Eating My Way Through New Orleans

As soon as I found out we were going, I knew New Orleans was going to be a treat.  What I didn't know was just how much of one! From the every night, all night music to fantastic food and startling southern hospitality, New Orleans is a gem of a city.  However, I will admit right off that I was a bit nervous about the food.  Visions of po'boys and muffulettas clouded my mind as I wondered if my little tummy could survive what might be a  four-day fried fiasco.   So before jumping on the plane, I jumped on the internet.  "Organic restaurants New Orleans," I typed into my search box: a single juice bar came up.  Not really what I was looking for, you can imagine.  I tried "sustainable restaurants" without much more success.  So then I queried "best local restaurants New Orleans" and landed upon a great article on   I actually didn't end up going to many of their recommendations (only one in fact) yet from that article I found my way to what was some fantastic New Orleans cookin'!

It is rare for a Bay Area diner to peruse a menu without seeing a lovely little note at the bottom of the page that reads, "We use only the best local, sustainable and organic produce and animals products available."  And why would they use anything else? we ask snarkily.  Living in California (and particularly the San Francisco area) we are blessed with abundant fields and gracious weather that allow farming all year long.   Most of the United States is not that lucky and so I wasn't sure what I might find sourcing-wise in The Big Easy.  But what I found to my surprise were thoughtfully-constructed menus driven by chefs who care deeply about locally-sourced produce, humanely-raised animals and sustainable agriculture.  I did not have one bad meal the entire trip and in fact experienced one of the best dishes of my life right in the heart of NOLA.  In truth, we were only there four days and I could have stayed another week just to hit all the restaurants on my list.

Just one thing to mention:   Vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who keeps kosher: TAKE CARE.  OK, let me restate.  As a vegetarian, vegan, or kosher-keeper you will enjoy the hospitality, music and plantations as much as the next tourist, but in regards to food, just be mindful of ingredients.  New Orleans food is heavily-steeped in pig products and shellfish.  From eggs to pasta, salads and even rice,  New Orleans chefs usually find a way to work in some bit of the oinker.  So if you do have dietary restrictions, just be sure to tell your server ahead of time.



Here's where we ate:

The Green Goddess-  Situated in a small alleyway in the French Quarter, the Green Goddess's menu offers a plethora of dishes from around the world.  After much hemming and haaing, I settled on the Duck Confit Salad and Gray ordered the Big Cactus Chilaquiles.    The duck was rich and crisp and arrived on a bed of arugula with a dollop of spicy red pepper jelly.  Initially I wasn't sure about the jelly but after one bite, I was a convert.  The only thing that kept me from going back the next day for another meal of duck decadence was Gray's reminder that I needed to branch out.

Herbsaint-  The perfect restaurant for that one night of splurging.  Not needing another meal of duck after my Green Goddess lunch, I pushed the duck leg with dirty rice on Gray while I bravely ordered the lamb neck.  It may not be the most appealing cut, but that neck was simply the best preparation of lamb (or dare I say any meat) I've ever had in my whole life.  And no, I'm not exaggerating.  The entire neck was quickly fried, leaving the outer meat crisp and the inner meat shocking tender and moist.  It was then topped with Indian-spiced tomato salad and a piquant goat yogurt.  Heaven!

Luke-  It is close to impossible to visit New Orleans and not eat at one of John Besh's six restaurants.  Luke is a traditional Franco-German Brasserie that does the basics very well.  We started with the oysters (go for the local ones if available) and the charcuterie plate complete with rabbit pate, pork rillettes and headcheese. What is a health coach doing eating headcheese, you ask?  Shocking I know, but hear me out. Many New Orleans restaurants offer house-made charcuterie but since Besh not only makes his own but does so with pigs he raises himself, I decided if there ever was a time for headcheese, it was now.  I finished up with the mussels and Gray enjoyed the monstrous Luke burger.  Helpful tip:  portions are huge so watch out.

Domenica- Our second John Besh experience was at Domenica, a causal Italian restaurant that offered a wide variety of pizzas, pastas and beautifully braised fish and meats.  Still full from our lunch at Luke's, I opted for the "lighter"  local redfish complete with pureed cannellini beans, sweet cherry tomatoes and caperberries.  The sauce popped with bright lemon, acid and salt against the sweet, soft white fish.  Heaven.  Gray, unfazed by our pigletty lunch, enjoy the anolini stuffed with pork, basil and tomato and topped it off with the banana cake and salted caramel ice cream.  (It should be mentioned that I snuck back to Domenica the following day to enjoy a brunch of rabbit cassoulet.  Here's a picture.  Again, heaven.)

Three Muses- I know I've been talking a big game about how New Orleans can do not wrong, culinarily speaking.  However, in truth, there was one single mandatory event at a hotel where we endured an inedible rubber chicken dinner.  We left starving and angry, and decided to drown our sorrows in the jazz music of Frenchmen's Street.  Thankfully we stumbled into the Three Muses, whose rosemary & cayenne roasted cashews and grilled asparagus with Dijon vinaigrette saved our evening and gave us the endurance to dance until almost 2 am (an early night by most New Orleans standards).

And for a few more options, here is the list of restaurants I wanted to try but didn't get to:


Dante's Kitchen




We loved every minute in New Orleans and cannot wait to go back.  All you need when visiting the Crescent City is an open heart, mind and mouth and they will take good care of the rest.  Have fun and let me know where you eat!

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