What's for lunch in New Orleans' Garden District

Photo courtesy of Katie Sikora Photography
Photo courtesy of Commander's Palace
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
By Beth D'Addono, New Orleans Local Expert

The Garden District in New Orleans is usually associated with shopping and mansion ogling, but there are plenty of dining options to fit any appetite and occasion.  Magazine Street is ground zero for both shopping and nibbling, with many a sidewalk cafe and po-boy joint there for the grazing.  

If an upscale experience is the ticket, Commander's Palace one of New Orleans's most beloved restaurants, is a great place to reserve a table for lunch. Before or after, just across Washington Avenue is the white-walled Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 , one of the most beautiful in the city and a frequent backdrop featured in Anne Rice novels.

If it's rib-sticking you need, Parasol's has a massive roast beef po-boy that deserves attention. For a break from Creole fare, Byblos has inventive, light Mediterranean dishes on the menu and Stein's dishes authentic Jewish deli. Simply let your hunger point you in the right direction and dig in.

9. La Petite Grocery
Photo courtesy of a1.urbns.pn

Chef Justin Devillier and his wife/partner Mia Freiberger-Devillier operate this refined lunch and dinner restaurant that turns any meal into a special occasion. With its Magazine Street setting, La Petite makes an ideal lunch break if you're not down with fried food and po-boys. Chef's blue crab beignets are a fabulous savory treatment of the New Orleans specialty, but all the apps are tempting, including fried green tomatoes with burrata and country ham. There's rarely a wait for lunch, but if you must, do grab a drink from their innovative cocktail menu and soak in the historic ambiance of this sweet and beckoning restaurant.

8. Parasol's
Photo courtesy of Parasol's

Parasol's has been a New Orleans mainstay for years, tucked away in the Irish Channel portion of the Garden District. The bar/restaurant is known for a few things, one being their huge St. Patty's day blow outs. Parasol's is also known for crafting up some of the best roast beef and seafood po-boys in town. The venue is an old school bar, with a vintage interior and walls lined with memorabilia. The place gets rowdy during Saints games and soccer matches and competes with nearby Tracey's as one of the busiest Irish pubs in town. Locals have their favorite, you decide.

7. Tracey's
Photo courtesy of Tracey's

Tracey's was the original bar in New Orleans' Irish Channel, opened in 1949, a sports bar known for hefty sandwiches and cold beer. With great drink specials Monday through Thursday lasting from 11 am to 7 pm, there is rarely a time to not be at Tracey's. Sports fans appreciate the 20 flat screens equipped with all the sports packages so the traveling fan can catch their home team play while on the road for business or pleasure. Tracey's food has drawn rave reviews, especially the 8" po-boy section of the menu, with options like chicken parm, fried gulf shrimp, Italian sauce and surf and turf - shrimp and roast beef dressed. Fried seafood platters, boudin balls to start, Tracey's is a casual place with a well-earned reputation for doing it right.

6. Arana Taqueria Y Cantina
Photo courtesy of Katie Sikora Photography

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. There's also a menu featuring crowd pleasing Mexican dishes like fajitas, burritos and enchiladas - including the New Orleans-flavored fried oyster tostadas.

5. Atchafalaya
Photo courtesy of Mr. B's Bistro

Lunch is called brunch at Atchafalaya, a Thursday through Monday 10am - 2:30pm great idea thanks to chef Chris Lynch's inventive take on contemporary creole cuisine. Touted as New Orleans' only "five A" restaurant, this funky neighborhood bistro bristles with a distinct New Orleans vibe that attracts locals and tourists alike. Besides eggs all kinds of ways, the afternoon menu might include specialties smoked salmon BLT and Korean style pork belly with jasmine rice. The Jazz Brunch is lively, drawing an enthusiastic crowd tuned up by the bottomless Bloody Mary bar. The building has been a restaurant since the 20s and is located in the famed Irish Channel.

4. Commander's Palace
Photo courtesy of Commander's Palace

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 was battered a bit by Katrina, but it is back in full force now, serving up 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.

3. Joey K's
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

Joey K's is a neighborhood treasure, a Garden District go-to for locals and visitors alike. Situated on busy Magazine, Joey K's serves soulful Creole specialties like overstuffed po-boys, red beans & rice and fried seafood. Come hungry,as portions are hefty to say the least. Some favorites to try include the roast beef debris po-boy, fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp and sauteed trout topped with shrimp and crabmeat. Beer and wine prices are affordable, like everything else at this friendly locals' spot. Plus, Joey K's is right in the mix of Magazine Street shops and boutiques, a perfect place to recharge and take a load off.

2. Coquette

Michael Stoltzfus opened Coquette in 2008, a garden district favorite known for his creative seasonal Southern-influenced cuisine. Located in the heart of Magazine Street shopping, Coquette offers a three course/$30 lunch option in a lovely setting, a two-story 19th century building with dining rooms on two floors and a cozy 14-seat bar. If you aren't hungry enough for three courses, there are always options to share, like fried chicken dusted with hot paprika and drizzled with honey or hangar steak with pimento cheese and slaw. Or start with options like rice in duck broth with shiitake mushrooms or coffee cured cobia, move on to crawfish agnolotti or beef brisket sausage with crab roe aioli. Save room for sweets - pastry chef Zak Miller is a dessert alchemist.

1. Delachaise
Photo courtesy of Delachaise

Delachaise is that mystery spot that you might cruise right by without noticing during a daylight trip on the St. Charles streetcar. But the frankly Francophone menu works perfectly for lunch and afternoon munch on the weekends. 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 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. Also say yes to housemade pate and tender flank steak bruschetta, and double yes to the devilish chocolate souffle. And order Viognier or Gruner by the glass - a treat for a white wine drinker weary of house Chardonnay.