The 78 square blocks that make up the New Orleans French Quarter are easily the heartbeat of the Crescent City. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in the state, and not just for its famous Bourbon Street. The best restaurants in New Orleans French Quarter are some of the best restaurants in the state.
Fun Fact: Bourbon Street isn’t named after alcohol at all. Although it’s known for the plethora of bars that line the street, it was actually named after the House of Bourbon, the ruling family of France when the city was being mapped out in the early 1700s.
There are 73 neighborhoods within New Orleans, and the French Quarter was the first, and subsequently the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The entire neighborhood was designated a National Historic Landmark and attracts folks from all walks of life every year.
While the French Quarter certainly has a bar or two where you can sip a sazerac or a hand grenade (two New Orleans originals), it’s also a great place to grab dinner, and there are just as many restaurants as there are bars in the Vieux Carré. From roadside Lucky Dogs to elegant white tablecloths, there’s a restaurant for everyone.
I think it’s important to take a moment to recognize the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine before we go on any further. These terms often get used interchangeably when in fact, they are completely separate cultures with separate culinary influences and flavors.
Louisiana as a whole tends to get lumped into Cajun cuisine, and while you’ll certainly find Cajun dishes in the French Quarter, Creole cuisine is more of the standard fare here in New Orleans. Both Cajun and Creole are Louisianian, but Cajun food is typically found in central/western Louisiana near Lafayette, Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, and even as far north as Ville Platte.
This region is known as Cajun Country. Cajuns are an ethnic group of Acadian descent. If you remember your history books, Acadians were French settlers who made their way to Canada and then exiled and eventually found their way to southern Louisiana in the 1700s. There’s much more to the story, but we’ll keep it brief.
On the flip side, Creoles are a little more difficult to define. Most historians will agree that Creoles are influenced by European, African, Caribbean, and Hispanic descent, and you’ll see this played out in the food. Think of it like a “best of” from all of those cultures.
A common joke you’ll hear in New Orleans from folks wondering what the difference is between Cajun and Creole is a tomato. Tomatoes will often find their way into Creole foods, while authentic Cajun meals will not.
Now that we’ve got that culinary history lesson out of the way, there’s one more little pro tip we have before we dive in: dress code. Many of these restaurants in the French Quarter have very strict dress code policies, particularly for those that identify as male.
Many restaurants will require men to wear a coat and/or a tie, and you’ll want to check the restaurant’s website ahead of time so you know what to expect. Trust me, you will get turned away if you are not up to the dress code.
Ok! Now let’s talk about some of the best restaurants in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Best Restaurants In New Orleans French Quarter
Address: 713 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Antoine’s is a cornerstone and as far as French Quarter restaurants are concerned, Antoine’s is king. Established in 1840, this historic restaurant is the oldest family-run restaurant in the country, making it a no-brainer for special occasion dining. With 14 dining rooms, Antoine’s creates a truly unique dining experience, and you can even take a tour of each of the dining rooms to learn more.
Every dining room has a unique theme, and our favorite is the Mystery Room. During Prohibition, there used to be a hidden door in the women’s restroom that would take you to this secret bar where you’d be given a coffee cup with booze in it. The common phrase that got passed around when asked where you got it was, “it’s a mystery to me.”
Antoine’s is the birthplace of many of New Orleans’ most famous dishes including Oysters Rockefeller and Eggs Sardou, both are a must-try when you visit. Oh, and don’t forget about dessert! A meal at Antoine’s deserves to end on a sweet note, and the signature dessert at Antoine’s is baked Alaska. Just be sure to order it at the beginning of your meal, as it takes a long time to prepare.
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2. Olde Nola Cookery
Address: 205 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130
For a more comfortable, casual French Quarter dining experience, you can’t go wrong with Olde Nola Cookery. Nestled right on historic Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter, Olde Nola Cookery is a favorite for both tourists and locals alike. Hearty portions of all your favorite Cajun and Creole dishes appear on the menu, including seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, seafood platters, po’boys and so much more.
Olde Nola Cookery is famous for its balconies that overlook the French Quarter, which you can rent for a private event. Open seven days a week well into the night, this is a home run no matter if you’re dining for lunch or a late-night snack.
Address: 529 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Irene’s is a historic restaurant in the Quarter that’s ideal for a date night. The upscale Italian eatery also features a piano bar, and some of the most delectable dishes you’ll ever eat.
Duck St. Philip is the famous dish here, as well as the many homemade desserts. If you want to go on a Baked Alaska tour of the French Quarter, this is another eatery serving up one of the best.
For wine lovers, Irene’s boasts over 70 labels from some of the most prestigious wine regions in the world, with a concentration on fine Italian wines. If you’re unsure what to pair with your dish, ask your waiter. Many of them have been with Irene’s since it first opened and know everything there is to know about pairing wines with Irene’s incredible food.
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4. GW Fins
Address: 808 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Since its opening in 2001, GW Fins has received national recognition for its creative plates of fresh seafood and unique atmosphere. Nature inspires the menu here, so depending on what’s in season, the menu changes daily. Seafood is undoubtedly the star of the show here, and you can expect everything from Atlantic bluefin tuna to Southern flounder to make an appearance on the menu during your visit.
If the lobster dumplings are available, don’t sleep on those! They’re a fan favorite for a reason, and a wonderful appetizer to start the meal off with. Reservations are recommended, so be sure to call ahead.
One of the biggest headaches when driving in the French Quarter is finding parking, but not at GW Fins. Park at Premium Parking at 911 Iberville Street, take a photo of your license plate, and show it to the host when you arrive–they’ll take care of the rest.
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5. Central Grocery
Address: 923 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
New Orleans is known for many iconic dishes, and the muffuletta is just one of them. When you want to try the best, you go straight to the source, and Central Grocery is where it all began…at least when it comes to the muffuletta. Central Grocery is both a grocery store and a deli, and this third-generation eatery has been serving up delicious muffs on Decatur Street since 1906. It’s no wonder that Central Grocery has been standing for so long – when you’re one of the best restaurants in New Orleans French Quarter, it’s easy to draw a crowd.
If you’re not familiar, a muffuletta is an Italian-style sandwich with salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella with a healthy dose of the grocery’s famous olive salad all served on a muffuletta loaf. Quarter, half, and full-sized muffulettas are sold but be warned, the full-size is almost the size of a steering wheel. This is the perfect portable food to take for an outdoor picnic.
You’re only a few blocks away from the Riverwalk, so consider taking your muff over to the park and enjoying the views of the Mighty Mississippi. If you want to ride the streetcar, take your muff over to City Park for a picture-perfect day in the park.
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6. Mona Lisa
Address: 1212 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Perhaps the most uniquely decorated New Orleans restaurant, Mona Lisa is one of the best restaurants for pizza, pasta, and authentic Italian fare. The tiny but mighty dining room is very cozy and boasts hundreds of different images of the famous painting. Colorful designs from kids, adults, and more professional, artistic creations are all on the walls, taking up nearly every square inch of the place.
Since it’s slightly off the beaten path on Royal Street, it can feel like a hidden gem, but Mona Lisa has actually been around for nearly 40 years! That’s just one of the many wonderful things about restaurants in New Orleans…many of them have been around for multiple decades, and often they are passed down from generation to generation like a family heirloom.
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7. Oceana Grill
Address: 739 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Another French Quarter staple, Oceana Grill is one of the best restaurants in New Orleans for crab cakes, so be sure to order some for the table ahead of your meal. Speaking of crabs, if they’re in season, the soft-shell crab is a no-brainer. The same for the oysters!
Oceana Grill’s menu is full of Creole and Cajun food served in po’boys, pasta, platters, and more. When you want New Orleans fare done well, using fresh ingredients every time all in a comfortable, casual space, Oceana Grill is the answer. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., this is another late-night haunt that ensures that you can still eat well into the wee hours of the morning.
If you’re an early riser and swing by for breakfast, our vote is the Pain Perdu, a New Orleans take on French toast that uses French toast instead. Served with sausage, this is a hearty breakfast that will definitely give you the energy you need to tackle the rest of the day. On a lighter note, Oceana Grill is known for its award-winning crepes, and you’ll find both sweet and savory options on the menu!
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8. Muriel’s Jackson Square
Address: 801 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Standing right in the shadows of the famous St. Louis Cathedral, Muriel’s offers casual fine dining in the heart of the quarter. If the weather cooperates, the balcony provides the perfect setting to overlook Jackson Square, but if not, indoors offers some truly unique dining experiences as well. After all, how often do you get the opportunity to dine with a ghost? Muriel’s might just be the French Quarter’s most haunted restaurant, and they don’t shy away from it.
Muriel’s embraces their resident ghost, who they believe is Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who used to live here. Pierre spent many years building his ‘dream home’ only to lose it all in a poker bet one night. Rather than pack up his things and move out, Pierre took his life within these walls, and that seems to have created a paranormal vortex of sorts.
There have been many paranormal encounters here, so many that Muriel’s even has a Seance Lounge where you can grab some cocktails from the bar and enjoy a few spirits with your spirit. Muriel’s sets a table for Mr. Jourdan every evening, and you can reserve that table if you’d like.
Regardless of where you sit, you’re in for a spectacularly delicious meal. For dinner, start off with the goat cheese crepes before feasting on sinfully delicious entrees like a pecan-crusted drum, double-cut pork cups, or a New Orleans classic, shrimp and grits. Afterward, take a stroll around Jackson Square for a lovely little date night.
9. Court of Two Sisters
Address: 613 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Jazz brunch is an iconic part of weekends in New Orleans, and Court of Two Sisters is one of the best restaurants to enjoy this uniquely New Orleans dining experience. First, be sure to pass through the Charm Gates, so you may be filled with luck and prosperity (it’s a tradition), and don’t forget to make a wish in the Devil’s wishing well. It’s believed that the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau used the well for her practices, and you wouldn’t want to make her spirit angry, would you?
Court of Two Sisters serves jazz brunch seven days a week, and it’s buffet style. Feast on traditional breakfast and brunch dishes including hashbrowns, bacon, and eggs any way you want them, but don’t forget to step out of your culinary comfort zone. The turtle soup is a fan favorite, as well as the bananas foster.
Both of those dishes are famous all around New Orleans (especially at Commander’s Palace but since that famous blue landmark is not in the French Quarter, it only gets an honorable mention on this list). And all the while, your brunch will be scored to the sounds of sweet live jazz music from talented local musicians.
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10. Napoleon House
Address: 500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
The Napoleon House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the Quarter, and it was almost the hiding spot for everyone’s favorite fighting Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte. It was once the home of Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans, who offered his home up to Napoleon in 1821 when he was exiled.
Napoleon never took Girod up on his offer, but fast forward over 200 years and the name still sticks. Part restaurant, part bar, Napoleon House should move to the top of your New Orleans bucket list.
It’s a place you can visit where time seems to stand still. You can feel the history of the building from the moment you step inside, and the Classical music wafting through the air adds a beautiful soundtrack to your experience as you sip on Pimm’s Cups and munch on muffulettas, two of the Napoleon House’s most famous menu items.
The Pimm’s Cup is one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails, and it was invented right here at the Napoleon House in the 1940s. While the original Pimm’s dates back to London almost 100 years prior, this version is uniquely New Orleans, mixing it up a bit with lemonade, 7UP, and a cucumber garnish. The perfect cocktail for those hot summer days!
11. French Market
Address: 1008 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70116
The French Market is not your typical restaurant experience. This 6-block market dates back to 1791 and was originally founded as a Native American trading post. It’s the oldest market of its kind in the United States, and it’s worth a few hours of your time.
In addition to many shopping opportunities, there are plenty of restaurants peppering the market, too, and these local eateries are often where you’ll find that no-frills, all-flavors meals that will stick with you long after you’ve left the Crescent City. Of course, Cafe du Monde is a must, where you can enjoy famous beignets and chicory-infused café au lait, the signature coffee.
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12. Killer Po Boys
Address: 811 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112 and 219 Dauphine St, New Orleans 70112
Po’boys. Poor Boys. Po Boys. There are many ways to spell this famous sandwich, but only a few places where you can get the real deal. Killer Po Boys is one of them, and these are some of the most unique po’boys in New Orleans.
Traditionally, your big three are fried shrimp po’boys, roast beef, or an oyster po’boy…always on French bread. That’s an important distinction! Dressed, naturally. But here, you’ll find new spins like pork belly po’boys, pecan butter and jelly po’boys, and chorizo po’boys.
There are even a few vegetarian and vegan options like roasted sweet potato and Thai BBQ tofu po’boys, which you won’t find anywhere else. There are two locations, and the Conti Street location is in the back of Erin Rose bar. So you can pair your po’boy with one (or two) specialty cocktails while you’re there.
We didn’t forget. What’s a dressed po’boy? When you order a po’boy “dressed” it means lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. If you want to sound like a local, order your po’boy dressed, and then make any modifications you want.
For example, I will always order a roast beef po’boy dressed, no tomato. Sorry, tomatoes. You’ve no place on my po’boy.
13. Coop’s Place
Address: 1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
We’ve covered a lot of fine dining spots that are perfect for special occasion dining, but where should you go for great food at a price that won’t put a dent in your wallet? Welcome to Coop’s Place. Coop’s is your go-to late-night spot on Decatur Street for everything from fried chicken to jambalaya in a casual setting. Both the seafood gumbo and the rabbit and sausage jambalaya are house specialties here at Coop’s, and to be honest, the jambalaya is the perfect late-night food after you’ve been walking up and down Bourbon if you catch my drift.
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14. Restaurant R’evolution
Address: 777 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Restaurant R’evolution is an award-winning restaurant located inside the Royal Sonesta, and before we tempt you with the menu, it should be noted that this restaurant has a strict dress code that is enforced, be sure you come dressed to impress. Once you’re seated, you can feast on marvelous dishes including wild boar bolognese with house-made pasta, sea scallops and black truffles, or go with one of the many steaks and chops, like a bone in ribeye.
Pair your meal with one of the specialty cocktails, which are uniquely themed and inspired by Pre-Prohibition concoctions. The cocktail menu changes seasonally, ensuring that only the freshest ingredients get into the glass. Visit Restaurant R’evolution’s website for a full cocktail and dinner menu, as well as the dress code.
15. Carousel Bar
Address: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Perched atop the historic Hotel Monteleone, this is the only carousel in the city that you have to be 21 to ride. That’s right, this is an actual, moving carousel, but don’t worry, it doesn’t spin fast. It takes about 15 minutes to make one full rotation, so you won’t get dizzy.
The Carousel Bar is one of the most iconic spots to grab a drink in New Orleans, but you’ll also find some small plates here as well. Enjoy savory bites including oysters Rockefeller, Cochon quesadillas, or blue crab and corn beignets while you gaze down onto Royal Street.
Or, if you prefer a sweeter option, the French Market-style beignets with praline sauce will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. The cocktail menu covers a wide range of specialty cocktails, and if you’ve made it this far in the Big Easy without trying a Sazerac, here’s your chance.
Keep in mind that the carousel can seat 25 people at maximum, so it can fill up pretty quickly. To avoid crowds, try to visit during non-peak times.
There’s plenty of additional seating around the carousel if you can’t find a seat, but we admit, it’s not the same. The Carousel Bar is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, and live entertainment is scheduled every Wednesday – Sunday.
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16. Mr. B’s Bistro
Address: 201 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Mr. B’s Bistro has been a French Quarter staple since 1979. One of the many Brennan family restaurants, Mr. B’s is known for several signature dishes, including the award-winning Gumbo Ya Ya, a super-dark roux and spicy chicken and andouille gumbo that might just be the best dinner you’ve ever had. Other notable culinary creations from the kitchen include the Worcestershire spiked barbequed shrimp and for the sweet eaters, the Creole bread pudding will make you a customer for life.
Mr. B’s is a little more laid back on the dress code, but they frown on tank tops, especially for the gentlemen. Reservations are recommended, but not required. If you’re wanting to dine at Mr. B’s on the weekend or during a special event that brings a ton of folks to the city (Mardi Gras, JazzFest, etc.) then you’ll want to make a reservation for sure.
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