More than 70 restaurants opened in New Orleans over the past 12 months, making 2016 a blockbuster for the local restaurant industry. While 2015 ushered in a wave of fine dining restaurants, 2016 brought many casual dining concepts. Sandwich shops Turkey and the Wolf and Part & Parcel showed what can be done when fine dining sensibility is put to use in playful, informal settings; family-friendly barbecue spots opened up to great acclaim; and several new casual Vietnamese concepts met with praise, including the much anticipated opening of Pho Tau Bay in its new space on Tulane Avenue.
A number of established chefs opened new restaurants in 2016. Susan Spicer opened her elegant comfort food spot Rosedale in Lakeview. Top Chef contestant Isaac Toups opened his second place, the Southern-inspired Toups South inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Chefs John Besh and Chris Lusk revived the historic Caribbean Room in the Pontchartrain Hotel, and Emeril Lagasse opened Meril, his first new restaurant in the city for 18 years.
Several restaurants closed in 2016, including beloved Creole Italian icon Tony Angello's in Lakeview, Ryan Hughes' Purloo, Mid-City's Milkfish, Frenchmen Street's Yuki Izakaya, Uptown's Saveur and Tryst and sushi favorites Kyoto and Horinoya.
Here, a look at some of 2016's best new restaurants, dishes and trends:
Best new wine bar:
Runner-up: PJ Rosenberg and Mark Latter's modern wine haunt on Freret Street, Bar Frances, offers a long list of wines and an innovative vegetarian-heavy menu to match.
Best new sandwich:
Runner-up: The rotisserie roasted chicken sandwich with salsa verde, aioli and romaine at Good Bird in St. Roch Market is equal parts salty, fatty and crunchy all at once.
Runner-up: Decatur Street's Cafe Sbisa reopened in October. Chef Alfred Singleton's French-Creole dishes include oysters Sbisa, topped with Herbsaint creamed spinach, Tabasco hollandaise, bacon and Parmesan.
Best new barbecue:
Runner-up: Frey Smoked Meat Co. opened in November in Mid-City and already is drawing diners for its smoked pork belly, beef ribs and tongue-in-cheek milkshakes.
Best architectural renovation:
Runner-up: The maritime-themed Seaworthy is in a historic Creole townhouse dating to 1832 and imbues a Victorian theme with nautical accents and the allure of fresh oysters.