What are 5 top New Orleans restaurants?

I have a friend who owns a couple of New Orleans restaurants, and has been in the business since he was sixteen. His restaurant is one of the best in the city, but he admires a lot of the other folks who run restaurants.

So, I posed this hypothetical: Say you had a close friend coming to town who’d never been here, and wanted to know where to go eat. What are 5 top New Orleans restaurants (other than yours) that you’d recommend?

He immediately rattled off the following list, along with some quick comments (reproduced as best I can remember them):

  1. Gautreau’s  “Small & intimate: many years of outstanding quality”
  2. Clancy’s  “If Galatoire’s had great food and was Uptown”
  3. La Petite Grocery “New owner made an amazing place even better”
  4. Lilette “Owner is kind of a jerk, but the food is absolutely stunning”
  5. GW Fins “Hidden gem (in the French Quarter?) with fresh, wonderful seafood”

I was surprised by the GW Fins recommendation, but after asking several locals who care about quality seafood and disdain tourist traps, they all raved about GW Fins as well. I’ve never eaten there, but it looks like I’ll have to check it out.

If you have an opinion about top New Orleans restaurants not on the well-worn tourist path, leave a comment and let us know what they are. Or see if you can guess which restaurant my friend owns.

  • Natalie K. Mitchell

    I wholeheartedly agree with the GW Fin’s recommendation. My favorites these days, which change daily, and are heavily influenced by a low budget and a move to Mid-City last year, in no particular order: Rue 127, Dante’s Kitchen, Peche, Borgne, and you can’t beat Domenica happy hour pizzas (wild mushroom) or August three course lunch for $20.

    • GW Fins

      Thanks, Natalie!! We wholeheartedly appreciate your support ;-)

    • esvenson

      I haven’t been to Rue 127 or Borgne either. All good recommendations, thanks!

    • Andrea Williams

      Yes I forgot about Peche, that was good as well. I have not eaten a meal at Rue 127 but do enjoy the smores for dessert.

  • MVH1

    GW Fins is great, consistent and been there for awhile. Always recommend it. Add Sylvain’s on Chartres, open midday only Friday, Sat., Sunday. Reservations. New place for lunch, Toups Meatery on Carrolton near City Park. Great martinis. And Peche is great. Also a hidden gem, Meme’s for lobster on Friday night, 103 Schlief, Belle Chasse, reservations. They have an award-winning crab dish that will make you want to move in and live in the restaurant. And it’s not expensive. You’ll never regret the field trip it takes to get there.

  • Ramesh Reddy

    Boucherie! My favorite intimate joint. Owners James and Nathaniel make everyone feel at home. Their hand picked, small production wine list is by far the best in the city for the price – their philosophy is that they want people to enjoy their night out with great wine and food and not worry about an empty wallet. Their signature dish is a house smoked brisket (all meats and vegetables are smoked and pickled in house, respectively). Tell them Ramesh sent you.

    The next would be Irene’s in the Vieux Carre. If you can get a table expect impeccable service, deep wine selection, lively ambiance and low turnover. The filet is hands down my favorite piece of meat in town. Ask to be waited on by Dan Brown – he is the best waiter I’ve ever had.

    You have to give us a clue about his restaurant – I have no idea.

  • Shannon Phillips

    Where are the best places to eat without breaking the bank (i.e. where’s the best places to get a taste of New Orleans with kids)?

  • Andrea Williams

    The comment about LPG was spot on. My friend and I visited there for the first time about 2 weeks ago and it was succulent. The food was awesome, the service was great and the atmosphere was amazing. I have loved GW Fins for years and it is consistently good. Clancy’s was just ok. I also love Kingfish, Borgne, and Amici Ristorante. All 3 have excellent, food and drink. At Kingfish have a she loves it or Pimm’s Cup with blue crab chop, corn and crab soup and every man a king. Borgne has the best French 75 in the city; start with the empanadas and shrimp croquette. The blue crab risotto is great and ask for Lance’s section. Amici has a very nice bellini/Rossini and everything I have had there was good as well. Save room for the fried oreo with caramel gelato. If you would like to eat on the cheap, go to High Hat on Feret for brunch on Saturday or Sunday (kid friendly). They have a fried chicken and waffle, however I usually opt out of the waffle and get the pimento mac and cheese. I also enjoy Mandina’s; one of the only places I will eat gumbo. Last place, Deanie’s on Iberville. Both places are kid friendly. Enjoy

  • Rachel Dangermond

    One of the best restaurants in the city just closed – Meauxbar – I think that owners Matthew and Jim were able to achieve consistency and excellence for so long it was time for them to say goodbye to the grueling and demand work that a restaurant of this caliber calls for. I will miss them and Meauxbar greatly.

    • MVH1

      Oh, no. I didn’t know this.

  • esvenson

    For what it’s worth, I asked a friend of mine who is a chef at a well regarded NOLA restaurant for his list of 5 places he likes and thinks folks should check out. Here’s his list:

    Moscas: Italian food – hard to get to, but worth the drive.
    R&O’s: (try the stuffed crab parmesan Po-Boy, he says)
    Tan dinh: amazing Vietnamese food
    Casamento: Seafood in a classic New Orleans setting.
    Willies Maes: The fried chicken is the best in the world