Ok fall, we get it, you’re here. Summer Fridays are over, Hamptons season has come to a screeching halt and my last BIG trip has already come and gone. Although the fall season seems a little daunting and doesn’t leave much room for international travel (for most), there’s still many domestic destinations that are filled with culture to appease that feeling of exploration and discovery with a quick weekend getaway. Combining all things Cajun, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Po Boys and Crawfish, (yea, we’re talkin New Orleans food), travelers can certainly eat their way through NOLA with their eclectic dining options.. oh, and there’s art and jazz too (and sometimes boobs-gasp!). Insert jazz hands and throw on a bib and let’s ‘virtually’ explore The Big Easy..
Here’s the “Best Of” New Orleans’ from eats to drinks :
WHERE TO EAT:
SYLVAIN (625 Chartres Street, New Orleans, La. 70130, www.sylvainnola.com)
Executive Chef Martha Wiggins
Located in the French Quarter, Sylvain is a refreshingly modern approach to traditional gastropub fare. Led by executive chef Martha Wiggins, the cuisine at Sylvain is sophisticated yet still approachable and comforting. The straightforward approach to cooking and fresh ingredients carries over the beverage program where the classics are paired with craft cocktails and whiskies.
BARREL PROOF (1201 Magazine Street, New Orleans, La., www.barrelproofnola.com)
This neighborhood bar offers an impressive list of whiskeys and beer in an environment without pretension. Barrel Proof moves away from the overly complicated cocktail trend. The menu features over 160 different whiskeys and over 60 beers, all organized by where each is made and who’s making it, offering something for everyone in terms of taste and price. The menu also includes a curated list of shot and beer pairings.
MEAUXBAR (942 North Rampart Street, New Orleans, La. 70116, www.meauxbar.com)
Executive Chef Kristen Essig
Meauxbar offers an eclectic take on seasonally focused, French-based cuisine. This French Quarter neighborhood favorite touts reimagined bistro fare ranging from decadent to light and flavorful. Located on the picturesque corner of the Vieux Carré in New Orleans, Meauxbar is a vibrant neighborhood gem. A typical evening finds an eclectic mix of French Quarter residents, local from across the city, as well as out of town visitors. Accessible and smart, the food, wine and cocktails are reflected in locally inspired modern bistro fare with a unique worldview.
ANTOINE’S RESTAURANT (713 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130,www.antoines.com)
Antoine’s Restaurant has a 175 year-old legacy and is still owned and operated by fifth generation relatives of the original founder, Antoine Alciatore. The world-renowned French-Creole cuisine, impeccable service & unique atmosphere have combined to create an unmatched dining experience in New Orleans since 1840. A must try destination as one of the longest-running restaurants making history on the culinary dining scene.
EMERIL’S NEW ORLEANS (800 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans)
BAM! Emeril Lagasse’s famed flagship restaurant is housed in a renovated pharmacy warehouse in New Orleans’ Warehouse District and has been open since 1990 with many rave reviews, including Esquire magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year” and Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award” for 14 consecutive years. At the helm is chef de cuisine David Slater, who works closely with Chef Emeril to push culinary boundaries and deliver bold and diverse flavors with menu options ranging from Shrimp Mac & Cheese and Andouille encrusted drum over shoestring potatoes to a re-interpreted frutti di mare but made with angel hair pasta and crawfish.
NOLA ( 534 St. Louis Street)
The casual and funky sister to flagship restaurant, Emeril’s New Orleans, NOLA is chef/restaurateur Emeril Lagasse’s hip eatery in the center of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Open since 1992, the critically-acclaimed restaurant fuses traditional Creole, Acadian and Southern cuisine with global influences, rustic Louisiana cooking with local ingredients and some ethnic twists. The star of the menu is Miss Hay’s Stuffed Chicken Wings; deboned and stuffed with a mixture of ground pork and chopped shrimp and served with a homemade garlicky hoison sauce. Other creations include Duck Confit and Fried Egg Pizza and contemporary twists on classic New Orleans sides such as patatas bravas, smoked cheddar grits, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes and more. The three-story restaurant is located in a renovated warehouse with a lively New Orleans atmosphere, open kitchen and signature wood-fired brick oven where guests can sit at The Chef’s Food Bar and oversee the action.
**NEW** COMPERE LAPIN (Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery)
For all-things-culinary at Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans’ Warehouse Arts District, Provenance Hotels has partnered with Chef Nina Compton to launch this exciting new restaurant. Formerly of the critically-acclaimed Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, where she worked under celeb chef/restaurateur Scott Conant, Compton brings to Old No. 77 close to 15 years’ experience in the industry and a unique style melding Caribbean flavors, French technique and a mastery of Italian cookery. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Top Chef: New Orleans alumnus, Compton – as chef/partner of Old No. 77 – will oversee the property’s food & beverage concerns as well as helm Compère Lapin. Open since June 2015, it has been the Crescent City’s most buzzed about restaurant since news of it broke earlier this year. The menu is as diverse, colorful and tempting as the city itself with offerings ranging from Scotch eggs and andouille sausage and curried goat and sweet plantation gnocchi to roasted drum and smoked banana torta. With a beverage program overseen by powerhouse cocktail team Ricky Gomez, Zack Augustin and Abigail Gullo, Compère Lapin is one of the hot new restaurants in NOLA in 2015.
GRAND ISLE (575 Convention Center Boulevard, on the Fulton Street promenade)
The modern seafood eatery first opened its doors on the Fulton Street pedestrian promenade in downtown New Orleans in 2007. Most recently, Executive Chef Ryan Haigler unveiled an array of exciting new dishes in March 2015. The restaurant also revealed its recent refurbishments, featuring new private dining options, as well as a delightful al fresco dining and lounge space, situated on Lafayette Street. Haigler, formerly of Restaurant Revolution and Le Petite Grocery, brings his signature style to Grand Isle, both refined and rustic, modernizing and elevating the seafood-centric menu. Featuring contemporary appetizers such as crispy calamari accompanied by a Vietnamese-inspired Covey Rise green garlic & sesame vinaigrette; fried crawfish tails with preserved lemon and a pickled jalapeño; a rotating selection of seasonal crudo, soups, and salads. Desserts feature warm white chocolate bread pudding, chocolate truffle cake, lemon ice box pie, and Steen’s Cane Syrup bourbon pecan pie. With seating for 64, new rustic outdoor area features tables made of reclaimed wood from the Green Project with galvanized steel legs (handmade by Grand Isle General Manager/Partner Jeff Hof), couches and low-slung lounge-style tables and a fresh herb garden.
EMERIL’S DELMONICO (1300 St. Charles Avenue)
Delmonico has been a culinary institution since 1895, serving as the industry leader for traditional Creole fare. One of Chef Emeril’s three New Orleans based restaurants, Delmonico is located in the Garden District on the famed St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. The culinary hub serves modern Louisiana Creole cuisine using innovative ingredients and techniques that have been long forgotten to reinterpret the dishes for today’s tastes that are quintessentially “New New Orleans”. Overseen by New Orleans native, Anthony Scanio as Chef de Cuisine, the menu features a rotating selection of house-cured charcuterie including capocollos and duck prosciutto as well as cheeses and house favorites such as succulent Crispy Pork Cheek with dirty rice and scallions; sweet and spicy Dry-Aged Moulard Duck Breast with corn maque choux and Brussels sprouts; also Louisiana Drum meuniére with local blue crabmeat.
WHAT TO DO:
SOUTHERN FOOD & BEVERAGE MUSEUM (SoFAB)/ MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL (MOTAC):
In September 2014, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB) opened in its new location at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in the renovated Dryades Market, a public food market which first opened in New Orleans in 1847. Named as one of 2015’s “11 of the World’s Top Food Museums” by CNN, SoFAB is a division of the nonprofit SoFAB Institute, which celebrates the food and drink of all cultures, with a focus on the history of cuisine and cocktails, through a variety of exhibits, programming, and a range of media. Located inside SoFAB are The Museum of the American Cocktail’s (MOTAC) New Orleans collection; Purloo, Chef Ryan Hughes’s living exhibit and restaurant celebrating the flavors and culinary traditions of the South; and spectacular new exhibits, including La Galerie d’Absinthe and a commemoration of Antoine’s 175th Anniversary. www.sofabinstitute.org