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Food & Drink

New Restaurants in New Orleans Spring 2020

The revamped Seed (photo credit: Randy Schmidt)
The revamped Seed in the Lower Garden District boasts a new menu with Latin flare. (Photo Courtesy: Randy Schmidt)

The New Orleans restaurant scene continues to evolve as chefs and entrepreneurs with big ideas dare to take risks. The restaurant industry is notoriously challenging, and restaurants open and close their doors all the time. This spring, however, welcomes many new restaurants that have tested their concepts as pop-ups and others from veterans who have operated successful establishments. Asian and Latin American (mostly Mexican) continue to be popular, vegan options slowly enter the mainstream, and hotel restaurants hope to make their mark. Read on for our listing of new and upcoming restaurants this spring, and be sure to follow their social media for opening dates.

Blue Giant serves Chinese-American cuisine (photo courtesy of Blue Giant)
Blue Giant serves Chinese-American cuisine (photo courtesy of Blue Giant)

Blue Giant

1300 Magazine St.

Carry-out Chinese restaurants no longer have a monopoly in New Orleans. In recent years, high-quality, dine-in Chinese restaurants have begun to transform the New Orleans restaurant landscape (Dian Xin, Red’s Chinese, and Bao & Noodle). Chefs Bill Jones (Cochon) and Richard Horner (Coquette) opened Blue Giant this spring, a Chinese-American restaurant that will serve items like pan fried shrimp and pork dumplings, spicy stir fried eggplant, Peking duck, egg drop soup, and coconut ice cream as well as house-made Hoisin sauce.

Budsi’s Authentic Thai

1760 N. Rampart St.

Since 2017, Pal’s Lounge has incubated Budsi’s Authentic Thai pop-up, which is now set to open a permanent location in the Marigny this spring. Joining Sukho Thai, a longstanding Marigny institution, Budsi’s already has a substantial following. Its menu, which husband and wife team Budsaba and Jared Mason developed, will retain favorites from the pop-up days while experimenting with new dishes. The restaurant will focus on regional favorites like Khao Soi, a noodle soup, and spicy papaya salad served with sticky rice. The restaurant will also be vegan-friendly, offering drunken noodles with tofu and mushroom larb, as well as green, red, and Panang curries with tofu. Budsi’s plans to open in late April or early May.

Bywater Brew Pub

3000 Royal St.

Chef Anh Luu, who grew up in the local Vietnamese community, operated a restaurant in Portland, Oregon for a decade before returning home. Her new restaurant, Bywater Brew Pub, fuses both her Vietnamese and New Orleans heritages to create a Viet-Cajun menu with dishes like crawfish etouffee nachos and double-fried chicken wings with brown butter fish sauce. In addition, the space will also operate a brewery, with five brewing tanks of beer to complement the restaurant’s full bar. The restaurant is expected to open in April.

A rendering of El Cucuy, a new Mexican restaurant (photo courtesy of El Cucuy)
A rendering of El Cucuy, a new Mexican restaurant (photo courtesy of El Cucuy)

El Cucuy

3507 Tchoupitoulas St.

As one local Mexican restaurant (Araña) closes its doors, another one (or two: see Vals below) opens. El Cucuy, which is named for a mythical Boogeyman-type creature present throughout Iberian and Latin American folklore, will have a distinct heavy metal music theme throughout. Its menu will feature tacos and other Mexican antojitos, or snacks. The new space will offer both indoor and outdoor patio dining. It is scheduled to officially open sometime in March.

The Chloe

4125 St. Charles Ave.

A refurbished St. Charles Avenue mansion will soon debut as a 14-room hotel with a bar, restaurant, and pool. Todd Pulsinelli, formerly of August, Domenica, and the American Sector, will helm the 120-seat restaurant at the Chloe. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a menu to include shrimp and grits (with heirloom grits, andouille, and a poached egg) for breakfast, and a rotating lunch and dinner menu with items such as Coriander and Juniper-Crusted Hanger Steak and Louisiana Rabbit and Dumplings (with root vegetables and grilled lemon). The restaurant is set to open in mid to late May.

Gospel Coffee and Boozy Treats

501 Tchoupitoulas St.

The new Gospel Coffee and Boozy Treats opens March 16 in the new Hotel Fontenot. In addition to coffee, the menu will offer coffee-infused cocktails and alcohol-infused shakes. The food menu, designed for on-the-go eating, includes locally-influenced breakfast tacos made with crab-boiled potatoes, andouille sausage, cotija cheese, and jalapeño sriracha, house-made pastries, bagels with green tomato cream cheese, boiled shrimp, sweet onion, and Calabrian chiles; bananas foster parfaits, and custards.

The Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot (photo courtesy of Peacock Room)
The Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot (photo courtesy of Peacock Room)

Peacock Room

501 Tchoupitoulas St.

Officially billed as a classic social club-esque cocktail bar, the food menu for Peacock Room should not be overlooked. Chef Chris Lusk’s menu will feature mouthwatering shared plates like Crawtator Crusted Oysters (with jalapeño sriracha, mirliton, and bacon lardon), Blue Crab Pimento Cheese (with port salut, Calabrian chiles, and toasted brioche), and Fruits de Mer Pho (with cashew hoisin, grouper, shrimp ramen, and crab boulettes). Peacock Room, which is housed at the Fontenot Hotel along with Gospel Coffee and Boozy Treats,  is scheduled to open March 16.

Seed

1330 Prytania St.

I ordered takeout from https://www.neworleans.com/listing/seed/14876/Seed years ago and was neither impressed nor unimpressed. Earlier this year, though, I casually heard about Seed’s change of ownership, renovation and expansion, and reopening and gave it another shot. The entire restaurant is vegan/plant-based, down to its coffee and cocktail recipes, but non-vegans will also be pleased (and maybe won’t even miss the meat). Seed now has a slight Mexican/Latin lean, with a menu offering masa gnocchi (cornmeal gnocchi with oat mole, grilled corn, and butternut squash), hongos en su jugo soup (made with a spicy tomatillo broth, several different types of mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, jalapeño, raw onion, pinto beans, radish, cilantro, and lime), and chips and “queso.” The menu also presents some veganized New Orleans specialties like gumbo (with smoked mushrooms, celery root, and brown rice) and a kelp poboy.

Union Ramen's Oyster-Mushroom Miso Ramen (photo credit: Monica Vo)
Union Ramen’s Oyster-Mushroom Miso Ramen (photo credit: Monica Vo)

Union Ramen

1837 Magazine St.

Union Ramen, which gained steam from pop-ups around town, will open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. According to Jeff Gapultos, co-founder and co-owner, “most people in the U.S. are probably accustomed to tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen broth.” However, Nhat “Chef Nate” Nguyen, who previously worked at ramen restaurant Kin until 2016, has crafted a menu showcasing tori (poultry-based broth) ramen, and miso (plant-based broth) ramen. These broths, which are slow-cooked for 24 hours, make “for a cleaner and lighter profile, while still very rich in flavor,” says Gapultos. Union Ramen is set to open soon.

Vals

4632 Freret St.

This spring, the team that operates Cure (winner of a James Beard award) and Cane & Table is set to open Vals, a casual restaurant and bar, set in the thriving heart of the Freret Street corridor. The menu will offer Mexican-inspired cuisine such as tacos, tostadas, ceviches, and more. The bar menu will highlight agave spirits. The restaurant will open in a rehabilitated gas station, which operated until 2015, and will provide both indoor and outdoor seating.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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