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TOP 10 DINING IN NEW ORLEANS

Tastes; Features

Aunt Eudora's coming to town and she's a crawfish freak; important clients are flying in from Ohio and you're expected to wine and dine them lavishly; you're planning your first New Orleans visit and your pile of "definitive" restaurant guidebooks is making your head swim. Who're ya gonna call?

NOLA Live's Top Ten Page!

When you're hungry for just the right meal time is of the essence. You need a short list of top restaurants that will satisfy your specific craving, and now!

NOLA Live is doing the legwork for you, and having some fun providing the skinny on our ten favorite restaurants in each of a variety of categories. Collect them and save them for exactly the right time or send them along to a friend in need. Aunt Eudora'll think you're a genius.



TOP 10 -- BRUNCHES

Café Degas
Café Rani
Charley G's Seafood Grill
House of Blues
Metro Bistro
Mr. B's Bistro
Nine Muses Boulangerie
Rib Room
Royal Café
Veranda

There is something about Sunday brunch that brings out the hedonist in all of us. First, there's the knowledge that you won't have to rush back to work, and that the remainder of the day, filled with restful promise, stretches before you. Then, let's face it, Sunday (Sabbath though it is for many) connotes a certain wickedness, since it encourages "caution-to-the-winds" in the eating department, making it easy and nearly guilt-free to order waffles, sausages, omelets, and eggs Benedict with abandon.

Without question, one of the most frequent requests I get is for Sunday brunch recommendations, from locals and visitors alike. Everyone wants to know where they can spend a few quality hours filling up on some good eats before spending the rest of the afternoon with the paper, sports on TV, or a leisurely walk in the park.

So here's my list. Be aware that in addition to the restaurants written up here, there are others I would recommend. The Bistro at Maison deVille, Commander's Palace, the Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, Basil Leaf, and Royal China (see mardigras.com/food/paraderoutes)-the latter being the only restaurant in New Orleans (correct me if I'm wrong) where you can have a marvelous dim sum brunch any day of the week from its (nearly) authentic dim sum menu (alas, no rolling carts).



TOP 10 -- ROMANTIC PLACES

Bacco
Bella Luna
Bistro at Maison deVille
DeVille Bistro
Feelings
Louis XVI
Grill Room
G&E Courtyard Grill
Gerard's Downtown
Upperline Restaurant

All of you romantics out there...now's the time to reserve your tâble à deux for Valentine's Day. True, this year the big day falls on the Sunday before Mardi Gras, but your willingness to miss the Bacchus parade for an evening of romance is sure to score big points with the love of your life. (Men…listen up!)

In New Orleans, of course, we pride ourselves on living in one of the most romantic cities in the world, filled with mystery and mystique, and a history that evokes visions of masked lovers, shadowy trysts in lamplit courtyards and secret embraces in horse-drawn carriages.

Today's New Orleans is as romantic as it is in our fantasies of days gone by, and it offers couples lovely settings in which they can nurture their ardor.

Nothing goes better with romance than food, so I submit here my picks for the most romantic restaurants in New Orleans, choosing those that best set the scene for an intimate rendezvous.

Several of these restaurants are planning to celebrate "Valentine's Weekend," and be closed on the day itself because of inaccessibility caused by the parade (the god of wine making trouble for the god of love -- who could have guessed?)

So, you gods and goddesses -- make those reservations now, or you'll be out of luck. And don't forget the flowers.



TOP 10 -- TRIED & TRUE TOP 10
HOT SPOTS


A Top Ten list so thorough we decided we needed two of them.
They are the best in both New Orleans' traditional and "new wave" dining scenes.

Acme Oyster House Bayona
Antoine's Brigtsen's
Arnaud's Fleur de Lee*
Brennan's Gabrielle
Broussard's Kelsey's
Commander's Palace Mike's on the Avenue
Court of Two Sisters Peristyle
Emeril's Red Room
Galatoire's Uglesich's
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen Vizard's



TOP 10 -- OFF THE 'EATEN' PATH

A couple of the restaurants listed here are new, but most have been around for quite a while. And although the food they serve is often interesting and frequently excellent, they may be passed over by those diners-in-a-rut who opt for the "sameoldsameold" familiar place they've patronized for years.

Tired of eating in the same handful of restaurants over and over again? Join the growing number of trailblazers looking for a new taste, an exciting place where they've never eaten before - a place "off the eaten path."

Basil Leaf
China Blossom
Dunbar's Creole Cooking
Garcés
Genghis Khan
Jamila's Cafe
Phó Tàu Bay
Pupuseria Divino Corazón
Sid-Mar's
Vega Tapas Cafe



TOP 10 -- DINING SOLO

Bravo! Italian Kitchen
Japon
Maple Street Grill
NOLA
Paella
Port of Call
Napoleon House
Red Fish Grill
Smith & Wollensky's Grill
Houston's

The holidays are coming, but for a lot of unattached people 'tis not the season to be jolly. The Thanksgiving-Christmas sub-plot of happy family get-togethers often bodes emptiness for whosoever faces the six-week period alone. What to do?

It's not necessary to stay home with a Lean Cuisine and a saccharine-sweet Christmas special on the tube. There's more stimulating entertainment out there, and solitary diners can have their share, eating a good meal in a good restaurant.

Some restaurants go out of their way to be sensitive to the plight of the lone customer. The Brennan family's restaurants -- from Commander's Palace to the Palace Café, Bacco, Mr. B's, and Red Fish Grill -- offer every solo diner an after-dinner drink or dessert on the house.

There are also several decent restaurants, happily, with food bars, where service is geared to singles and anyone can feel comfortable eating alone.

And remember, you're really not alone…there are many single people in the same pickle. So don't stay home with a TV dinner when you really feel like treating yourself to a good meal out. Here are ten local places you might like to try.

Go back to the Mardi Gras page.