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Best of New Orleans 2012: Food 

click to enlarge Best New Restaurant: Magasin Vietnamese Cafe - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

Best New Restaurant

1. Magasin Vietnamese Cafe (4201 Magazine St., 504-896-7611; www.magasincafe.com) Magazine Street finally can boast several Vietnamese restaurants — and Magasin was this year's favorite. Featuring pho dishes and other traditional Vietnamese meals for less than $10 in a modern setting, Magasin is adding cheap and healthy options to Magazine Street.

2. Borgne (Hyatt Regency Hotel, 601 Loyola Ave., 504-613-3860; www.borgnerestaurant.com)

3. Maurepas Foods (3200 Burgundy St., 504-267-0072; www.maurepasfoods.com)

 

Best Metairie Restaurant

1. Drago's Seafood Restaurant (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 504-888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com) — All over the metro area, the mention of Drago's evokes char-broiled oysters on the half shell topped with butter, garlic and Parmesan. They're definitely a specialty, but the restaurant gives a range of fish and seafood — including lobster — the New Orleans treatment. There also are grillades and grits and steak, pork and chicken dishes.

2. Andrea's New Orleans Italian Restaurant (3100 19th St., Metairie, 504-834-8583; www.andreasrestaurant.com)

3. Austin's (5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 504-888-5533; www.austinsno.com)

 

Best New Orleans Restaurant

1. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com) — Want to impress a date, score a grand-slam New Orleans experience for family or business associates or need a romantic setting for a special occasion? Commander's Palace, with an award-winning menu that draws diners from all over the world, has been the backdrop for these events since it opened in 1880. A specially priced lunch menu includes 25-cent martinis.

2. Restaurant August (301 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-299-9777; www.restaurantaugust.com)

3. Galatoire's Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 504-525-2021; www.galatoires.com)

 

Best Kenner Restaurant

1. Kenner Seafood (3140 Loyola Drive, Kenner, 504-466-4701; www.kennerseafood.net) — With hearty portions of all the best seafood the Gulf has to offer, Kenner locals have embraced Kenner Seafood, a modest joint with not-so-modest meals. The seafood comes in soup, pasta, a po-boy or by itself, and it can be fried, blackened or grilled.

2. Ristorante da Piero (401 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 504-469-8585; www.ristorantedapiero.net)

3. Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar (3203 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 504-443-6454; www.fishermanscoveseafood.com)

 

Best Northshore Restaurant

1. La Provence (25020 Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-626-7662; www.laprovencerestaurant.com) — Chef John Besh took the reins of this Lacombe treasure, opened by the late chef and Besh mentor Chris Karageorgiou in 1972. Besh and chef Erik Loos focus on Provencal-style cooking using local and seasonal ingredients, mostly from the restaurant's farm and acres of gardens.

2. Trey Yuen (600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-626-4476; 2100 N. Morrison Road, 985-345-6789; www.treyyuen.com)

3. Dakota (629 Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-892-3712; www.thedakotarestaurant.com)

 

Best West Bank Restaurant

1. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 504-368-9846) — This unassuming family eatery has been the grande dame of Vietnamese food in New Orleans since it opened in 1981. There are some 20 different phos on the menu, as well as rice paper spring rolls with peanut sauce, noodle dishes, banh mi and more.

2. Hoa Hong/9 Roses (1100 Stephens St., Gretna, 504-366-7665)

3. TIE: Mosca's Restaurant (4137 Hwy. 90 W., Westwego, 504-436-9942; www.moscasrestaurant.com)

3. TIE: The Red Maple (1036 Lafayette St., Gretna, 504-367-0935; www.theredmaple.com)

 

Best St. Bernard Parish Restaurant

1. Rocky and Carlo's (613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, 504-279-8323) — Heart-attack-style baked macaroni and cheese (with gravy on top) takes center stage at this Chalmette institution, which reopened in June after a fire closed the eatery in February. An Italian-Cajun greasy spoon, Rocky and Carlo's has managed to hang on to its authenticity through the years, as evidenced by the mass of regulars, some of whom have been eating lunch here since the '60s.

2. Tony's Po-boys (434 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, 504-271-5211)

3. Par 3 Diner (2401 Paris Road, Chalmette, 504-279-7273)

 

Best Neighborhood Restaurant

1. Clancy's (6100 Annunciation St., 504-895-1111; www.clancysneworleans.com) — Clancy's tradition as a neighborhood joint goes back to its beginnings in the late 1940s. It underwent a renovation and change of course in 1983, establishing itself as a restaurant for classic Creole cuisine in a white-tablecloth setting. In the years since, Clancy's has become a popular choice for business lunches, group celebrations, special dates and family dinners.

2. Katie's Restaurant and Bar (3701 Iberville St., 504-488-6582; www.katiesinmidcity.com)

3. Mandina's (3800 Canal St., 504-482-9179; Azalea Shopping Center, 4240 Hwy. 22, Suite 1, Mandeville, 985-674-9883; www.mandinasrestaurant.com)

 

Best Hotel Restaurant

1. Domenica (Roosevelt Hotel, 123 Baronne St., 504-648-6020; www.domenicarestaurant.com) — Chef John Besh's acclaimed restaurant in the Roosevelt Hotel was designed to evoke the feel of a Sunday dinner in the Italian countryside. Domenica (which translates to "Sunday") serves chef Alon Shaya's well-crafted entrees alongside gourmet pizza and house-cured meats and cheeses. Since winning this category last year, Domenica has added pizza delivery within the Central Business District.

2. Cafe Adelaide (Loews Hotel, 300 Poydras St., 504-595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com)

3. Borgne (Hyatt Regency Hotel, 601 Loyola Ave., 504-613-3860; www.borgnerestaurant.com)

 

Best Barbecue Restaurant

1. The Joint (701 Mazant St., 504-949-3232; www.alwayssmokin.com) — The Joint has a new home on Mazant Street, just a few blocks from its old location on Poland Avenue. The still-casual dining room is a bit fancier and includes a full-service bar. Everything else is the same: tender pulled pork, chicken and brisket, locally made sausage and meaty ribs seasoned with a dry rub.

2. Squeal (8400 Oak St., 504-302-7370; www.squealnola.com)

3. Corky's (4243 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-887-5000; www.corkysbbq.com)

 

Best Chinese Restaurant

1. Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-482-3935, www.fivehappiness.com) — Five Happiness has had a near-monopoly on the sit-down Chinese scene in New Orleans for years and continues to be a well-praised favorite. It's a versatile restaurant – its elegant decor makes it a date night destin- ation, while an extensive menu of regional standards makes for a bountiful neighborhood take-out option.

2. Royal China (600 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-831-9633)

3. August Moon (3635 Prytania St., 504-899-5129, www.augustmoonneworleans.com)

 

Best Cajun Restaurant

1. Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-588-2123, www.cochonrestaurant.com) — Stephen Stryjewski (who won a 2011 James Beard award for Best Chef in the South) and Donald Link's Cochon has become a legendary meat mecca and adored staple of New Orleans fine dining. This nouveau-Cajun restaurant, offering a number of small plates, has made its way onto the tourist maps as a must-dine, celebrity-chef destination as well.

2. Mulate's Cajun Restaurant (201 Julia St., 504-522-1492, www.mulates.com)

3. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (416 Chartres St., 504-596-2530, www.kpauls.com)

 

Best Creole Restaurant

1. Dooky Chase Restaurant (2301 Orleans Ave., 504-821-0600) — Approaching 90 years old, the legendary Leah Chase and her restaurant Dooky Chase still set the standard for Creole cuisine. Dooky Chase offers a generous lunch buffet of classics including gumbo, red beans and rice, fried chicken, peach cobbler and more. This year, the restaurant added dinner hours on Friday.

2. Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St., 504-861-0886; www.jacquesimoscafe.com)

3. Galatoire's Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 504-525-2021; www.galatoires.com)

 

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Best Italian Restaurant

1. Vincent's Italian Cuisine (4411 Chastant St., Metairie, 504-885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave., 504-866-9313; www.vincentsitaliancuisine.com)­ — Vincent's is the quintessential drippy candle, romantic Italian restaurant with mob hits on the jukebox and all one would expect on the menu: tiramisu, chicken parmigiana and spaghetti and meatballs. Vincent's has been crowded since it opened in 1989, but the wait for a table — not to mention the veal and spinach cannelloni — is well worth it.

2. Venezia Restaurant (134 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-488-7991; www.venezianeworleans.com)

3. Tony Angello's Restaurant (6262 Fleur De Lis Drive, 504-488-0888)

 

Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant

1. Sake Cafe (817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 504-468-8829; 1130 S. Clearview Pkwy., Harahan, 504-733-8879; 4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd, Metairie, 504-779-7253; 2830 Magazine St., 504-894-0033; www.sakecafeuptown.us) — Readers didn't indicate which Sake Cafe location was their favorite, but all the restaurants offer contemporary Japanese cuisine and premium sake. The menus have lots of seafood choices, a range of teriyaki and tempura dishes, rice and noodle options, a long list of sushi, sashimi, rolls and more. The menu at Sake Cafe Uptown differs from the others.

2. Shogun (2325 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-833-7477; www.shogunneworleans.com)

3. Kyoto (4920 Prytania St., 504-891-3644; www.kyotonola.com)

 

Editor's pick

National cuisines get adjusted when they cross borders. That's why corn and squid are popular pizza toppings in Japan. On the flip side, New Orleanians have embraced sushi and a variety of Japanese dishes, but generally as a one-stop shop. Not all Japanese restaurants serve sushi, and many sushi places served little else. Since introductions to Japanese cuisine were made long ago, it's time for more diversity. Chiba, named for the small prefecture east of Tokyo, opened in Uptown with the promise of more creative approaches to Japanese dishes. It joins a couple of places that don't fit the Americanized-Japanese catch-all mold. Yuki Izakaya is a funky Japanese-style tavern (hence "izakaya") serving small plates in a bar setting. And Horinoya remains true to many very traditional Japanese offerings. There's a kutatsu-style table in which diners remove their shoes and sit on floor cushions at a lowered table. And it's the only local Japanese restaurant that offers natto, a fermented bean dish (and an acquired taste). Perhaps some red beans and rice fans may see if the appeal gets lost in translation. — Will Coviello

 

Best Latin American Restaurant

1. Baru (3700 Magazine St., 504-895-2225) — A tropical paradise awaits at Magazine and Amelia streets. This small plates (tapas) restaurant features dishes that aren't all that small, including succulent skirt steak, fish tacos and plenty of other Latin American delights. Baru is BYOB, and there's an $8 corkage fee for wine drinkers.

2. Mayas (2027 Magazine St., 504-309-3401; www.mojitoland.com)

3. RioMar (800 S. Peters St., 504-525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com)

 

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Restaurant

1. Mona's Cafe (504 Frenchmen St., 504-949-4115; 3901 Banks St., 504-482-7743; 4126 Magazine St., 504-894-9800) — Mona's serves Middle Eastern food that is cheap and delicious, with bountiful portions. Its three locations are convenient for both spontaneous lunchers and weary revelers. The chicken shwarma and baba ghanoush are particu- larly good.

2. Byblos (Citywide, www.byblosrestaurants.com)

3. Lebanon's Cafe (1500 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-862-6200, www.lebanonscafe.com)

 

Best Mexican Restaurant

1. El Gato Negro (300 Harrison Ave., 504-488-0107; 81 French Market Place, 504-525-9752; www.elgatonegronola.com) — Bright, fresh and thoughtfully conceived dishes have made an impression in New Orleans' burgeoning Mexican food scene. Guacamole and ceviches prepared tableside and inventive mojitos and margaritas — like the pineapple/cilantro/lime concoction — give a traditional Mexican menu extra panache.

2. Taqueria Corona (5932 Magazine St., 504-897-3974; www.taqueriacorona.com)

3. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 504-569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com)

 

Best Seafood Restaurant

1. GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 504-581-3467, www.gwfins.com) — Fins is hot and swank, attracting power-lunchers and refined dinner dates with several fish options you won't readily find anywhere nearby. There's a regularly changing menu, but the Scalibut – scallop crusted halibut with lobster risotto – is an original creation and one of the most frequently ordered dishes on the menu.

2. Drago's Seafood Restaurant (Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 2 Poydras St., 504-584-3911; 3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 504-888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com)

3. The Galley (2535 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-832-0955)

 

Best Soul Food Restaurant

1. Willie Mae's Scotch House (2401 St. Ann St., 504-822-9503) — Willie Mae's Scotch House, which opened in 1957 as a bar, serves a full menu of comfort food, including cornbread, pork chops, butter beans and bread pudding. But the main event here is the fried chicken, a family recipe that's consistently described as the best in the city.

2. Praline Connection (542 Frenchmen St., 504-943-3934; www.pralineconnection.com)

3. Lil Dizzy's (1500 Esplanade Ave., 504-569-8997)

 

Best Steakhouse

1. Ruth's Chris Steak House (Harrah's Hotel, 525 Fulton St., 504-587-7099; 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-888-3600; www.ruthschris.com) — There's just something about the sound of sizzling butter applauding the steak it surrounds that makes the taste buds come alive. Couple it with a signature chop salad (big enough for two or three people), potatoes au gratin or fresh asparagus with hollan- daise sauce.

2. Mr. John's Steakhouse (2111 St. Charles Ave., 504-679-7697; www.mrjohnssteakhouse.com)

3. Crescent City Steak House (1001 N. Broad St., 504-821-3271; www.crescentcitysteaks.com)

 

Best Thai Restaurant

1. La Thai Uptown (4938 Prytania St., 504-899-8886; www.latthaiuptown.com) — La Thai serves an innovative combination of traditional and modern takes on Thai cuisine. The restaurant is co-owned by brother-sister chef team Merlin and Diana Chauvin.

2. Sukho Thai (1913 Royal St., 504-948-9309; 4519 Magazine St., 504-373-6471; www.sukhothai-nola.com)

3. Cafe Equator (2920 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-888-4772; www.cafeequator.com)

 

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

1. Pho Tau Bay (113 Westbank Expwy., Gretna, 504-368-9846) — A perennial favorite and a West Bank institution for more than 30 years, Pho Tau Bay has a wide selection of Vietnamese standards, including (vegetarian and meat) banh mi, spring rolls served with peanut sauce and the restaurant's signature, and varied, pho options.

2. Magasin Vietnamese Cafe (4201 Magazine St., 504-896-7611; www.magasincafe.com)

3. Hoa Hong/9 Roses (1100 Stephens St., Gretna, 504-366-7665)

 

Best Small Plates Restaurant

1. Vega Tapas (2051 Metairie Road, 504-836-2007, www.vegatapascafe.com) — The cheerful dining room and bar area contribute to sharing at this treasured Mediterranean tapas spot in Metairie. There's a steady menu of classics – paella, patatas bravas, gazpacho – as well as inspired specialty menus.

2. Baru Bistro and Tapas (3700 Magazine St., 504-895-2225)

3. Salu (3226 Magazine St., 504-371-5809; www.salurestaurant.com)

 

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Best Food Truck

1. Taceaux Loceaux (www.twitter.com/tlnola) — There are taco trucks and then there is Taceaux Loceaux. The hearty tacos are packed with unique ingredients and clever names ("Carnital Knowledge" features carnitas, "Seoul Man" is Korean-style), and owners Alex and Maribeth del Castillo effectively use social media to announce their stops at locations around town.

2. Geaux Plates (www.twitter.com/GeauxPlates)

3. Curbside (www.twitter.com/curbsidetruck)

 

Best Pop-Up Restaurant

1. McClure's BBQ (www.mccluresbarbecue.com) — After being general manager at Dante's Kitchen for almost a decade, Neil McClure found his niche in barbecue and opened this pop-up at Dante's. McClure's boasts slow-cooked meats, including tender ribs, pulled pork, chicken and brisket. "I wouldn't put a piece of charcoal or propane anywhere near my food," he states on his website. He also hinted that McClure's may be opening a permanent location in the CBD.

2. Dim Sum and Then Some @ The Joint (www.facebook.com/DimSum504)

3. Nola Smokehouse @ Avenue Pub (www.nolasmokehouse.com)

 

Best Breakfast Spot

1. Surrey's (1418 Magazine St., 504-524-3828; 4807 Magazine St., 504-895-5757; www.surreyscafeandjuicebar.com) — This early riser Lower Garden District spot and its Uptown counterpart serve plates upon plates of huevos rancheros and Latin American-inspired breakfasts, among other homemade favorites. There are bottomless cups of coffee and a menu of fresh-squeezed organic juices to help flush out last night's toxins.

2. Ruby Slipper (139 S. Cortez St., 504-309-5531; 200 Magazine St., 504-525-9355; - www.therubyslippercafe.net)

3. Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-309-2679; 540 Chartres St., 504-522-1800)

 

Best Brunch

1. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com) — The storied Garden District restaurant, headed by Chef Tory McPhail, reserves weekends for its jazz brunch, accompanied by Joe Simon's Jazz Trio and eye-opening cocktails. Commander's classics like turtle soup and the oyster and Absinthe dome are on the menu, as are roasted quail and cochon de lait (with eggs, because it's brunch, after all).

2. Surrey's (1418 Magazine St., 504-524-3828; 4807 Magazine St., 504-895-5757; www.surreyscafeandjuicebar.com)

3. Dante's Kitchen (736 Dante St., 861-3121; www.danteskitchen.com)

 

Best Lunch Specials

1. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221; www.-commanderspalace.com) — Voters might say they flock to the consistently well-rated New Orleans institution's lunch because of its specials starting at $16. But we all know it's because Commander's hosts the classiest wet lunch in town with its 25-cent martinis.

2. Palace Cafe (605 Canal St., 504-523-1661; www.palacecafe.com)

3. Joey K's (3001 Magazine St., 504-891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com)

 

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Camellia Grill (540 Chartres St., 504-522-1800; 626 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-309-2679) — Whether it's because of the chocolate freezes, chilli-cheese omelets, pie or its staff of entertaining cooks, it's easy to see why this classic diner consistently has a line out front. A recent expansion to the French Quarter grill added a much-needed nonseedy, nonbar late-night food option in that area.

2. City Diner (3116 S. I-10 Service Road East, Metairie, 504-831-1030; www.citydiner.biz)

3. Root (200 Julia St., 504-252-9480; www.rootnola.com)

 

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

1. Chuck E. Cheese's (124 North Shore Blvd., Slidell, 985-641-4878; 3701 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, 504-367-1214; 7000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-454-5959; 69252 Hwy. 21, Covington, 985-893-6091; www.chuckecheese.com) — Chuck E. Cheese always ranks high in this category, probably because it's all about kids. It may be difficult to persuade children to sit down to eat their pizza, but they'll stay entertained while the adults dine. The restaurants have active-play areas as well as a variety of games with prizes and an animated puppets music show.

2. New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Company (Citywide; www.nohsc.com)

3. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com)

 

Editor's pick

There's nothing wrong with Chuck E. Cheese's. Who doesn't like pizza served with a side of terrifying, life-sized talking animal entertainment? And ball pits are fun if you're not worried about bacteria. But what this category attempts to find are grown-up restaurants where children can eat food they like and won't elicit glares from other diners. If you still want pizza, try the bustling Ancora on Freret Street, which should sate both adult palates and picky eaters, and often is filled with families dining. — Lauren LaBorde

 

Best Cheap Eats

1. Felipe's Taqueria (301 N. Peters St., 504-267-4406; 6215 S. Miro St., 504-309-2776; www. felipestaqueria.com) — Not only is the Mexican eatery cheap, but with just a quick flick of guacamole on your burrito your order is complete. But Felipe's doesn't compromise in quality in pursuit of being fast and cheap. The ingredients are fresh, and a salsa bar is there to spice up your order.

2. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 504-569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com)

3. Dat Dog (5030 Freret St., 504-899-6883; www.datdognola.com)

 

Best Menu for Vegetarians

1. Green Goddess (307 Exchange Place, 504-301-3347; www.greengoddessnola.com) — Though chef Chris DeBarr has left the exotic Exchange Alley hideaway, its menu, now designed by chef Paul Artigues, is accented by vegetarian and vegan dishes with savory Indian pancakes, Creole tomatoes, local salads and house-pickled vegetables. The kitchen is always willing to design a dish for any veggie diet.

2. Mona's Cafe (504 Frenchmen St., 504-949-4115; 4126 Magazine St., 504-894-9800; 3901 Banks St., 504-482-7743)

3. Nirvana Indian Cuisine (4308 Magazine St., 504-894-9797; www.insidenirvana.com)

 

Best Place for Desserts

1. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 504-520-8311; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-834-2277; www.shopsucre.com) — Upscale, creative confections and a modern spin on the wholesome sweet shop decor have turned this gourmet spot into an institution almost overnight. A wide array of prettily designed truffles and cakes make for impressive gifts.

2. Angelo Brocato (214 North Carrollton Ave., 504-486-1465; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com)

3. Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro (2001 St. Charles Ave., 504-593-9955; www.copelandscheesecakebistro.com)

 

Best Place To Get Cupcakes

1. The Kupcake Factory (Citywide; www.thekupcakefactory.com)

Cupcakes are an artform at the Kupcake Factory and have all one could hope for in a cupcake: they are pretty, fluffy, and loaded with frosting. Twenty-nine fun flavors like the Fat Elvis (banana cake with peanut frosting and dusted with powdered sugar) and the Swirl (marbled cake with a chocolate/vanilla frosting swirl resembling a soft serve cone) are supplemented by a monthly new flavor.

2. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 504-520-8311; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-834-2277; www.shopsucre.com)

3. Bee Sweet (5706 Magazine St., 504-891-8333; www.beesweetcupcakes.com)

 

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Best King Cake

1. Manny Randazzo King Cakes (3515 N. Hullen St., 504-456-1476; www.randazzokingcake.com) — It seems nothing beats this perennial winner. Perhaps it's that moist, braided cake with the sticky icing, or how the bakery's excellent service makes it simple to ship the cake to your loved ones (or yourself) anywhere in the world. The cakes also are available year round to sate off-season cravings.

2. Haydel's Bakery (4037 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson; 504-837-0190; www.haydelbakery.com)

3. TIE: Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 504-520-8311; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-834-2277; www.shopsucre.com)

3. TIE: Rouses (Citywide; www.shop.rouses.com)

 

Best Buffet

1. The Buffet at Harrah's (8 Canal St., 504-533-6000; www.-harrahsneworleans.com) — The Buffet at Harrah's is a fine-dining smorgasbord with favorites like jumbo shrimp and fried chicken, along with Pacific Rim and French dishes. The Sweet Treats dessert bar is laden with even more guilt-inducing delights. You might even forget about going back to the black-jack table.

2. Nirvana Indian Cuisine (4308 Magazine St., 504-894-9797; www.insidenirvana.com)

3. East Buffet (2750 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-889-7826)

 

Best Wine List

1. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 504-895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com) — The curated wine list offers almost two dozen wines by the glass and another wide selection of wines by the bottle. You can choose cozy ambience and sit at a table or booth indoors, or soak in the New Orleans charm at tables on a patio overlooking the streetcar line and St. Charles Avenue. The menu also offers diverse tastes; ask a bartender to help you pair dishes with wines.

2. Emeril's (800 Tchoupitoulas St., 528-9393; www.emerils.com)

3. Wine Institute of New Orleans (610 Tchoupitoulas St., 324-8000; www.winoschool.com)

 

Best Chef

1. John Besh — Since he took over Restaurant August in 2005, Besh has built a small culinary empire in New Orleans, with seven restaurants in the New Orleans area, as well as The Soda Shop (inside the National World War II Museum). The latest is Borgne, which opened earlier this year in the Hyatt Regency Hotel and has drawn accolades for the food created by Besh and his partner, chef Brian Landry ... who placed third in this category.

2. Susan Spicer

3. Brian Landry

 

Best Outdoor Dining

1. Martinique Bistro (5908 Magazine St., 504-891-8495; www.-martiniquebistro.com) — Diners can eat inside but, when the weather's nice, Martinique's intimate courtyard is the way to go. This elegant Uptown restaurant serves traditional bistro food with local, seasonal ingredients.

2. Bacchanal (600 Poland Ave., 504-948-9111; www.bacchanalwine.com)

3. Cafe Rani (2917 Magazine St., 504-895-2500; www.caferanimagazine.com)

 

Best Deli

1. Stein's Market and Deli (2207 Magazine St., 504-527-0771; www.-steinsdeli.net) — Gooey pastrami sandwiches and cranky attitudes behind the counter (there's a system here — don't screw it up, wait your turn, talk fast) are more Lower East Side Manhattan than Lower Garden District, and it's a welcome sore thumb. The sandwich selection can't be beat, and the specialty grocery items — olive oils, bitters, pickles, mustards and other condiments — are a gourmand's delight.

2. Martin Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., 504-894-7420; 4221 Bienville St., 504-897-0191; www.martinwine.com)

3. Kosher Cajun Deli (3519 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-888-2010; www.koshercajun.com)

 

Best Burger

1. Company Burger (4600 Freret St., 504-267-0320; www. thecompanyburger.com) — Company Burger not only boasts a burger that Anthony Bourdain described on Twitter as "pretty goddamn perfect," but its menu is filled with other gems: a lamb burger, a grilled cheese sandwich that includes a fried egg, and rotating sides like fried okra. The restaurant also has a mayo bar.

2. Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 504-523-0120; www.portofcallnola.com)

3. Cowbell (1200 Eagle St., 504-298-8689; www.cowbell-nola.com)

 

EDITOR'S PICK:

This is a good list, but I woud have to add the veggie burger from truburger (the best nonmeat burger I've ever had), along with the bacon cheeseburger at Yo Mama's Bar & Grill, any of the sliders at Phil's Grill, the Buffa Burger at Buffa's (get it with grilled onions) and the Beachburger at Beachcorner Bar and Grill, which I have yet to be able to finish in one sitting. — KEVIN ALLMAN

 

Best Gourmet-To-Go

1. Martin Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., 504-894-7420; 4221 Bienville St., 897-0191, www.martinwine.com) — Martin Wine Cellar is the discerning picnicker's delight. An array of salads and classic sandwiches (Cubans, Reubens, and clubs) and gut-busters (try the Steamboat: corned beef, ham, bacon, swiss, Creole mustard, and onion) are made fresh to-order. You can shop for wine while you wait.

2. Gott Gourmet (3100 Magazine St., 504-373-6579, www.gottgourmetcafe.com)

3. Chez Nous (5701 Magazine St., 504-899-7303, www.gotocheznous.com)

 

Best Grocery Store Prepared-Food-To-Go

1. Whole Foods Market (3420 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-888-8225; 5600 Magazine St., 504-899-9119; www.wholefoodsmarket.com) — One of the reasons Whole Foods receives accolades is its amazing selection of food-to-go. Both the Arabella Street location Uptown and the Veterans Memorial Boulevard location in Metairie offer healthy, restaurant-quality takeout for people on the run. (Plus you might see Drew Brees in the Uptown location.)

2. Rouses (Citywide; www.rouses.com)

3. Langenstein's (800 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-831-6682; 1330 Arabella St., 504-899-9283; www.langensteins.com)

 

Best Gumbo

1. Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St., 504-525-1486, www.gumboshop.com) — Once again The Gumbo Shop wins the reader's choice (and has every year since 1999). Tourists agree too; be prepared for crowds. Choose from the seafood okra, chicken andouille, or the Gumbo Z'Herbes appetizer.

2. Mr. B's Bistro (201 Royal St., 504-523-2078; www.mrbsbistro.com)

3. Mr. Ed's (5241 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-889-7992)

 

Best Muffuletta

1. Central Grocery (923 Decatur St., 504-523-1620) — What Cafe Du Monde is to beignets, Central Grocery is to muffulettas. Tourism hasn't marred the Old World atmosphere of this 106-year-old store that's generally accepted as the originator of the sandwich. The muffuletta has a simple construction – no frills here, just a fresh, round, seeded bun decked with salami, provolone, and olive salad – which is perhaps the reason it's consistently ranked the best.

2. Nor-Joe Import Co. (505 Frisco Ave., Metairie, 504-833-9240; www.norjoe.com)

3. TIE: DiMartino's (3900 General DeGaulle Drive, 504-367-0227)

3. TIE: Napoleon House (500 Chartres St., 504-522-4152; www.napoleonhouse.com)

 

Best Pizza Restaurant

1. Slice (1513 St. Charles Ave., 504-525-7437; 5538 Magazine St., 504-897-4800; www.slicepizzeria.com) — New Orleans hasn't traditionally been known for its pizza, and to many, Slice is an oasis of mozzarella-pepperoni goodness in a pizza desert. The specialty pies are nothing new but are done well — such as the shrimp and andouille or the Greek pizza with artichoke, feta, green olives, and red onions.

2. Theo's Pizza (4218 Magazine St., 504-894-8554; 4024 Canal St., 504-302-1133; www.theospizza.com)

3. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com)

 

Editor's Pick

"New Orleans can't do pizza" is one of the laziest stereotypes in the city's culinary landscape. Newcomers Pizza Delicious, The Midway and Pizzicare show how to perfect a time-honored tradition with a New Orleans palate, and Domenica and Ancora take a more traditionally delicious approach without the big city pretension. Sure, you can't grab a wonderfully greasy $1 slice on a street corner, but we aren't in the West Village, and we shouldn't aspire to be. — Alex Woodward

 

Best Bar Food

1. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 504-891-1516, 5135 Canal St., 504-488-4191; www.bulldog.draftfreak.com) — The Bulldog has a wide variety of beers, and it upholds the same standard on its menu. You'll find anything the tipsy eater could dream up: nachos, wings, dips, burgers, eggrolls and, of course, fries, which are something special. The Amber fries are a large portion of waffle-cut potatoes drenched in cheese. The Porter fries — covered in wing sauce, chili, cheese, and jalapenos — aren't for the faint of stomach.

2. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com)

3. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 504-895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com)

 

Best Barbecue Shrimp

1. Pascal's Manale Restaurant (1838 Napoleon Ave., 504-895-4877) — You'll want to bathe in the combination of butter, lemon, garlic, Worcestershire, white wine, hot sauce and a secret blend of spices. Pascal's Manale has been serving this style of barbecue shrimp (which has nothing to do with traditional barbecue sauce or a grill) since 1903 and has been winning over diners ever since.

2. Mr. B's Bistro (201 Royal St., 504-523-2078; www.mrbsbistro.com)

3. Deanie's Seafood (841 Iberville St., 504-581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie, 504-831-4141; www.deanies.com)

 

Best Oyster Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 504-482-3047; www.parkwaypoorboys.com) — Monday is like a holiday at Parkway: it's the only day when oyster po-boys are available. Piping hot and crispy fried, this is a simple sandwich, but one of the most beloved in New Orleans.

2. Domilise's Po-boys (5240 Annunciation St., 504-899-9126)

3. Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St., 504-525-1158; 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-309-4056; www.acmeoyster.com)

 

Best Shrimp Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 504-482-3047; www.parkwaypoorboys.com) — This is Parkway's fourth year in the No. 1 slot for this category, and for good reason. The big shrimp po-boy is among the best sandwiches in a place famous for sandwich superlatives. For the price of an appetizer at some other restaurants, you'll get a po-boy so full of crisp, fried shrimp that, once you've finished the sandwich proper, you'll find a second meal has fallen onto your paper wrapper.

2. Domilise's Po-boys (5420 Annunciation St., 504-899-9126)

3. TIE: Crabby Jack's (428 Jefferson Highway, 504-833-2722; www.-crabbyjacksnola.com)

3. TIE: Mahony's Po-boy Shop (3454 Magazine St., 899-3374; www.mahonyspoboys.com)

 

Best Roast Beef Po-Boy

1. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Ave., 504-482-3047; www.parkwaypoorboys.com) — Best to have a whole roll of paper towels on hand if you're going to attempt Parkway's roast beef po-boy. Fall-apart roast beef, juices, onions and debris slathered in gravy, this is a sloppy sandwich that requires a bib.

2. Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 504-523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.net)

3. Tracey's (2604 Magazine St., 504-897-5413; www.traceysnola.com)

 

Best Place To Get a Specialty Sandwich

1. Stein's Market and Deli (2207 Magazine St., 504-527-0771; www.steinsdeli.net) — Prosciutto, pastrami, corned beef and tongue reign supreme at this Jewish and Italian deli in the Lower Garden. There's even an assortment of knishes, cream cheese, and giant, doughy bagels shipped in from New York.

2. St. James Cheese Company (5004 Prytania St., 504-899-4737; www.stjamescheese.com)

3. Martin Wine Cellar (714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie, 504-896-7300; 3500 Magazine St., 504-894-7420; www.martinwine.com)

 

Best Tacos

1. The Rum House (3128 Magazine St., 504-941-7560; www.rumhousenola.com) — New Orleans is by no means short of convivial, chips-and-queso taquerias, but Rum House stands out with its selection of Caribbean-inspired tacos packed with toppings. Options include standbys like fried fish tacos and others with more unusual fillings like fried oysters, curried lamb and duck cracklings.

2. Taqueria Corona (1827 Hickory Ave., 504-738-6722; 3535 Severn Ave., 504-885-5088; 5932 Magazine St., 504-897-3974; www.taqueriacorona.com)

3. Juan's Flying Burrito (2018 Magazine St., 504-569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com)

 

Best Cup of Coffee

1. PJ's Coffee (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com) — Few cities have a coffee chain that can compete with a mega-chain like Starbucks. But PJ's has been able to establish a loyal customer base throughout New Orleans. With famous French roasts, iced coffees, and Cafe au Lait, New Orleanians don't seem willing to give up their hometown hero.

2. CC's Community Coffee House (Citywide; www.communitycoffee.com)

3. Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St., 504-525-4544; www.cafedumonde.com)

 

Best Iced Coffee

1. PJ's Coffee (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com) — PJ's iced coffee is essential during the hotter months, and the coffee company has it down to a science, combining a cold-pressed Viennese blend with Melipone vanilla that makes for a rich, creamy pick-me-up. Add in one of dozens of flavor syrups for an extra sugary treat.

2. CC's Community Coffee House (Citywide; www.commu-nitycoffee.com)

3. Starbucks (Citywide; www.starbucks.com)

 

Editor's pick

These local chains are perennial favorites in the coffee categories, and they are good. But as a relentless caffeine fiend who has traveled far and wide to get my fix, allow me to offer some less-known alternatives. From a tiny shack across from Whole Foods, Velvet Espresso serves coffee from quality roasters like Intelligentsia and brews using siphon and other slow-bar coffee serving methods (it may take a few minutes but it's worth it). They also recently launched a mobile espresso bar (www.velvettogeaux.com). Speaking of mobile coffee, Brigade Coffee Company (www.brigadecoffee.com) serves its potent brews from an old Citroen truck. Follow the brewer on Twitter (@BrigadeCoffee) for location updates. — Lauren LaBorde

 

Best Place to Get Ice Cream/Gelato

1. Angelo Brocato (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-486-1465; www.angelobrocatoicecream.com) — Here, you won't find lavender-chocolate ice cream, avocado sorbet or the trendy flavors populating gourmet ice creameries. Instead, be comforted by bricks of pastel spumoni, traditional Italian gelati and cookies, and the cafe's famous Italian ices, which you can find in stores but are more fun to eat at Brocato's.

2. Creole Creamery (4924 Prytania St., 504-894-8680; 6260 Vicksburg St., 504-482-2924; www.creolecreamery.com)

3. Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 504-520-8311; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-834-2277; www.shopsucre.com)

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

1. Pinkberry (3460 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-612-7306; 300 Canal St.; 5601 Magazine St., 504-899-4260; www.pinkberry.com) — Fro-yo places are propagating like an infectious culture across New Orleans, but Pinkberry remains the best. Its flavors — which include seasonal options — are tangy and subtle, the toppings are unique and often changing, and new locations are in the works. They offer delivery in some areas.

2. Tutti-Fruitti (Citywide; www.tfyogurt.com)

3. Yogurtland (4903 Prytania St., 504-333-6809; www.yogurtland.com)

 

Best Sno-Ball Stand

1. Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-891-9788; www.snobliz.com) — Endure the long line and summer heat, and you'll be rewarded with a cup packed high with feathery shaved ice and creamy syrup from a place that resembles a time capsule or museum. Ashley Hansen, granddaughter of Ernest Hansen, who invented the ice-shaving machine, is still there serving sno-balls with a smile.

2. Williams Plum Street Snowballs (1300 Burdette St., 866-7996; www.eteamz.com/plumstreetsnoball)

3. Sal's Sno-Ball Stand (1823 Metairie Road, 504-666-1823)

 

Best Coffeehouse

1.PJ's Coffee (Citywide; www.pjscoffee.com) — Before the mainstream popularity of macchiatos and mocha lattes, there was PJ's. Started in 1978 by Phyllis Jordan (PJ), this local chain has been a New Orleanian daily necessity for decades. Twelve different roasts and a variety of syrups and flavors continue to draw loyal patrons.

2. CC's Community Coffee House (Citywide; www.communitycoffee.com)

3. Fair Grinds Coffeehouse (3133 Ponce de Leon St., 504-913-9072; www.fairgrinds.com)

 

Best Restaurant That Delivers

1. Reginelli's Pizzeria (Citywide; www.reginellis.com) — Nine locations, and Reginelli's has New Orleans pretty much covered for delivery. With its sizeable menu of toppings, calzones, salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes, you'd be hard-pressed not to find something that appeals, and the hefty portions make for great leftovers.

2. Five Happiness (3605 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-482-3935; www.fivehappiness.com)

3. Mikimoto (3301 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-488-1881; www.mikimotosushi.com)

Best Place to Take a Pilates Class: Romney Pilates - PHOTO BY  CHERYL GERBER
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