Known for its fast-casual Mexican format and self-serve salsa bar, Felipe’s Taqueria has been upping its game lately at the bar, which serves Mexican-inspired craft cocktails and even "flights" of mezcal, the earthier, smokier relative to tequila.
Next up for taqueria outfit is a much bigger and ambitious undertaking. Tonight, at 5 p.m., Felipe’s plans to open Tiki Tolteca, a separate tiki bar and tapas-style restaurant above its French Quarter location.
Felipe’s bar manager Nathan Dalton explains that both the tiki drinks and the food will have a “Latin fusion” theme. Tiki drinks made with regional liquors like tequilas, mescal, pisco and cachaca will join the more traditional rum recipes while in the kitchen chef Marcus Graham will serve a menu of small plates blending Peruvian, Polynesian, Mexican, and Central American flavors. See the full menu below.
There’s a certain intrigue in the long history and the labyrinthine warren of dining rooms, service bars and corridors at Arnaud’s Restaurant.
The French Quarter grande dame has been stoking that vibe lately with a series of periodic “Speakeasy Dinners,” which evoke the dark days of Prohibition when, according to restaurant lore, Arnaud’s served bootleg liquor to guests in the know.
The next dinner is coming up May 16, beginning at 7 p.m. The evening includes a four-course meal of Prohibition-era dishes with wine pairings and it costs $100. Guests are encouraged to dress in appropriate period style. Get the "secret knock" for entrance (and a reservation) at (504) 523-5433.
The name Kingfish leaves little doubt that the fare at this new French Quarter restaurant will have a Louisiana focus, and indeed the menu is full of local seafood, andouille and cochon de lait. Yet none of the dishes are standards.
The crawfish salad is crossed with hoppin’ John, the BBQ shrimp is ladled over a crunchy sweet potato waffle shaped like a pirogue, the pompano is both cooked and served on a block of Himalayan salt and even the gumbo has smoked rabbit, French sorrel sausage and “dirty” basmati rice.
The direction here is somewhat less surprising when you learn the chef at Kingfish is Greg Sonnier, a veteran New Orleans chef with a long track record for robust and creative reinterpretations of Louisiana flavors. An early protégé of chef Paul Prudhomme, Sonnier and his wife Mary ran the Esplanade Avenue restaurant Gabrielle for 13 years before Hurricane Katrina hit.
The drinks have been flowing for a while now in the new bar that Galatoire’s Restaurant developed in the building adjacent to its landmark Bourbon Street address, though plans for the large dining room just beyond the bar remained unclear. Now this new Galatoire’s operation has a name and the whole concept is set to debut Wednesday, April 10.
It’s called Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak, and it will function as a stand-alone bar and as a new steakhouse.
“It’s really a traditional steakhouse menu with just a few dishes from next door,” says Melvin Rodrigue, the restaurant’s president and chief operating officer.
That menu will feature USDA prime steaks plus a few French Creole set pieces, like shrimp remoulade, oysters Rockefeller and turtle soup. There will also be lobster maison, he says, which sounds like an up-market twist on the restaurant’s famous crabmeat maison, and a platter of appetizers, the Gouté “33,” with horseradish-crusted bone marrow and deviled eggs with crab ravigote and smoked trout. Galatoire’s executive chef Michael Sichel will oversee Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak as well.
Late in the summer of 2011, things looked bad for Bacchanal, the popular, then-mostly-outdoor destination for wine, food and music in the Bywater. In August of that year, City Hall made a full court press of enforcement, swooping in with a team of officials one busy night. They cited the place for a litany of code violations and permit issues, from its outdoor kitchen to its live music.
Eventually, however, Bacchanal got itself street legal and in doing so has built out and greatly expanded its operation. There’s now a proper indoor kitchen, a dining room and a new bar serving wine by the glass, beer and craft cocktails.
All of this developed in stages, with most components coming together in time for the Super Bowl in February. Now, with the spring weather hitting its sweet stride and the garden here looking as appealing as ever, the place seems ready for its close-up.
The kitchen at the Deep South-meets-Creole diner High Hat Café prides itself on a handmade approach. So does the bar. Restaurant manager Ryan Iriarte is always mixing up new cocktail ingredients, cocktail recipes and even unique soft drinks.
Last fall, he and bartender Lauren Holton started a periodic series of cocktail events called High Hat After Hours, which basically turns the restaurant into a temporary craft cocktail bar for a night after the kitchen closes.
The next edition is scheduled for April 6, running from 10 p.m. to about 1 a.m.
Fun events have a way of snowballing in New Orleans, where the ingrained local penchant for participatory partying helps many of them grow year to year. Still, there was little precedent for how quickly Hogs for the Cause skyrocketed from a charitable cook-off among friends back in 2009 to the de facto kick-off to the spring festival season today.
The cause in the event’s name is support for families contending with pediatric brain cancer, which is an important one to rally around. But the Hogs for the Cause organizers also tapped into the potent draw of outdoor pig cookery, the stuff of epic tailgates, regional pride and a little gonzo gastronomic gusto as teams of friends and some of the area’s leading chefs try to outdo each other.
The result is now one of the great eating events in New Orleans, which this year will be held on March 23 in City Park’s new Festival Grounds. Close to 80 teams will be spread across its acres at small encampments where many will have spent the previous night cooking pigs (and carrying on). Throughout the day they serve their contest entries to judges and sell their creations to festival goers, while high-caliber bands perform on two stages and drinks flow, including NOLA Brewing beers and a special “hogtail” drink devised by Neal Bodenheimer of the cocktail lounge Cure.
Last year’s event drew some 12,000 people, and this year organizers expect more.
Finalists will be announced March 18, and this year's awards will take place May 3 and 6 in New York City.
Best New Restaurant: Borgne
Outstanding Chef: Donald Link (Herbsaint)
Outstanding Bar Program: Cure
Outstanding Service: Brigtsen's
Outstanding Restaurant: August
Outstanding Wine Program: The Grill Room at the Windsor Court
Best Chef (South):
Justin DeVillier, La Petite Grocery
Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace
Alon Shaya, Domenica
Michael Stoltzfus, Coquette
Sue Zemanick, Gautreau’s
Full list of nominees here.
As part of its city guide series, Complex Magazine explores the "New Orleans douche" and his habitat, namely the watering holes in which you may find one in the wild:
With so many boozing options, it's easy to fall prey to the advice of the opinionated and over-friendly locals. If the person giving you tips sets off even the slightest blip on your douche radar, there's a 99% chance the spot he's hyping is not where you want to be.
According to Complex, among the douche's favorites include The Bulldog, Dos Jefes, Pat O'Brien's, Bridge Lounge, Fat Harry's, Monkey Hill, Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar and Walk-On's. Among the higher-brow "douche" domains: Bouligny Tavern, Loa and Three Muses. Though the favorite, says douche-safariman Steve French, is Channing Tatum's Saints & Sinners. French writes, "This Bourbon Street douche magnet loves a theme night like a stripper loves the Super Bowl being in town."
Complex also discoverd other "douche" territories, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, and Washington, D.C.
The new restaurants and bars that have so swiftly transformed Freret Street each have their own niche. The people who make them tick, however, often support each other and sometimes they collaborate.
The latest example is at Perestroika at Pravda (1113 Decatur St., 504-581-1112), a Soviet-themed bar (previously called Pravda) taken over late last year by the crew from the upscale cocktail bar Cure. More recently, they invited Adam Biderman, the chef behind their Freret Street neighbor the Company Burger, to run the bar’s substantial but under-used kitchen.
While Biderman made his name in New Orleans on burgers, he was trained as a fine-dining chef and he’s flexing those muscles here. He’s also clearly having fun, matching bar snacks and modestly-sized entrees with the Slavic décor of the bar’s previous incarnation.
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