New Restaurants in New Orleans’ French Quarter to Try Now

After choppy starts and restarts that punctuated two years of pandemic agony, New Orleans’ tourism industry is rebounding. The new year has already brought the successful return of Mardi Gras, the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. And 2022 will continue to bring tourists back for events like the Essence Festival on July 4th weekend and Southern Decay on Labor Day weekend.

Big Easy restaurants are fueling the tourism resurgence. The food and drink that made the city famous – Cajun and Creole classics, po’boys and muffulettas, gumbo and jambalaya, sazeracs and sno’balls – are now, more than ever, a critical factor in restoring New Orleans’ status as a premier travel destination.

New and legacy restaurants in the French Quarter, the heart of the tourist attraction, show why the town of Crescent rules.

Way to the Sea

The second of two major restaurants to open at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans features a familiar face in the city’s dining scene. Donald Link, winner of the James Beard award, founder of the Link Restaurant Group (Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Peche, Gianna) opened his great ode to French-inspired Louisiana cuisine in late 2021. With Link and the other name of hotel brand, Alon Shaya, at the head of Miss River, the Four Seasons is clearly one of the most popular restaurants in Crescent City.

Chemin à la Mer (French for “path to the sea”) occupies a scenic slice of the pool level on the fifth floor, with an indoor/outdoor space comfortably set on the Mississippi River. The dining room looks rich on the ship’s deck, a fitting setting for Link’s menu of oysters, steaks and seafood. Start with raw Gulf oysters, Gulf fish and shrimp ceviche, crawfish and asparagus remoulade, or the perfect bistro pâté. Main courses include a fish of the day, steaks, duck confit, salmon with lentils and fried prawns with a cauliflower rice gratin. The bar is anchored in a painting by artist John Alexander titled “Purple Grackle,” a tribute to Link’s friend, the late Julia Reed, the Southern journalist who reveled in New Orleans culture, in especially food. 2 Canal Street;

cheminalamer.com

Saint Jean

Creole haute cuisine is both historic and ubiquitous in New Orleans, but it feels somehow newly essential at this bustling French Quarter restaurant. The flavors and traditions of Italian, French, Spanish, African, German and Caribbean cuisines that contributed to the great gumbo that is Creole are deliciously enhanced and energized by Chef/Owner Eric Cook, in collaboration with Executive Chef Daren Porretto.

Cook’s crawfish remoulade is made with grilled mudbugs and served with fried green tomatoes and okra corn chow chow; smothered shrimp smothered in butter and served with steamed Louisiana puffed rice; crispy fried oysters are served with hoppin’ John and garnished with green remoulade; the pan-fried fish of the day takes pride of place on a maque choux colored with corn and prawns. Creole beef stew is made with short ribs; the plate of his crispy-skinned duck breast is sprinkled with creole jalapeño cream cheese and satsuma glaze; and a signature fried whole fish can be finished in a brown almond butter meunière or a Creole court-bouillon. And when was the last time you saw turkey necks smothered in gravy with potato salad? 1117 Decatur;

saintjohnnola.com

Jewel

The northern rampart of the French Quarter, for years a somewhat sketchy thoroughfare, is now a veritable row of restaurants, with chic bars and eateries luring visitors away from the hubbub of Bourbon Street.

Bijou, opening in late 2021 on the northern edge of the French Quarter, is an inviting new player with a tapas-style menu from chef Eason Barksdale, who mentored superchef Susan Spicer at her restaurants Bayona and Mondo. This is a lively restaurant set in a historic Creole designed cottage with a cozy bar out front and a narrow passageway to a larger and brighter bar and dining area out back with a patio.

The small dinner menu includes tuna tartare with sesame wontons; pan-fried salmon with gochujang and kimchi sauce served with green onion and ginger rice; Cuban sandwich; tom yum chicken; squid ink spaghetti; and a real house-shaped burger with sharp cheddar and grilled onions. A happy hour menu offers bites to choose from like deviled eggs truffled with caviar and a selection of signature cocktails and fine wines by the glass.1014 North Rampart;

jewelneworleans.com

by Tujague

At 165 years old, Tujague’s is not only the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, it’s the third oldest restaurant in the country. The restaurant that invented the Grasshopper cocktail has come back to life with a late 2020 move six blocks uphill from its old address on Decatur.

Pronounced “two jacks,” the restaurant offers a menu of New Orleans classics: shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes, okra, roasted chicken breast, sautéed veal and crawfish over mushroom pappardelle, bread pudding and French toast with kings cake. A vintage vibe was thankfully preserved during the move, and perhaps the restaurant’s ghostly apparitions, part of Tujague’s famous haunted history, also migrated.

On a recent visit, culinary spirits arose in deep seafood gumbo; pancakes with roasted mushrooms; house salad with cane sugar vinaigrette; grilled Gulf fish topped with seared shrimp in a lemon butter sauce; and an iconic New Orleans barbecue shrimp served over stone grits. Look for a new party spirit, too: Tujague’s has become home to a casual Sunday brunch with glitzy glamor and bawdy fun that’s perfectly at home in the French Quarter. 429 Decatur;

tujaguesrestaurant.com

Brennan’s New Orleans

This is a lagniappe. Renowned Brennan’s, now in its 76th year, is in the limelight with its nomination as a finalist for Best Restaurant at the 2022 James Beard Awards. This recognition puts the French Quarter restaurant and its luxurious Creole menu among top restaurant choices in town for New Orleans locals and visitors.

But has it never been so? The restaurant that invented Bananas Foster has been creating culinary memories since its inception in 1946. Through its long and complicated Brennan’s family history, Brennan’s has made a variety of dishes and beverages relevant even when culinary trends have changed: turtle soup , Hussarde eggs and Sardou eggs. , Steak Diane, filé okra, shrimp remoulade, Caribbean milk punch and these flamboyant bananas. Brennan’s is always a party, whether it’s its theatrical performances at the table in the dining rooms or its champagne bubbles during Brennan’s champagne sabering in the courtyard. 417 Royal Street;

brennansneworleans.com

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