New Orleans has long been known as a city full of incredible gastronomical delights. The Cajun and southern flavors of New Orleans blend with a style that is all New Orleans and all amazing. You’ll find wonderful restaurants on almost every block but it’s the fine dining in New Orleans that has really catapulted to the forefront in the past few years and firmly established New Orleans as one of the best cities to visit for fine dining experiences.
Since 1840 Antoine’s has been cultivating its well earned reputation as one of the best restaurants in New Orleans. With an incredible 15 different dining rooms, each with its own personality, Antoine’s is a magnificent dining experience. When dining at Antoine’s be sure to order the Oysters Rockefeller. This dish was created by Jules Alciatore, the son of Antoine and although you may find Oysters Rockefeller all over the world, the original recipe is a closely guarded secret and only found at Antoine’s.
Arnaud’s has earned a reputation the world over for its incredible delectable delights they plate daily for their guests. The fine dining experience is enhanced by images of the famed celebrities who have also dined within the walls and strolling musicians playing a perfect accompaniment of jazz. When at Arnaud’s make sure to take the time to visit the Mardi Gras Museum on the second floor, it’s a hidden treasure.
Brennan’s is one restaurant that is spoken of by many visitors to New Orleans, it’s one of those tried and true restaurants that locals and tourists alike love. Their 35,000 bottle wine cellar is one of the reasons for all of the raves. The other is the tradition established by founder, Owen Edward Brennan, who brought New Orleans cuisine to a different level. Remember to order the Bananas Foster, a dish created at Brennan’s in the 1950’s by Paul Blange.
Broussard’s has a long standing tradition of serving some of the finest food in New Orleans. Another restaurant in the heart of Bourbon Street, Broussard’s seems to transport you to another time and place with its hand painted tiles, lush court yard and three individually styled dining rooms. Having been inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame, Broussard’s is truly an experience to remember. The upscale dining experience is matched, if not bested, by the food. Traditional Creole food served with a uniquely American touch makes Broussard’s a must for fine dining enthusiasts in New Orleans.
This beautiful Victorian home, tucked amid the Greek Revival homes of the Garden District is hard to miss and with good reason. If the stately elegance of the Commander’s Palace restaurant doesn’t attract you then the incredible aroma’s wafting out of its kitchen will draw you in. The cuisine is Creole inspired with deep nods to the local Louisiana culture. In fact Chef Tory McPhail has come up with a motto of “dirt to plate within 100 miles” meaning he strives to bring 90% of the ingredients to your plate from within a 100 mile radius of the restaurant. One of the keys to doing this are the 1403 herbs grown on the very roof of the Commander’s Palace. It would be difficult to find another restaurant that embraces the flavors of the region with as much reverence.
You can’t think about New Orleans cuisine without the name Emeril Lagasse coming to mind. So why not take a stab at Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant, the most upscale of his restaurants in the region. This restaurant has been a local standard since 1895 and has been under the leadership of Emeril since 1997. Unfortunately Katrina ravaged the restaurant but it’s been rebuilt and is once again alive and kicking with Creole energy.
Galvez Restaurant takes a new approach to the old flavors of New Orleans. Rather than focusing on the French, Creole, and Cajun flavors Galvez Restaurant pays homage to the continental Spanish roots of the city and brings these flavors to the fore. Served in Spanish style with small tapas plates you get to explore and experience many of their signature dishes and flavor profiles.
GW Fins serves the fines seafood around and insists on using only the freshest local seafood at their peak which is why each day brings a new menu to the table. Voted one of the Top 20 Best New Restaurants in America, this jewel is not to be missed, especially if you’re in the mood for some incredible seafood served with a New Orleans sensibility.
Jean Lafitte’s Bistro
Jean Lafitte’s Bistro is an incredibly beautiful restaurant with hand painted murals, early 19th century art, crystal chandeliers and an authentic 1807 fireplace. The Moran family is known throughout the French Quarter for its successful restaurants, Jean Lafitte Bistro is their latest addition to the family. Their twist on traditional New Orleans offerings is to bring you fresh, local and flavorful foods full of seasoning and spice but never burning with heat.
Le Meritage is a creative approach to dining where the focus is actually more on the wine than the meal but don’t be mislead the food is still the star. The menu features six categories of wine separated by their characteristics and the dishes are then designed to complement the flavor profiles. You can choose to have the dishes tapas style or as a full meal. I recommend going with the small plates so you have room to taste more of the incredible fare at Le Meritage.
You’ve probably seen pictures of The Embers and didn’t realize you were looking at one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in New Orleans. Built in the late 1800’s the building eventually became the Bourbon House and served many locals, tourists and celebrities throughout its years. These days The Embers is known for its fresh Louisiana seafood, prime steaks, and authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there’s nothing quite like enjoying the fine dining experience of The Embers from one of the best known buildings right in the heart of Bourbon Street.
Photo credit: gary j wood