New Orleans is one of the most heavily-touristed cities in the United States. In spite of this, locals do still live here, eating and drinking their way through establishments that are, more often than not, located outside of the French Quarter realm. Take some advice from the locals and venture off the beaten path to indulge in food and drink alongside those of us who live here.
Where to Eat
Eat like a local at one of these spots
617 Piety St.
The German presence in New Orleans dates back 300 years. The local beer garden Bratz Y’all is a more recent arrival. Bratz Y’all started off selling (award-winning) food at local festivals, and finally opened a brick-and-mortar spot in the Bywater in 2017. Some of the most popular dishes are the drunk pig sandwich (slow-roasted pork marinated in dark beer with a spice and herb rub, finished with sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and mustard). Currywurst (pork sausage with apple-curry ketchup and fried onions) is also on the menu as are traditional pretzels (order the beer cheese for dipping). Go for the food and stay long after to sip German beer on the long, communal picnic benches.
1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
A tasty lunch spot for soul food, eating at Café Reconcile also contributes to a noble cause—the restaurant is part of a job training program for local youth and young adults. Make reservations or walk in for lunch during the week. You will not be disappointed. Order the chicken and sausage gumbo for a taste of local cuisine before advancing to the next course. As for that, try the catfish topped with crawfish sauce, the jerk quarter chicken, or, to keep it simple, a shrimp po-boy. Order the jalapeno cornbread muffins on the side.
7808 Maple St.
A Tunisian and Mediterranean restaurant, Jamila’s Cafe has been a fixture on Maple Street for many years. A cozy, intimate dining experience, the menu offers, among other delicious plates, the much loved crawfish, zucchini, and spinach bisque, the tajine of lamb (in a terra cotta dish marinated with lemon and served with basmati saffron rice), and the grilled amberjack fillet (served with roasted garlic bell pepper chutney and fresh steamed vegetables). If you still have room for the dessert, baklava is on the menu.
1117 Montegut St.
You might never notice it, tucked back in the neighborhood off St. Claude Avenue behind a wood fence. N7 is a French restaurant with Japanese influence here and there from chef Yuki Yamaguchi. Stepping through the gate, you arrive in France, an experience that is augmented as much by the setting as by the food and drink they offer. Take heed to consider any nightly specials when reviewing the menu. Though quite commonplace, the French onion soup is rich in taste and warming to the belly. The steamed mussels are steeped in a sake, scallion, and garlic broth, provided a welcome departure from the mussel norm. N7 cooks duck to perfection—try the duck a l’orange. Save room for dessert and order either the macarons or the cheese plate. The best part of dining at N7 is that there is no rush to turn tables—stay awhile and sip a red wine before leaving New Orleans.
1430 N Dorgenois St.
Pagoda Café is a bright, happy presence off Bayou Road. A tiny cafe in an old laundromat designed to look like a Chinese pagoda, Pagoda Café has a surprisingly robust menu. Best enjoyed on a clear day, Pagoda is open for coffee, breakfast, and lunch daily. Pagoda is known particularly for its breakfast tacos, which are served until 1:30 p.m., and offers vegan and gluten-free menu options. For lunch, order a sandwich on local Dong Phoung French bread (try the Indian banh mi, which is also available as a salad) or a salad, such as the roasted veggie and quinoa salad. Pagoda Café just might become your new favorite hangout.
Where to Drink
Drink like a local at one of these spots
700 N Rampart St.
North Rampart Street has seen a resurgence in recent years. Among its many drinking establishments, Black Penny is neither a lavish champagne bar nor a joint where tour groups line up. Instead, it’s a dark, woody bar with a neighborhood feel and a smell like an old New Orleans house. Wander to the edge of the French Quarter, away from the Mississippi River, and pull up a stool.
3044 St. Claude Ave.
This new wine bar shares a nondescript building with Red’s Chinese in the Bywater. The Domino‘s atmosphere is akin to a friend’s basement with a board game collection and bagel bites (cheese, pepperoni, or fancy) to prove it. The drink menu is reasonably priced and features a range of sparkling wine, Rosé, white, red, and fortified, plus cocktails, beer, and cider. Post up in one of the booths to play Battleship and nurse a Bywater Sour cocktail.
949 N Rendon St.
A dive bar, Pal’s Lounge in the Bayou St. John neighborhood has something of a local following. Its neighborhood bar-ness becomes clear as people conglomerate to enjoy a cold one after a long week—or a long day. In addition to drinks, Pal’s hosts nightly food pop-ups, ranging from Thai, to fresh pasta, to tacos. “Loiter” on the corner with your drink to enjoy the inner-workings of the neighborhood.
Parleaux Beer Lab
634 Lesseps St.
For the beer connoisseurs out there (or simply those humans who enjoy a good ale), Parleaux Beer Lab is a micro-brewery with an on-site taproom. On a fair-weather day, claim a table outdoors (or check out the fun platform swing), and keep the beers coming. The beer list cycles as the seasons change and according to the brewers’ mood, but it always features a variety of beer types sure to please a group with divergent tastes.
133 N Carrollton Ave.
An unassuming exterior gives way to finely crafted cocktails developed—and frequently served by—esteemed local bartender Chris McMillian, a fourth generation bartender. Revel provides an outlet for quality cocktails outside of the typical tourist haunts. For something light, order the Sheilavsit (pronounced “she loves it”) with aperol, Prosecco, fresh strawberries, and lemon juice. Make sure to order snacks too from their full menu.