Enjoying outdoor dining in New Orleans.
In a region named in honor of the Sun King of France, it’s no surprise that locals love every opportunity to enjoy their dining experiences outdoors. Here, classics like Commander’s Palace and Napoleon House are joined by newcomers Cowbell and Cavan. Whether you are looking for a casual sun-kissed brunch or a moonlit tryst in a cozy courtyard, you’re sure to find a suitable destination here.
Third-generation Sicilian and New Orleans native, Chef Nick Lama’s homage to his roots, Avo, (meaning grandfather or ancestor), is a cozy Uptown restaurant with a beautiful outdoor dining area. Avo’s menu includes charred octopus with black garlic, Calabrian chili and pineapple, a classic panzanella salad with ciabatta croutons, local tomatoes, greens, and Parmesan cheese, drizzled with an oregano vinaigrette. A savory chicken liver mouse is balanced out with blueberry gelee. Fried calamari is complimented with a carrot agrodolce and citrus pickled cukes. Pasta offerings range from a heady short rib lasagna to squid ink fettuccini with a “corn carbonara.” Entrees include rabbit cacciatore served with gnocchi, mushrooms, and turnips, plus rarely served classics veal saltimbocca and porchetta.
Avo: 5908 Magazine St., 504-509-6550.
Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits
This wine patio is perhaps the worst kept secret in town. Some of us remember the days after Katrina when Bacchanal seemed like an absurd proposition: a wine and cheese bar in the most remote corner of the Bywater, with an outdoor area that had all the charm of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Over the years, Bacchanal miraculously became a smash success with a vibrant outdoor dining scene and a refurbished building that includes indoor dining and a stand-alone kitchen that cranks out everything from fettuccini with green peas, green garlic, and Grand Padana cheese, to Spanish style shrimp with sherry and red pepper, to whole fish. A fine selection of cheese is available to go with the sea of wine bottles that festoon the tables in a spectacle that is best described as bacchanalian!
Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits: 600 Poland Ave., 948-9111.
Barú Bistro & Tapas
Inspired by the cuisine of the Caribbean diaspora as well as the Columbian coastal region, Baru is renowned for its tapas and crudo selections. Shrimp remoulade receives a Colombian twist with salsa picante. Lobster salad is bathed in an olive aioli and served with potatoes and quail eggs. Tuna tartare is livened up with bright mangos, and served with pecans and guacamole. Similarly, local P&J oysters get the cha cha treatment with tomatillos, and lime-infused hot sauce. Tapas highlights include fried oysters with cilantro aioli and caramelized onions, lamb sliders, West Indian style crab cakes, and arepas con lechón. Hearty fare such as Columbian hen stew with root vegetables, whole fried fish with coconut rice and citrus mango slaw, Caribbean bouillabaisse with lobster, clams, shrimp, fish, and yuca round out the menu at this tropical uptown hideaway.
Barú Bistro & Tapas: 3700 Magazine St., 895-2225.
Located in a charming Creole cottage in the French Quarter, Bayona has been the crown jewel in Chef Susan Spicer’s trio of restaurants for nearly three decades now. Some of the most memorable and flavorful dishes anywhere emanate from Bayona, including grilled shrimp with black bean cakes with coriander-citrus butter, sweetbreads with sherry mustard butter, the decadent multi-grain goat cheese crouton with Madeira cream, cream of roasted garlic soup, paneéd Pacific salmon choucroute with Gewürztraminer buerre blanc, fennel and pepper crusted lamb loin with herbed goat cheese and zinfandel sauce. Desserts will destroy you include the hazelnut and almond dacquoise ganache with espresso buttercream..
Bayona: 430 Dauphine St., 525-4455.
Bayou Wine Garden
This sprawling establishment in Mid-City piggybacks on the runaway success of Bayou Beer Garden. The wide-ranging, reasonably priced menu includes everything from tacos, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and sides, to intriguing fare such as mussels and fries, lamb and French onion potpie, to chorizo and cheese wontons. Crawfish are also offered when in season. That said, the real highlight here is the selection of over four dozen house-made, cured meats, assorted charcuterie, and artisanal cheeses from small farms stateside and of European origin, which go quite well with the incredibly well-thought-out wine list and great cocktail program.
Bayou Wine Garden: 315 N Rendon St., 826-2925.
Established nearly a century ago, Broussard’s has showcased classic New Orleans Creole cuisine from the onset. The spectacular courtyard is the largest in the French Quarter and certainly one of the grandest and most beautiful settings to be found; ideal for leisurely brunches and lingering dinner experiences. Broussard’s local offerings include shrimp remoulade, crabmeat ravigote, crab cakes, turtle soup, duck and alligator gumbo, trout almandine, bronzed redfish, BBQ shrimp, pompano Ponchartrain, and satsuma glazed quail.
Broussard’s: 819 Conti St., 581-3866.
Located uptown in a spectacular mansion built in 1883, Cavan is a dazzling restaurant featuring the coastal, regional cuisine of Thibodaux native and internationally-trained chef, Nathan Richard. Richard most recently presided over Kingfish and worked at R’evolution with Chef John Folse, where he made the best charcuterie in town, now available as an antipasti plate at Cavan. There’s no end to the deliciousness at Cavan: Crawfish queso, a seasonal gumbo, lima bean ‘risotto’ with pickled pork, salmon poke tacos, savory rabbit and kale caldo verde stewed with potatoes and parsnip in pork broth spiked with Portuguese flavors, are some of the outstanding appetizers. Raw oysters are served with a strawberry-champagne mignonette, and fried oysters are perched atop a classic Caesar salad. Entrees include Creole spiced shrimp draped with rum butter, whole fish with romescu, ribeye steak with mashed potatoes, and General Tso’s fried chicken with crawfish and crab fat rice. Cavan also features an incredible cocktail selection and boutique wines from all over the world.
Cavan: 3607 Magazine St., 509-7655.
This world famous enterprise founded by the late Ella Brennan saw the rise of Chef Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, and is currently under the capable hands of Chef Tory McPhail. The birthplace of the Jazz Brunch, Commander’s series of spectacular dining rooms is matched by the restaurant’s grand courtyard. The menu simply has it all. Turtle soup, gumbo, shrimp and tasso Henican, crawfish and Creole cream cheese gnocchi, chili-lemongrass glazed alligator, a litany of egg dishes, trout pecan, and of course, Bananas Foster prepared tableside, and Commander’s killer bread pudding soufflé. Of course, you must try the classic cocktails and peruse the incredible wine list. Bon appetit!
Commander’s Palace: 1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221.
Located in a sweet spot on Oak Street near the Mississippi River, Cowbell brings the Uptown funk to the burger scene, offering everything from grass-fed burgers on toasted potato rolls, to ahi tuna, to a vegetarian ‘red beans and rice’ burger. Appetizer treats include “figgy toast” with andouille sausage, figs, and blue cheese croutons, chicken wings, and a roasted mushroom huitlecoche, and asadero quesadilla with salsa, and brussel sprouts with bacon and Marcona almonds. Besides their famous burgers, various permutations of tacos and steak offerings round out the robust menu.
Cowbell: 8801 Oak St., 866-4222.
This cozy spot located on St. Charles Avenue has evolved over the years from being a wine bar that was one of the original ‘pop up’ restaurant spots in town, to a charming destination with an eclectic menu that includes a daily paté board, grilled eggplant cannolis, smoked salmon with corn cakes, Thai style shrimp Clemenceau, Cuban pork with mojo and yuca, mofongo, and ribeye steak with blue cheese butter, served with fries cooked in goose fat. Delachaise also has an impressive selection of wine and spirits. Its sister restaurant, Chais Delachaise takes a similar approach but has a different menu including gems like fried oysters with melted brie over wilted spinach, steak bruschetta, lamb burger, and Indian spiced cauliflower stewed with potatoes, cashews, and chickpeas.
Delachaise: 3442 St Charles Ave., 895-0858.
Located in the heart of beautiful Uptown New Orleans, Lilette is one of the most romantic and charming restaurants in town. Chef John Harris’ menu is a love letter to France and Italy, featuring Italian Wedding Soup, luscious escargot in Calvados cream, duck confit with crispy marrow, gnocchi with brown butter and sage cream, saffron pappardelle, king crab claws with passionfruit butter, and arugula salad with curried almonds. Entrees include grilled herbed squab, duck breast with roasted shallot sauce, roasted salmon with couscous, and the bistro classic grilled hanger steak with bordelaise sauce and thin cut fries. At the adjacent casual concept restaurant, Bouligny Tavern, Chef Harris brings forth deviled eggs, gougeres, bruschetta with burrata, anchovy toast, raw oysters, charcuterie, and cheese plates, short ribs, and burgers. Outside dining is available at both establishments.
Lilette: 3637 Magazine St., 895-1636.
This storied national treasure recently passed hands from the Impastato family to Ralph Brennan, and is presided over by the talented and passionate Chef Chris Montero. To the delight of its loyal fans, the menu has remained intact! Apps include boudin with orange mustard sauce, a generous charcuterie board, spinach and artichoke dip, and gumbo. New Orleans staples such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and a full slate of sandwich offerings capped off by their signature warm muffuletta, remains part of the experience, as does the Pimm’s cup, which was popularized there.