Last updated: 07:01 PM ET, Sun August 07 2016

The Big Eaty

Culinary options abound in New Orleans, where food is an art form

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism | Claudette Covey

The Big Eaty

PHOTO: New Orleans offers an abundance of culinary choices.

If there’s one thing New Orlean-ians take seriously it’s their food, a fact that is clearly evidenced in the quality and diversity of their highly regarded dining scene. Because food is such an integral of the Big Easy’s cultural fabric, no trip here would be complete without a serious sampling of the city’s culinary offerings.

“In New Orleans, food is an art form and dining can become a cultural experience,” says Kim Priez, senior vice president of tourism for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Every meal is an opportunity to explore, experience and connect. Many new friends are made over a cocktail, and Monday morning conversation is centered on restaurants visited and meals consumed.”

When it comes to cuisine, there is certainly no dearth of choices. “With more than 1,400 restaurants in New Orleans, visitors can indulge by trying something new, whether that be tasting New Orleans staples like a cup of gumbo or exploring cuisines like Indian, rustic Italian or traditional German,” says Priez.

For travelers, the challenge is finding a way in which to cull through the city’s myriad dining options to determine exactly which restaurants will best sate their palates.

Following are some dining suggestions that agents may want to consider recommending to their customers, including traditional high-end dining establishments to more casual entertainment-driven restaurants.

Arnaud’s Restaurant, 813 Bienville St., Located in the heart of the French Quarter just steps from Bourbon Street, Arnaud’s serves classic Creole cuisine in turn-of-the-century dining rooms. The restaurant, opened in 1918, offers live Dixieland Jazz in its Jazz Bistro, intimate dinners in its main dining room and cocktails in its French 75 Bar. It also has a selection of private dining rooms for groups of varying sizes.

Antoine’s Restaurant, 713 St. Louis St., Founded 175 years ago by Antoine Alciatore, this French Quarter institution continues to be family run to this day. Featuring French-Creole, cuisine, the restaurant still serves Oysters Rockefeller, the dish it created in 1889. In all, the restaurant houses 14 one-of-a-kind dining rooms, which are available for private parties. The restaurant can host events for groups of more than 700 people.

Commander’s Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., Set in New Orleans’ Garden District, Commander’s Palace debuted in 1880 and is well known for its jazz brunch experience and Haute Creole cuisine. Past chefs have included Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. Its current chef, Tory McPhail, an advocate of the farm-to-table philosophy, says that 90 percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from producers within miles of the restaurant.

READ MORE: 15 Free Things to Do in New Orleans 

Pêche Seafood Restaurant, 800 Magazine St., As its name implies, this Warehouse District restaurant specializes in seafood, which is prepared with a blend modern and Old World cooking techniques. Many rustic dishes are cooked on an open hearth over hardwood coals in an open-kitchen setting. Its oyster bar specializes in Gulf seafood, including oysters, crabmeat and gulf fish.

Three Muses, 536 Frenchmen St., The restaurant is probably best known for its tapas-style small plates, innovative cocktails and live music scene. Its diverse menu includes such dishes as artisanal cheese plates, Moroccan eggplant bruschetta, tuna tartar Nicoise and beer-braised pork belly served with apple chutney and scallion pancakes.

Restaurant R’evolution, 777 Bienville St., R’evolution provides diners with a new take on such classic Cajun and Creole favorites as gumbo, po’ boys and beignets. Also, the restaurant’s serving staff works to ensure that diners are educated on the history and evolution of the dishes they are served.

Red Fish Grill, 115 Bourbon St., Specialties of this casual eatery include seafood dishes that are cooked over a wood-fired grill and are prepared with olive oil, cracked black pepper, kosher salt and a choice of sauces ranging from herb lemon vinaigrette to lemon rosemary Worcestershire and tarragon-Dijon vinaigrette.

Mother’s Restaurant, 401 Poydras St., This well-known eatery specializes in New Orleans home cooking, featuring a menu that includes gumbo, po’ boys, debris and gravy, fried seafood, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, fried chicken, red beans and rice. Open seven days a week, Mother’s Restaurant serves breakfast all day and has a private party room.

Johnny’s Po-Boys, 511 St. Louis St., In business since 1950, Johnny’s is believed to feature the most diverse selection of po’ boys in the city, with offerings ranging from the Judge Bosetta, with two types of ground beef and sausage and Swiss cheese, to the Surf and Turf, with roast beef topped with fried shrimp. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Napoleon House, 500 Chartres St., Set in a 200-year-old landmark building, this local institution serves lunch and dinner and is well-known for its muffulettas, which are sandwiches made with ham, Genoa salami, pastrami, Swiss cheese, provolone cheese and homemade Italian olive salad. It is also known for a variety of other Creole staples, including jambalaya and seafood gumbo.

Mulates, 201 Julia St., The restaurant is a popular spot for visitors wishing to couple Cajun-style dining and dancing. Located in the Warehouse District, Mulates features an array of Cajun specialties, live zydeco music, a generous dance floor and full bar. It is an excellent venue for private parties and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Barcadia New Orleans, 601 Tchoupitoulas St., Located in the Warehouse District, Barcadia features pub-style cuisine, 44 craft beers on tap and a vast array of games, including a wall of 1980s-style arcade games. Its kitchen is open until midnight. The menu includes an array of appetizers, burgers, salads and sandwiches.

Fulton Alley, 600 Fulton St., Doubling as a 12-lane bowling alley and restaurant, Fulton Alley boasts a Southern-inspired menu, which includes meat pies, sliders, deviled eggs and smoked, fried and glazed chicken wings. It serves both traditional and craft cocktails, and features one of the city’s most extensive liquor collections.


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the July 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.