August 28, 2023

An Evolving Food Scene in New Orleans – 10 Restaurants to Try

There is nothing like New Orleans style cooking. However, it can get really old really fast if that’s all you’re eating in our beloved city of New Orleans. More and more, I am seeing other really amazing options among the good old faithfuls we know so well. Personally, I love nothing more than to try foods from around the world…right in our backyard. It’s kind of like living in Epcot. We have so many countries representing our evolving food scene in New Orleans in a big way. The food at the restaurants I’m about to highlight is stellar, and while I’m no food critic, my bar is really high. For someone who likes to shop at the farmers market for primo ingredients and eat at home most of the time, it’s a big deal to eat out. I’ll share my local favorites that I happily go back to over and over. You’ll find something on this list you’ll love, too. I’m confident of that.

Saj - Shot from Saj's Instagram

Saj - Mediterranean

Truly a most delicious and delightful experience, eating at Saj is like none other in this city. It’s chic and clean, there are both booths and tables from which to choose, and the food is out of this world. A top contributor to the evolving food scene in New Orleans, I had been wanting to try Saj for a long time and finally went for lunch one day. To my dismay, there was no alcohol on the menu. Never to fear, though: it’s BYOB. The best part is that there is no corkage fee. We are in New Orleans, after all, and having a cocktail is most appropriate on a fun evening out, or a Friday lunch in my case. This fresh food will leaving you wanting more. The bread is hot and steamy, the baklava is dripping with honey, and the main courses come in copious amounts. Eat your heart out at Saj, and don’t forget your bottle of wine!

From the Bathroom at 14 Parishes!

14 Parishes - Jamaican

What a surprise of a gem to me, this 14 Parishes restaurant. The word on the street was that this place was really good to eat, and an assist in our evolving food scene in New Orleans, so we popped in there and ate at the bar. The menu was abundant, but we got a few shareable plates, including jerk chicken wings, a salad, plantains (SO GOOD), and a kingfish dish. All were outstanding and I couldn’t have left happier. The location is in on one of my favorite streets, Oak Street in the Carrollton area, and it fits right in amongst the other stellar restaurants around it. The drink menu is far too good, and we ended up spending 40% of our bill on Jamaican-style mixed cocktails. After all, no one can drink just one. At least I couldn’t.

Our Favorite Sushi Chefs!

Shogun - Japanese

This place is a true establishment right outside New Orleans in Metairie, and one of the OGs of the evolving food scene in New Orleans (metro area in this case). It’s very easy to get to, and you won’t regret your trip to Shogun. Shogun was the first place I ever tried sushi, and if i’m lucky, it will be the last place I eat sushi, whenever that day may come. We’ve discovered the secret of how to order: sit at the sushi bar and ask the chef to make you what’s fresh, whatever he thinks will do. Our typical combination is nigiri, baked green mussels, and some type of sushi roll. A plum wine is always on order when I go there, and a great time is always had. If you prefer hibachi (which I happen to not) then you are in luck. They have multiple hibachi tables and some really fun chefs who love to pop shrimp in your mouth. Shogun is a crowd favorite if authentic Japanese food is your jam. There is always a line, because the word’s out: it’s the best in town.

Cafe Degas with an Out-of-Town Friend

Cafe Degas - French

One of my favorite restaurants in the entire city is Cafe Degas. I remember the first time I went there in my mid-20s, and I was hooked. My affinity with Paris is somewhat placated when I sit on the open air porch looking out onto Esplanade Avenue. Each time I go, I am overjoyed with the cuisine and the wine list. They have many French staple dishes to choose from, and their dessert is equally as authentic. My very favorite dishes are mussels with frites, quiche, the crabmeat salad, and the onion soup. Cafe Degas really elevated the evolving food scene in New Orleans from the get-go, and they are one of those places practically everyone who lives here has been. If you want a dreamy lunch or dinner out, this is your spot. Go with friends or a date, and you’ll experience your own joie de vivre.

Amazing Addis!

Addis - Ethiopian

Yum. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or a meat eater, this is an outstanding mix of delicious Ethiopian cuisine. It’s also one of the best contributions to our ever evolving food scene in New Orleans. I would doubt they have a bad thing on the menu, although I haven’t had every single thing. On Saturday and Sunday they host a brunch that includes much of the afternoon, so you may find some fun in going then after sleeping in. As I pulled from their website, it is only one of two Ethiopian restaurants in the whole state of Louisiana. It’s also black owned, which our city is very enthusiastic about supporting. Run, don’t walk, to Addis. If you don’t know what to order, just ask them. They will be happy to help you choose something outstanding to put in your belly. I guarantee you’ll be back for more.

Wine Time at Osteria Lupo - This Shot Was on Their Instagram

Osteria Lupo - Italian

When I tell you they have the best wine list I’ve seen, I’m not lying! My husband and I went to Northern Italy and discovered Northern Italian wine, which, come to find out, is not that easy to find outside of Northern Italy. Enter Osteria Lupo, thank goodness, an Italian restaurant that greatly represents an evolving food scene in New Orleans due to the focus on the north and not southern Italian cuisine. A friend and I went there and luckily she likes to share plates as much as I do, so we ordered a bunch of stuff. Everything was outstanding. The wine, though, was the show stopper for me. I’m very pleased they started opening for lunch a couple of days a week, and I recommend the place to everyone coming to New Orleans. It’s just a great place and a great location in the heart of uptown. Make sure to make a reservation, though. They book up quickly.

Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco - Peruvian

Quaint and concise, and oh so delicious, this little hidden gem has been on Magazine Street for years, making Tito's one of the earlier adopters of an evolving food scene in New Orleans. As their name indicates, they specialize in different ceviches and Pisco cocktails. It’s a true feast for the palate, and I’ve never had a bad meal here. The interior restaurant itself is on the smaller side, but on a nice day you can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air right off of busy Magazine Street. I love the facade, which is covered in vines because it adds to the whole mood of the place. It’s a fantastic place to pop in after or during a little shopping on the infamous street. For some really great food and a wonderful dining experience, I highly recommend this place.

Dinner is Served at Baru (from Baru's Instagram)!

Baru - Latin Caribbean

At one point I may have gone to this restaurant monthly. I have celebrated my birthday at Baru, taken clients to eat there, and acknowledged it in its early days as a favorite in the evolving food scene in New Orleans. The vibrant purple building lets you know you’re walking into a Caribbean atmosphere, and the food is absolutely delightful. I’ve had most of what’s on their menu (sans beef or pork dishes) and enjoyed every single thing. My favorites are the guacabello and Tiradito, so please do yourself a favor and get those. This is a restaurant that has stood the test of time and never disappointed in quality. It definitely started my interest in this evolving food scene in New Orleans, as it was so different from anywhere else when it opened. I’m a huge fan for life.

Patio Sitting at Lebanon's Cafe

Lebanon’s Cafe - Middle Eastern

By far the best Middle Eastern food in the city, if you ask me. If you’re reading this, I guess you are kind of asking me. Another BYOB situation, you can sit outside on beautiful Carrollton Avenue and enjoy the streetcar pass by while eating the most delicious hummus and sipping your wine. As I’m writing this, I’m making myself want to go there and get some of everything on the menu. My very favorite thing to order is their vegetarian plate, which has hummus, baba ganuj, tabouleh and falafel. All are my favorites, don’t make me choose. There’s nothing better than a great weather evening with a bottle of wine and Lebanon’s Cafe. I would doubt they tout anything about being a front-runner on the evolving food scene in New Orleans, but they certainly are. Casual and laid-back and a neighborhood favorite, it’s a big recommendation from me.

Saenger after a Meal at Palm & Pine

Palm & Pine - Caribbean/Mexico/Central America

One of the several reasons I love Palm & Pine is their partnership with local food vendors. They source fresh, local ingredients and end up producing dishes that make your mouth and stomach sing. When I book tickets at the Saenger for a show, this is one of my go-to places to eat because of its proximity to the theater. The big bonus is that it’s freaking amazing food, and a wonderful atmosphere. I love this place and am so happy they chose to open as a contender in the evolving food scene in New Orleans. Every single thing on their menu is good that we’ve had, and I can’t wait to go back. Another win for Caribbean food in New Orleans. We are, after all, the most norther Caribbean city in the United States, right?

What’s for Dinner?

When it comes eating in New Orleans, people think of red beans and rice, jambalaya, and shrimp and grits. Jump on the train of trying different foods and try a couple from my list of restaurants associated with an evolving food scene in New Orleans. They are all tried and true, and places you’ll find me eating out at myself. Like I said earlier, it’s a hard sell for me to eat something other than my own cooking, so this list says a lot, at least to me. I’m really excited to share it with you, and I know you’ll be excited to share it with others because the list is so good. This has taken years of eating out in New Orleans to compile, so rest assured you’ll be happy with any of these choices. Bon appetit, friends!

Some of the links go to my affiliate account. If you purchase from one, you're helping feed my stray cat colony. Meow!

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