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The allure of Louisiana’s culinary scene is legendary, and nowhere is this more evident than in New Orleans, the state’s gastronomic hub. The Big Easy continues to up the ante with new ways to add flavor to any vacation, as I learned while sampling delectable dishes at several noteworthy new restaurants during my most recent visit.
Tujague's Drag Brunch (Photo Credit: Tujague's/Mark Chesnut)
One of the city’s newest dining venues, however, is actually one of its oldest establishments. Tujague’s, which was founded in 1856 and is the city’s second-oldest restaurant, has reopened in a new location in the French Quarter and maintains the same dedication to great food that has garnered praise for decades. The largely Creole menu includes a five-course, prix-fixe option (for more than a century, prix-fixe was the restaurant’s only format) that features shrimp remoulade on fried green tomatoes and bread pudding.
Hotels in New Orleans are also renowned for their culinary creativity, and I enjoyed my meals at two outstanding properties during this visit. Virgin Hotels New Orleans, which opened in 2021, is home to the Commons Club, a stylish restaurant and bar known for its contemporary American menu infused with southern influences. Prime sirloin filet and Louisiana shrimp bucatini are a couple of the tasty choices here, and those looking for a more entertaining meal should consider reserving a table during the Country Diva Brunch (which is described as a “Dolly Parton burlesque brunch”) or the Bottomless Bubbles Brunch (which features bottomless mimosas and Veuve Cliquot, priced accordingly).
Another one of my personal favorite meals was at One11 Hotel, described as the first new hotel to open in the French Quarter when it debuted in 2020. Set in a handsomely reimagined 19th-century sugar refinery, the hotel has gained a following with its Batture Bistro Bar, which is known for its creative variations on popular dishes. I fell in love with the mouthwatering boudin (sausage and rice) egg rolls with Cajun aioli.
Travelers looking for unique gastronomic experiences may also want to check out the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, which offers a Dinner with Impressionists option for guests staying in the presidential suite; the seven-course meal is served amid original works by Renoir, Monet and Pissarro at the nearby M.S. Rau gallery. Another, more accessible option is the Poetrait experience, which is available for all guests. During this experience, local artist Cubs the Poet creates a line drawing of the participants and also writes a poem about them while they enjoy champagne and light snacks at the hotel’s Chandelier Bar.
Also new on the hotel dining scene is King, a French brassiere that recently debuted at the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot. Set in a historic building, the venue blends French traditions with Mediterranean flavors, with Parisienne gnocchi and wild boar Provencale among the items.
Additional new dining options include Mister Mao, which was named one of the 50 best new restaurants last year by Bon Appetit magazine, thanks to its creative and ever-changing menu. Specials include BBQ Mondays and a Sunday brunch with out-of-the-ordinary dishes like pork carnitas rice porridge and kashimiri chile fried chicken.
Barbecue lovers will also do well at Devil Moon BBQ, which blends Cajun smokehouse traditions with influences from Texas and the Carolinas. Visitors can also enjoy Devil Moon’s creations while visiting its sister venue, Brewery Saint X, which specializes in craft beers.
Toups Meatery (Photo Credit: Mark Chesnut)
Classic dining venues are also adept at creating new reasons to return. Toups’ Meatery— which, as the name suggests, specializes in pleasing carnivores — has introduced new ways to appreciate its creations. Chef Isaac Toups recently unveiled two new hot sauce flavors to complement his contemporary Cajun menu, and sometimes hosts special dining events at a set price.
Absinthe Bar at Southern Food & Beverage Museum (Photo Credit: Southern Food & Beverage Museum/Mark Chesnut)
True foodies should also plan a stop at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, which hosts an array of exhibits as well as tastings and lectures throughout the year. Visitors can also sign up for cooking classes and there are even classes and events for children.
Mark Chesnut is a New York City-based journalist, editor, content producer and public speaker with more than 20 years of...
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