This digital guide to the restaurants of New Orleans is a direct descendant of 100 New Orleans Restaurants, my first comprehensive review of the essential restaurants of the city. In 1978, it really did cover the dining scene pretty well. It didn’t review every restaurant in town, but did cover almost all of the good places.
But the late 1970s saw tremendous expansion in the local restaurant community. I kept dining and writing. A couple of years later, my 200 New Orleans Restaurants appeared, to be followed by eight more, ever larger guides. In 1989, I began moving all the data to the internet.
By the time Katrina came to visit, my restaurant database showed 809 eateries. The day after Katrina, it showed zero. But it wasn’t long before people started asking which restaurants had managed to reopen. I began tracking the reopenings and the surprisingly many new openings. The result is this list, which I believe is very close to being a more complete list of New Orleans restaurants than any other. I still update it regularly–usually weekly.
The list covers all of Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, the suburban areas of Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, and the east bank of St. Charles and St. John parishes as far west as Laplace. Not included: fast food and most national chains, takeout and delivery-only places, temporary restaurants (food trucks and pop-ups) or food outlets not open to the public.
I admit that there are restaurants on this list that are no longer open, and restaurants that recently opened but not included. Restaurateurs don’t often let us know when they open or close. If you find a missing open restaurant or a closed restaurant on the list, I would very much appreciate it if you would let me know in a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
After 30 years of rating restaurants with stars, NOMenu now uses the icon of our city to give one-glance assessments of the goodness of restaurants. The main reason we did this is that the meaning of stars has changed greatly since the advent of reviews by anonymous posters on web sites. In those, if the poster likes a restaurant, it typically gets five stars, making for hundreds of restaurants with five meaningless stars. (The opposite but equally useless rating comes if the restaurant goofs something up.) We don’t want our ratings to be confused with that sort of system. Here is what our fleurs-de-lis mean:
The best few restaurants in town, exceptional in every particular.
Consistently fine, original cookery and service.
Better than most others in their categories.
Recommended, meeting most expectations most of the time.
Acceptable, but not recommended.
We arrive at these ratings after visiting the restaurant in person to dine, usually several times. We pay for our meals and otherwise try to be as much like a typical customer as we can.