City Guide

Classic Crescent City Eats

These old-school NOLA restaurants are so good they’ve become rites of passage

Photo: Christopher Testani


The New Orleans Vieux Carre landmark, famous since 1946, has attracted a steady flow of culinary mendicants to pay homage at its extravagant brunches, which seriously impinge on lunch and even poach a bit on supper. The restaurant has long flambéed its signature bananas Foster (invented here in 1951) on a cart in the dining room. It got an upgrade both inside and on the menu in 2015 but hasn’t lost any of the timeless flair. 417 Royal Street;

photo: Sara Essex Bradley
The vibrant dining room at Brennan’s in full swing.

Café du Monde

The powdered-sugar-dusted beignets, hot from the fryer, with chicory coffee and OJ, are the quintessential morning-after breakfast in the city, and can be enjoyed anytime—the open-air restaurant never closes. 1039 Decatur Street;

photo: Amy Dickerson

Central Grocery

Founded in 1906, Central Grocery put its pin on the culinary map when it invented the muffuletta, a massive sandwich of meat, cheese, and olive spread served on a hubcap-sized round loaf. Half the experience is walking into the shop in the middle of hopping Decatur Street and letting the aromas of an old-world grocery open the door to an earlier time. 923 Decatur Street;

French 75 Bar

Tucked into the venerable Arnaud’s restaurant, this seriously beautiful bar offers serious cocktails, including its namesake drink. Order it with a dozen raw oysters and a plate of the restaurant’s soufflé potatoes for a perfect pre-meal meal. 813 Rue Bienville Street;


One of the key holy rites of ancient-régime Creole cooking in New Orleans is a Friday lunch at Galatoire’s. On any given Friday, dozens will try to wedge, cram, cajole, buy, cheat, sneak, or beg their way into the 150 seats in Galatoire’s main, delightful, ground-floor Victorian dining room. The downstairs room has been on a first-come-first-served basis for more than a century. Reservations are accepted for the quieter second floor, but that’s for people who don’t know or don’t want the hassle. 209 Bourbon Street;

Ralph Moore holds an armful of Galatoire’s favorites.

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

Cups of made-to-order shaved ice come doused in flavored syrups that range from classics like blueberry, orangeade, and root beer to more sophisticated syrups such as ginger and satsuma. 4801 Tchoupitoulas Street;

Napoleon House

Once a house offered to Napoleon as safe haven, this bar is known for its operatic soundtracks, the aged patina of its walls, and the popularization of the Pimm’s Cup in New Orleans. On blazing Friday and Saturday afternoons, there is nowhere darker or cooler in the city. 500 Chartres Street;

Parkway Bakery & Tavern

This twice-revived landmark in the Mid-City neighborhood is destination dining for po’boy lovers, who are smitten with everything from overstuffed seafood to classics such as griddle-cooked ham and house-corned beef. Many folks combine two genres by ordering the seafood/meat combination—shrimp ladled with a hit of beefy gravy. Why choose when you can have both? 538 Hagan Avenue;

Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Since Willie Mae Seaton opened Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans more than six decades ago, the beauty shop–turned–whiskey bar has evolved into a restaurant and gone on to appear on a number of national bucket lists. Seaton passed away in 2015, but she lived to see her great-granddaughter take over the restaurant and tend to the hundreds of locals and tourists who fill a dining room daily. 2401 St. Ann Street;

And don’t miss these NOLA mainstays… 

713 St. Louis Street;

The Carousel Bar
214 Royal Street;

Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Avenue;

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
2301 Orleans Avenue;