Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Robert St. John's New Orleans Restaurant Recommendations 2021

Check out this week's recipe. 

This city is, unquestionably, one of the top five restaurant cities in America. I would imagine that if one were to poll national food critics New Orleans would be listed among the top three. To my taste— and I’ve eaten extensively in most of America’s top restaurant cities— New Orleans is number one. Period. No question. End of discussion. 


As a citizen, I consider myself fortunate to have grown up 90 minutes away from this culinary mecca. As a restaurateur, I consider myself blessed to have spent almost six decades eating my way through New Orleans. Granted, the Crescent City is a second home for me, but I still log in over 150 New Orleans restaurant meals there each year.

For the past couple of decades, I have kept a running journal of my restaurant visits in New Orleans. I also keep a to-do list of new restaurants that I have yet to visit, and a separate list of restaurants that I plan to re-visit. I also field a lot of requests for restaurant recommendations in New Orleans. There are a few dozen restaurants that aren’t on any to-do or re-visit list because they are places that I frequent on a regular basis. The following is that list.

Author’s Note: Everyone has an opinion on restaurants, and all restaurant opinions are 100% subjective. You have yours. These are mine:

MY FAVORITE BREAKFAST SPOT: LA BOULANGERIE, 4600 Magazine St— Most mornings I drive from the Marigny to Uptown Magazine just west of Napoleon, because the croissants are worth the drive.

Other Breakfast Joints I Frequent: Toast, 5433 Laurel Street— I bounce between the Uptown location and the one near the fairgrounds. Toast is 100% local New Orleans in the morning.

Willa Jean, 611 O’Keefe Avenue— A solid breakfast venue. Pre-Covid they made some wicked pecan sticky buns every Sunday morning. I miss those.

MY FAVORITE BRUNCH SPOT: PALADAR 511, 511 Marigny Street— This is the place I eat brunch most often, and not just because it’s in our building. The huevos rancheros and the lemon-ricotta blueberry pancakes are stellar. I can never choose between the two, so I always order both.

Other Brunches I Frequent: Justine, 225 Chartres St.— Justin Devillier’s French Quarter spot, and the sister restaurant to La Petit Grocery, is fun, lively, and all of the offerings are excellent.

Brennan’s, 417 Royal Street— Of the four old-line French Quarter institutions, Galitoire’s, Arnaud’s Antoine’s, and Brennan’s, I eat at the latter most often. Ralph Brennan did the city a huge favor when he took over the reins several years back.

MY FAVORITE DINNER SPOT: BRIGTSEN’S, 723 Dante St— This restaurant and this chef have been at the top of my list for over three decades. Frank Brigtsen is the heir apparent to his longtime mentor, Paul Prudhomme. The Butternut Shrimp Bisque is one of the best soups I have ever tasted (second only to Paul Bocuse’s mushroom soup in Lyon). The seafood platter often features Warren LeRuth’s baked oyster recipe, and I could seriously make a meal of just the crawfish cornbread, alone. Long live Frank Brigtsen.

Other dinner spots I frequent:

La Petit Grocery, 4238 Magazine St— The birthplace of the Blue Crab Beignet

Coquette, 2800 Magazine St— Solid offerings from a team with excellent “touch” who always seem to be working together as a team.

Lilette, 3637 Magazine St— Also a perfect spot for lunch.

Bywater American Bistro, 2900 Chartres St— Nina Compton runs my wife’s favorite New Orleans restaurant.

August, 301 Tchoupitoulas Street— Probably still my favorite fine-dining spot in the city after all of these years.

MY FAVORITE STEAKHOUSE: DORIS METROPOLITAN, 620 Chartres St— Their aged prime beef is excellent. My son loves this place.

Other steakhouses I frequent: Mr. John’s Steakhouse 2111 St. Charles Avenue— It always feels very “Uptown New Orleans” in that room, and the steaks are great, too.

MY FAVORITE PO-BOY SHOP: DOMILISE’S, 5240 Annunciation Street— My go-to for po-boys for over 30 years.

Other po-boy shops I frequent: Parkway Bakery and Tavern 538 Hagan Avenue— There’s always a line so schedule accordingly.

R&O Restaurant and Catering, 216 Metairie-Hammond Highway— A great roast beef po-boy, and excellent fried seafood.

MY FAVORITE SANDWICH— THE SAM AT STEIN’S DELI, 2207 Magazine St— In years past I have driven from Hattiesburg, ordered this sandwich, eaten it, and driven home.


The Italian Barrel, 1240 Decatur St— Solid Italian (my favorite in the city).

Dian Xin, 1218 Decatur St— Solid Chinese (my favorite in the city).

El Gato Negro, 81 French Market Place— Solid Mexican (my favorite in the city).

MY FAVORITE PIZZA: PIZZA DELICIOUS, 617 Piety Street— Excellent pies.

MY FAVORITE BURGER: COMPANY BURGER, 4600 Freret Street— Everything I want in a burger joint.

(Note: Those who wait in line at Port Of Call can get the same burger at Sung Harbor without the wait)

MY FAVORITE THAI RESTAURANT: SUKHO THAI, 2200 Royal St— My family eats a fair amount of Thai food. This place is always spot on.

MY FAVORITE OYSTER BAR: PASCAL’S MANALE, 1838 Napoleon Avenue— It’s an old-school stand-up oyster bar. The oysters are always cold and salty. My son and I go there for the raw oysters and typically eat dinner somewhere else. Though he would probably tell you that Casamento’s is his favorite. Lately, the four of us have been eating oysters at Cooter Brown’s at the Riverbend (oysters always taste better in a dive bar).

MY FAVORITE ATMOSPHERE: SEAWORTHY, 630 Carondelet Street— The designers did such a great job on all aspects of this interior. I love it. Killer oyster selection, too.

MY OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH FAVORITE: ROSEDALE, 801 Rosedale Drive— You have to be going there to get there, but this Susan Spicer restaurant almost feels as if it were 100% tailor made for me— very casual, comfortable, with great service and excellent food. The barbeque shrimp served there should be the gold standard for all others.

MY FAVORITE TACOS: GALAXIE TACOS, 3060 St. Claude Avenue— the barbacoa tacos here are spot on. The converted gas station vibe is perfect, and there’s almost always a place to park on the neutral ground of St. Claude.

Other taco joints: Val’s, 4632 Freret— there must be something about tacos served in a converted gas station that appeals to me.

MY FAVORITE GUMBO: STATION 6, 105 Metairie-Hammond Highway— I have yet to finish a giant bowl of this gumbo that always comes out piping hot and loaded with large shrimp and plenty of oysters and crabmeat.

Other gumbos I like: Herbsaint, 701 St. Charles Avenue

MY FAVORITE SOUP: SHRIMP AND SQUASH BISQUE, BRIGTSEN’S, 723 Dante St— So good it’s worth mentioning twice in this list.


Herbsaint 701 St Charles Avenue

Cochon 930 Tchoupitoulas Street

Peche 800 Magazine Street


N7— cool outdoor area; Upperline— Joanne is the reigning grande dame of New Orleans’ dining rooms; Gris Gris— solid food, fun brunch; Horn’s— another great locals-only breakfast spot; Red’s Chinese— three words: kung pao pastrami; Gabrielle— glad they’re back; Saint Germain— the best fine dining meals I’ve eaten in New Orleans in years, those chefs have excellent “touch.” It’s a tough reservation to get. Partially because there are only 12 seats inside, but also because it is so good.


Check out Robert's seafood gumbo recipe.  





Anonymous said...

Kingish, this is a great list. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Great. Now I have to drive to NOLA for lunch.

Anonymous said...

If BBQ is your thing….The Joint is the best there imo

Stanley has the best breakfast in the Quarter IMO

Cheapest best breakfast? Toulouse House Grocery

Best most entertaining Friday lunch is still galatoires and it’s back

Anonymous said...

Bookmark this one.

Anonymous said...

Dinner at Bistro Daisy in uptown last weekend was fabulous. The oyster appetizer for $10 was huge and amazing!

Anonymous said...

Willa Jean is amazing for breakfast and I highly recommend taking home as many baked good and pastries as you can for later.

Anonymous said...

Casementos is my families long time
Favorite for raw oysters, oyster or soft shell crab loaf and other goodies. Pro tip go to the bathroom so you can walk past the ancient small kitchen and see the huge pot of lard frying the seafood. Yum

Dan Hise said...

When I was in grad school at Tulane ('65-'69), we students would often go to a neighborhood poboy place named Tujagues down near the river. Yes, there was a restaurant in the Quarter with the same name, but no connection otherwise. As you entered, there was a counter to the right with three women side by side making sandwiches. The place was small, with maybe half a dozen tables. They only served Pepsi, and the women were not inclined to smile or chat. Some wiseass who looks a lot like me decided to order an "erster" poboy. "What?" "Erster." "What?" "Oyster." "Oh, erster."

Years later I'm living here, and I keep hearing about the best poboy place in New Orleans being "Domilise's." "That's where the Mannings eat," etc. So three or so years ago, Betty and I are in N.O., and manage to find Domilise's, on Annunciation. Yes, the name had changed, but the place was the same: same counter, three women behind it, same small space. I got a beer but I should have got a Pepsi. The erster poboy was still wonderful.

Anonymous said...

we now have The Lost Cajunin Pearl so I don’t even see the point of ever returning to that steaming septic tank called New Orleans.

Anonymous said...

I can’t wait to enjoy some NOLA food, again.
It’s been awhile. I was just talking about how good the food—some believe the seasoning to make the biggest difference. I believe it’s the seasoning and the waters.

Anonymous said...

Just a bad look for a man who was all over the media saying he didn't have any money, going and eating high on the hog, opening new restaurants in Hattiesburg and now Jackson. Will the King post this criticism of his boy Robert.

Anonymous said...

What would be a reliable source for “gumbo crabs” in the Jackson area?

Anonymous said...

Obviously he got his business stimulus. I myself applied for everything my business could get both times. Didn’t you?

Anonymous said...

@5:48 - Try Mr. Chen's Oriental Market for fresh seafood. It's much fresher than any of that frozen and thawed seafood on display at Whole Foods.

When I was in grad school at Tulane in the early 1980's, the best muffaletta was at Acey's Pool Hall, Garden District. Mothers made good po'boys.

I'd love to save Robert's list of restaurants. I guess I'll have to take a screen shot because I don't see any way to do that on this website. I'm surprised that Commander's Palace didn't make Robert's list. I've always liked it better than Brennan's.

Anonymous said...

5:48 Duggan's Seafood has them from time to time, or you can call early in the week and order ahead.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans is my favorite restaurant - Dirty Coast

Anonymous said...

While they did not make St. John's list, you can never go wrong with Galatoire's, Mandina's, Ye Olde College Inn, and the Camelia Grill. The P&G Restaurant is a great place for a casual lunch; it's not upscale or trendy, but the food is excellent.

Anonymous said...

How can Clancy’s not make this list ... You can skip Herbsaint - was there two weeks ago - meh....

Ophelia said...

I agree with you about Herbsaint, 9:08. Both the armosphere and the food left us rather cold. He is right about Brigtsen’s, though. I could live at that place, if they had someplace I could sleep!

One we find ourselves returning to regularly is the Palace Cafe’ on Canal. It’s another of the Brennan iterations. If there is a tastier starter than their crabmeat cheesecake with meuniere sauce, I have not found it.

Anonymous said...

During the 1980's nothing was better than NOLA Takee Outee.

(Best food one could find at
4 AM.)

Galitoire’s, Arnaud’s Antoine’s, and Brennan’s, could never replicate the deep fried (cat on a stick)
as did Takee Outee.

Anonymous said...

No mention of Lucky Dog ????

Unknown said...

Pascal Manales has the best bbq shrimp poboy! Every time we are in New Orleans, we go uptown for the bbq shrimp poboy. By the way, Robert and I were in college together at Miss State.
Good Luck Robert!

Duff Lindsay
The Woodlands, Texas

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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