How To Maximize A Long Weekend In New Orleans

Simmer To A Boil

New Orleans hasn't lost the staples, but a foodie revolution is coming on in.

Meauxbar chef Kristen Essig...
... and shrimp shakshouka at Shaya.

By Sara Roahen
Photography Cedric Angeles

Originally appeared in November 2015 issue of Virtuoso Life

While NOLA can’t claim full recovery from Hurricane Katrina a decade after the levees failed, it can claim the benefits of a culinary boomtown. There are significantly more restaurants operating now than before the storm, and their creativity is unchecked by traditions that once earned the town a reputation for having 5,000 restaurants but only five recipes. Don’t worry: You still won’t want for crawfish étouffée and shrimp po’boys. But you might reserve a meal for goat tacos spiked with cilantro harissa or duck with mangosteen vinaigrette. 


Old ideas get a makeover at this French Quarter bistro with a largely local clientele. Meals begin perfectly with a pastis cocktail from the seasonal drinks menu. Chef Kristen Essig brightens every dish with farm-freshness, right down to the house-churned butter and locally caught seafood in dishes such as crab gnocchi. Meauxbar’s Gulf fish amandine stands up to the most established versions. 942 N. Rampart Street; 504/569-9979;


New Orleanians have enjoyed a bounty of traditional Vietnamese restaurants for decades, but chef Michael Gulotta’s marriage of Louisiana ingredients and Asian flavors in a casual setting near City Park tells a new story. Curry dishes and gingery fried chicken wings are ideal for sharing, and the ever-changing menu always includes a few selections that incorporate a luscious, locally made tofu. Gulotta’s boba tea cocktails are a revelation. 514 City Park Avenue; 504/482-6845;

St. Roch Market

A nexus for the new New Orleans – both its edible offerings and its location in a rapidly gentrifying old neighborhood – St. Roch’s historic public market has been impeccably restored and transformed into a gleaming food hall. Inside, pendant lights hang from a soaring ceiling, and roughly a dozen vendors set up shop behind white marble countertops. A produce stand and a bar specializing in craft cocktails are constants. The market functions as an entrepreneurial hub for vendors who move on to open their own businesses, so it’s a great preview of what’s next in the city. 2381 St. Claude Avenue; 504/609-3813;


When Israeli-born Alon Shaya opened his Magazine Street restaurant in Uptown, he filled a gap that New Orleanians hadn’t even realized existed. Now they can’t get enough of his puffed, too-hot-to-handle pita bread, baked in the dining room’s wood-fired oven. Or the array of hummus – from straight-up to gilded with ground lamb and fresh peas. Or the shrimp shakshouka and the duck matzo ball soup. Don’t leave without trying the labneh cheesecake with burnt-honey ice cream. 4213 Magazine Street; 504/891-4213;

Where To Stay in New Orleans

There are four Virtuoso properties in New Orleans.

Eat Like A Local In New Orleans: Gumbo

Chefs continue to up the ante on the city’s most iconic dish. For proof, try Ryan Haigler’s chicken gumbo with tangy, house-smoked andouille sausage at Grand Isle Restaurant (575 Convention Center Boulevard; 504/520-8530; Frank Brigtsen, who is perhaps the reigning roux-making king, stirs up filé gumbo with braised rabbit at Brigtsen’s Restaurant (723 Dante Street; 504/861-7610; At Pêche Seafood Grill (800 Magazine Street; 504/522-1744;, Ryan Prewitt makes an okra-strong version with shrimp and oysters. 

A Virtuoso Advisor Tip On New Orleans

“Uptown’s Magazine Street is a historic must-see area with fun boutiques, great restaurants, and terrific antique hunting at shops such as Karla Katz and Wirthmore Antiques.” – Mary Ann Paternostro, Virtuoso travel advisor, New Orleans

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