Don't kill the messenger. I know there are upscale restaurants that aren't on this list. If I included all the fine restaurants, the article would include be "The top Hundreds of Upscale Restaurants."
Some are "finer" than others in terms of ambience and elegance, but all are top-ten where food is concerned. I wanted to give you a cross section of Creole, a touch of Cajun, historic food and restaurants, and ones with more modern cuisine. Also, these are places I've eaten and find worth presenting to you.
All have great food, very comfortable to elegant atmospheres, good service and a unique personality. Enjoy!
Antoine's Restaurant was established in 1840 and is the oldest family-run restaurant in the country. Owner operated for more than 150 years by the Alciatore/Guste family, Antoine's launched New Orleans as one of the great cities in the world for fine dining.
Lasting through the Civil War, two World Wars, Prohibition and the Great Depression, Antoine's is full of history, literally and figuratively, with its antique silver duck press, a Paris cookbook from 1659, and other treasures.
The real treasures here are on the plates: Crawfish bisque, Trout Pontchartrain, Creole Gumbo, Oysters Rockefeller (their creation), Antoine’s special Baked Alaska, and Café brulot--hot spiced coffee flamed at your table with brandy.
Tucked inside a 200 year old Creole cottage in the French Quarter, with a lovely patio for dining, Bayona parlays top-quality ingredients into its own unique flavors. You may taste elements of the Far East, France, Italy, North Africa and the Mediterranean as well as the United States.
Founded in 1990 by internationally known chef Susan Spicer and Regina Keever, Bayona offers such unusual fare as Grilled Duck Breast with Pepper Jelly Glaze; Crispy Croutons in a Madeira Cream Sauce with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms; Seared Sea Scallops and Mirliton Slaw on White Corn Tostada, Avocado, Chipotle; Pan Roasted Flounder with Smoked Tomato Butter, Dirty Rice and Smothered Greens; Mocha Banana Torte with Pecan Croquant; Petit Four Plate and much more.
3. Bon Ton Café
Bon Ton Café is housed in the historic 1840s Natchez Building, and is New Orlean's oldest Cajun restaurant. Owned by the Pierce family from its inception, Bon Ton prides itself on its traditional, century-old Cajun family recipes. Comfortable and stylish, the Bon Ton offers a friendly staff and a memorable dining experience.
It is known for its crawfish dishes, but also includes such favorites as Shrimp Remoulade Salad; Shrimp & Crab Okra Gumbo; Eggplant, Shrimp & Crab Étouffée with Parsley Buttered Rice; Grilled Fillet of Fresh Gulf Fish Topped with Grilled Louisiana Oysters (or Shrimp), and steaks. Dinners are served with a choice of vegetables. Mouthwatering desserts include Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, and Pecan Crunch Ice Cream.
Brennan's opened in its current Royal Street location in 1956. "Breakfast at Brennan's" is a must for visitors to New Orleans. The famous Bananas Foster and Eggs Hussarde were both created here, and the Bananas Foster, dramatically prepared at table side is a dining delight all its own.
Dinner here is a romantic experience as candles flicker on the tables, reflecting the flickering gas lights in the courtyard. The recipes include fresh local seafood, baby milk-fed veal, and prime succulent beef--Trout Nancy, Veal Kottwitz and Tournedos Chanteclair, to name a few.
Your choices within the 4-course prix fixe dinner might include Oyster Soup Brennan, Brennan's Salad with Creole Dressing , Shrimp Sardou, and Creole Chocolate Suicide Cake.
Set in the beautiful Garden District of New Orleans, Commander's Palace tempts the diner with its stand-out of a turquoise and white Victorian building, complete with turrets, columns, and gingerbread. The Garden District is, itself, a draw and many people wander through, marveling at the beautiful buildings after a delicious meal.
Offerings here include Creole creations, those of American origin, and many of its own devising, such as Turtle Soup, Gumbo Yaya, Foie Gras du Monde, Crab and Caviar, and Crawfish Maque Choux . The three course specials include soup or salad, entree, and dessert. A must for Brunch is the incredible Eggs Couchon De Lait. Dessert temptations include Creole Bread Pudding Souffle & Warm Cherry Roasted Pecan Tart.
6. GW Fins
This French Quarter restaurant prides itself on having fish flown in daily from around the world, and also features the best fish from local waters at their seasonal peak. The daily menu is determined by the freshest of available fish. Fins is romantic, yet comfortable, and known for its excellent service. It was awarded Esquire’s esteemed “Top 20 Best New Restaurants in America."
Their featured dishes include lobster dumplings, wood grilled sea scallops with a wild mushroom risotto, cashew peppercorn swordfish, and Louisiana favorites such as Seafood Gumbo, Crispy Fried Softshell Crab, and Shrimp Remoulade.
A not-to-miss dessert is the individual apple pie with a cheddar cheese straw crust and fresh vanilla bean ice cream.
This 1700s building has had many incarnations, including a private house, saloon, pasta factory, grocery store, spaghetti restaurant and--finally--Muriel's. My husband and I accidently discovered Muriel's one day while strolling around Jackson Square at lunchtime. We took one look at the menu and zoomed in.
It was difficult to choose from the large selection, but narrowed it down to ones with Cajun ingredients I loved growing up (Muriel's is known for Creole food):
- New Orleans Seafood Gumbo
- Pecan crusted Louisiana alligator, flash fried and served with a mirliton, carrot and red Onion Slaw; accompanied by pepper jelly
- Duck Confit Dirty Rice
- Shrimp and Eggplant stuffing
- Pain Perdu Bread pudding with Candied Pecans & Rum Sauce
In 1990, owners Richard and Jean Hughes turned this neglected architectural gem of a 19th-century French Quarter townhouse into a welcoming restaurant, with both a traditional and contemporary feel.
I was determined to eat at the Pelican Club as it was highly recommended by many visitors during the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in New Orleans.
A group of us went, and ordered as much as we could, sharing everything. Just some of our favorites included:
- Pelican Club Baked Oysters
- Crab and Corn Bisque
- Trio of Duck: sliced breast, confit, barbeque
- Gulf Fish w/Crawfish Étouffée
- Lump Crabmeat and Shrimp Cakes with a Fried Green Tomato Chutney & Remoulade Sauce
- Banana & Blueberry Bread Pudding
A Cajun friend who grew up in Louisiana never visits New Orleans, where he and his wife have an apartment, without going to Tujague's in the French Quarter for beef brisket.
Creole chefs serve the freshest produce of the day, and that is the case here. The 6-course dinner includes everything from appetizers through dessert, with hot French bread. The diner has the choice of one of four entrees with the prie fixe meal. Some favorites are Shrimp with its piquant Remoulade Sauce, and Tujague's traditional Beef Brisket--succulent chunks of beef boiled with aromatic vegetables, and served with horseradish sauce.
The Bread Pudding and Pecan Pie end the not-to-be-forgotten meal, along with the absolute necessity of rich dark-roast coffee.