Brunch, that lazy, decadent meal that allows for sleeping in late and languishing over a full plate for hours, is still an ideal way to start a Sunday in the Big Easy. Oten enjoyed between sips of champagne and Bloody Marys in lush shady courtyards, the best brunches are accompanied by live music, often with a stand-up bass player keeping the beat. Brunch in New Orleans is a longstanding tradition that makes weekends special. After a late night listening to music on Frenchmen Street, that deliciously hybrid feast, accompanied by hair of the dog, is just what the doctor ordered.
For early birds, brunches can start as early as 10 a.m., with sleepy-eyed stragglers listing in until around 2. The hungry traveler has plenty of time to stumble out of bed and walk/streetcar to the nearest establishment. The drinks are one thing, the food is another. New Orleans is known for its culinary creativity and love of seafood. Brunch menus will be packed with seafood/breakfast food options that you simply will not find anywhere else on the globe. The brunch menu at Commander's Palace proves this point. Add in live jazz, and you know you aren't brunching in any other city in America
Named for the 19th century French Impressionist, Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas, who in 1872 lived just down the street at 2306 Esplanade Avenue, this restaurant is one of the most authentic French dining rooms in town. A partnership between French restaurateur Jacques Soulas and New Orleanian Jerry Edgar, Cafe Degas oozes quirky charm along with a menu straight out of a Paris cafe. For brunch, you'll savor the likes of homemade pate and traditional boudin noir, seafood crepes, grillades and grits and calf's liver and sweetbreads. Bloody Marys and mimosas flow, or get a bottle of bubbly, French of course, to complement your meal. (504-945-5635)
Creole cuisine is wonderful, but you can't (always) eat it every day. Take a break here at Sylvain, a charming modern Southern gastro-pub in the shadow of St. Louis Cathedral. Set in an historic building, the restaurant is all candlelight and burnished copper, a romantic space with a hidden little courtyard. Brunch has replaced Friday and Saturday lunch at this low key spot, where chef Martha Wiggins' menu includes gulf shrimp and cornmeal dumplings, scrambles galore and crispy pork shoulder with stone ground grits. The cheese plate is one of the best around, or try the short rib hash with eggs. The Sylvain burger with hand cut fries is a dream. For dessert, the Abita root beer float will take you back to simpler times. (5042658123)
Court of Two Sisters
The Court of Two Sisters offers a genteel backdrop for jazz brunch, with its setting in an historic three story building on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Every day is Sunday at this popular spot, where a $29.95 buffet jazz brunch is served seven days a week. Sit a spell in the massive leafy courtyard where you can enjoy some 80 different items on the hot and cold buffet of Creole specialties, as well as a carving and omelet station, while listening to soothing live jazz. Its central French Quarter location makes The Court of Two Sisters convenient to just about every FQ hotel, and reservations are recommended. ((504) 522-7261)
Surrey's Cafe and Juice Bar
A favorite with the locals, this eatery's the perfect spot to spend a leisurely morning. Beverage selections are of the non-alcoholic variety, including fruit and vegetable juices, Abita root beer and organic coffee. Menu favorites include the muffuletta, filled with ham, cheese, salami, and olive salad, and huevos rancheros, comprised of chilies, black beans, egg and tortillas in a deeply flavored mole sauce. Lush plants, whimsical art work and regional music playing in the background add to this restaurant's vitality. Surrey's has two locations on Magazine Street, one in the lower Garden shopping district and one uptown close to Napoleon Avenue. (504-524-3828)
There is no better way to begin a New Orleans weekend morning than brunch at Dante's Kitchen, where delectable dishes represent playful twists on Creole comfort food. This local gem's charming dining rooms and tropical patio provide a wonderful setting for sipping the perfect Bloody Mary and indulging in morning masterpieces like decadent breakfast breads, brioche French toast and a deliciously genius version of eggs Benedict, featuring rosemary-crusted pork and honey on a buttermilk biscuit. Located right on the Riverbend, take the St. Charles streetcar (the green one) Uptown for a delicious meal followed by a stroll along the Mississippi to work off your feast. (504-861-3121)
With tasty Southern cuisine at reasonable prices, this Bywater neighborhood standby is popular with locals and visitors alike. Weekend brunch earns a wild fan base for its copious portions of grillades and grits - think smothered steak and red neck eggs, poached and topped with fried green tomatoes. On the sweet side, you might find Bananas Foster stuffed French toast or homemade and biscuits with butter and honey. If there is a wait, head upstairs to the bar for a mimosa or veg-enhanced Bloody Mary, the perfect jump start to a fun-filled New Orleans day. Come hungry and prepare to be wowed by the charming setting, friendly service and downhome savory eats. (504-944-9272)
Arana Taqueria Y Cantina
Arana Taqueria y Cantina, home to local chef Richard Papier, is a popular Magazine Street specializing in flavorfuil Mexican cuisine. The name, which means spider in Spanish, is a nod to the chef's longtime nickname. Look for slow braised pork, beef, chicken and duck cooked in banana leaves and dishes seasoned with achiote.
Papier, who has worked alongside chefs Emeril Lagasse, Donald link and Susan Spicer, gets creative with smoky chicken mole, a send up on chicken fried steak called torta Milanese and a variety of 12 different tacos including killer fish tacos with jalapeno sauce and a tasty carne asada.
The chef recently launched a new menu featuring crowd pleasing Mexican dishes like fajitas, burritos and enchiladas - including the New Orleans-flavored fried oyster tostadas. ((504) 894-1233)
Li'l Dizzy's Cafe
Situated on leafy Esplanade Avenue, Li'l Dizzy's delivers authentic Creole and Southern fare in a friendly, family atmosphere. Order from the menu if you like, dishes like jambalaya omelet with biscuits and grilled catfish and eggs are legendary favorites. But if your appetite knows no bounds, opt for the buffet. You'll get change from a $20 and the chance to tuck into made-to-order crab omelets, rice and beans, seafood gumbo and hot from the fryer chicken that is crispy, light and succulent. For dessert, bread pudding is the best choice night or day. Expect to be treat like family, another reason locals love Li'l Dizzy's. (504-569-8997)
The food is so pretty at this at this airy restaurant dedicated to vegan, vegetarian, raw and gluten free dishes you may be tempted to eat your plate. Local, sustainable ingredients power a menu with a surprising number of New Orleans specialties, tweaked but not torked. You can still enjoy comfort foods like nachos and chili cheese fries - made with cashew quesa, to New Orleans favorites like "inspired by "gumbo, a tasty simmer made with traditional roux , okra, green and red peppers, collard greens, mushrooms and spicy seitan if you're feeling frisky. Food so good you won't miss the meat. Try the zippy tofu scramble with "bacon." (504.302.2599)
Compere Lapin (pronounced kom-pare la-pan) means "brother rabbit," a reference to a mischievous rabbit featured in the Caribbean folk tales chef Nina Compton read as a kid. Drawing on the story's themes of exploration and play, Compton designed a restaurant that features a mix of inventive flavors drawn from the New Orleans table, Compton's Caribbean roots, her French culinary training and deep experience with Italian cuisine.
After even just a few bites, it's not hard to conjure Compere Lapin's island roots. Small plates, which pair insanely well with the bold drinks program designed by beverage director Ricky Gomez, include the likes of conch croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce and roasted jerk corn with a citrus aioli. Flavors are exotic, tropical and tinged with just the right amount of heat. Brunch dishes including bruleed grapefruit, coconut French toast and goat Bolognese over cavatelli are delish. ((504) 599-2119)
About Beth D'Addono
Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.
After spending years flying in regularly to research stories, attend festivals and eat the city's amazing cuisine, this New Orleanian at heart moved to the Crescent City full time in 2012.
Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets including USAToday, AAA Traveler, Wells Fargo Conversations, Philadelphia Daily News, Taste, Fodor's and others.
Her new book The Hunt New Orleans is a carefully curated insider's guide to indie shops and restaurants around town.
Read more about Beth D'Addono here.
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