restaurant rundown


In New Orleans, food serves a much higher purpose than simply nourishing one's body. Here, it is both the cause and the center of most gatherings, a constant topic of conversation, the source of many an argument (who has the best po-boys/crawfish/gumbo/brunch?) and a significant component of each month's budget. Not to sound cliche (or painfully obvious), but eating out is a huge part of the New Orleans culture. We linger over lunch into late afternoon, drag ourselves to Sunday brunch after a night out in hopes of finding the elusive, yet miraculous cure-all meal, eat like a bird all day to save room for a big, indulgent dinner (something I am regularly guilty of), and proudly run through our dossiers of where we've been and what we've tried. While living in a culinary mecca can take its toll on one's wallet and waistline, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would give up the oh-so-difficult habit of eating some of the world's best and most unique food. Sure, you might have a thicker billfold and a smaller behind, but if you're going to come to New Orleans and eat bran cereal and salad the whole time, might as well just go back to where you came from.

Since moving to New Orleans, I'd like to say that I've covered some seriously delicious ground. It's no secret that I love to eat out and love even more to suggest new places and dishes for my friends and visitors to try. So, I've put together a list of some of my local favorites, along with what I usually (or always, in some cases) order. Bon Appetit!

Slim Goodies Diner. I can't even begin to describe my love for this place. Great atmosphere, good music playing, and excellent food. They serve breakfast and lunch (awesome burgers), but I ALWAYS order The Guatemalan. Two eggs, homemade salsa, tortillas, sour cream, black beans, and avocados. The dish used to include fried plantains, but they've removed them for some unknown, and very sad reason. A small tragedy, but of course, I still continue to order this meal. Give me a hot cup of coffee and this is hands-down my all time favorite breakfast.

St. James Cheese Company. When I think of history's great love affairs, a few names come to mind: Antony & Cleopatra, Napoleon & Josephine, Romeo & Juliet, Scarlett O'Hara & Rhett Butler. You can go ahead and add St. James Cheese Co. & Hattie to that list. To me, this is one of the happiest places in the city, run by the former cheese expert to the British royal family (yes, seriously.) If heaven is anything like I think it will be, God will have a St. James Cheese Company waiting just inside the Pearly Gates. Go with a friend, and split the Cheese Board with 3 varieties of cheese, various fruits, jams and nuts. I usually order the Brie de Meaux, a simple but delicious sandwich of just Brie and ham on crusty French bread. I also like the Beecher's Cheddar--cheddar, smoked turkey, fresh basil, tomato and avocado on ciabatta.

Il Posto Cafe. I recently discovered this little treasure after moving in to the new casa. It is only a few blocks from our house, which means that fresh, simple, and tasty food is within walking distance. The atmosphere is great--it's as though someone transported a precious and romantic little Italian cafe to Uptown. Their house red wine is delicious, as is the complimentary fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic. Along with this, you really must get the Antipasti Platter to share. There are so many yummy things piled on this platter that you really don't need much else (a mistake I will only make once) but if you must, split the Classic Proscuitto Panini--divine.

J'Anita's at the Avenue Pub. This restaurant holds a special place in my heart--Corey and I frequented J'Anita's when we first started dating, and would flirt over pulled pork BBQ, hot baked beans and greasy (but the best) fish sandwiches ever...sounds painfully romantic, I know. So, imagine my horror when one Sunday we pulled up and saw an EMPTY restaurant...literally, not a single chair or bowl of beans in sight. After a few months of a J'Anita's-shaped hole in my life, they re-emerged at the Avenue Pub on St. Charles with a re-vamped, but still incredible menu. While the new location lacks the charm and individuality of the old one, there's no getting around the fact that their food is to die for. Also, they garnish everything with a little animal cracker, which makes it not only delicious but kind of cute too. Try: The Best Fish Sammich Ever (redfish on La Boulangerie’s wonderful ciabatta, with bacon, grilled onion, Caesar dressing, feta, tomato and romaine) Pulled Pork Plate, or the St. Chuck Duck (a sandwich experience you‘ll never forget...grilled sourdough with currant tapenade, cheddar and bleu cheeses, Cabernet sautéed duck and granny smith apples...TO.DIE.FOR.)

El Gato Negro. Three words: Hand Squeezed Margaritas. Oh, ok and a few more: queso fundido, homemade pulled pork tamales, burritos the size of your head. El Gato Negro gets it right in a city that, despite its other culinary achievements, is seriously lacking in the Mexican department. Nobody can compete with this place's authenticity (I'm talking to you Taqueria Corona...with your brown guac and plates so full of melted cheese you can't see--or taste--the tortillas). It is the antithesis of Americanized Mexican food, somewhere I go when I want to taste a little of back home, watch some soccer and listen to quality Tejano.

Cochon. I almost start hyperventilating when I talk about Cochon, I am that obsessed. Cochon means "pig" in French, and, while true to its name in serving some of the city's best pork, Cochon also dishes out some incredible pork-free plates. I really could go on for ages about how much I adore the interior of Donald Link's dining room, with the rustic-yet-chic decor and classics by Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and George Jones (among others)playing on the stereo. But instead, I'll just tell you what to get: start with the Fried Alligator with Chili Garlic Aioli or the Fried Rabbit Livers with Pepper Jelly Toast...move on to the Smoked Beef Brisket with Horseradish Potato Salad or the Ham Hock with Sweet Potatoes, Pickled Greens & Black Eyed Pea Ham Broth...finish with Pineapple Upside Down Cake and a shot of Catdaddy Moonshine (yes...they have a full menu of moonshine, legal of course, which makes Cochon that much cooler.)

Domilise's Po-Boys. If you're going to Domilise's for the first time, you have to really look for the building, or you just might miss it. The sign on the side of the old white house is much more faded than the one in this photo, making it easy to drive by. I'm infatuated with just about everything that is Domilise's...from the little old ladies making the sandwiches, to the walls covered with newspaper articles, shrines to the Mannings (they frequented during their days at Newman) and the Saints, and the sweet man behind the bar who I see riding his bike all over Uptown. I usually get the Fried Shrimp or Roast Beef with a Barq's in a bottle or a Dixie Beer. If that doesn't sound like perfection, then I don't know what does.

Commerce. This is the kind of restaurant where everyone calls you "darlin" "sweetie" and "baby" (although...there aren't many in New Orleans that don't) and the food is made with that same kind of love. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it is a well-known fact that little hole-in-the-wall places are always the best...and this is no exception. Their gumbo is so incredible and they have huge, tasty baked potatoes loaded up with everything imaginable that is bad for you.

Casamento's. Nobody is born an oyster have to become an oyster person. I mean, seriously...who in their right mind would look at a raw, slimy lump of seafood pulled straight from the mud and think "delicacy"? Before moving to New Orleans I refused to even consider sitting next to a plate of oysters, I was that grossed out by them. But, thanks to my Granddad's coaxing during dinner one night in Houston, I succumbed to trying just one, and have never looked back. Casamento's is closed during the summer, meaning they are only open during peak oyster months, ensuring that you get the freshest ones available. Established in 1919 and tiled inside and out, you can't help but feel like you're sitting in a piece of history when you eat here. I don't think I even need to suggest what to try at Casamento's...

Naked Pizza. I know you're probably thinking, "Is she seriously suggesting that I come to New Orleans and eat pizza?" Actually, yes. That's exactly what I'm doing. There are always those nights when you don't feel like getting all gussied up and just want to lounge, watch a movie, and devour some great pizza. Usually after this happens, however, pizza guilt inevitably set in, along with the little food baby growing in your belly. Enter these guys. Naked Pizza boasts the very impressive characterisitcs: no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no added sugar, no trans fats, diversity of an Ancestral Blend™ of grains, cheese, veggies and meat, all-natural. Pizza that is actually good for you is truly a miracle, so throw guilt to the wind and dig in! The BBQ Chicken is my absolute favorite.

Gaspare's Gelateria. Not only is Gaspare's owned by our dear friend Christopher Cazenave ("Caz" to everyone), but the gelato and paninis are divine. With his attention to detail in capturing flavors, Caz has quickly established himself as one of New Orlean's best gelato makers, getting recognized by several local publications. His paninis are pretty killer too, my favorite being the Roma (turkey, mozzarella, basil) Caz continually comes up with great flavors, but the one that always impresses (and sells out) is his King Cake gelato served during Mardi Gras. I'm not even going to try and attempt to describe the gelato-making process, but all I do know is that the ingredients include the actual thing you want the gelato to taste like...meaning, Caz puts entire King Cakes (from Randazzo's...the best) into the mix for this particular flavor. People go nuts over this stuff, myself included, so stocking up is a must!

I hope you enjoyed the rundown of some of my favorite spots (I really may have to do a Part II to this post...)If there are any out-of-towners reading this, I beg you...please, please venture out and away from tourist traps like Landry's and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. when you visit. It will be worth it, I promise.


  1. I read your review of j'anitas with pleasure. They have been a welcome addition to The Pub for over a year now. I do feel compelled to point out that J'Anitas is no longer a restuarant. They are now the chefs inside a bar. This important because, unlike a restaurant you have to be 21 to enter. The environment is that of a bar, which means the main thing going on is drinking( in our case high end craft beer), some smoking, pool playing and other things you would find in a bar and not a dining establishment.
    Polly ( owner Avenue Pub)

  2. Good to know, thanks Polly! Readers under 21, take note. Also, I should have mentioned that the Avenue Pub has a great selection of beer and a killer juke box! A fun place to hang out and sample some tasty and unique brews.

  3. I thought I covered quite a bit of ground in the eating department in this City, but you've given me some new spots to check out, a la El Gato Negro & Il Posto. Thanks for that!