Eat + Drink

From Apps to Dessert: How to Have a Memorable Meal in New Orleans

(Photo: Troels Graugaard/Getty Images)

New Orleans food is legendary, from the 200-year-old classics of Creole cuisine to the fresh upstarts emerging from the ever-inventive, constantly-evolving restaurant scene. Here are five dishes, old and new, that stand out in the city’s massive library of menus:

  1. Souffle potatoes at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. In the cozy jewel-box of a bar that adjoins one of New Orleans’ grande dame restaurants, the humble potato is elevated: light-as-air potato balloons halfway between chip and French fry, with a dusting of salt and Bearnaise for dipping, they make the most elegant of simple snacks. Bonus: the bar is a destination for expertly-built cocktails, from the classic beverage that gives the spot its name to original creations from its award-winning chief libationist Chris Hannah. Take a trip upstairs to view an eccentric collection of Mardi Gras gowns and other memorabilia.
  2. Roasted Whole Cauliflower at Domenica. Cauliflower for dinner in New Orleans? Yes, really. Chef Alon Shaya, who calls John Besh’s bustling downtown Italian spot home, roasts whole heads to a caramelized crisp in the same wood-burning oven the restaurant uses for its signature pizzas. The appetizer is served with tangy whipped goat cheese on the side.
  3. Whole grilled fish at Peche Seafood Grill. Peche, in the gallery-and-museum-packed Warehouse District, is award-winning Chef Donald Link’s latest effort, and so far it’s been a home run. In 2014, it received the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for best new restaurant. Sourcing the nearby Gulf of Mexico, Peche — which also features a raw bar — presents its seafood with less heavy sauces or batter-frying than is traditional in Louisiana cuisine. The signature whole grilled fish with herbaceous green sauce is fresh, local cooking at its best.
  4. The Notorious Bacon Sundae at Green Goddess. Tucked away in a picturesque French Quarter alley, Green Goddess has a reputation for fanciful, innovative vegetarian and vegan-friendly food, not easy to come by in the indulgence-friendly Big Easy. But, it wouldn’t be New Orleans without a little bit of decadence, and to that end Green Goddess presents its “notorious” signature dessert: locally-made coffee pecan brittle ice cream from the Creole Creamery, topped with Nueske’s applewood bacon in a bacon caramel sauce and finished with smoked whipped cream, a Luxardo cherry and a dusting of black lava salt.
  5. Café Brulot at Galatoire’s. The century-old Galatoire’s is a bastion of old New Orleans glamour amid the strip clubs and frozen-daiquiri stands of Bourbon Street. A meal in its tiled and mirrored dining room is a tour of the best in classic Creole cuisine, from Shrimp Remoulade to Trout Amandine. And you’d be a fool not to top off such a meal with the truly over-the-top creation Café Brulot. Hot, strong black coffee is spiked with cloves, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks, oranges, brandy and Cointreau. Then, at tableside in a silver bowl, the whole thing is set on fire.