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21+ Yummy Places to Eat in New Orleans Downtown

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Discovering the best places to eat in the heart of New Orleans is one of my favorite pastimes. After years of working in the Central Business District, I’ve encountered several restaurants that are the top Dining Spots in Downtown New Orleans.

From the time-honored Creole cuisines to the spicy notes of Cajun dishes, the downtown area entices the taste buds of locals and visitors alike.

New Orleans’s downtown dining scene reflects its history and culture. From delicious business lunches to fantastic sandwiches or even a quick happy hour -the CBD is one of my favorite places to grab a bite.

If you want a quick bite or a memorable dining experience, the Warehouse District and CBD cater to all preferences. Moreover, the hospitable spirit of New Orleans is instilled in every establishment, from the casual outdoor seating areas to the sophisticated indoor settings. Dining downtown is more than a meal. It is the perfect way to enjoy your time in New Orleans.

Central Business District vs French Quarter

Whenever I am in the Central Business District, I like to stick to my favorite restaurants in the area. Two restaurants I frequently go to are Sofia and Desi Vega’s Steakhouse.

The CBD offers contemporary dining options for office workers, convention-goers, and visitors. In contrast, the French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans cuisine, boasting time-honored restaurants with a lively atmosphere. Even though we won’t be stumbling on Bourbon Street during this blog post, you will find good food and some of the best spots to grab a bite in New Orleans. 

Central Business District:

  • Trendsetting Restaurants: Ideal for foodies looking for a modern twist on traditional dishes.
  • Business Lunch Spots: Abundant with upscale eateries perfect for professional meetings.

French Quarter:

  • Historic Dining: This area teems with classic establishments offering Creole and Cajun specialties.
  • Culinary Diversity: From quick bites to fine dining, the French Quarter caters to all palates and budgets.

In the CBD, I discover modern restaurants putting a new spin on traditional Louisiana dishes. At the same time, the French Quarter offers a taste of New Orleans’ culinary heritage with time-tested recipes.

Both areas are conveniently close to various attractions, allowing a pleasant transition from an excellent meal to the next activity. We will go over the different areas in the Central Business District for you to dine. If you want a dining experience in the French Quarter, look forward to my next blog post.

Top 21 Places to Eat in the CBD as told by a local

Below are the top 21 places to eat in the Central Business District and Warehouse District. There are so many restaurants in New Orleans that if you tried to eat at a different one for every meal, you still wouldn’t be finished within a year! 

New restaurants constantly pop up monthly, and some of our favorite best spots have closed down over the last few years. If you find the perfect place to eat from this list, research to see if it is still open. 

Make sure you look at my recommendations and eat at the best food places while on vacation! There are several delicious restaurants all over the Big Easy, and this list is just the beginning of all the great places you can eat in the CBD. If you want to check out recommendations for other neighborhoods, check out this blog post!

1. Herbsaint

At Herbsaint is the essence of contemporary Southern and French cuisine. The Restaurant excels in crafting dishes that not only showcase the rich flavors of the region but also celebrate the abundance of local ingredients. It’s a go-to spot for date night or hanging out with my girlfriends, where I can consistently indulge in a delightful culinary experience.

Make sure to order Herbsaint’s housemade spaghetti with savory guanciale and a fried-poached farm egg. This expertly crafted combination captures the essence of comfort and sophistication, making it a standout choice in New Orleans’ Downtown culinary scene. Take advantage of the opportunity to savor this unique and delicious offering at Herbsaint.

2. Ugly Dog Saloon & BBQ

Ugly Dog Saloon & BBQ is a haven for barbecue enthusiasts, offering slow-cooked meats that reach perfection. This long-standing institution invites patrons to savor the authentic flavors of slow-cooked barbecue, creating a dining experience that pays homage to the rich tradition of smoked and savory delights. Whether you’re a local barbecue connoisseur or a visitor seeking Southern comfort, Ugly Dog Saloon & BBQ promises a satisfying and flavorful journey through the world of expertly crafted, slow-cooked meats.

Get an order of Ugly Nachos—a mouthwatering dish featuring house-fried tortilla chips piled high with slow-cooked pulled pork, housemade queso, jalapeños, chili beans, and chipotle sour cream. For a hearty main course, savor the Burnt Ends Sandwich, where the charred ends of brisket are tossed in their signature housemade BBQ sauce, delivering a delightful smoky and savory experience.

3. Desi Vega’s Steakhouse

Regarding the finest dining experiences in Downtown New Orleans, Desi Vega’s Steakhouse stands out as a go-to destination. Renowned for its impeccable preparation of steaks, this establishment elevates the culinary scene with perfectly cooked cuts, ensuring a dining experience that exceeds expectations. Beyond the exceptional steaks, the upscale atmosphere at Desi Vega’s adds an extra layer of sophistication, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a refined and memorable meal in the city’s heart for special occasions or serious business meetings. 

I highly recommend ordering their barbecued shrimp appetizer. If you are from somewhere other than New Orleans, you may be shocked at what BBQ shrimp entails! As for the main course, the petite filet paired with sides of creamed spinach and potato au gratin is a winning combination.

4. Luke

Luke is a Creole-inspired Brasserie that seamlessly blends with the city’s flair. The Restaurant’s innovative approach to local cuisine brings a unique twist to traditional flavors, creating an unforgettable dining experience. Luke’s seafood dishes take center stage, showcasing the freshness and vibrancy of Gulf Coast ingredients in a way that truly captures the love of seafood in the city.

For non-seafood lovers, like myself, the Luke Burger is a must-try. This savory delight offers a flavorful alternative with a perfectly cooked beef patty. On the other hand, seafood fans should take advantage of the chance to savor the Seafood Bouillabaisse. The rich broth and the array of fresh seafood make it a must-try!

5. Maypop

Maypop skillfully fuses the vibrant tastes of Southeast Asia with the richness of regional Southern ingredients. The menu at Maypop allows bold and exotic flavors to pair with local elements, creating an adventurous dining experience rooted in the city’s diverse culinary tapestry. 

I highly recommend the Bib Lettuce Salad for a refreshing start at Maypop in Downtown New Orleans. This Bib Lettuce Salad is one of my favorites in the city! 

It features crisp bib lettuce adorned with fresh, seasonal ingredients. It provides a delightful balance of textures and flavors. For those seeking a more indulgent and exotic experience, the Lobster Tom Kah with Scallion Malfatti Dumplings is a must-try. 

6. Peche Seafood Grill

Peche Seafood Grill stands out as a culinary haven where grilling takes seafood to unparalleled heights. Their extensive seafood menu is one that any seafood lover should try out. The chefs at Peche showcase their culinary expertise by infusing each dish with a distinct flavor profile, emphasizing the rich and smoky nuances that grilling brings to seafood. 

Order the Baked Drum served in a flavorful Mushroom Broth, accompanied by Calas, also known as dumplings. The harmonious blend of textures and tastes makes this dish a standout choice. Alternatively, savor the Grilled Chicken paired with Brown Rice Risotto and Maitake mushrooms.

7. Willa Jean

Willa Jean in Downtown New Orleans is a culinary delight known for its James Beard Award nominations. At Willa Jean, you can start your culinary journey with the Cornbread accompanied by decadent whipped butter. This true Southern delight embodies comfort and flavor. 

For a satisfying main course, indulge in the Fried Chicken Sandwich. This crispy and flavorful rendition showcases Willa Jean’s commitment to Southern culinary excellence. Pair your meal with the Milk Money Latte – you will thank me later for that recommendation.

If you are in town during the Mardi Gras Season, get one of their yummy King Cakes from Willa Jean. 

8. Bearcat CBD

Bearcat CBD caters to diverse palates, making it a haven for health-conscious diners. With a thoughtful menu (for good cats and bad cats) that seamlessly integrates vegan and vegetarian options with classic café fare, Bearcat CBD provides a welcoming, flavorful space. 

For a hearty breakfast at Bearcat CBD in Downtown New Orleans, don’t miss the Hot Rob—a delicious combination of hot chicken, creamed spinach, a sunny egg, and a biscuit. This morning option embodies the perfect blend of savory and satisfying elements to kickstart your day. 

The Xiong Mao Noodles are a standout choice for a fulfilling lunch, showcasing Bearcat CBD’s commitment to diverse and delectable offerings. The noodles, paired with their distinctive flavors, make for a lunchtime experience that reflects the vibrancy of New Orleans’ culinary scene.

9. Mister Oso

Mister Oso is a culinary gem that brings a vibrant fusion of Latin American flavors to the dining scene. The Restaurant stands out for its unique focus on Mexican-inspired dishes, creating a symphony of tastes for your mouth. From the lively atmosphere to the palate-pleasing menu, Mister Oso offers a dining experience reflecting Latin American cuisine’s bold and delicious spirit in the city’s heart.

I highly recommend starting your culinary journey with the Guacamole. For an unforgettable taco experience, indulge in the Smoke Potato Taco and the Quesabirria Taco. The Smoke Potato Taco offers a delightful combination of smoky flavors and textures. At the same time, the Quesabirria Taco brings a rich and savory experience with its flavorful beef filling. These dishes exemplify Mister Oso’s mastery of Mexican-inspired delights that tantalize the taste buds and make for a truly memorable dining experience.

10. Cochon Restaurant

Cochon Restaurant is a culinary haven that pays homage to Cajun culinary traditions. Renowned for its emphasis on pork and dedication to locally sourced ingredients, Cochon offers a dining experience that authentically captures the flavors and richness of Louisiana’s culinary heritage. The menu, thoughtfully curated with a focus on Cajun excellence, ensures that every dish at Cochon reflects the spirit and tradition of New Orleans’ vibrant food culture.

For a delicious start at Cochon Restaurant in Downtown New Orleans, indulge in the Fried Meat Pie with Horseradish Dressing—an irresistible combination of crispy exterior and savory filling complemented by the zesty kick of horseradish dressing. To savor the smoky essence of Cochon, the Smoked Beef Short Rib is a must-try, showcasing the Restaurant’s commitment to perfectly cooked, flavor-packed meats embodying Cajun cuisine’s spirit.

Suppose you’re in the mood for a lighter option. In that case, Cochon Butcher offers a tempting alternative with their Blue Plate Special or the Porchetta Cheese Steak Sandwich—providing a delightful flavor balance without compromising the authentic Cajun culinary experience.

11. Sofia

Sofia is hands down one of my favorite places to grab a reservation for when I’m exploring downtown. It offers a contemporary twist on Italian cuisine with a great atmosphere. Renowned for its dedication to handmade pasta dishes, the Restaurant invites locals and visitors alike to savor the authentic flavors of Italy, elevated to a new level of culinary excellence. 

For a delightful family-style experience at Sofia in Downtown New Orleans, consider sharing the flavors of Italy with the Ala Vodka, Cacio e Pepe, and Funghi Pizza. The Ala Vodka offers a rich and creamy pasta dish. At the same time, the Cacio e Pepe showcases the simplicity and perfection of handmade pasta. Complement these with the savory and earthy notes of the Funghi Pizza, creating a well-rounded and satisfying Italian feast that embodies Sofia’s commitment to modern and elevated cuisine.

12. Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar

An excellent venue for oysters and cocktails in a stylish outdoor setting.

Tucked away in the furthest corner of Downtown New Orleans, Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar is a hidden gem that beckons oyster enthusiasts and cocktail lovers alike. With a super cute outdoor area, this is the best place to grab some oysters and craft cocktails.

For a well-rounded experience at Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar in Downtown New Orleans, start with the Shrimp Cocktail. This refreshing and succulent appetizer sets the tone for the meal. To elevate your seafood experience, opt for the Baller Selection, featuring a tempting array of oysters from coast to coast, allowing you to savor the diverse and exquisite flavors of these ocean gems in a stylish outdoor setting.

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13. The Daily Beet

The Daily Beet is a go-to spot for health-conscious meals prioritizing fresh, whole foods. From invigorating smoothies to nourishing grain bowls, this eatery offers a menu tailored to those seeking a delicious and wholesome dining experience. Whether local or a visitor, The Daily Beet provides a refreshing oasis where flavor and nutrition seamlessly come together in each thoughtfully crafted dish.

I highly recommend indulging in the Rainbow Bowl. Packed with wholesome goodness, this bowl features a delightful combination of quinoa, avocado, carrot, beet, red bell pepper, scallion, chickpea, currant, and toasted almond. The finishing touch is the zesty ginger garlic dressing, which combines all the fresh and vibrant flavors, creating a nourishing and delicious meal that perfectly aligns with your health-conscious preferences.

14. Vyoone’s

Vyoone’s French Bistro is a standout culinary destination celebrated for its elegant, cozy, inviting dishes. This charming Restaurant offers a refined dining experience where classic French flavors take center stage, creating a perfect blend of sophistication and warmth for locals and visitors alike to savor. With its commitment to culinary excellence and an inviting ambiance, Vyoone’s beckons those seeking a taste of French culinary traditions in the city’s heart.

I recommend starting with the Escargot à la Moelle. This classic French delicacy pairs tender snails with flavorful bone marrow, creating a rich and indulgent appetizer. As a main course, indulge in the Crevettes et gruau. This dish beautifully marries the succulence of shrimp with the distinctive flavors of Grau du Roi, promising a delightful journey through coastal French cuisine. These carefully crafted dishes exemplify Vyoone’s commitment to elegance and culinary finesse, making your visit a memorable exploration of French gastronomy.

15. Rock-n-Sake Bar & Sushi

Rock-n-Sake Bar & Sushi is my go-to spot when the sushi cravings hit. The lively atmosphere, coupled with their innovative rolls, creates a dynamic dining experience that stands out in the city’s culinary scene. From artfully crafted sushi rolls to the energetic vibe, Rock-n-Sake combines creativity and flavor effortlessly, making it a must-visit destination for sushi enthusiasts looking for a memorable dining adventure in the city’s heart.

Elevate your sushi experience with the Tiger Roll, a compelling combination of tuna, shrimp tempura, snow crab, cream cheese, avocado, eel sauce, nori, rice, and sesame seeds. Indulge in the Hawaii 5-0, featuring mangos, avocado, coconut-tempura Ebi shrimp, and cream cheese for a tropical delight. 

16. Mother’s Restaurant

Mother’s Restaurant is a beloved institution renowned for its iconic dishes like the po’ boys and hearty breakfast offerings. It may be a little controversial amongst the blogs, but it is a go-to destination for classic New Orleans comfort food; Mother’s has been a local favorite for generations, embodying the essence of the city’s culinary heritage with every flavorful bite. There is a reason why so many famous people are hanging on the walls at Mother’s.

Try the Famous Ferdi Special (The Original). This legendary sandwich is packed with savory goodness and features ham, roast beef, and the original debris submerged in au jus gravy. Whether you opt for the whole or half portion, the Famous Ferdi Special promises a delicious journey through Mother’s culinary history, offering an authentic taste of classic New Orleans comfort food.

17. Briquette

Briquette is a culinary haven specializing in contemporary coastal cuisine. The Restaurant’s open kitchen adds a dynamic touch, allowing diners to witness the culinary mastery of crafting each dish. With a commitment to quality and a focus on the finest coastal ingredients, Briquette offers a dining experience that seamlessly marries innovation with rich culinary traditions.

Indulge in the Blackened Redfish—a dish that features a harmonious blend of flavors with grilled Gulf shrimp, fried green tomatoes, fresh arugula, and a luscious Chardonnay butter sauce. Alternatively, the New Orleans Catfish Platter offers a crispy delight with Des Allemands catfish, accompanied by rosemary fries, purple fennel slaw, and house tartar sauce.

18. Compere Lapin

Compère Lapin pays homage to Caribbean and Creole flavors with an imaginative and seasonal menu. Whether exploring the diverse array of Caribbean-inspired dishes or savoring the seasonal delights, Compère Lapin invites you to embark on a flavorful journey that captures the essence of the Caribbean and Creole culinary traditions in the heart of the city.

Enjoy Buttermilk Biscuits paired with Honey Butter and Bacon Butter—a delightful trio that promises a symphony of flavors. For a main course, indulge in Fried Chicken featuring Jerk Honey Butter, Coconut Grits, and Peanuts—an exquisite combination that elevates the classic Southern dish. Complete your experience with the limited-edition cocktail, The Copper Bunny, blending Absolut Elyx, Pineapple Jalapeño Tequila, Ginger, Lime, and Mumm Champagne—available in limited quantities daily.

19. Meril

Meril, another of Emeril Lagasse’s distinguished establishments, invites diners into a casual yet sophisticated environment. Renowned for its eclectic range of global dishes, Meril seamlessly blends culinary innovation with a relaxed atmosphere, creating a dining experience that reflects the dynamic and diverse spirit of the city’s food culture. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual bite or an adventurous culinary exploration, Meril is a testament to Emeril’s culinary prowess and ability to deliver a memorable dining experience for locals and visitors alike.

Start your meal with the Burrata & Prosciutto Salad. This dish features marinated mushrooms, shallots, arugula, frisée, and a touch of truffle oil, creating a flavorful and refreshing appetizer. The Spicy Rigatoni is a must-try for a main course, showcasing the perfect balance of caramelized onions and Pecorino Romano. Alternatively, indulge in the Grilled Ribeye with blistered sweet peppers, A2 sauce, and chimichurri, a steak lover’s delight that captures the essence of Meril’s global and innovative approach to cuisine.

20. Gianna

Gianna takes the spotlight with its emphasis on rustic Italian cuisine, showcasing the artistry of fresh, housemade pasta and traditional culinary techniques. This culinary haven invites patrons to experience the authentic flavors of Italy through a menu that embodies the essence of simplicity and quality. Gianna’s commitment to crafting dishes with finesse and dedication to the time-honored traditions of Italian cooking makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking an elevated and genuine taste of Italy in the heart of the city.

Delight your taste buds with the comforting Meatballs, immersed in a flavorful red gravy and adorned with Parmesan and bread crumbs. For a taste of Italy’s classic simplicity, savor the Margherita pizza, featuring fior di latte cheese, fresh basil, and tomato. The Ricotta Gnocchi, expertly crafted with maitake mushrooms, lemon, and parsley, embodies Gianna’s dedication to rustic Italian cuisine.

21. Brewery Saint X

Brewery Saint X, located in the heart of Downtown New Orleans close to the Superdome, goes beyond the traditional brewery experience by offering a diverse selection of craft beers and an enticing array of food options. Their menu features shared plates and hearty mains, creating a dining experience where the flavors of their meticulously crafted beers are thoughtfully complemented by delicious dishes. Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or a food lover, Brewery Saint X invites you to savor the best of both worlds in a dynamic and flavorful setting.

Indulge in the robust flavors at Brewery Saint X in Downtown New Orleans with their Prime Beef Brisket. This hearty main showcases the perfection of their culinary craft, offering a tender and flavorful brisket that promises a satisfying dining experience. Complement your meal with the Frito Pie, featuring sides like Red Beans & Rice and Creole Cream Cheese Grits. Each bite reflects Brewery Saint X’s commitment to crafting a harmonious fusion of craft beers and delectable dishes, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a dynamic and flavor-packed dining experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve gathered people’s most common inquiries when looking for great dining experiences in downtown New Orleans. This compilation aims to guide food lovers through the culinary landscape of this vibrant city.

Where can I find the best restaurants in the New Orleans French Quarter?

For an iconic New Orleans snack, the French Quarter’s Cafe du Monde is a historic spot dating back to 1862, renowned for its beignets and cafe au lait. Other esteemed eateries like Commander’s Palace in the Lower Garden District offer signature dishes such as turtle soup. Brennan’s Restaurant and Antoine’s Restaurant are my favorite places to frequent in the French Quarter. 

What are some affordable dining options in downtown New Orleans?

Affordable dining thrives in New Orleans, with places like Willie Mae’s Scotch House offering budget-friendly, soul-satisfying meals. Po’ boys are a staple and can be found at various eateries, delivering a taste of the city without breaking the bank. If you are looking for an affordable price but want something on the menu, make sure you also split meals with your travel companion – that way, you can dine at more places!

Which seafood restaurants are a must-visit in downtown New Orleans?

New Orleans’ seafood is legendary, with establishments like Acme Oyster House and Felix’s serving fresh Gulf oysters and shrimp. Atchafalaya Restaurant is another must-visit for seafood enthusiasts, especially for its blackened and fried seafood dishes.

Can you recommend some popular breakfast spots in downtown New Orleans?

When morning breaks, the city offers ample breakfast choices. The Ruby Slipper Cafe is a local favorite for a morning meal, known for its Southern twists on classic breakfast dishes and inventive bloody marys. I also love getting breakfast or brunch at Bear Cat. And you must remember getting a delicious coffee at French Truck.

Where do locals prefer to dine in New Orleans for authentic experiences?

New Orleans locals often seek places serving traditional dishes like red beans and rice or jambalaya. Jacques-Imo’s Cafe and Coop’s Place are just a few spots to eat like a local and savor classic New Orleans flavors.

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