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New places to eat and drink near French Quarter Fest 

Six new spots before and after you fest

Part of the fun of French Quarter Festival is exploring the surrounding area's restaurant and bar offerings. Whether you're starting your day with brunch and an eye-opener, refueling with a snack and a drink or settling in for some serious replenishment after a day of revelry, here are our top picks of what's new in the French Quarter and nearby neighborhoods.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Bywater American Bistro
2900 Chartres St., (504) 605-3827;
Start or end your day at chef Nina Compton's new restaurant, which sits on the ground floor of the Rice Mill Lofts on the border of the Marigny and Bywater. The restaurant recently began serving brunch, including dishes like chicken liver parfait served with fresh berries and rye granola, breakfast corndogs with cane syrup and Compton's take on a "proper" English breakfast with a Creole twist: Two eggs, boudin noir, bacon, baked beans, toast and rosti potatoes. If you're closing the day out here, replenish with Compton's classic spaghetti pomodoro and a nightcap. Bar manager Crystal Pavlas' twist on a whiskey sour is made with blended Scotch, chamomile liquor, honey and lemon. She also makes a mean gin and tonic.

Landry's Seafood House
620 Decatur St., Suite 1A, (504) 581-9825;
The new Landry's Seafood House sits inside the JAX Brewery Building on Decatur Street and offers views of the Mississippi River and Jackson Square. Take a midday break or pop in for dinner featuring Creole and Cajun seafood standbys such as blackened catfish Atchafalaya, trout meuniere or smoked onion butter snapper. The restaurant's bilevel space has plenty of bar room, including an oyster bar that's a good excuse to stop by for a set break, a beer and a dozen shucked oysters.

click to enlarge Josephine Romo serves cocktails at the Cuban cafe Manolito. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Josephine Romo serves cocktails at the Cuban cafe Manolito.

508 Dumaine St., (504) 603-2740;
The tiny Cuban bar and cafe is the latest venture from bartenders Nick Detrich, Chris Hannah and Konrad Kantor. The petite Dumaine Street spot is a tribute to Havana's El Floridita restaurant, and guests can expect the bartenders to turn out classics like El Presidente, Floridita daiquiris and Jazz daiquiris. The food menu features Cuban specialties like ropa vieja, black bean soup and Cuban sandwiches — perfect for laying a foundation or soaking up some of the booze at the end of the day. Even better ­— all the bar's cocktails are available to go.

click to enlarge Candied fried pork ribs at Curio. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Candied fried pork ribs at Curio.

301 Royal St., (504) 717-4198;
Chef Hayley Vanvleet's light, creative approach to seafood is just one attraction at Curio. Another is the spot's wraparound upstairs balcony where diners can watch the Royal Street revelry below. Dishes like scallop and tuna carpaccio topped with fresh mint and a gingery citrus vinaigrette or chilled blue crab claws with radish escabeche offer cooling antidotes to the midday heat. The restaurant also serves brunch, where a bloody mary and a plate of caramelized French toast drizzled in cane syrup helps set the stage for a day of music.

317 Baronne St., (844) 439-1463;
When you're ready to escape French Quarter crowds, NOPSI Hotel's rooftop bar Above the Grid provides a place to regroup and relax while taking in the downtown views and a fresh breeze. Alternately, sidle up to the elegant lobby bar Undercurrent for an afternoon martini, or grab a seat at the downstairs restaurant Public Service to recharge. A spacious raw bar includes a selection of Louisiana oysters as well as refreshing crab tartare served with homemade crackers and a zesty shrimp and avocado cocktail. For something more substantial, a bone-in prime rib is served with tasso croquettes, Brussels sprouts slaw and pecan gastrique.

Queenie's on St. Claude
3200 St. Claude Ave., (504) 558-4085;
If you're starting your day in the Bywater and walking into the action (preferably with a cold drink in hand), grab a daiquiri at Queenie's, where a wide selection of frozen drinks is served in sizes ranging from "baby" versions ($3) to large cups ($8). House creations like the St. Claude Slammer and the Purple Queenie pack a serious punch. At night, rotating pop-up kitchens offer snacks like cheeseburgers, tacos and parmesan and garlic chicken wings. If you feel ambitious, Queenie's also has jug drinks and Jell-O shots that should last all the way to the Quarter.


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