In New Orleans, we often say that we “live to eat” versus the real necessity of eating to live. Our chefs, though, actually do a little of both, and they’ve been hard at it. This spring, many local chefs as well as an out-of-towner are introducing us to enough new restaurants to keep our taste buds busy this season. While there looks to be a trend in certain cuisines (Spanish, Latin American, and Chinese), each restaurant has its own unique menu and ambiance. Read on for our listing of recent openings as well as some soon to open this spring.
3984 Tchoupitoulas St.
The surge in taco popularity may have already reached its tipping point in New Orleans. That, however, has not stopped Brett Jones of Dinner Lab and the Ruby Slipper from opening Barracuda. The restaurant, which calls itself “a neighborhood taco stand & laissez-faire margarita garden,” provides counter-service tacos and a 30-seat outdoor patio. The menu features about a half dozen options ranging from $3-4 tacos on fresh, house-made tortillas. Taco bowls and all-day breakfast items are also available.
1300 Magazine St.
Carry-out Chinese restaurants may be dwindling (goodbye, Red Apple), but higher end, high-quality Chinese restaurants have begun to transform the New Orleans restaurant landscape (Red’s Chinese and Bao & Noodle). Chefs Bill Jones (Cochon) and Richard Horner (Coquette) are opening Blue Giant, a Chinese-American restaurant that will serve items like fried rice, shrimp wontons, blue crab rangoons, Peking duck, and egg drop soup.
4938 Prytania St.
Costera, Spanish for “coastal,” is the new, aptly-named Uptown restaurant featuring coastal Spanish cuisine. The upscale newcomer developed from a partnership between between Brian Burns, the former chef de cuisine of Pêche and sommelier Reno De Ranieiri. The menu features a range of delicacies including garlic shrimp with oregano, lemon, and sherry (gambas al ajillo), papas bravas with a piquillo pepper puree, Octopus a La Plancha with heirloom bean and herb salad, chorizo and Littleneck clams with baised white beans, and seafood paella. The wine list is substantial and includes a number of Iberian red and white wines.
535 Franklin Ave.
Chef Marlon Alexander recently breathed new life into the former Feeling’s Cafe space in the Marigny with the new restaurant Cru. Originally from California, the chef recently operated two ventures inside the Pythian Market, Cru, a raw bar, and Poulet, a rotisserie chicken eatery serving up salads and wraps. Expanding on the raw bar’s concept, the full-service Cru restaurant offers a menu of several types of caviar, smoked trout dip, fish and chips, pastas, and sandwiches. Cru is open for dinner every night except Sunday and offers brunch on the weekends.
1218 Decatur St.
Dian Xin joins Blue Giant as one of the newest Chinese restaurants, expanding the presence of Cantonese-style cuisine in New Orleans. Run by the former owners of Little Chinatown in Kenner, Dian Xin’s menu features dim sum, steamed or fried savory dumplings. The menu also includes bao, shu mai, jianbing (Chinese crepes), Szechuan chicken, and more. The small restaurant was so popular when it first opened early in 2019 that its hours are now limited to late lunches and dinner. Dian Xin is awaiting the issuance of its liquor license and is BYOB (with no corkage fee) until then.
700 Magazine St.
Gianna, a new Italian restaurant from Chef Donald Link (and the first to open since 2013) comes to the Warehouse District this spring. Chef Rebecca Wilcomb of Herbsaint, another Link restaurant, will transition to Gianna as the executive chef. The menu will feature fresh pastas, paying homage to Wilcomb’s Italian grandmother who taught her how to cook.
225 Chartres St.
A new restaurant from James Beard award-winning chef Justin Devillier, Justine was inspired by the chef’s travels to France. The French brasserie in the French Quarter contains 200 seats spread out across several different Parisian-themed rooms. The menu will include hors d’oeuvres such as bone marrow bordelaise and steak tartare, daily specials like bouillabaisse on Fridays, and entrées like duck confit and poisson (fish) amandine. Save room for dessert and enjoy a honey vanilla pot de crème almond lace cookie or a cheese plate.
4701 Freret St.
Birthed in Baton Rouge, Kolache Kitchen recently opened a New Orleans location on Freret Street, adding to the number of restaurants on the corridor and making it ever more difficult to choose where to eat (not a bad problem to have). The kolache, which originated in Central Europe as a midday snack, is a baked pastry made with yeasted dough and a hole in the middle for stuffing fillings like cheese and fruit. Like many foods, the kolache has experienced both a resurgence that has brought it to the more general public—outside of Central European immigrants and their descendants—and an evolution. Traditional kolaches are sweet while more modern iterations have introduced a savory element. The Kolache Kitchen’s menu includes both sweet (bacon and cheese, boudin, and spicy smoked sausage and cheese) and savory options (filled with fruit, cheese, or both). Kolache also offers tacos, empanadas, sandwiches, and coffee.
2001 St. Charles Ave.
Al Copeland, Jr. (as in, the Jr. of Popeyes’ founder) is shifting gears at the old Cheesecake Bistro space to open Nolé, a Latin American/Louisiana fusion restaurant. The choice in cuisines is well-founded as the two already have a natural fit due to a linked history. The menu will include dishes like Latin-style street corn made with blue crab, lime aioli, and Creole cream cheese; red bean salsa; and paella with chorizo and cochon du lait. Chef Chris Lusk, who has had a hand in creating the menu alongside Copeland, honed his craft in kitchens across the city, including the Caribbean Room, Restaurant R’evolution, and Café Adelaide.
1001 Julia St.
New York chef Akhtar Nawab, who runs Alta Calidad in Brooklyn, has set his sights on New Orleans. His new restaurant, Otra Vez (Spanish for “again” or literally “another time”), opens this spring in the Standard, the new mixed-use residential/commercial complex in the South Market District. While the menu will lean toward Mexican cuisine, Nawab plans to infuse into his Indian heritage into the new restaurant. For instance, the menu will include roti, an Indian flat bread. While Otra Vez will not be Alta Calidad in duplicate, it will offer several signature items from that restaurant, including crispy shrimp tacos with chipotle celery root remoulade and a spicy Margarita made from poblano pepper juices.
1245 Constance St.
Chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus of Coquette are bringing a new restaurant to the Lower Garden District. Named for the street that runs along side of the restaurant, Thalia will have a small menu with daily specials and will focus on sustainability, using some leftover ingredients from Coquette. Ana Castro and Sean Poole, both also of Coquette, will lead the kitchen. The building, which formerly operated as a woodworking shop and, before that, a neighborhood bar, will showcase a mural by Devin DeWulf (known for Nnamdi the Gator in the Bywater) and a tile of Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of cooks.