32 Iconic French Quarter Dining Experiences
No-fail spots for every dining situation in the Vieux Carre
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| Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA
So you've never been to the French Quarter. First of all, welcome. Second of all, do not just immediately head to Bourbon street. Instead, Eater suggests approaching the Vieux Carre with an eye for the must-visit spots, from the oldest bars in America to hidden tiki oases to some very famous Bourbon Street spots.
This map — the restaurants, dishes, and culinary experiences that help define the French Quarter's identity — should offer a comprehensive starting point for any visitor. It includes the obvious and the over-publicized, but also hidden gems. It’s mostly about dishes and experiences, rather than the restaurant experience as a whole. Head here if you're looking for the French Quarter's essential restaurants.
Did we miss an iconic French Quarter dining experience? Leave a comment or send a tip.Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
What many consider home to the best burger in the city, this Esplanade Ave. destination is a laid-back option for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Kids are welcome and casual dress is encouraged.
With its chalkboard menu and glass display cases by the counter, just a peek inside foreshadows a hearty meal. Try the po’ boys, but bring a friend— these monstrosities are more than enough for two.
Supposedly the country’s oldest structure to be used as a bar, Lafitte’s is a space where music, drinks, and colorful history collide. Sidle up to the bar for their take on a hurricane but head to the piano for a serenade by one of the bar's various well-versed crooners (don't forget to tip).
Taking a seat at one of the ‘50s-style diner stools will propel you back a few decades — add a deliciously steamy, retro burger and you might feel the need to don a poodle skirt (guaranteed: you still won't be the oddest person in the house).
Get the flavors of the Old South and the bayou in a single dish at this down-home staple. An order of the “Cajun Fried Chicken” is seasoned with a secret house blend of spices and served with rabbit and sausage jambalaya. If rabbit isn’t your favorite, Coop’s lengthy menu is bound to have something for everyone — just make sure to get there early, as they don’t take reservations.
Find some of the best Irish Coffee in town at this eclectic dive bar on Decatur Street, which serves up a deliciously frozen version of the classic libation. It’s guaranteed to cool you off and wake you up before more galavanting in the Quarter.
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As the first African American woman to successfully own and operate her own Praline company in this city, Loretta Harrison has won the hearts of New Orleanians with her charm and with her sweets. Try the melt-in-your-mouth goodies at her French Market location, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Essential French Quarter Dining Guide
From muffulettas and po’ boys to bananas Foster and oysters Rockefeller
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| Photo by Phil Clarke Hill/In Pictures via Getty Images Images
The French Quarter — which is called the French Quarters, plural, by some locals — is the oldest square mile in New Orleans and home to more restaurants and bars per square block than any other neighborhood. This guide is a varied cross section of restaurants in the Vieux Carre, from historic places that sell iconic dishes (Central Grocery and Brennan’s) to vegetarian-friendly spots (Green Goddess) to over-the-top special occasion restaurants (R’evolution).
Consider this list, arranged geographically as always, a starting point to exploring the Vieux Carre table. Wandering through the Quarter is an enchanting pastime, one guaranteed to uncover surprising and delicious treasures along the way.
Did we miss your favorite spot in the Quarter? Leave a comment or send an email.
*The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you’re exploring the French Quarter, Bennachin is a welcoming option for comforting Gambian and Cameroonian specialties, many vegetarian-friendly, served in a cozy, funky space with eclectic furniture and colorful art covering the walls. It’s BYOB, but Sidney’s Wine Cellar is a few blocks away.
Dian Xin has answered the French Quarter and the entire city’s prayers for excellent, traditional dim sum. From the original owners of Little Chinatown in Kenner, Diane Ceng and her family opened this simple kitchen on Decatur Street with a two-page menu of bao, soups, chive cakes, jianbing, and shu mai, an ultimate comfort food destination.
With arched windows, a classic long bar, bench seating, and back patio, Cane & Table draws its inspiration from the Caribbean — and in the afternoons, it’s a tranquil spot for chatting or solo drinking. Happy hour specials offer a chance to sip originals at half the price of the regular menu, and include an old fashioned, daiquiri, and blue Hawaii; beer and shot combos; as well as wine specials; plus a snack menu.
At first blush, Coop’s seems an odd fit for this line up. But the place is solid, delivering New Orleans staples like gumbo, jambalaya, fried chicken, and red beans and rice at decent prices since This hole-in-the-wall on Decatur isn’t much for cocktails, but its standout version of rabbit and sausage jambalaya goes better with an ice cold beer anyway.
Cafe Amelie is home to one of the most romantic courtyards in the Vieux Carre. The menu revolves around Louisiana fare with some international influences. If there is no time to linger over a meal in the lush courtyard, its sister restaurant Petite Amelie serves delightful sandwiches and salads and makes an ideal lunch spot.
Originally opened in , this classic French-Creole restaurant opened again under Dickie Brennan's talented alum Alfred Singleton, who is chef and partner. Cafe Sbisa’s menu is old-school compared to many of the restaurants currently opening in the city, and the crab cakes are some of the best in town. Dinner, brunch, and small plates. Date night alert: this place is an atmospheric stunner, with original wood, intimate balcony and patio dining and a staircase that harks back to a golden age.
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Located across from the French Market, Central Grocery is responsible for the existence of the muffuletta. Locals will argue about the best version — cold or hot. Central Grocery’s are cold. They are best when they’ve been sitting a while, so the olive salad oil soaks into the bread a little. They travel well, so tourists can always grab one for the plane.
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The French Quarter is kind of like a ball pit from when you were a kid - it’s fun while you’re in it, but once you leave, you’re just glad you got out alive. Between the number of bars and restaurants, it can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you know where to look, you can find the good spots between the fake voodoo shops, kitschy galleries, and everything on Bourbon Street. Check out our favorite places to eat and drink in the French Quarter and whatever you do, go easy on the Hurricanes.
Check out our complete list of New Orleans restaurants and bars here.
Meauxbar is located on the very edge of the Quarter and it’s more likely filled with locals from the neighborhood than it is visitors in town for a convention. They serve a mix of French dishes, like chicken liver pâté and hanger steak au poivre, along with non-French dishes, like gnocchi and yak-a-mein, a local noodle dish topped with stewed beef and eggs. It’s a great option for when you want to split a few plates, drink some interesting cocktails, and get some recommendations from a couple who came down for Mardi Gras in the ’70s and never left. In case you can’t get enough of Meauxbar, they also serve brunch Friday through Sunday.
Friday lunch at Galatoire’s is a New Orleans right of passage. To do it right, you need to sit in the downstairs dining room, which requires getting in line on Bourbon Street before it opens at am. Once you’re in though, it’s basically an upscale party where the servers wear tuxes, drinking is definitely encouraged, and you can eat old school classics like shrimp remoulade and gumbo. If you’re looking for a proper “Yes, I’m definitely in New Orleans” way to kick off your weekend here, start at Galatoire’s.
Cane & Table
It’s hard to tell if Cane & Table is a restaurant with great drinks, or a fancy cocktail bar that serves surprisingly good food. Either way, it’s one of our favorite spots in the French Quarter and their big back courtyard is the perfect place to escape the chaos of nearby Bourbon Street. They have one of the most diverse cocktail menus in the city and serve a mix of great small plates and entrees, like green gumbo and a whole roasted fish. Whether you need a place for a big group or somewhere for a date, Cane & Table has you covered.
Down a picturesque alley just a block and a half from Bourbon Street is Green Goddess, a little outdoor restaurant that serves a mix of vegan and vegetarian dishes, along with cheese, charcuterie, and some very nice cocktails. It’s a great date spot, or the perfect refuge from the overcrowded bars nearby, and if you’re eating with someone who always makes specific requests when they order, Green Goddess is a place that has something for everyone.
The po’boy might be the most famous sandwich in New Orleans, but the muffuletta - a giant Italian sandwich that can easily feed four people - is a close second. You can find it across the city, but it was invented at Central Grocery in the French Quarter and that’s where you should go for one. This Italian specialties shop looks like it’s from another century, which makes sense since it opened in There’s always a lunch crowd, but the muffulettas are constantly being made so the line moves quick.
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The French Quarter gets packed on the weekend, and especially when you’re looking for a good date spot, most of your options are crowded dining rooms or small back patios filled with one too many tables. Rather than deal with all of that, have dinner on the upstairs terrace at Cafe Sbisa instead. This vintage French-Creole restaurant is one of the few places in the area where you can have cocktails and eat some barbecue shrimp and crab cakes outside, while the crowd below stays comfortably out of earshot. After dinner, grab a drink at the bar inside, which dates back to and is the last refuge before you reenter the madness.
What the Quarter lacks in po’boy options, it makes up for in quality with two locations of Killer Poboys. While most po’boy shops stick to the classics, this place serves a few more gourmet options, topped with things like glazed pork belly and smoked salmon. If you’re looking for classics like grilled shrimp or roast beef, however, they have those too. Head to the main shop for the full menu, or go to Erin Rose for a beer with your po’boy if you’d rather keep barhopping.
Sylvain is a semi-upscale neighborhood spot that you’ll wish was around the corner from where you lived. Located just off Jackson Square in the French Quarter, this place serves some of our favorite all-purpose dishes, like pork milanese, little neck clams, and a truly great fried chicken sandwich. Besides food, Sylvain is equally great just for drinking cocktails on their back patio, in case you’ve already eaten for the fourth time that day and need a break before dinner.
If you only have brunch once in New Orleans, it should be at Brennan’s. This place opened more than 70 years ago and is known for both its excellent service and classic food, like eggs Benedict, gumbo, and a crawfish omelette. Make sure to try the brandy milk punch as well, if morning drinking is in your future. If you don’t feel like battling the plethora of bachelorette parties that flock to Brennan’s earlier in the day, then come for dinner instead. Make sure to save room for the Bananas Foster, though, which is set aflame table-side and which you should not try to make in your kitchen at home.
Cafe Du Monde
Whether you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a post-bar snack at 3am, Cafe Du Monde is always open. This place has been serving coffee and beignets in the same location on Jackson Square since It’s about as vintage New Orleans as you can get, and while it’s one of the most touristy spots in the city, the coffee and beignets - which are available 24/7, everyday except Christmas - are worth showing up in the background of people’s vacation photos.
In the very center of the French Quarter is Pat O’Brien’s, a bar famous for three things: inventing the Hurricane, late-night dueling pianos, and a flaming fountain. While it gets packed at night, it’s an ideal spot to grab a few afternoon drinks, and theorize about why someone thought, “You know what that fountain needs? Flames.” Even when you’re trying to keep things low-key, Pat O’Brien’s is a classic and somewhere you should still check out for a drink or two.
Bar Tonique is a cocktail spot just three blocks from Bourbon Street where you can sit at a big U-shaped bar, enjoy a well-made drink, and breathe for a minute. The bartenders here take their cocktails very seriously and, as a result, each drink requires a few minutes to make. At the same time though, they have a daily $5 cocktail, meaning you can have two mai tais or Moscow mules before paying the same amount for one daiquiri at your next stop down the street.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop
There are roughly bars on Bourbon Street, and most of them aren’t worth your time, unless your goal is to end up on stage with an AC/DC cover band. Rather than give your friends the pleasure of watching you do that, head to Lafitte’s instead. It’s one of the oldest bars in America, and their frozen daiquiris provide all the energy you’ll need to bob and weave through the mix of bachelor parties, college kids, and tourists that clog the street each night.
Yes, this bar is built into an actual moving carousel inside the Hotel Monteleone and also yes, it’s a little gimmicky. That said, it’s still a fun place to grab a drink. At all hours of the day, you’ll find a mix of tourists draped in beads and hotel guests pre and post-gaming weddings, all of whom are enamored with the bar that spins slowly enough to barely notice until you’re actually seated on one of the stools.
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