Food & Drink

Eat Like a Local in New Orleans

Where the Louisiana-bred chef eats on his increasingly few days off

Photo: Rush Jagoe

Chef John Besh knows New Orleans. Raised in nearby Slidell, Louisiana, the former Marine made national headlines feeding the storm-tossed population of his adopted hometown in the wake of Katrina. Now, Besh is expanding a culinary empire that already includes the award-winning likes of Restaurant August and Shaya with soon-to-open reboots of the fondly remembered Caribbean Room restaurant and Silver Whistle Café, along with two high concept bars, in the storied Pontchartain Hotel.

As he prepares to stake his boldest claim yet on Crescent City dining, we asked where he eats on his rare days off:


  • Ba Mien

    “Go to this Vietnamese spot for authentic dishes like bánh cuốn—rice noodle dumplings. I also recommend the lemongrass chicken and the tiny egg rolls with piles of herbs and pickled vegetables.”

  • Middendorf’s

    Photo: Rush Jagoe

    “It’s a fried catfish shack out by the swamp. It’s been around for 100 years, and it’s definitely a favorite roadside dive.”

  • Parkway Bakery and Tavern

    Photo: Rush Jagoe

    “Right off the banks of Bayou St. John, this place has the best fried seafood po’ boys. It’s the go-to local spot for a po’ boy and a beer.”

  • Red’s Chinese

    Photo: Rush Jagoe

    “The only signage on this Bywater restaurant is a red square. If the light’s on, then the place is open. You have to get the General’s Chicken.”

  • Satsuma Café

    Photo: Rush Jagoe

    “This is a great—and super small—breakfast spot with two locations. I recommend going to the one on Dauphine Street, which is the original.”

  • Willie Mae’s Restaurant

    “The fried chicken is my guilty pleasure. This is the best spot for a greasy spoon meal.”