandine, grilledpoisson provençal, poisson crabmeat Yvonne, Louisiana seafood eggplant cake,crabmeat Sardou, filet béarnaise, veal liver and ribeye bordelaise.
 
 
NOLA Restaurant 
534 Saint Louis Street
(504) 522-6652
 
 
The second of three restaurants Emeril Lagasseowns in New Orleans (see Emeril's above), along with Emeril's Delmonico, thisis arguably one of the two most famous of the three, next to Emeril's itself.Crab cakes, crispy duck liver, yellowfin tuna, salmon, angel hair pasta, hamand goat cheese paninis, stuffed chicken wings, filet mignon and seasonal fishare among the many offerings. 

For a much wider selection of popular dining options, from the fine dining like most of the above to the more middle of the road and the all-out casual, click here and here.


Fillin' ya belly
 
A roundup of some of New Orleans' most famous edibles

NEW ORLEANS—Both in music and in food, there is much crossover, but do remember as you stroll, listen and eat your way through New Orleans—particularly with that eating part—that Cajun and Creole are two different traditions. They do share a common French origin, but Creole also brings in heavy Spanish influences. Over time, "Cajun" came to refer largely to those Acadians—members of a French colony founded in the 1630s—who settled in 1755 in the then-French territories of Louisiana after being ousted by the British from their colony. The word "Creole," which means "a child born in the colony," referred to descendants of early French and Spanish settlers, but eventually narrowed to indicate native-born Louisianans of French and/or Spanish descent.

When it comes to food, Cajuns brought recipes hailing not only from France, but also well over a century of living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Cajun cuisine often focuses on hearty seafood dishes that may be cooked in one large pot and then served over rice, two prime examples being jambalaya and crawfish étouffée, and it often thought of as more common—or even "country"—fare of New Orleans. Creole recipes were developed in New Orleans and are often associated with a more urbane and cross-cultural vibe, bringing in cuisine traditions not only of France and Spain but also other European countries and African ones as well—such dishes tend to be focused on rich sauces, and shrimp Creole and grillades are two of the most well-known examples.
Regardless, both traditions yield great food, so let's share a few of them with you, along with other fare found in the city.

Andouille and boudin
Two of the most famous types of sausage found in the area. Andouille is a spicy pork sausage often used in gumbo, jambalaya or with red beans and rice. Boudin is also pork and typically spicy, but comes in two forms: boudin blanc, which focuses on pork and rice, and boudin rouge, which is blood sausage.

Breakfast time
One could simply call the beignet a square donut with no hole, but that probably means you haven't had one yet. Lighter than a donut and served warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar, beignets can be messy but are delicious. They go perfectly with cafe au lait, which is a coffee served with steamed milk—often with a chicory-based coffee used for the task. Also there is couche-couche—Sometimes spelled as "cush-cush" or "kush-kush" and rhyming with the word "push." This is a traditional French/Cajun breakfast dish made by browning or searing cornmeal in a pot with a little oil, then serving it with sugar and milk in a bowl. Or you can try pain perdu (pronounced "pan pair do"), which is French bread that is prepared and served in much the same manner as French toast.

Making rice extra nice
Filthy only in name and a pleasure for the palate, dirty rice is a pan-fried rice cooked with green peppers, onions, celery, stock and giblets. Another popular choice in New Orleans is red beans and rice, often thought of as a Monday night tradition. The dish consists of kidney beans served with rice, seasonings, spices and chunks of hot sausage.

Étouffeé and jambalaya
Generally served with crawfish (a freshwater shellfish also known as a mudbug), étouffeé is a "smothered" dish featuring a dark roux (a tomato-based sauce) of seasoned vegetables that is poured over rice. Jambalaya, on the other hand, is a rice-based dish that takes a kind of "everything but the kitchen sink" approach, employing poultry, tomatoes, cooked rice, ham, shrimp, chicken, celery, onions and an army of seasonings.

Grillades, grits and gumbo
Three of the most important G-words in Louisiana. Grillades are thin slices of beef served with a tomato roux. Gumbo is a thick soup stock that uses filé (ground sassafras leaves) and is served with rice, okra and various meats, such as andouille, duck, chicken, shrimp and/or crabs. Grits are ground hominy grain—typically served as breakfast fare in a similar fashion as oatmeal—and can be paired with shredded cheese, sugar, molasses, syrup or just about anything else, depending on how sweet or savory the person wants it.

Some H-words
On the food side, you have hush puppies, which are fried cornmeal-bread balls, and on the beverage side is the Hurricane, an alcoholic fruit punch drink popularized at Pat O'Brien's and so named because of their potential impact on you.

Sandwich fare
The two most famous sandwiches in the city are the po-boy and the muffuletta. The muffuletta is typically a huge sandwich served on round Italian bread—often 10 inches across—and filled to bursting with Cappicola ham, Genoa salami and sometimes mortadella; provolone cheese, or sometimes mozzarella; a marinated olive salad; and sometimes pickles. The po-boy is a sandwich served on French bread—crispy and flaky outside and soft on the inside—split open to accommodate everything from oysters to shrimp to soft-shelled crabs on the seafood end, and everything from ham to roast beef and gravy on the landlubber end of things.

Sweet treats
The praline is a New Orleans invention that is not the same as the French confection, instead being made—in its classic form—as a sort of brown sugar-based, pecan-filled flat candied patty. Variations of pralines can exist with featured items other than pecans, too. Another local favorite is crème caramel, which is a glazed custard, and then there is the famous Bananas Foster, a flaming dessert with, of course, bananas as the main ingredient.


[back to asm2011 main page]

Jeffrey Bouley

Subscribe to Newsletter
Subscribe to our eNewsletters

Stay connected with all of the latest from Drug Discovery News.

March 2023 Magazine Front Cover

Latest Issue  

• Volume 19 • Issue 3 • March 2023

March 2023

March 2023 Issue