The “post-K” restaurant scene is hot
New Orleans restaurants came back early and strong after Hurricane Katrina. Although a few of the grand establishments and otherwise popular places have yet to (or will not) reopen, many more have been busy serving locals-and a growing number of tourists-for months now. A telling measure of the vitality of the restaurant industry in the Crescent City is that more than 50 of the currently open venues were not even in business when the American Library Association annual conference last came to town in 1999.
What follows is a descriptive list of half-a-hundred of these new restaurants, representing culinary traditions ranging from home-grown contemporary Creole to a variety of ethnic pleasures. Some offer truly grand dining rooms, while others are more on the level of pizza joints and diners. All are in the city of New Orleans proper, most within a mile or two of the Morial Convention Center. Almost all are in the “dry city,” areas close to the Mississippi River that did not flood after Katrina. Getting to a handful, though, will require travel through the drowned “wet city” that actually comprises the vast majority of New Orleans’s geography.
While visiting librarians will be able to dine very well, and otherwise occupy themselves profitably, without venturing anywhere near the “wet city,” at least one journey into the devastated neighborhoods is essential to an understanding of what Katrina did to this great city. Don’t pass up an opportunity.
The recommended dining experiences are grouped by general neighborhood and arranged in alphabetical order within each group. Included you’ll find each restaurant’s distance from the convention center next to its address. Most of these restaurants accept standard credit cards, will take reservations, and do not have strict dress codes. Phoning ahead is always a good idea with restaurants; it is especially recommended right now, given the rather fluid state of things in 2006 New Orleans (with days and hours of operation changing, Katrina-shortened menus being expanded, and cash-only policies still in place here and there).
New Orleans is justifiably proud of its reputation for dining excellence. Hurricane Katrina and the flood that followed destroyed or damaged much of the city but did relatively little harm to the restaurant industry. There are some downsides-longer waits for tables, abbreviated menus, shorter hours, and less than full wait staffs-but these problems are by no means universal. In many ways, things are even more active and exciting now than they were before August 29, 2005. By all means, try a few of these recommendations-and you will agree. The area code is 504, unless otherwise indicated.
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Fire, 1377 Annunciation (.6 mi.), 566-1950; www.FIREarestaurant.com. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Mon.-Sat. 5p.m.-closing. $$
Housed in a renovated fire station (hence the name), this restaurant includes a variety of flatbreads among its offerings, including the Stinking Rose (featuring plenty of roasted garlic). Among the entrées is a plate of chorizo, Italian, and green onion sausages, each with its own sauce for dipping. Fire is in an interesting post-Katrina neighborhood-the upscale Saulet Apartments directly across the street has yet to reopen and Annunciation Square, two blocks away, is in a limbo of sorts, having been prepared to house FEMA trailers that have yet to appear.
La Côte Brasserie, 700 Tchoupitoulas (Renaissance Arts Hotel) (.7 mi.), 613-2350; www.lacotebrasserie.com. Mon.-Sat. 6:30-11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thu. 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-11 p.m.; Sun. noon-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m. $$$
Chef Chuck Subra takes seafood very seriously in this hotel restaurant. You’ll find a version of the new local favorite-charbroiled oysters-as well as a good selection of cold seafood from the oyster bar. For a main course, La Côte’s Cataplana, a Portuguese fish stew, has gained local acclaim. Other possibilities include a cedar plank-roasted lobster or hibachi scallops.
Le Citron Bistro, 1519 Religious (.7 mi.), 566-9051. www.lecitronbistro.com. Tue..-Sat. 5:30-10 p.m. $$
This bistro occupies a renovated 1810 cottage, believed to be the oldest building on the uptown side of Canal St. First courses include duck and andouille gumbo, wild crawfish bisque, fried green tomatoes, and Louisiana frog legs. Entrées range from the crispy and delicious fried chicken to pan-seared pompano. On Saturdays it offers all the pasta and meatballs or oysters you can eat.
RioMar, 800 S. Peters (.4 mi.), 525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com. Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.; Mon.-Thu. 6-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-11 p.m. $$
As the name suggests, Spanish-style seafood is the specialty at this establishment just down the street from Emeril’s. Tapas, including a Spanish muffuletta, comprise the lunch menu, while dinner offers a full range of starters (including a variety of ceviches) and main courses such as the highly regarded zarzuela, a saffron-tinged broth thick with sea creatures. If you dine early enough, you might be able to catch a show at the True Brew Playhouse just behind the restaurant on Julia Street.
Seven on Fulton, 700 Fulton St. (Girod St.) (Riverfront Hotel) (.4 mi.), 524-8200. Open daily until 10 p.m. $$$
Another post-K sensation from the creative mind of veteran restaurateur Vicki Bayley (the former owner of Mike’s on the Avenue and Artesia, where superchef John Besh made his reputation). Bayley and chef David English present first courses such as grilled gulf shrimp (with barbecue sauce and grits fries) and entrées such as grilled pork chop (with green beans, tasso, crawfish, and creole mustard sauce) and slow-roasted salmon (with grilled prosciutto, white asparagus, green asparagus flan, and celery root).
Sun Ray Grill, 1051 Annunciation (Cotton Mill Condominiums) (.4 mi.), 566-0021; www.sunraygrill. com. Mon.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m.; Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Sat. 5:30-9:30 p.m. $$
Sun Ray’s menu includes an interesting mixture of Southwestern and Asian-inspired dishes. Small plates include ginger chicken spring rolls, penthouse nachos, and Creole crab cakes. An unusual entrée is the soft-shell crab taco dish. The Sun Ray Grill in the American Can Apartments (a renovated factory building at 3700 Orleans Ave.) near historic Bayou St. John has also recently reopened.
Tommy’s Cuisine, 746 Tchoupitoulas (.5 mi.), 581-1103; www.tommyscuisine.com. Sun.-Thu. 5:30-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5:30-11 p.m. $$-$$$
Tommy Andrade was associated with a number of local eateries before he opened his own place in 2003. His mostly Creole and Italian menu offers a choice of oysters, mussels, escargot, or crabmeat dishes for starters. Among the tantalizing entrées are the soft-shell crab with pasta and crawfish sauce and the Fish Capri with crabmeat, crawfish, capers, and artichokes.
Wolfe’s in the Warehouse District, 859 Convention Center Blvd. (.4 mi.), 613-2882. www.wolfesofneworleans.com. Tue..-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tue.-Sat. from 6 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $$
“Best in New Orleans” lists veteran Tom Wolfe’s newest venture, right across the street from the convention center. Try the Duck-Duck-Goose (pan-roasted duck breast, duck confit tortellini, and foie gras-duck crackling bread pudding) or maybe the pan crispy ruby red trout.
Central Business District
Besh Steakhouse, 8 Canal St. (in Harrah’s Casino) (.9 mi.), 533-6111; www.harrahs.com. Thu.-Mon. 5:30-11 p.m. $$$$
John Besh moved to New Orleans to open Restaurant August (see below); his steakhouse came two years later. Now it stands as one of a small handful of serious purveyors of steak open for business in the city. Besh’s main courses marry meat, fowl, and seafood in most interesting ways: for example, filet mignon with gratin dauphinoise, jumbo asparagus, and smoked marrow.
Café Adelaide, 300 Poydras (Loew’s Hotel) (.9 mi.), 595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com. Mon.-Fri. 7-10:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 6-9:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 7-10:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9:30 p.m. $$$
Operated by the same family that runs the great Commander’s Palace and located adjacent to the architecturally wonderful Piazza d’Italia, this hotel restaurant is a significant addition to the downtown dining scene. For lunch, try the BBQ wild shrimp shortcake with the Tabasco™ soy-glazed yellowfin tuna. Dinner choices include blue crab with (local) caviar and the panéed bay snapper and crispy oysters. Be sure to visit the St. Joseph’s Fountain in the Piazza before or after dining.
Gordon Biersch, 200 Poydras (.7 mi.), 552-2739; www.gordonbiersch.com. Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight. $$-$$$
The local rendition of a small chain of brewery restaurants is housed on the first floor of the parking garage for Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. The large and varied menu includes an Asian barbecued salmon, a bone-in ribeye steak topped with Gorgonzola butter, and pecan-encrusted chicken. The beer is, of course, always cold and fresh!
Herbsaint, 701 St. Charles (1.1 mi.), 524-4114; www.herbsaint.com. Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Mon.-Sat. 5-10 p.m. $$
Superchef Susan Spicer started Herbsaint, but the talented Donald Link now cooks up a storm in the building that was occupied by Daniel Bonnot’s Bizou back in 1999. After 5:30, this is one place to get mussels mariniere with pomme frites followed by the Muscovy duck leg confit with dirty rice and citrus gastrique.
Horinoya, 920 Poydras (1.1 mi.), 561-8914. Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m.; Sat. 5-10:30 p.m.; Sun. 5-10 p.m. $$
A fine Japanese restaurant, Horinoya offers a full menu of sushi and a good selection of cooked dishes as well. Among the entrées, accompanied by soup and salad, are Katsu Curry (deep-fried pork served over curry sauce with carrots, onions, and beef over white rice), lobster tempura, and teriyaki.
Huey’s Downtown Diner, 200 Magazine (1.1 mi.), 598-4839. 24 hours daily. $
First the disclaimer: Huey’s “diner” appellation is somewhat of a misnomer since the dining room has wide-open spaces and soaring ceilings. Still, it is the kind of establishment that every downtown needs. A number of blue plate specials top the varied menu: state capitol meatloaf (baked meatloaf and gravy served over toasted brioche with mashed potatoes, topped with onion rings), crawfish étouffe, and chicken and biscuits, to name a few.
Ohi’a, 2 Lee Circle (Hotel Le Cirque) (.8 mi.), 528-2205. Tue.-Sat. 5-10:30 p.m. $$$
This was the first of Vicki Bayley’s “back to New Orleans” eateries to open after she sold the award-winning Artesia last spring. Ohi’a serves Asian tapas with a view of the city’s century-old monument to Robert E. Lee. Next door is Henry Hobson Richardson’s landmark Howard Library building, Confederate Museum, and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. And it’s just one more block to the National D-Day Museum.
Panasia, 500 St. Charles (1 mi.), 299-8004. Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m. $
Thai American cuisine is the order of the day in this eatery on the first floor of the Best Western Parc St. Charles Hotel. The Thai menu includes typical dishes such as chicken satay, curries, fried rice, and Pad Thai. On the American side are cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and a BLT! When the St. Charles streetcar is running, Panasia’s full-length windows offer a clear view of a National Historic Landmark on wheels!
Restaurant August, 301 Tchoupitoulas (.8 mi.), 299-9777; www.rest-august.com. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon.-Sat. 5:30-10 p.m. $$$$
John Besh’s August is a beautiful restaurant just across the street from Harrah’s casino (and his own Besh Steakhouse). Lunch is incredible, but Besh’s creativity soars highest in the evening, with appetizers such as the Bittersweet Plantation’s warm goat cheese with frisée, Serrano ham, and sour cherries and main courses the likes of slow-cooked Louisiana grouper cheeks with artichokes, sweet peas, apple bacon, and wild onions.
Roth’s Steak Knife, 610 Poydras (.9 mi.), 212-5656. Mon.-Fri. 6:30-11 a.m.; Sat.-Sun. 6:30-10 a.m. and 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Sun. 5-10 p.m. $$$
Bob Roth operated a steak house in Lakeview for more than 30 years. It was flooded after Katrina and has not yet reopened. Some months before the storm, though, Roth had opened a second location in the Whitney Hotel, a converted 1910 bank building. There you’ll find crabmeat au gratin (also available as an entrée), a selection of steaks, a pan-seared yellowfin tuna topped with crabmeat and a caper cream sauce, and more.
Zoe, 333 Poydras (W Hotel) (.7 mi.), 207-5018; www.zoe-wno.com. Mon.-Sun. 6:30-10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Sun.-Thu. 6-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6 p.m.-midnight. $$$
Take the lift up to the second floor of the trendy W Hotel (maybe after a drink at Whiskey Blue downstairs) and start off with crab cakes served with a red pepper aioli or a Zoe salad (baby greens, spicy pine nuts, Worcestershire pecans, candied walnuts, boursin cheese, and house vinaigrette). Vegetarians might opt for vegetable spring rolls and mushroom salad, followed by an entrée of rustic Italian leaf pasta. Harrah’s is right across the street.
Vieux Carré/Faubourg Marigny
Café Amelie, 912 Royal (1.9 mi.), 412-8965. Mon.-Sun. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. $$
Step beyond the high wall on Royal Street into a delightfully planted outdoor dining room (seating is also available in the adjacent carriage house). Simple breakfast fare is available all-day long. The lunch and dinner menus are more varied and interesting. Start with the organic beet salad or the pan-seared sushi tuna atop organic greens. Follow with a blackened catfish sandwich or the Creole lamb chops.
GW Fins, 808 Bienville (1.3 mi.), 581-3467; www.gwfins.com. Tue.-Sat. 5-9:30 p.m. $$$
Chef Tenney Flynn specializes in fresh seafood, and Fins flies it in from around the world each day. The menu, of course, changes daily so you won’t always be able to enjoy the crispy fried lobster tail with remoulade cole slaw or the wood-grilled shrimp with a mango melon relish. But you will enjoy something equally as exciting and memorable.
Hookah Café, 500 Frenchmen (1.9 mi.), 943-1101; www.hookah-cafe.com. Mon.-Sun. 5:30- 11 p.m.; bar open Fri.-Sat. till 2 a.m.; Sun.-Thu. bar open till midnight. $$
A really different experience can be had just a few giant steps from the French Quarter. The menu comprises Indian cuisine with more than a few twists: chili cheese fries (with Indian spices and a vegetarian lentil chili topping), an Indian-style Caesar salad, burritos, and more. The bar specializes in Belgian beer, and you can also enjoy some flavored Middle Eastern tobaccos in a real hookah pipe!
Marigny Brasserie, 640 Frenchmen (2 mi.), 945-4472; www.cafemarigny.com. Sun.-Thu. 5:30-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5:30 p.m.-midnight; Sun. 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. $$$
The Brasserie is another Faubourg outpost, just down the street from the hookah place and across from Washington Square’s inviting green space. The menu, across the board, is filled with a combination of old favorites and exciting new concepts: for example, frog legs prepared “buffalo wings” style, or a vegetable Napoleon. Check out some great jazz at Snug Harbor, down the block.
Morton’s, the Steakhouse, 365 Canal (Canal Place) (.9 mi.), 566-0221; www.mortons.com. Mon.-Fri. 5-11 p.m.; Sat. 5:30-11 p.m.; Sun. 5-10 p.m. $$$$
The New Orleans branch of the Chicago-based chain is on the second floor of the One Canal Place office building. Steaks and other meats, of course, dominate the entrée list, but you’ll also find a good selection of fish, vegetables, and potatoes as well. Adjacent, stop by the Wyndham New Orleans Hotel’s 11th floor lobby for a spectacular view of the Vieux Carré and the Mississippi River.
Muriel’s, 801 Chartres (1.8 mi.), 568-1885; www.muriels.com/html. Mon.-Sun. 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $$$
Muriel’s galleried, two-story building overlooks Jackson Square, the historic heart of New Orleans. Its largely Creole menu offers first course choices such as braised veal cheeks or saffron shrimp. Entrées include selections from the wood grill or a cassoulet topped with a rabbit tenderloin. Drinks or dessert on the open second-floor gallery make a wonderful addition to a special evening. And then there’s the talk of ghosts!
Philip Chan’s Asian-Cajun Bistro, 301 Decatur (1.4 mi.), 522-4964; www.asiancajun-bistro.com. Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun.- Thu. 5-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-3 a.m. $$
Chan’s menu includes some typical Asian dishes, a number of Cajun selections, and a few interesting combinations of the two. Among the Asian-Cajun entrée choices are a bouillabaisse with Louisiana and Asian spices and an Asian-Cajun stuffed chicken (with eggplant, cheese, and crawfish). And the New Orleans rendition of the House of Blues is just a half-block away.
Stanley, 1031 Decatur (1.9 mi.), 593-0006; www.restaurantstanley.com. Mon.-Sun. 8 a.m.- 3 p.m. $
Scott Boswell opened this brand-new restaurant right after Katrina, serving burgers grilled in the courtyard to hungry recovery workers and other early returnees to the Crescent City. The burgers are still available for lunch, along with seafood po-boys, a muffaletta, and more. Boswell’s more upscale restaurant-Stella-has recently reopened on the other side of the courtyard just outside Stanley’s back door.
Wasabi, 900 Frenchmen (2.1 mi.), 943-9433; www.wasabirestaurant.com. Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thu. & Sun. 5:30 p.m.- 10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m. $$
The Faubourg Marigny’s eclectic list of dining possibilities includes this authentic Japanese establishment. Wasabi offers a strong selection of sushi, sashimi, and rolls (among these are the Big Easy, the Frenchman, and one with spicy crawfish). Other dishes on the menu are an eel bowl, curry mussels, and the salmon neck served with ponzu sauce.
Zydeque, 808 Iberville (1.5 mi.), 565-5520. Daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. $-$$
A Louisiana barbecue joint in the middle of the French Quarter! The meats (spare ribs, brisket, chicken, cochon de lait, and andouille) are dry rubbed with Cajun spices and slow-smoked over hickory and pecan. Zydeque also offers a Debris Gumbo and its version of jambalaya, both made with the wonderful smoked meats.
Central City/Lower Garden District/Garden District
Café Reconcile, 1631 Oretha Castle Haley (1.5 mi.), 568-1157; www.cafereconcile.com. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $
The Café is the public face of a Central City job training program designed to prepare at-risk young people for jobs in the New Orleans hospitality industry. It has been a tremendous success both in attracting students into the program and in turning out delicious food to eager customers who regularly crowd the dining room throughout the lunch hour. Arrive early to sample the more interesting specials (the menu changes daily), but there will surely be something wonderful waiting for you later in the afternoon. Service, post-K, is cafeteria-style, but the friendly staff wait on you just the same.
Gulfstream, 1755 St. Charles (1.1 mi.), 524-1578; hillstone.com. Daily 5:30-10 p.m. $$$
The entrance to this new seafood restaurant (at the back of the building away from the traffic of St. Charles Avenue) takes you right past the open kitchen, which emanates a wonderful smoky aroma. The fresh fish of the day varies in variety, preparation, and price, but there are also entrée selections such as cioppino, roasted quail, and cedar plank-roasted salmon.
Jackson, 1910 Magazine St. (1.2 mi.), 529-9599; www.jacksonnola.com. Wed.- Mon. 6-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $$$
This new eatery, located in an old building just around the corner from the historic St. Alphonsus and St. Mary’s Assumption churches, offers contemporary Creole cuisine in an architecturally interesting setting. And Sophie’s ice cream parlor is right next door.
Sake Café, 2830 Magazine (1.9 mi.), 894-0033; www.sakecafeuptown.com. Mon.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Fri. 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat. noon-11 p.m.; Sun. noon-10 p.m. $$
This establishment, housed in a former drugstore, is very popular with uptown fans of Japanese cuisine. The extensive menu includes selections from both the kitchen and the sushi bar. Kitchen entrées include Kuruma Shrimp (stuffed with snow crab in peanut wasabi sauce) and Akita Snapper (fresh red snapper fillet served with asparagus in a hot chili-lime miso sauce).
Table One, 2800 Magazine (1.8 mi.), 324-9550. Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun.-Thu. 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5-11 p.m. $$$
Chef Gerard Maras has made successes out of many local restaurants, including this post-K venture. Shrimp remoulade, gravlax, crab cake, escargot, and foie gras grace the starter section. The trout, salmon, and filet mignon entrées stand out, and a fine vegetarian meal might include the avocado spring roll along with one or two of the unique salads. Some tables are outside on the tree-lined side of the building.
Taqueros Coyoacan, 1432 St. Charles (1 mi.), 525-9996. Wed.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Sun. 5-9 p.m. $$
Pre-K owner/chef Guillermo Peters operated two dining rooms in the same building: for authentic Mexican cuisine, Taqueros was the more casual downstairs option while Coyoacan, upstairs, was a more adventurous, gourmet experience. Since reopening after the storm, though, Peters is keeping the operation to the first floor, but he hopes to have the gourmet scene upstairs back in operation by the time ALA hits the city.
Vizard’s on the Avenue, 2203 St. Charles (Garden District Hotel) (1.4 mi.), 529-9912. Tue.-Sat. 6-10 p.m. $$$
Kevin Vizard’s very creative approach to cooking results in first courses the likes of scallop flan (with jumbo lump crab, melted leek, and creamy crab jus), second courses like the redfish tamale, and mains such as the filet of beef (with fried oysters, haricots vert, crushed fingerlings, and foie gras butter).
Zea, 1525 St. Charles (1 mi.), 530-8100; www zearestaurants.com. Tue.-Sun. noon-9 p.m. $$
Zea’s main attractions are microbrewed beer made especially for this chain and rotisserie-cooked meats. You will also find a delicious roasted garlic hummus appetizer, spinach salad with pepper vinaigrette dressing, and fresh fish cooked on a wood grill.
Byblos, 3218 Magazine (2.5 mi.), 894-1233. Mon.-Sun. noon-3:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 4-11 p.m.; Sun.-Thu. 4-10 p.m. $
This very popular Lebanese restaurant opened its first location in suburban Metairie some years ago; city residents were thrilled when this uptown outpost opened in 2002. The Byblos menu includes a good selection of appetizers, salads, and entrées. Examples are the Drunken Halloumi (cheese sautéed with ouzo and olive oil) and the Byblos pasta (with lamb, beef, tomatoes, and Mediterranean herbs and spices).
La Petite Grocery, 4238 Magazine (3.1 mi.), 891-3377. Mon.-Fri. 6-9:30 p.m.; Sat. 6-10:30 p.m. $$
Chef Anton Schulte has been serving a packed house since opening this French eatery early in 2004. Schulte changes his menu often, but you might find items such as the sauté of mushrooms, pancetta, garlic, and sage served over house-made pappardelle noodles, or the sauté of jumbo gulf shrimp with braised fennel, hearts of palm, and watercress in a saffron-roasted tomato vinaigrette. Yum!
Lilette, 3637 Magazine (2.8 mi.), 895-1636; www. liletterestaurant.com. Tue.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tue.-Thu. 6-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 6-11 p.m. $$$
This restaurant’s large windows allow diners to enjoy views of bustling Magazine Street while savoring excellent French cuisine. If you go for lunch, look for interesting sandwiches such as the grilled eggplant with onions, tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano, and roasted fennel on focaccia.
Nacho Mama’s, 3242 Magazine (2.5 mi.), 899-0031. Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Thu.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. $$
Though this place could probably make it based on its punny New Orleans name alone (Not Yo’ Mama’s, get it?), it offers a lengthy menu of fun Mexican dishes. Sidewalk tables are available for those who want to be in the middle of one of Magazine Street’s more active restaurant rows.
Nardo’s Trattoria, 6078 Laurel (5 mi.), 895-9441. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thu. 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5-11 p.m. $$
If you really want to get away from the conference and the crowds of fellow librarians in the area, head way uptown to Nardo’s. A set menu offers a few good appetizers and well-made salads along with entrées such as Veal Stiezzitto (panéed veal with lump crabmeat and mushroom emulsion) and Penne Boscaiola (sautéed Roman style sausage with peppers, garlic, basil, and Kalamata olives in a marinara sauce). Delicious!
Nile Café, 3100 Magazine (2 mi.), 897-0920. Daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m. $-$$
Housed in a newly renovated commercial building in the midst of a long stretch of Magazine Street eateries, the Nile offers a basic selection of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. The chef’s special appetizer (for two) includes hummus, baba ghannouj, grape leaves, tabouleh, falafel, labna, and fried kibbe.
Savvy Gourmet, 4519 Magazine (3.3 mi.), 895-2665; www.savvygourmet.com. Call for classes and times. Cost varies by class.
This new (2005) ambitious undertaking-cooking school, catering business, and cookware emporium-has become a real success post-Katrina. The owners hired displaced chef Corbin Evans and started offering daily lunches and Sunday brunches fairly soon after the storm. The menu, which changes daily, features a couple of soups and salads. Sandwich choices include four-cheese panini, seared salmon, and soft-shell crab po-boy.
Slim Goodie’s, 3322 Magazine (2.5 mi.), 891-3447; slimgoodies.com. Mon.-Sun. 9-10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. $
It makes sense that an urban diner would be one of the first eateries to reopen following Katrina’s unwelcome visit to the Crescent City. Slim’s is that diner, and it led the way in repopulating Magazine Street as one of the most important restaurant rows in town. The menu here is full of the usual, but there are some interesting (and interestingly named) twists among the standards, such as the Jewish Coonass (potato latkes topped with eggs, spinach, and crawfish etouffee).
Theo’s Pizza, 4218 Magazine (3.1 mi.), 894-8554; www.theospizza.com. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. noon-9 p.m. $
The fresh-made pizzas at Theo’s, whether you custom-design your pie or choose one of the special combinations, all feature a very crispy crust. NOPL’s Children’s Resource Center is nearby (at 913 Napoleon Ave.); stop by and see the recent renovation of the Carnegie-funded building made possible by ALA, Highsmith, and Bretford.
Off the Beaten Path
Fellini’s, 900 N. Carrollton (Mid-City) (4.7 mi.), 488-2155. Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. $
This is one of the eateries reachable only via the devastated Mid-City section of town. Fellini’s offers inside and outside seating as well as an in-between section in which the large windows are opened on “nice” days. The menu has a distinct Mediterranean touch-try the sampler appetizer platter (hummus, a delicious spicy tomato dip, and grilled Portobella mushrooms). City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art are just a few blocks away down Carrollton Ave.
Pontchartrain Point Café, 8536 Pontchartrain Blvd. (7.2 mi.), 282-4233. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m-8 p.m. $
This is one of the few dining possibilities now open anywhere close to Lake Pontchartrain; it’s just a few blocks away from the totally devastated West End restaurant row, the wrecked Southern Yacht Club/New Orleans Marina, and the breach in the 17th Street Canal. The Pontchartrain Point menu includes selections of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and fried seafood platters.
Ralph’s on the Park, 900 City Park Ave. (5.4 mi.), 488-1900. Tue.-Sat. 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $$-$$$
Ralph Brennan’s newest restaurant is in a beautifully renovated building directly across the street from New Orleans’s City Park. Ralph’s sits on high ground in a section of the city that was severely flooded by Katrina, making it virtually the only fine restaurant open for miles around. This is the perfect place to dine following a visit to the nearby New Orleans Museum of Art, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, or New Orleans Botanical Gardens, all situated in City Park
Tout de Suite Coffee House and Cafe, 347 Verret (Algiers) (5.4 mi.), 362-2264; www.toutdesuitecafe.com. Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. $-$$
The 5.4-mile journey (by car) noted above is misleading since you can take the Canal Street ferry across the river and walk six blocks through the historic Algiers Point neighborhood instead. The limited menu offers egg dishes, pastries, salads, and unique sandwiches.
Wayne Everard is Archivist of the Louisiana Division of the New Orleans City Archives, New Orleans Public Library
Some Crescent City restaurants were inundated by floodwaters, some had severe roof/rain damage, and others suffered loss when their freezers thawed out after the energy power grid shut down. Some have managed to reopen, but others are still waiting for insurance settlements, for FEMA assistance, or for contractors to become available. Hardly any establishments in areas such as Mid-City and Lakeview are open, but others throughout the city also remain closed at this writing. Some of them are listed below, grouped according to their likelihood for return.
|Planning to Reopen (some in time for ALA, we hope)
||Ain’t Dere No More (and not likely to come back)
New Orleans merchant Abijah Fisk, in his 1843 last will and testament, bequeathed his house at the corner of Bourbon and Custom House streets to the City of New Orleans to be used for library purposes. Although the property never actually housed a library, the proceeds from its rental have helped (and still do) to fund the operations of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). For many years, an F.W. Woolworth store occupied the Fisk corner, but that building was demolished in 2000 to make way for what is now the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. The hotel’s restaurant, the Bourbon House, is sited on the actual Fisk property.
The Bourbon House, 144 Bourbon (522-0111), is one of three restaurants owned and operated by Dickie Brennan, of the seemingly ever-expanding Commander’s Palace branch of the Brennan family. A two-story dining room marked by much wood, brass, and tall windows overlooking the first block of Bourbon Street and an adjoining oyster bar greet diners to this four-year-old establishment. Seafood is the main attraction, with starters such as spicy fried calamari and a wild alligator soup. Bourbon House’s Plateaux de Fruits de Mer (Louisiana oysters, shrimp, seafood salad, crab fingers, and Maine lobster tail) is a perfect appetizer for a group of hungry librarians. True to its name, the restaurant also specializes in bourbon and offers an extensive menu by the glass. Do think about the hard-working librarians at NOPL while enjoying that $22 Pappy Van Winkle 20 year!