New Orleans is arguably the most French-influenced city in the U.S. (seriously, they have a whole neighborhood called the French Quarter), making it a stellar place to enjoy some of the best French food in the country. Here are some of the stand-out spots in NOLA to enjoy delicious French cuisine.
Grab a date and enjoy a romantic evening at Cafe Degas, an intimate bistro named after the French impressionist painter who, as fate would have it, once lived down the street from where the restaurant stands today. Cafe Degas serves classical French cuisine with a few clever Creole twists.
The cheese or paté boards are excellent shareable starters, or keep the broiled escargot Bourguignon all to yourself. Sample the Creole influence in the flash-fried Louisiana softshell crab dish with a mixed green salad, pickled haricot vert, and Bloody Mary vinaigrette. The wine list is full of hand-selected vintages to pair with any dish.
Antoine's Restaurant is still owned and operated by fifth-generation descendants of the original owner, Antoine Alciatore, who opened this mainstay in 1840. Antoine's is also the birthplace of renowned dishes like oysters Rockefeller and eggs Sardou. If you're looking for storied French-Creole cuisine, this is the place.
The classic fish almandine is made with fresh gulf fish, toasted almonds and brown butter, while the filet is center-cut tenderloin in a red wine reduction with braised mushrooms and smashed potato. There's also an option for a four-course tasting menu for $54 and an additional $35 for the wine pairings. At the very beginning of your meal, be sure to pre-order the baked Alaska. Buttery pound cake with a delicate meringue crust surrounds a vanilla ice cream core (serves two).
The chef team at Restaurant Patois is committed to using locally sourced ingredients in their French cuisine, which they infuse with local culture. The duck liver paté is served with strawberry jam, and the fried saltines bring out the creaminess in the paté. The mussels are steamed in cider with tarragon, and you'll want to sop up every last drop with the grilled bread. The fried oyster salad showcases the flavors of Louisiana with bacon, tomato, parmesan and lemon buttermilk dressing.
For your main course, try the pecan-crusted gulf fish with garlicky potatoes, haricot vert and a brown butter lemon sauce. Do not skip dessert! Patois has a dedicated pastry chef that makes the best coconut cream tart in the zip code.
Since 2000, Herbsaint has been a dining destination for locals and foodie travelers alike. This restaurant works with nearby farmers and fishers to get locally sourced, seasonal produce and sustainable meat and fish. The cuisine is French-Southern with some rustic Italian thrown in too. The cornmeal-fried oysters and the gumbo show off the southern side of Herbsaint, while the oeufs mayonnaise (jumbo lump crab with petit lettuces) showcases the French influence.
For a main course, a duck leg is prepared in the traditional French confit method with a citrus gastrique and then sits on a bed of Louisiana dirty rice, a perfect French-Southern combo. For dessert, the chocolate hazelnut dacquoise with milk chocolate ganache is decadent. You won't want to share.
The accolades thrown at Chef John Harris and his French bistro Lilette are impressive. Chef was a four-time James Beard Award finalist and also honored as "Food & Wine's" Best New Chef in America back in 2002. Lilette itself has been honored five times in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune's" Top Ten Best Restaurants in New Orleans. The cuisine is predominantly French, with a few other European influences mixed in for good measure.
Start with the grilled beets with goat cheese and walnuts before a salad course of duck confit landaise with escarole, duck fat potato, crispy marrow and a red wine vinaigrette. For the main course, go for either the snapper with broccoli rabe in a roasted garlic beurre blanc or the braised lamb shoulder with semolina gnocchi and wilted spinach. The extensive wine list has lots of incredible French vintages for toasting.
Follow your nose to the French bakery La Madeleine because its aromas are nothing short of heavenly. The outdoor patio feels like dining in a little French street cafe, ready to discuss art and culture with neighbors over a croissant and cafe au lait. Pâtisserie items are all made in the French tradition. Nibble on delicate mixed fruit, lemon or chocolate tarts (mini or individual), Sacher torts and parfaits.
The bakery serves four different kinds of croissants, sea salt or French baguettes and sweet or savory Danishes. Those with more of an appetite can order Parisian favorites like chicken friand (chicken, Swiss, mushrooms and flaky puff pastry) or quiche Lorraine.