Hello and Happy New Year! You may notice a new look on the blog. I’m playing around with it a bit and still have a few more changes, but for now…it works. My most favorite refresh? You’ll notice in the sidebar on the right (third item down), my most recent photos on Instagram. Just click on a picture and it will take you to my account @kristinkooks. It’s where I post a lot of the everyday things I’m whipping up in my kitchen so be sure to follow along for more!
So now that the food coma has worn off and the New Year is under way I thought I would write a post about some of my favorite New Orleans eats over my Christmas holiday (as well as share some photos). This was my first trip to New Orleans and it did NOT disappoint – no surprise there!
Such good food, friendly people, amazing music, beautiful architecture and oh yea, did I mention the food??!? For a food lover like me, it’s always fun to check out a new city and sample some of its famous cuisine. I was there for about 5 days so I definitely got my fill, but there are so many places I didn’t get to as well. I guess that means I’ll just have to go back. Here are my faves in no particular order!
Restaurant August | Central Business District
Housed in a historic 19th century Frech-Creole building, Restaurant August was by far one of my faves. Owned by John Besh, a New Orleans star chef and restaurateur – the flavors, service and atmosphere were phenomenal.
Everything on the menu looked and sounded amazing so it was hard to choose but between the group of us, there was A LOT of food being passed and shared at the table. Our server, Lucy was absolutely amazing and gracious. She even scored us a quick tour of the kitchen after dessert. My kind of culinary experience! I decided on the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with brown butter, Happy Hen yard egg (one of the best eggs I’ve ever had in my life) and bacon.
Next up it was the Shrimp “Etoufée” which sat in the most delicious broth imaginable. With flavors of ginger and fermented pepper it was soooo, soooo good. Finally I decided on Field Green Cappellacci which was almost like a ravioli stuffed with their local mixture of greens and ricotta in a very light pot emulsion sauce. Sounds simple, and it was…but the taste was absolutely on point. We downed a bunch of delicious drinks and loved every second of this place. It was a great introduction to the food culture of New Orleans. Definitely a special dinner kinda place but worth every penny.
Pulp and Grind | Warehouse District
After such a filling and delicious meal, like many of the meals you may eat in New Orleans, Pulp and Grind is a welcome spot, and the perfect place for craft coffee and cold-pressed juices. I got one of their morning muffins packed full of chia seed, blueberries and nuts. Super tasty. Their IMMUNITY cold-pressed juice (a mixture of orange, grapefruit, apple, fennel and grapefruit seed extract) totally hit the spot and kept us energized all morning.
Sylvain | French Quarter
A lovingly restored carriage house is the setting for Sylvain where we stopped for lunch and drinks one day.
The Champagne Cocktail, a mixture of Cava and lavender, was light and refreshing. The traditional Sazerac – Rye Whiskey, bitters, sugar and Herbsaint was spot on as well. For lunch it was chilled LA Gulf Shrimp served with a house-made old bay cucumer-horseradish emulsion, radish and rye croutons.
It was the perfect light lunch and the shrimp were divine. Others at the table tried the Chick-Syl-vain Sandwich – buttermilk-fried chicken breast, housemade pickles and rustic fries and the Seasonal Market Salad. Equally delicious! The outdoor area is a lovely spot to relax and sit back with some cocktails enjoying the breeze.
Cafe du Monde | French Quarter
I know…totally touristy and crowded, but if you are in New Orleans you kind of have to try Cafe du Monde. The lines were long but they have it down to the science and actually it moved very quickly. The beignets were light and fluffy (surprisingly so). And honestly, ABSOLUTELY delicious!
Bacchanal Wine | Bywater
Billed as New Orleans “backyard party” this was one of my favorite spots we visited.
Definitely not in the touristy area of town, it’s located on a quiet corner in the Bywater area of New Orleans. You walk in to the wine shop where you can pick your ‘wine by the glass’ or peruse the bottles of wine for purchase. We selected a cheese out of the refrigerator thinking we would just eat it plain. Nope. They take the cheese back to the kitchen and it comes out to your table sliced with a selection of breads, cornishons, chutneys, olives and jams. All for the $6 we paid for the cheese! Great deal. We selected a great bottle of red and started with a glass of rose and white.
The outdoor area is beautiful. Twinkly lights, tiki torches and live music. Kind of the perfect combination and it made for a relaxing, musical night.
Johnny Sanchez | Central Business District
We kind of walked into Johnny Sanchez’s on a whim as we were originally headed to the Warehouse District. We HAD to stop though when we saw Aaron Sanchez, the chef and owner (John Besh is the co-owner, hence the name Johnny Sanchez) greeting customers. Ah! A celebrity chef sighting. So fun. And he could not have been any nicer and welcoming. Definitely a highlight for me! But besides that, the food was delicious!!!
We got there towards the end of Happy Hour (which is a great deal…$2 tacos and half off margaritas, beers, mixed drinks and wine by the glass).
So, of course, we had to quickly order some margaritas and tacos. Margaritas were perfect. I got the Pescado Taco which was billed as Masa Fried Des Allemands catfish, grilled corn slaw and jalapeno tartar sauce. I could have eaten ten of these. (Serving was two tacos by the way). For dinner I ordered the Kale Salad (pomegranate, pepitas, apple, pickled fennel, manchego) and a Mahi Mahi special. Guacamole for the table and then various other assorted dishes. Everyone loved their food but man…did we eat a ton.
The Italian Barrel | French Quarter
Housed on a quiet corner in the French Quarter, this lovely Italian restaurant was homey and inviting – the perfect place for a Christmas Eve dinner.
I ordered the Penne Alla Arrabbiata which was Penne pasta with a spicy tomato sauce and Italian sausage. It’s one of my favorite pasta dishes but not everyone does it well. It requires the exact right ratio of spiciness and flavors to get it right. The Italian Barrel got it right. It was a popular dish at my table! Others ordered Pumpkin Ravioli and Center Cut Filet Mignon. I’m not a big red meat eater, but apparently it was absolutely delicious. Add in a salad, a couple glasses of wine and you are guaranteed a flavorful, relaxing night.
District Donuts Sliders Brew | Garden District
OK, this place? Right on. Who doesn’t love the combination of burgers and literally some of the most amazing donuts I’ve ever seen? Located in the Garden District, District Donuts Sliders Brew was one of my favorite finds. It was low-key, easy and most of all – delicious!!! Unfortunately I don’t have my pictures from this place, so the ones below from the website will have to do. Your mouth can’t help but water when you enter to a full glass case full of donuts with names like Almond Joy, Cookie Dough, Strawberry Basil, Coffee Affogato and more. I mean, come on. And the smell! The donuts are made daily and rotate often so you never know exactly what you might find under the glass case upon entering. We ordered a few and trust me, they were to die for.
The burgers and fries and even the salad (seasonal greens, Campari tomato, goat cheese, chopped almonds, donut croutons, house vinaigrette), were all spot on. I ordered the Cinnamon Sugar Donut, the Best Little House Salad and the fish “burger” which was blackened catfish, fried dill pickles and buttermilk slaw. Enough said.
Cafe Rose Nicaud | Frenchman St (which coincidentally is amazing street for nightly live jazz, take note!)
My dad and I stumbled into this cafe one early morning while taking pictures of all the amazing houses in the French Quarter (below). I loved all the colors and details of these beautiful homes.
Cafe Rose Nicaud is dedicated and named for Rose Nicaud, who became the first known coffee vendor in New Orleans. The cafe is homey and relaxing with open seating and some large round tables. I ordered the Rose Benedict which consisted of homemade biscuits piled high with portabella mushrooms, arugula, tomatoes, avocado, two sunny side up eggs, asiago cheese and balsamic viniagrette with a side of rosemary cheese grits. Say that fast! My dad ordered the Huevos Rancheros. It was the perfect spot to relax, chat and go over the multitude of pictures we took.
French Quarter Market | French Quarter
Finally no trip to New Orleans is complete without a trip or trips (in our case) to the French Quarter Market.
Open 7 days a week, it’s the perfect place to get a snack and peruse the offerings. The Crepe Cart, located within the market is the perfect place to grab an on-the-go crepe for breakfast. Mine was stuffed full of spinach, fresh tomatoes, homemade pesto and gooey cheese. It was so tasty and perfect for walking. In addition, there are multitudes of shops, vendors and local produce. Stock up on some essentials and make a lunch or breakfast to go. Or, if you are in the mood, grab a tasty Bloody Mary to-go. This is New Orleans after all and lucky for you, drinking is allowed out on the streets. A strange concept at first but you get used to it quickly!
So that’s it! And that’s not the half of it. There were so many other places we wanted to go and try but you only have so much time (and room in your stomach)! So, next trip, whenever that may be….I’ll definitely be back to this magical city! More pics below!