Follow the River Road to the Riverbend neighborhood, and you’ll be entertained and well-fed all day long. The area encompasses the levee side of Carrollton Avenue, which is crawling with cute outdoor lunch spots, bars and music venues. There are also dozens of unique shops and boutiques in the area that will keep you busy browsing and window shopping. There’s a lot to do in the Riverbend area, but of course, this being New Orleans, “a lot to do” can also directly translate to “a lot to eat.” Keeping that in mind, here is our guide to some of the best places to do just that, plus a little extra fun, in the New Orleans Riverbend.
Eating and Drinking in the Riverbend
It’s going to be a long, beautiful day in the Riverbend, so make sure you’re caffeinated! Camellia Grill is the perfect place to start your Uptown adventure. If the coffee doesn’t wake you up, the fun staff behind the counter will surely do the trick. I recommend splitting one of the giant omelettes with a friend. Camellia Grill stays open late, so it’s the perfect place to start a day or end a long night.
Dante’s Kitchen is also a winner for a weekend brunch, but make sure you get there early, as it’s first come first served. Alligator sausage breakfast sliders and gravy-soaked shrimp and grits are worth getting up early for in my book.
When I’m lunching in the Riverbend, I like to find a spot outdoors where I can enjoy the weather and watch the streetcar go by. Café Granada, Lebanon’s Cafe and Jazmine Café all have prime Carrollton Avenue patio locations and yummy menus. Right around the corner, Boucherie also has a cozy porch that’s ideal for a midday meal of award-winning barbeque shrimp po-boys. Pair your po-boy with an order of hand-cut fries seasoned with garlic butter and Parmesan. Down on Oak Street, Breads on Oak has a deliciously revolving selection of artisan breads and an extensive soup and sandwich menu, not to mention their daily muffins and sweet treats.
Snacks and Small Plates
Tapas make a perfect afternoon snack. Order one plate to share at a time so you’ll eat just the right amount to quell your hunger. Get tortilla española and garlic-rubbed bread with a glass of sangria from Barcelona Tapas. If you’re not in the mood for traditional Spanish tapas, try Ninja for Japanese tapas such as dumplings, fried tofu or Japanese sausage. A chocolate milkshake from The Milk Bar may just do the trick if you’ve got a post-lunch sweet tooth.
Disclaimer: Choosing where to dine in the Riverbend is not easy. There are tons of options, and diverse ones, at that. You can get everything from a burger to pho in the area — we recommend Cowbell and Pho Bistreaux, respectively.
Mat and Naddie’s offers contemporary Southern cuisine served in an adorably funky cottage. Eating on the patio in the beautiful spring weather is a must. Carrollton Market is another winner for bold Southern cooking. Adventurous eaters should try the crispy tail tots, which are made from boneless pigs tails. Brigsten’s offers a shareable and tasty seafood platter, which is packed with a sampling of six items, including baked oyster Rockefeller and sea scallops with asiago cheese grits and fire-roasted vegetable salsa. Drooling yet?
Feel like branching out from traditional Louisiana cooking? Try Chiba, a hip sushi joint on Oak Street. One of my favorite things about Chiba is the fact that it’s open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to satisfy late-night sushi cravings. For a more casual dinner, build your own burger at the vegetarian-friendly TruBurger.
Nightlife in the Riverbend
Jacques Imo’s is the perfect way to bridge the gap between dinner and the rest of your night. You can get classic New Orleans food and stay late for the beer and wine. Once it closes around 10:30 p.m., you’ve got to plan your next move. Me, I’m a wine girl. I like to sip my chardonnay in a relaxed environment, enjoying good conversation and music. Oak Wine Bar is just the place for that with its well-rounded wine list, classic cocktails and live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re more of a beer drinker and prefer the sports bar scene, Cooter Brown’s is the way to go. There’s a mammoth beer list with brews from all over the world and 40 beers on tap.
Head over to Carrollton Station for drinks and live performances in a smoke-free environment. There’s live music, open mic comedy nights and weekly trivia. Maple Leaf Bar is another great stop for live music, and what’s awesome about this one is there are performers every night of the week. You can catch the much beloved Rebirth Brass Band at Maple Leaf every Tuesday with a local crowd. Just don’t plan on sitting down while you’re there!
All photos by Paul Broussard
Photo Guide: 1). Milk Bar 2). Oak Wine Bar 3). TruBurger 4). Jacques-Imo’s 5). Cafe Granada 6). Camellia Grill 7). Pho Bistreaux 8). Maple Leaf 9). Ninja 10). Boucherie 11). Breads on Oak 12). Dante’s Kitchen 13). Chiba 14). Carrollton Station 15). Carrollton Market 16). Cowbell 17). Brigtsen’s 18). Lebanon’s 19). Cooter Brown’s 20). Barcelona Tapas 21). Mat & Naddie’s