A lot of you have emailed me over the course of the past year, asking about good places to eat and sight-see in the New Orleans area. I could write a book on that topic, and since I'm once of the city's biggest cheerleaders, I thought I would write a Scottie Watch City Guide to encourage all you readers to visit!
I've been planning this for quite a while, but it's taken me some time to sit down and write it out. The guide is kind of rough right now, but I plan on going back and adding to it as I find new places or think of ones I forgot to add! I'm also going to add a quilt shop section at the bottom when I have some extra time.
I'm adding a link on the sidebar to this post, so you'll be able to find it easily when you decide to come down and visit this fabulous city (and fabric shop with me, hehe!)
- LUKE (333 St. Charles Ave.)
Right behind EAT, this restaurant is next in line as my go-to restaurant for out-of-town visitors. It’s my favorite John Besh restaurant, because it’s a little more casual and the food is fantastic. It’s also nice if you have a picky eater, because they have sandwiches and exceptionally tasty french fries. I also think anyone who enters that restaurant shouldn’t be allowed to leave without trying the Bacon, Avocado & Oyster Salad. Now now. I know what you’re thinking ‘but Kaelin, oysters are disgusting’…and you’d be right…if we weren’t talking about the most delicious fried oysters in the world! Trust me. I hate oysters too, but this salad is the one exception. It will blow your mind.
- Recommendations: Bacon, Avocado & Oyster Salad, Pressed Pork Sandwich (Cochon de Lait), Poulan Grand Mere
- DOMENICA (123 Baronne St.)
You can’t go wrong with John Besh. If you’re not used to tapas-style a la carte ordering, the menu might look a little crazy. The regular menu is worth ordering from because everything is good, but it can add up quickly. If you’re watching your wallet or don’t want to order a bunch of small dishes, I recommend the Lasagna or their pizzas. Their pizzas are incredible, and can easily feed 2-3 (depending on how hungry you are).
- Recommendations: Lasagna Bolognese, Tutto Carne, Bolzano Pizza, Ricotta Frittole
- EAT (900 Dumaine St. [intersection of Dauphine & Dumaine])
This is my go-to restaurant when someone comes into town. It’s in the FQ (which most people want to see), it’s a tasty mixture of New Orleans cuisine and Southern comfort food, and it’s nice without being fancy and uber-expensive. The chef and waitstaff are incredibly nice (my favorites are Kenny and Nate), and the prices are more than reasonable considering they buy locally and make everything from scratch. I’m not kidding. Even the mayo is made in-house.
- Recommendations: Everything is good, but I dream about their BLT, and you should definitely check out their evening specials. It’s a rare event I don’t order the special, because that’s where the chef really shines. The most amazing one I remember was pulled pork served over bacon infused wilted greens and jalapeno cornbread, all served in a mini cast-iron skillet. To. Die. For.
- BAYONA (430 Dauphine St.)
This is where you go to make a memory. If you want to get all gussied up and have a dining experience in New Orleans, then Bayona is the place to go. In my honest opinion, Bayona has the best food in the city. The owner & head chef Susan Spicer is a genius. If I could afford it, I would eat there once a month.
- Recommendations: Niman Ranch Pork Chop (listen to their recommendation on cooking time - another person in our party ordered the same thing and wanted it cooked longer than suggested, and his ended up being tough as leather, while mine was like cutting butter!)
- ELIZABETH’S (601 Gallier St.)
This restaurant is in the same vein as EAT. It’s southern comfort food with a local twist. It’s just outside the Quarter and isn’t much to look at from the outside... if a friend (who was born and raised in the area) hadn't invited me here, I never would have thought to walk in this place! When you pull up and realize you have to park in a gravel lot on the levee across the street, you might feel inclined to turn and run. Don’t be scared. It’s nice and clean inside, and a little bohemian. (which is always fun :) ) It’s definitely a "locals" place.
- Recommendations: Breakfast is my favorite. Try the Stuffed French Toast, Praline Bacon, or Grillades & Grits.
MAGAZINE STREET/GARDEN DISTRICT
Magazine Street is a really cool, kinda eclectic shopping district in the heart of the city. It consists mostly of independently owned shops with lots of handmade items by local artists and crafters - shopping there is a great way to support the community :) I'd recommend parking somewhere along Magazine and spending an entire day walking down the street browsing and eating. It's located in the middle of the Garden District a few streets down from St. Charles, so it's a beautifully landscaped and historic area. For me, a perfect afternoon in New Orleans would involve friends, lunch at Gott Gourmet, and afterwards some gelato across the street at La Divina :)
- Sucre (3025 Magazine St.)
Super cute gelato and chocolate shop on Magazine Street. Their gelato is really good and the atmosphere is lovely (especially for an afternoon with the ladies), but personally I think the gelateria a few doors down, La Divina, is better.
- Recommendation: Strawberry Shortcake Gelato,
- La Divina (3005 Magazine St.)Like I said above, I think their gelato is the best. They have some really creative and delicious flavors!
- Recommendations: Honey Sesame Goat's Milk, Sour Cherry, Dulce de Leche, Blackberry Creole Cream Cheese
- Gott Gourmet Cafe (3100 Magazine St.)
There are so many inexpensive restaurants that serve amazing food in New Orleans. I don't understand why anyone here would go to a sit-down, chain restaurant when they could get a delicious & fresh lunch at someplace like Gott's for the same price. Gott's is a very casual cafe that has a little something for everyone. Your kids can have a hot dog and fries, while you enjoy a nice adult/artisan sandwich or salad with a little bit of local flavor.
- Recommendations: Smothered Pearl Po Boy Panini, Mini Fresh Mozzarella Panini, Gott Salad
- Slim Goodies Diner (3322 Magazine St.)
If you want a hearty, cheap, no-frills southern breakfast, this is your place. Good eggs and coffee.
- Byblos (3218 Magazine St.)
There are a handful of locations throughout the area, but this is by far the nicest (their other locations are basically deli counters). Their food is delicious (I dream about their hummos) and if you're looking for a nice, quiet air-conditioned lunch, this is your place.
- Recommendations: Stuffed Kibbeh, Cheese Fingers, Hummos (appetizers), Kafta Kabob, Byblos Pasta, Vegetarian Platter (entrees), Baklava (dessert)
- Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave.)
I think the food is slightly better at Bayona, but the service and atmosphere at Commander's Palace is unsurpassed. It's another one of those amazing "experience" restaurants in New Orleans, so put on your heels, find someone to watch the kids, and make a memory (just don't expect that memory to cost under $100 for two people...I promise it's worth every penny!)
- Recommendations: Soups 1-1-1, Shrimp & Tasso Henican (appetizers), Strawberry Shortcake, Creme Brulee (desserts)
- Cowbell (8801 Oak St.)
You might wonder where the heck I'm leading you as you drive up, because it's an old train station located next to a railroad track just off Carrollton & St. Charles. But once you see the line of people waiting outside for dinner, you'll understand why.
- Recommendations: Grilled Fish Tacos, Fresh Made Apple Pie
- Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagan Ave)
Hands down, they have the best Fried Shrimp Poboy and Sweet Potato fries I've eaten in New Orleans. Yum yum!
- Angelo Brocato’s (214 N. Carrollton Ave.)
If you're looking for a nice scenic afternoon, I'd recommend taking a trolley ride down Carrollton to City Park and stopping for ice cream along the way. This place has been around forever and their ice cream and canolis are to die for! I don't even like pistachio ice cream, but their pistachio flavor is the best ice cream I've ever tasted (and I've eaten a lot of ice cream...in a lot of different cities...trust me on this one ;) )
- Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine St.)
A very cute little zoo. It's not huge and impressive like the Brookfield Zoo, but it's clean, the employees are nice, and the landscaping is gorgeous...reminds me a little bit of the San Diego Zoo in that regard.
- Laura Plantation (2247 Highway 18, Vacherie, LA)
Most people go to Vacherie to see Oak Alley Plantation (the one they always show in movies with the Live Oak-lined drive), but the Laura Plantation is the real gem. It's by far the most historically interesting and well-done tour I've been on. My parents were the "eduational vacation" kind, so I've been on lots and lots of historical tours. If you don't want to rent a car and drive all the way out, at least read about the history on their website. Pretty cool stuff. It's small compared to Oak Alley, but it's more quaint and less commercial than it's counterpart down the road. You should definitely visit both, but spend more or your time and money here.
- New Orleans Museum of Art (One Collins Diboll Circle, City Park)
It's fairly small, but has a surprisingly nice collection due to the age of the museum and history of the area. It's in the middle of City Park, so if you have kiddos, you can let them run around outside afterward :) I'd also recommend making pit-stops at Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Angelo Brocato's while you're in the area (see above).