This was my first time in New Orleans. Overall, I found food in New Orleans a little disappointing. While the food seems good for a city of its size, it was clearly not up to par with higher-end restaurants in LA (much less NYC and SF).
Cure. A cocktail bar. We went at midnight. I loved it. Cocktails were excellent. Light dishes of pimento cheese and boquerones were way better than I expected from a cocktail bar. This was my favorite foodie experience in New Orleans
Coquette. We had brunch here. It was a mixed bag. The biscuits were outstanding, and the fried chicken was very good. But I couldn’t get over how the gemelli pasta was cooked 2 minutes or more past anything that could be called “al dente.” I grew up in the South and know people there like mushy pasta, but I can’t stand it now.
Meaux Bar. Good French bistro food. I recall thinking that I liked it better better than Church and State and Petit Trois in LA. The fish almandine was memorable.
Restaurant Rebirth. This was the most disappointing restaurant I ate at in New Orleans. I read some reviews suggesting this was the best restaurant in New Orleans. I felt this restaurant fell way below Michelin one-star status (to the extent it’s trying to be fine dining) and lacked interest (to the extent it’s trying to be local cuisine). Service was laughable. I remember thinking that a place like Redbird in downtown LA that I take for granted is overwhelmingly better than this restaurant.
La Petite Grocery. We went for brunch. I liked it and would go back. Although none of the food was memorable, the preparation and presentation were skillful. Decor and service were the best we had in New Orleans.
Willa Jean. A local favorite. Worth trying to make a reservation for brunch. The cornbread was the best I’ve ever had. The shrimp toast soaked in a BBQ broth was interesting, though ultimately I considered it a big miss.
Shaya. A highly acclaimed Israeli restaurant. It was quite good, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. For comparison: Bavel in DTLA is way better.
Cafe du Monde. Go ahead and try the beignets at this 24-hour tourist hot spot. They were better than I expected.
For cocktails, in addition to Cure, try 21st Amendment in the French Quarter.