Best of Dining
Best of 2010 Chefs, Restaurants, Front of the House, Behind the Bar, Ethnic and More
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CREOLE SOUL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Relocating from their pre-Katrina Freret Street location to the Broadway Campus of Loyola University, the Dunbar family continues to dish up some of the tastiest red beans and awesome-est fried chicken in the city at prices that even leaves change in the pockets of college students. – J.F.
501 Pine St., 861-5451
FRENCH RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
The masterpiece of proprietor Jacques Soulas, an artist and a restaurateur, and his friend Jerry Edgar, this creative bistro overlooking Forcier Park and romantic Esplanade Avenue is an authentic French jewel. The openness of the dining room, the intimacy of the bar, a live oak tree rising through the floor and a complete wine list adding pleasure to the French menu have guests looking up from their plates of moules et frites, checking the door to see when Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas will arrive. – T.M.
3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635, cafedegas.com
MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
One of a very few places offering North African cuisine, Little Morocco serves up exotically spiced Tajines, lamb and couscous dishes. Try the Morozia – lamb with plums and honey seasoned with Ras el Hanout – and BYOB as there’s no corkage fee (or liquor license). A small grocery store in the back rounds out the experience. – J.F.
7457 St. Charles Ave., 301-9184
TRADITIONAL NEW ORLEANS ITALIAN RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
“Mr. Tony’s House” is a modest ranch-style design, complete with photos of famous guests, breakfronts and even a private dining room with a lone, bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. But the graciousness of the surroundings, the friendly bar scene and the comfort of the larger rooms make diners appreciate the special gift that “Mr. Tony” has given this city for many, many years. Even the 12 feet of water from flooding after Hurricane Katrina and the multi-year project to completely replace Fleur de Lis Drive haven’t dimmed the classic Italian dishes that flow from the kitchen and the heart. – T.M.
6262 Fleur de Lis Drive, 488-0888
JAPANESE RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
The Little Tokyo family of restaurants is our choice for Japanese restaurant of 2010. With four locations serving sushi (in Mid-City, Uptown, Metairie and Boutte) and the newly opened Little Tokyo Small Plates and Noodle Shop on South Carrollton, there’s ample opportunity to sample some of the best Japanese cuisine and the freshest fish in town. – R.P.
310 N. Carrollton Ave., 485-5658; 1340 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-6088;
1521 N. Causeway Blvd., 831-6788; 13371 US Highway 90, Boutte, (985) 331-0887, littletokyonola.com
LATIN RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Fiesta Latina serves the cuisine of Mexico and Central America, and does both very well. Tacos, burritos, tamales and pupusas with fried plantains are only some of your options at the restaurant’s two locations. – R.P.
1924 Airline Highway, Kenner, 468-2384; 133 N. Carrollton Ave., 484-0590
VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Tan Dinh stands out among the many local Vietnamese restaurants for the overall excellence of its food, and for some items not found on other Vietnamese menus such as a curry of frog legs, goat in a satay sauce with Vietnamese herbs and the spicily addictive fried ribs with lemongrass and chili. – R.P.
1705 Lafayette St., 361-8088
MEXICAN RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Thie décor is the four rows of stately oaks lining South Carrollton Avenue, and the soundtrack is often the clanging of streetcars, but the cuisine is pure and authentic Mexican, with emphasis on the ingredients and dishes of Veracruz, Mexico’s oldest and largest port, located on the Gulf of Mexico. Panchita’s interpretations of the culinary connections between that city and this one aren’t subtle, and the amazing blend of fresh flavors and bold ingredients will bring you to the conclusion that you’ve never before experienced the authentic cuisine of Mexico unless, of course, you’ve been there. – T.M.
1434 S. Carrollton Ave., 281-4127
All photos above: JEFFERY JOHNSTON