Late night dining in New Orleans adds another layer of excess to the already indulgent air that permeates the Big Easy.
You might not dream of tucking into an order of wings or a juicy burger or shrimp swabbed with hot sauce and butter after 9 pm at home. But here, where cocktailing goes on around the clock and musicians don't tune up for their late set until well after midnight, the usual rules don't apply. Now we aren't recommending that you throw all rules of dietary caution to the wind forever. But if you're visiting New Orleans to soak in the music, food and culture, that laize en temps vibe isn't dictated by the clock.
You'll generally find more casual fare and bar food available after mainstream dining hours, but there are some exceptions. Nola is one on this list, Emeril's funky eclectic restaurant in the French Quarter seats its last customers for 10, and the kitchen won't rush your feasting. The other rollicking spots tend to be on the loud side, with an emphasis on rib-sticking fare that is more about big flavors than keeping an eye on your weight or salt intake.
But again, you didn't come here to diet, now did you?
Situated in City Park, Morning Call actually got its start in the French Quarter on Decatur Street in 1870, where it was known for chicory-laced cafe au lait and the sugary French donuts known as beignets. Although also located in suburban Metairie, the location in the park is a great late night spot, with both coffee and sweets and rib-sticking faves like red beans and rice, gumbo and alligator sausage on the menu. When they're served hot out of the fryer - which isn't always the case - the beignets rival Cafe du Monde's down by the river in the French Quarter.
Dino's Bar & Grill is located on Tchoupitoulas in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Its convenient location near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center makes it the perfect place to stop by for happy hour (4-7 pm weekdays) after a long day of meetings or dealmaking. Besides cheap drinks, Dino's crafts up some delicious burgers, chicken sandwiches and loaded "dirty" fries. They have nightly specials including crawfish on Wednesday and ladies' night with free martinis on Thursdays. The vibe here is divey local bar as opposed to a tourist venue. People here are friendly and the drinks flow liberally.
Now with three locations, this colorful joint features indoor/outdoor dining, a full bar and sometimes live music. There are dogs of all breed, from polish sausage and brat to alligator, red hot and crawfish sausage. There's even the Sea Dog - tempura battered fried cod filet served with homemade tartar sauce. Then, choose toppings, which can include chili, cheese - real Cheddar, not the gloppy liquid kind, bacon, ranch, Andouille sauce, guacamole and crawfish rtouffe. The fries are outstanding. Order cocktails or beer, and for the kids, one of the floats, shakes or malts, or ask for a Shirley Temple. Yes, it really is on the menu.
Compact and crowded, Coop's probably isn't on most travelers' agendas which is a crying shame. Located right on Decatur not far from the French Market, Coop's remains a locals' haunt, with its well-worn surfaces and gritty elan. Unpolished, seductive, and even a touch dingy, Coop's is the real deal. Staples like shrimp Creole, Cajun-fried chicken, fried oysters and rabbit and sausage jambalaya are always good bets for lunch, or order the taste plate, which features the items above along with scrumptious portions of seafood gumbo and red beans and rice with sausage. This place serves food late, if you need to circle back at the end of a night on Frenchmen Street.
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.
Located on the edge of the French Quarter on Esplanade just past Bourbon, Port of Call is a divey burger palace known for its loaded baked potatoes overflowing their foil jackets. The place attracts visitors and locals in droves, some for a guaranteed hangover cure on a plate, others for strong drinks like the signature monsoon - the POC version of a hurricane. The eats are cheap, the atmosphere low key and a little grimy, lighting thankfully dim and drinks are always flowing. Although there is a menu - maybe with steak and pizza on it? Nobody ever orders that. It's all about the cheeseburger and baked 'tater. Word to the wise: those aren't real bacon bits, but the bright red nuclear kind that you might want to avoid. Or not.
The Mexican love child of local uber chef John Besh and Food Network wunderkind Aaron Sanchez, Johnny Sanchez is the best thing to happen to Poydras Street since Sculpture for New Orleans. A place that gives the option of roasted grasshoppers on the freshly made guac gets a body's attention. The menu is locally charged and full of authentic Mexican flavors. A seasonal specialty, the fried Brussels sprouts "salad" is really a revelatory warm veg dish tossed with bits of roasted squash, pomegranate and queso. The pork belly tacos are sweet with pineapple glaze and savory with swiney goodness. Lamb enchiladas, yellowtail tostados, grilled sweetbread tacos with chorizo - what's not to like? There are some interesting (and pricey) wines by the glass along with a very good house margarita and a full list of sipping tequilas.
Tujague's is a Southern-Creole restaurant across from the French Market on Decatur that is stretching its boundaries, adding some new dishes to the menu while still maintaining its longtime favorites - hand rolled vegetarian gnocchi is a case in point. The second oldest eatery in town, Tujaque's has been famed for homestyle Creole cuisine since 1856. A newly launched craft cocktail menu and tasty eats at the bar are two good reasons to venture into this historic bar. Every meal is served with fresh French bread, and most ingredients used are bought daily from local producers. Tujague's even brews its own beer, and has an extensive wine list. Prepare to end every meal with some delicious bread pudding.
Turtle Bay is a hidden gem in the French Quarter. Popular with locals and tourists alike, TB boasts 25 beers on tap along with a belly-busting menu of American favorites like burgers, pizza and chicken wings. Whether cheering on your favorite team, kicking back with some friends, or just taking in the French Quarter atmosphere, Turtle Bay fills the bill. Located on busy Decatur Street, Turtle Bay stays open - and serves food until 3am Sun-Wed and 24 hours Thurs., Friday, and Saturday. Turtle Bay has all the major sports packages so you can get your fill of all kinds of sports action while you chow.
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. 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.