The Garden District of New Orleans is the neighborhood to go to for brunch in the city. With its sleepy, just waking up morning vibe, this neighborhood is ideal for strolling, thanks to the beautified shotgun houses that line Magazine and the sprawling oaks festooned with beads along St. Charles Avenue. Many of the spots on this list will be ready to serve you up a refreshing mimosa or spicy Bloody Mary in their secluded courtyards.
What New Orleans "bruncheries" do is take traditional breakfast meals - omelettes, burritos, grits, etc- and modify them using local ingredients, techniques and flare. You can expect twists on the usual, maybe an omelet smothered with crawfish etoufee or eggs baked with creamy crabmeat.
Many brunches in New Orleans offer live music, a small jazz combo or even a single musician serenading the crowds with soulful rhythms. Also, be prepared for some brunch crowds to not only be curing their hangover from the night before, but working on their next one.
The list below contains a mix of neighborhood favorites, dinner-centric places that do a solid Sunday brunch, and places that are known specifically for a few signature dishes. None will disappoint, better yet try them all for a revolving weekend feast.
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)
Coulis on Prytania is a breakfast/brunch/lunch spot in the Garden District neighborhood of New Orleans. It is very small, with an interior conducive to brunching and light conversation. Coffee is fresh and delicious here, and should be paired with an oversized omelet, homemade biscuits and/or grits. If you are of the non-gluten orient, the cook staff caters to your needs with gluten-free offerings. Bring your bottle of champagne or pre-mixed Bloody Mary as Coulis is a BYOB establishment. Often times, revelers will meander over from a nearby bar into this joint to keep their buzzes rolling and stomaches filled. Portions are ample, another reason to head this way. ((504) 304-4265)
Cafe Atchafalaya features authentic Creole food, comforting service and locally seasoned live music. Touted as New Orleans' only "five A" restaurant, this funky neighborhood bistro emanates a distinct New Orleans vibe that attracts locals and tourists alike. The sauces, soups and shrimp and grits are offerings that attract weekly repeat customers. The Jazz Brunch offered here is less "prim and proper", and more wild to put it simply. The Jazz trio pumps out some great tunes while interacting with the enthusiastic crowds. The building has served as a restaurant since the 20's and is located in the famed Irish Channel. (504-891-9626)
Surrey's Cafe and Juice Bar
A favorite with the locals, this eatery is the perfect spot to spend a leisurely morning. Beverage selections include a variety of fruit and vegetable juices to Abita root beer to organic coffee. Menu favorites include the muffuletta, filled with ham, cheese, salami, and olive salad, and the huevos rancheros, comprised of chilies, black beans, egg and tortillas in mole sauce. Live plants, whimsical art work and regional music playing in the background add to this restaurant's vitality. Surrey's is right on Magazine Street, and can be the perfect stop-in spot before and/or after dropping in any of the numerous boutiques. (504-524-3828)
Patois translates to "local accent", which is fitting for a restaurant that blends French culinary traditions with New Orleans flare and ingredients. Founded by Chef Aaron Burgau, the Uptown restaurant is noted for serving dishes like the Mississippi Rabbit and Hanger Steak at reasonable prices relative to the competition. The establishment has recently won awards such as "Best of New Orleans" and "Best Bargains" by revered local media outlets, making it a necessary stop for any traveler to the area looking for a great local dining option. Patois is housed in a quaint building in Uptown New Orleans near Audubon Park. ((504) 895-9441)
Driving by the blue Victorian facade of Commander's Palace in the Garden District of New Orleans immediately invokes curiosity. What's in there? Just a five star upscale restaurant whose kitchen was tended to by a young pre-famed Emeril Legasse some many years ago is all. Commander's Palace specializes in modern Creole dishes starring local meats, seafood, vegetables and fruits. In keeping with tradition, the Palace requires patrons to wear slacks and button ups, with suit jackets recommended for dinner. Stepping inside the time warp that is the front door, be prepared to experience New Orleans dining like it was, back in the day. Brunch is set to a live jazz soundtrack, three course priced in the $40s that turn any weekend into a special occasion. (504-899-8221)
Opened by chef Mike Stoltzfus and his wife Lillian Hubbard in December 2008, Coquette is a Garden District stunner, from its gleaming floors and crisp linens to its architectural details and warm exposed brick walls. Chef Stoltzfus proffers innovative southern cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced product and pastry chef Zak Miller does the same, with an emphasis on unexpected twists that elevate dessert into something ethereal. He uses seasonal fruit, fresh herbs and surprising flavors like smoke and heat to bring something special to the table. Whether he's concocting a satsuma creamsicle float or a chocolate cremeaux spiked with salted caramel and the tang of beer, guaranteed you won't skip dessert.
�le flottante (504-265-0421)
Slim Goodies Diner
Slim Goodies Diner is a dive-y diner located in the Garden District/Irish Channel portion of Magazine Street in New Orleans. The venue has a retro feel with the old Coke signs, red leather booths and counter stools. Breakfast/brunch is the specialty here, and waits can be long if you come at peak times, say around 10 am. A clipboard out front serves as the wait list, where you write your name and wait to be called. Prepare to indulge in "slammers", breakfast combos that overflow the plate. Slim Goodies is cash-only, but does have an on-site ATM. They don't have a liquor license, but will allow you to BYO champagne for mimosas or bring in your own go cups. The Creole Slammer is humongously delicious. ((504) 891-3447)
The food is so pretty 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. (504.302.2599)
Delachaise is that mystery spot that you might cruise right by without noticing during a daylight trip on the St. Charles streetcar. Come evening, and it's another story. The outdoor patio, lit with twinkle lights, is always buzzing with a lively crowd along with couples enjoying date night. This spirited wine bar uptown is easy to love for its long convivial bar, lack of pretense, impressive wine list and most notably the Thai spiced mussels served with goose fat fries. Brunch is another eye opener, when really everything at this atmospheric French-ish bistro is good, say yes to housemade pate and tender flank steak bruschetta, and double yes to the devilish chocolate souffle. And order a Viognier and Gruner by the glass - a treat for a white wine drinker weary of house Chardonnay. (504-895-0858)
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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