Located in the swanky Roosevelt Hotel on Canal Street, on the edge of the French Quarter and the CBD, Domenica dazzles with chef, co-owner Alon Shaya's regional Italian cuisine and what may be the best thin crust pizza in town. Shaya gets ingredients from partner John Besh's farm, so the emphasis is on seasonal freshness. Pastry chef Lisa White, a CIA grad, gives Italian desserts a New Orleans sensibility - as in her zuppa inglese made with rum-soaked banana cake, fresh bananas butterscotch mousse and peanut brittle and a light and slightly fizzy Zabaione made with Lambrusco (instead of traditional Marsala) and fresh Louisiana strawberries.
Recommended for Best Value because: Best happy hour deal in town, Monday through Friday from 3-5 pm.
Beth's expert tip: Come for the daily half price pizza and wine happy hour, 3-5 pm, but save room for dessert.
If the muffuletta was the official sandwich of New Orleans, Central Grocery officially makes the best sandwiches in the city! For the uninitiated, a muffuletta is a loaf of bread layered with Italian meats and cheeses and crowned with a chopped olive mixture. Be warned that Central Grocery's sandwiches are huge and best shared with a friend. And if you want to sit down, get your sandwich to go. There is only a standing-room counter at the Grocery. Central Grocery is on Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It's a place that tourists tend to flock, so be prepared for a bit of a line if you come at peak times.
Recommended for Best Value because: Central Grocery will have you begging for a nap after taking down one of their super sized sandwiches.
Beth's expert tip: Eating a muffuletta anywhere but Central Grocery is blasphemous.
In a city that's po'boy proud, Liuzza's at the Track stands out from the crowd, thanks to the house specialty, a buttery, Worcestershire-fueled gi-normous portion of gulf shrimp slathered between a hot and crusty roll. It's called barbecue shrimp, but there's really nothing barbecued about it. Save room for the gumbo. This town is full of conflicting opinions about gumbo - how light, or dark the roux should be, seafood vs. sausage and on and on. Liuzza's recipe includes seafood, local sausage, 13 spices and a few secret ingredients. On a hot day, nothing beats s seat at the bar, a bowl of gumbo and a cold beer at this hole in the wall joint.
Recommended for Best Value because: Everything at Liuzza's is delish and your wallet gets off easy.
Beth's expert tip: Fill up on the gumbo before heading out to Jazz fest or to catch an exotic animal race at the Fairgrounds.
The Camellia Grill on South Carrollton in Uptown New Orleans is the perfect place for a late night snack to cure the cravings natural or imbibing induced. One of the secrets of this grill/diner is their amazing milk shakes. Camellia fills cups up to the brim with rich shakes in a variety of flavors using real ice cream. Sit up at the counter and enjoy one of these or any of their other scrumptious dessert options, many of which are homemade. Besides sweets, Camellia Grill has excellent omelettes and burgers at affordable prices. The friendly staff adds the perfect touch to complete the experience. There's also a location in the Quarter at 540 Chartres St.
Recommended for Best Value because: The Camellia Grill is modeled after an old school diner with prices to match.
Beth's expert tip: Don't feel bad chasing a bacon omelette with a chocolate cherry milkshake.
The Milk Bar is a counter ordering joint featuring great sandwiches, salads and shakes, for which they are most known for. Portion-wise, The Milk Bar gives you crazy bang for your buck, especially in terms of the sandwiches. Depending on if you are in a regular or zany mood, you can sample anything from a Roast Beef Po-Boy to a Caddle Fodder sandwich (a creative vegetable infused sandwich). Pair your main course with a delicious bag of local favorite Zapp's chips, and then have the "Moo Krewe" blend you up a shake. The Milk Bar has plenty of indoor seating and does a decent amount of take out business as well. Every order includes a complimentary Chupa Chups creamy lollipop!
Recommended for Best Value because: The Milk Bar makes monster sandwiches at unmatched prices. They even give free lollipops with every order!
Beth's expert tip: You can never go wrong with a Milk Bar milk shake hand crafted by the "Moo Krewe".
Now with four 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 you can ask for a Shirley Temple. Yes, it really is on the menu.
Recommended for Best Value because: Dat Dog, uptown and on Frenchmen Street, is a rib-sticking option for eating on the cheap.
Beth's expert tip: Even if you don't eat meat, try the seadog or the housemade veggie patty dog.
New Orleans has long had a bounty of authentic Vietnamese restaurants, thanks to its vibrant population of Southeast Asian immigrants. But for a long time, you had to cross the river to the West Bank or head to New Orleans East for the good stuff, a bit of a trek if you're visiting without a car. With the recent opening of 9 Roses in the French Quarter, all that has changed. The original Nine Roses, which has been open close to 20 years, is on the West Bank, a go-to place known for a vast menu of both Vietnamese and Chinese specialties. The second location, a smaller spot on Conti is exclusively Vietnamese and the quality is top notch. Savor favorites including pho, fried and fresh spring rolls, banh mi and vermicelli bowls. The prices are rock bottom and you can bring your own wine and beer for now - no corkage fee - another plus for the budget minded.
Recommended for Best Value because: 9 Roses offers the best Vietnamese food in the French Quarter at rock bottom prices.
Beth's expert tip: Although they don't have a full bar you can get wine and beer with your meal.
Situated on the edge of the Quarter on Esplanade at Dauphine, Port of Call is known for its huge, char-grilled burgers and loaded baked potatoes. There are other menu options, steak, and I think pizza, but that's not why you line up and wait for a table. It's all about the burgers and the spuds, with one order easily enough for two people - add an extra potato if you must. The eats are cheap, the atmosphere low key, lighting dim and drinks a-flowing. Speaking of drinks, the Monsoon is Port of Call's version of the hurricane and it's beyond potent.
Recommended for Best Value because: The constant lines out the door tell the story - one burger can easily feed two.
Beth's expert tip: This will be the best loaded baked potato you ever have.
Deanie's has been around since the 60s - and so have their prices. Big portions and home-cooked meals makes this family-owned place (deservedly) a lakefront institution. Known for its fresh local seafood and warm service, Deanie's is a local's favorite. The menu is fresh Gulf seafood at its best, a mix of fried, boiled, and sauteed fish and shellfish that delivers some of the best top of the catch seafood in town. Although priced at $39.95, the giant seafood platter easily feeds four, a menagerie of fresh seafood fried in a flavorful combination of yellow flour, buttermilk and seasonings. The broiled stuffed shrimp is another winner, but really you can't go wrong with anything on the plate at this family-friendly eatery.
Recommended for Best Value because: Deanie's is a lakefront institution renowned for its seafood and friendly service.
Beth's expert tip: Say hello to Miss Deanie when you go, she's still doing her thing at 82 years young.
In need of some comfort? Turns out it's closer than you'd think, a state of mind and indulgence on Oak Street at the bendiest part of Riverbend uptown. Brack May's original eatery (sadly his Truck Farm Tavern went by the wayside in St. Rose), the menu includes small plates such as figgy toast with blue cheese croutons and chicken wings with smoked bacon and pickled chiles. The burger is the bomb, made with grass-fed beef on a toasted potato roll,, dressed and served with housemade ketchup and tangy agogo sauce, hand cut fries on the side. Everything is good, so good in fact that there's often a wait. But one bite of the massive shrimp cobb salad, and that wait is forgotten. Save room for dessert, especially if it's pie.
Recommended for Best Value because: Chef Brack dishes authentic goodness in Riverbend, a hidden gem worth discovering.
Local Expert tip: The food here is made from scratch, simple and addictively delicious.