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Food & Drink

Where the Chefs Eat: 11 Chefs and Foodies Share Their Favorite Dishes

Where do local chefs and food personalities go for a great meal when they get tired of cooking? The results are eclectic, affordable… and delicious.

There’s no shortage of restaurants in New Orleans, and the list grows daily. Where do you get the best barbecue shrimp or roast beef po-boy? Which restaurant offers the best brunch or late-night snack? We all have our favorites, and much like us, many of the chefs from some of our preferred spots (when they’re not cooking for us) are feasting right by our side at various locales.

I aimed to find out where when I asked 11 New Orleans chefs and food personalities where they go locally for a great meal when they get tired of cooking. The results were eclectic, affordable, and delicious.

Aarón Sánchez

Dooky Chase
Aaron Sanchez craves the gumbo from Dooky Chase’s Restaurant when he’s not in the kitchen himself. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Taco crusader and chef at Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and Paloma in Stamford, CT

Favorite Local Restaurant: Dooky Chase

Favorite Dish: Crab and chicken gumbo

Why?: “I love everything that comes out of Mrs. Chase’s kitchen, but her crab and chicken gumbo is the one dish that I order every time I go to the restaurant. The ingredients are so simple, yet she creates a dish that is so nuanced and complex that it’s hard to tell where one flavor begins and another one ends. It’s just one perfect mix.”

‘It’s hard to tell where one flavor begins and another one ends,’ says Aaron Sanchez of Leah Chase’s Gumbo. ‘It’s just one perfect mix.’

Melissa Marie Martin

Day Job: Chef, the Mosquito Supper Club and Curious Oyster Company, New Orleans. “I scheme and conceive prep list and menus using local food. I am an adamant supporter of the bounty of local fishers and farmers.”

Favorite Local Restaurant: Mariza

Favorite Dish: Lamb meatballs and polenta

Why?: “I like simplicity in food. I don’t want my dishes deconstructed or ridiculously plated. I like basic ingredients amplified, and dishes that are fresh, balanced, and fulfilling,” she says. Another simple reason? “Mariza is my favorite restaurant.”

Susan Spicer

True Burger
Susan Spicer digs in to the jalapeño cheeseburger at Truburger. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Chef, Bayona Restaurant, New Orleans

Favorite Local Restaurant: trūburger

Favorite Dish: Jalapeño cheeseburger

Why?: “They’re simply delicious.”

Tina Antolini

Olive salad with a softshell crab po-boy at R&O’s. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Host and producer of Gravy, a podcast with the Southern Foodways Alliance

Favorite Local Restaurant: R&O’s in Bucktown

Favorite Dish: Italian salad with a side of soft shell crab po-boy

Why?: “I love olives more than a person reasonably should, and so a salad that consists of hunks of iceberg lettuce doused in an olive-and-pickled-vegetable-laden vinaigrette is a guaranteed way to make me happy. And the soft shell crab po-boy is the perfect complement.”

‘I love olives more than a person reasonably should,’ says Tina Antolini, host and producer of ‘Gravy’ podcast.

Justin Devillier

Bevi Seafood
The barbecue shrimp at Bevi Seafood is Justin Devillier’s pick. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Chef, La Petite Grocery, and Balise, New Orleans

Favorite Local Restaurant: Bevi Seafood Co.

Favorite Dish: Barbecue shrimp with a side of potato salad

Why?: “The barbecue shrimp dish is perfectly seasoned, with just the right amount of tanginess, and the potato salad is chunky and creamy and cuts right through the fat from the shrimp.”

Kelly Fields

Ba Mien
Crispy fried squid from Ba Mien. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Executive pastry chef for the Besh Restaurant Group

Favorite Local Restaurant: Ba Mien

Favorite Dish: Crispy fried squid

Why?: “It’s the whole package of the dish! It’s fully balanced, texturally perfect, and highly, highly addictive.”

Nina Compton

Day Job: Chef, Compère Lapin, New Orleans

Favorite Local Restaurant: Shaya

Favorite Dish: Slow-cooked lamb

Why?: “It’s simple, yet flavorful. Lamb is sometimes difficult to cook well, but Shaya’s lamb is always tender and perfectly cooked. I usually get it with a side of the Persian rice.”

Shaya lamb
The perfectly cooked lamb from Shaya sates chef Nina Compton. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Denny Culbert

Day Job: Freelance food photographer

Favorite Local Restaurant: Tallulah’s

Favorite Dish: Hot homemade sausage bun

Why?: “The sausage is spicy, uncased, and formed into a loose patty, served on a soft sesame seed bun, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Add American cheese for the extra gooey experience. They make sausage and pickles and some of their own condiments. That sandwich and the ever-changing eclectic menu keeps Tallulah’s at the top of my list of places for a good meal.”

Aaron Burgau

Taco Truck
Chicharron tacos from Taqueria DF. (Photo: Martine Boyer)

Day Job: Chef, Patois Restaurant, and trūburger, New Orleans

Favorite Local Restaurant: Taqueria DF (food truck)

Favorite Dish: Chicharron tacos or basically any taco they serve

Why?: “Spicy, with the right amount of toppings, perfectly seasoned, and you get about a thousand tacos for $1. And you can’t eat just one.”

‘You get about a thousand tacos for $1. And you can’t eat just one.’ – Chef Aaron Burgau

Sarah Roahen

brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts from Noodle and Pie. (Photo courtesy Noodle and Pie on Facebook and Waites Laseter Photography)

Day Job: Freelance food and culture writer, and oral historian

Favorite Local Restaurant: Noodle & Pie

Favorite Dish: Deep-fried Brussels sprouts

Why?: “I could eat them every day! They’re so delicious that we always get at least one double order.”

Chris Audler

Day Job: Operating partner at District Donuts Sliders Brew and District Hand Pie & Coffee Bar, New Orleans

Favorite Local Restaurant: The sushi bar at Shogun in front of Chef Kaz

‘It’s the perfect no-pressure meal. The only decision to make is deciding when you’re full.’ – Chef Chris Audler

Favorite dish: Omakase (a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef)

Why?: “It’s the perfect no-pressure meal. The only decision to make is deciding when you’re full. Not to mention, this dude can throw down some amazing dishes.”

All Together Now: The Restaurants

(Almost) all photos by Martine Boyer

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