A Chefs’ Guide to Eating Out in New Orleans
New Orleans is the land of beignets, gumbo, po’ boys, and étouffée. The city’s signature Creole food—influenced by the Native American, West African, Haitian, French, Spanish, German, and Italian immigrants who found their way to Louisiana before it was even part of the US—is one of America’s first fusion cuisines.
The city has always been a great place to schedule all your vacation activities—live music on Frenchmen, City Park’s sculpture garden, the tomb of Marie Laveau, or maybe a second line or two—around your dining schedule. That is, if you can actually squeeze in activities aside from eating and drinking. This is the land of hurricanes and frozen daiquiris, after all, where a stroll down Bourbon Street or a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar can easily give way to a full-blown bar crawl, with intermissions for char-grilled oysters, cochon de lait, or a snowball, of course.
But, like the city itself, the cuisine of New Orleans is forever changing. These days, you’re just as likely to come across Vietnamese po’ boys and braised-greens street tacos as you are traditional eggs Sardou, turtle soup, or soufflé potatoes. From Danish-inspired aebelskivers, to Vietnamese-inflected Mardi Gras king cakes, to whole pompano roasted Uruguayan asado–style over an open flame, New Orleans has so much going on that it can be hard to know where to start.
Luckily, a handful of the city’s favorite chefs are here to help. They include Michael Gulotta, chef and owner of Maypop and MoPho, two Southeast Asian–inspired restaurants pushing the boundaries of modern Creole; Nina Compton, chef-owner of Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, where she and her partner, Executive Chef Levi Raines, are killing it; Hieu Than, chef-owner of the creative and beloved Gert Town ramen shack called Kin; Ana Castro, sous-chef at Thalia, the highly anticipated spin-off of New Orleans favorite Coquette; and Joaquin Rodas, longtime chef of Bacchanal, the backyard hangout that put Bywater dining on the map.
These are their favorite places for late-night snacks, drinks, breakfast and brunch, special-occasion meals, and, of course, some very iconic New Orleans staples. Read on to find out where the Big Easy’s chefs eat.