Tops of the Town 2014

Our readers have spoken. Here are the winners from our annual survey.

Our readers chose Drew Brees as New Orleanian of the Year, New Orleanian I Admire Most (male) and Favorite Saints Player.

 

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Later this new year readers will have a chance to vote on members of congress and, depending where they live, a mayor and council members. Our readers are already warmed up for the task having cast numerable ballots for their picks of the Tops of the Town. A self-addressed, postage-paid ballot was attached to our October issue. There was also an online ballot. Voting was heavier than ever with 927 ballots cast. In many categories, where the vote totals justified it, we narrowed the listings to the top three in each category allowing also, in many cases, for ties. Pretend it’s election night. The polls have closed and now it’s time to see the results. Go ahead and browse. And yes, all results have been sanctioned by the electoral college.

Winners of a Jazz Brunch for two at The Court of Two Sisters are Bruce Schewe, New Orleans; and Dorinda Dorsey, New Orleans.


CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH

Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Favorite politician

Kermit Ruffins
Favorite musician (living in the city)

TWO WORLDS; ONE CITY

In some ways Kermit Ruffins and Mitch Landrieu could exchange jobs. Landrieu is the mayor, but he once performed the role of Che in a local production of Evita, he can sing, and, if necessary, dance. Ruffins wouldn’t be happy tangoing with the city council, but his glowing personality would work well with the ceremonial part of the chief executive’s job.

Both are relatively young. (Ruffins is 48; Landrieu is 53). Both are energetic. Both are very popular with our readers. In our Tops of the Town voting, Ruffins was an easy winner in the category of favorite local musician living in the city. Landrieu, an experienced vote-getter, captured first place as Favorite Politician and finished a respectable second in two other categories: New Orleanian of the Year and New Orleanian I Admire Most.

Ruffins’ popularity comes not only from being a great musician but also from his easygoing persona. He is someone whose ambition isn’t so much to perform on the global stage but more to be barbecuing on the back of a pickup truck. Landrieu, who hales from an accomplished political family, has faced the difficult task of rebuilding the city yet has benefitted from the enthusiasm of a citizenry up to the challenge. He has made good strides toward reshaping the police department and is showing progress on his campaign pledge to rebuild the city’s once prestigious recreation department.

While Landrieu can be a talented speaker, a simple line spoken by Ruffins in a TV series spoke volumes: The trumpeter had occasional appearances in the HBO series “Treme.” In one scene Ruffins was at a nightclub when one of the series’ characters told him that Elvis Costello was in the audience. He urged Ruffins to go meet Costello, but Ruffins showed no interest. The character chided Ruffins by saying that Costello could help make him famous, and then sarcastically asked Ruffins if he just wanted to spend the rest of his life in New Orleans playing his trumpet and barbecuing. Ruffins paused for a moment and then asked, “What’s wrong with that?”

There is nothing wrong with that, and with people like Kermit Ruffins and Mitch Landrieu behind the counter, there will be lots of fans waiting for a seat at the table.

– Errol Laborde


Drew Brees
New Orleanian of the Year,
New Orleanian I Admire Most (male),
Favorite Saints Player
 

TAKING THE KNEE
Drew Brees: An Easy Winner

On that horrible weekend when locals evacuated the city as Hurricane Katrina churned, few among them had heard of Drew Brees. Fantasy Football geeks would know him as the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers via Purdue, but neither are teams that are much in the thoughts of locals. By the time those locals returned, circumstances and luck would’ve come into play and the little known quarterback was on his way to becoming one of the dominant figures during the city’s post-Katrina life.

Brees is handsome, articulate, affable, smart and a great quarterback. Since the franchise was created in 1967, there have been many players to wear the black-and-gold, but few, other than Archie Manning, have become as much a part of the community as Brees. Rather than flying away after the season, Brees and his growing family live here and invest here. Life for quarterbacks can sometimes be as rough as a charging linebacker, but no one can ever take away that he was the Most Valuable Player when the Saints won what will assuredly be only their first Super Bowl. Our readers picked him as New Orleanian They Admired Most and (no contest here) Favorite Saints Player. Fortunately for New Orleans, he’s no fantasy – he’s real. 

– E.L.


SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPH

COMMANDING LEAD

One of the most famous restaurants in the city, Commander’s Palace sweeps Tops of the Town this year, receiving four first place awards, two second place awards and one third place award.

Established in 1880 by Emile Commander, Commander’s Palace has been synonymous with New Orleans style and elegance for over a century. The Brennan family acquired the restaurant in 1969, and Commander’s Palace has continued to provide a long parade of not only exquisite dishes and service, but also a number of renowned chefs, including Food Network star Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon and now Tory McPhail, soon celebrating his 12th anniversary as Commander’s Palace executive chef. Working in conjunction with local flavors and local suppliers, McPhail continues to amaze and delight guests with seasonal updates to the menu that includes successful recipes from decades ago.

Commander’s Palace continues to appeal to a wide variety of diners, from their jazz brunch, cozy dinners and a two-course lunch featuring classic cocktails for 25 cents. In a modern world tailored to convenience, Commander’s Palace sticks firmly to its dress code, providing a unique opportunity for formal dining in a time where flip-flops have become business casual. Commander’s Palace continues to be recognized as haute creole cuisine worldwide, featured in publications such as TripAdvisor, Zagat, Food & Wine, Nation’s Restaurant News, Wine Enthusiast and more.

– Lexi Wangler


CUTTING THE MUSTARD

Dat Dog appeared as a cash-only hot dog stand operating out of a shed on Freret Street post-Katrina, but since then, Dat Dog has exploded into two large locations on Freret and Magazine streets, a mobile Dat Dog Express and a new location on Frenchmen Street, tentatively slated to open before Mardi Gras. Hands-down voted the best hot dogs in the city, tourists and locals alike enjoy the wide variety of hot dog, bratwurst and sausage options in a laid-back, festive environment complete with projection screens for sports and colorful picnic tables. Featuring 17 kinds of hot dogs with upwards of 17 toppings, Dat Dog rotates its menu weekly, and offers seasonal and holiday items as well. Started by New Orleanian native Skip Murray, Dat Dog began in England as a hot dog cart called The Real American Hot Dog Company until Murray moved the operation to his hometown in Uptown. He then infused the menu with local flavors, with Creole and Cajun flairs to add a New Orleans twist to the classic American hot dog. Dat Dog also expanded its drink menu to include a wide variety of drinks, ice cream floats and a full bar with a large selection of beer and wines. Keeping ahead of the times with an active social media presence and entertaining hot dog blog, we can only expect more of the same deliciousness from this instant New Orleans icon.

– L.W.


Chef Jared Tees, left, and Archie Manning

Manning’s
Favorite Sports Bar

HAPPY HUDDLING

“Eat-Drink-Cheer!” is the motto of this year’s favorite sports bar, and what could be more appropriate? Located on Fulton Street in the Warehouse District as part of the Harrah’s Casino restaurant group, Saints legend Archie Manning’s restaurant excited guests since its opening in 2011. Serving an all-day menu seven days a week, Manning’s restaurant boasts more than 30 flat-screen televisions, including a 13-foot-by-7.5-foot mega-screen, a sports anchor desk, unique memorabilia from Louisiana’s first football family – the Mannings – and commissioned artwork by New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne. Although also available for private dining, Manning’s claims the city’s only “fan cave experience,” where guests can relax in a living room-like setting, while eating and watching the game. Manning’s also has a smokehouse called the Tailgate Experience, featuring a festival-esque environment where guests can drink, mingle and feast on a variety of meats smoked on a 12-foot smoker while a mega screen broadcasts the game. Dining highlights include the new traditional Southern Breakfast, Archie’s burger and a redfish courtbouillon. 

– L.W.

 

 

PEOPLE

New Orleanian
of the year
1) Drew Brees
2) Mayor Mitch Landrieu
3) Tom Benson

New Orleanian I
admire most (female)
1) Angela Hill
2) Senator Mary Landrieu
3) Gayle Benson

New Orleanian I
admire most (male)
1) Drew Brees
2) Mayor Mitch Landrieu
3) Tom Benson

Favorite politician
1) Mayor Mitch Landrieu
2) Senator Mary Landrieu
3) Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head

Favorite New Orleans musician (living in the city)
1) Kermit Ruffins
2) Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (tie)
2) Malcolm “Mac” Rebennack Jr. aka Dr. John (tie)
3) Jeremy Davenport

Favorite New Orleans musician (living outside the city)
1) Harry Connick Jr.
2) Aaron Neville
3) Wynton Marsalis

Favorite local band
1) Rebirth Brass Band
2) Bucktown All-Stars
3) Bag of Donuts (tie)
3) Cowboy Mouth (tie)

Favorite local actress/actor (local theater)
1) Becky Allen
2) John “Spud” McConnell
3) Bryan Batt

Favorite live theater
1) Saenger Theatre
2) Le Petit Théâtre du
Vieux Carré
3) Mahalia Jackson
Theater (tie)
3) Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre (tie)

Favorite Saints player
1) Drew Brees
2) Jimmy Graham
3) Darren Sproles

Favorite local TV
news anchor
1) Sally-Ann Roberts
2) Karen Swensen
3) Lee Zurik

Favorite TV
sports reporter
1) Jim Henderson
2) Fletcher Mackel
3) Juan Kincaid

Favorite TV meteorologist
1) Bob Breck
2) Margaret Orr
3) Carl Arredondo

Favorite local TV station
1) WWL-TV Channel 4
2) WDSU NewsChannel 6
3) WVUE-TV FOX 8

Favorite local
radio personality
1) John “Spud” McConnell
2) Garland Robinette
3) Bobby Hebert

Favorite radio station
1) WWOZ 90.7 FM
2) WWNO 89.9 FM
3) WWL AM870

Favorite local writer
1) Chris Rose
2) Anne Rice
3) Poppy Z. Brite

Favorite festival
1) New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
2) French Quarter Fest
3) The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience

Favorite Carnival parade
1) Krewe of Muses
2) Krewe of Endymion
3) Krewe of Bacchus

Favorite private
elementary school
1) Ursuline Academy
2) Academy of the
Sacred Heart
3) St. Martin’s Episcopal School

Favorite private
secondary/high school
1) Ursuline Academy
2) Academy of the
Sacred Heart
3) Jesuit High School

Favorite charter school
1) Lusher Charter School
2) Ben Franklin High School
3) Edward Hynes Charter School

Favorite gym
1) Elmwood Fitness Center
2) New Orleans Athletic Club
3) Anytime Fitness

PLACES

Favorite day spa
1) The Ritz-Carlton Spa
2) Earthsavers
3) Belladonna Day Spa

Favorite boutique
1) Fleurty Girl
2) Hemline
3) Ballin’s LTD

Favorite antiques store
1) M.S. Rau Antiques
2) Greg’s Antiques
3) Magazine Antique Mall

Favorite florist
1) Villere’s Florist
2) Federico’s Family Florist
3) Tommy’s Flowers

Favorite lawn/garden supply
1) Perino’s Garden Center
2) The Home Depot
3) Jefferson Feed (tie)
3) Lowe’s Home Improvement (tie)

Favorite movie theater
1) The Theatres at
Canal Place
2) The Prytania Theater
3) AMC Elmwood Palace 20

Favorite place to hear
live music
1) Tipitina’s
2) House of Blues
3) d.b.a.

Favorite happy hour
1) Domenica
2) Superior Grill
3) The American Sector (tie)
3) Carousel Bar & Lounge (tie)

Favorite jazz club
1) Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro
2) Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
3) Preservation Hall

Favorite museum
1) New Orleans Museum of Art (tie)
1) The National
WWII Museum (tie)
2) Ogden Museum of Southern Art
3) Louisiana Children’s Museum

Favorite historical
landmark
1) Jackson Square
2) St. Louis Cathedral
3) Robert E. Lee Statue, Lee Circle

Favorite remodeled/
renovated building
1) Saenger Theatre
2) Mercedes-Benz Superdome
3) Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré/Tableau Restaurant

Favorite place to
spot celebrities
1) French Quarter
2) Whole Foods Market
3) Magazine Street

Favorite place to play hooky
1) French Quarter
2) Audubon Park
3) Audubon Zoo

Favorite golf course
1) Audubon Park
Golf Course
2) City Park New Orleans North Gold Course
3) English Turn Golf & Country Club

Favorite weekend getaway
1) Destin, Fla.
2) Biloxi, Miss.
3) Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Favorite up-and-coming neighborhood
1) Bywater
2) Lakeview
3) Mid City

Favorite neighborhood in which to raise a family
1) Uptown
2) Lakeview
3) Old Metairie

Favorite place to buy
a wedding dress
1) Town and Country Bridal Salon & Ladies Apparel
2) Yvonne La Fleur
3) The Bridal Boutique by MaeMe

Favorite place to
place your bets
1) Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
2) Harrah’s Casino

Favorite hotel
1) Hotel Monteleone
2) The Roosevelt New Orleans
3) Windsor Court Hotel

Favorite bed & breakfast
1) Ashton’s Bed
and Breakfast
2) Park View Guest House

DINING

Quick and Easy

Favorite place to
buy King Cakes
1) Manny Randazzo
King Cakes
2) Haydel’s Bakery
3) Rouses Supermarkets

Favorite fried chicken
1) Popeyes
2) Willie Mae’s Scotch House
3) Mr. Ed’s (tie)
3) Raising Cane’s (tie)

Favorite poor boys
1) Parkway Bakery
and Tavern
2) Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
3) Johnny’s Po-Boys (tie)
3) Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop (tie)

Favorite tacos
1) Juan’s Flying Burrito
2) Felipe’s Taqueria
3) The Rum House

Favorite sushi
1) Sake Café
2) Kyoto Sushi Bar and Japanese Restaurant
3) Little Tokyo Restaurant

Favorite wings
1) WOW Café & Wingery
2) Buffalo Wild Wings
3) Bayou Hot Wings

Favorite onion rings
1) Ye Olde College Inn
2) Mandina’s Restaurant
3) Mahony’s Po-Boy Shop

Favorite pizza restaurant
1) Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza
2) Reginelli’s Pizzeria
3) Slice Pizzeria

Favorite snow balls
1) Plum Street Snoball
2) Hansen’s Sno-Bliz
3) Sal’s Sno-Ball Stand

Favorite grocery
store/deli
1) Rouses Supermarkets
2) Whole Foods Market
3) Dorignac’s Food Center

Native Cuisine

Favorite place for
Cajun food
1) K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
2) Cochon Restaurant
3) Mulate’s

Favorite place for
Creole food
1) Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
2) Galatoire’s Restaurant
3) Commander’s Palace (tie)
3) Emeril’s Delmonico (tie)

Ethnic

Favorite Middle Eastern restaurant
1) Mona’s Cafe
2) Lebanon’s Cafe
3) Byblos Restaurant

Favorite Italian
restaurant
1) Vincent’s Italian Cuisine
2) Venezia Restaurant
3) Irene’s Cuisine

Favorite Asian restaurant
1) Five Happiness
2) La Thai Uptown
3) Magasin Vietnamese
Cafe (tie)
3) Pho Tau Bay (tie)

Favorite Indian restaurant
1) Nirvana
2) Taj Mahal

Favorite Mexican/Southwest restaurant
1) El Gato Negro (tie)
1) Juan’s Flying Burrito (tie)
2) Felipe’s Taqueria
3) Superior Grill

Seafood

Favorite seafood restaurant
1) Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
2) GW Fins
3) Deanie’s Restaurant

Favorite place to get
raw oysters
1) Acme Oyster House
2) Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
3) Casamento’s Restaurant

Favorite place to get
boiled crawfish
1) Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant, Bucktown
2) Big Fisherman Seafood
3) Schaefer & Rusich Seafood

Meat
 
Favorite restaurant
for steaks
1) Ruth’s Chris Steak House
2) Mr. John’s Steakhouse
3) Crescent City Steakhouse

Favorite burger
1) Port of Call
2) The Company Burger
3) Cowbell

Favorite hot dog
1) Dat Dog
2) Lucky Dogs
3) Bud’s Broiler
Soup

Favorite place for gumbo
1) Gumbo Shop
2) Mr. B’s Bistro
3) Mandina’s Restaurant

Favorite place for
turtle soup
1) Commander’s Palace
2) Mandina’s Restaurant
3) Arnaud’s

Coffee and Dessert

Favorite coffee house
1) PJ’s Coffee
2) CC’s Coffee House
3) Starbucks Coffee Company

Favorite coffee house
for food
1) Caffe! Caffe!
2) PJ’s Coffee
3) Cafe Du Monde (tie)
3) Starbucks Coffee Company (tie)

Favorite dessert menu
1) Commander’s Palace
2) Cheesecake Bistro by Copeland’s
3) Sucré

Favorite bakery
1) Haydel’s Bakery
2) Gambino’s Bakery (tie)
2) La Boulangerie (tie)
3) Maple Street Patisserie

Favorite sweet shop
1) Sucré
2) Angelo Brocato’s Italian Ice Cream & Italian Desserts
3) Blue Frog Chocolates

Favorite ice cream/
gelato shop
1) Angelo Brocato’s Italian Ice Cream
& Italian Desserts
2) Creole Creamery
3) Sucré

Ambiance

Favorite restaurant
for fine dining
1) Commander’s Palace
2) Galatoire’s Restaurant
3) Arnaud’s

Favorite casual restaurant
1) Mandina’s Restaurant
2) Joey K’s Restaurant (tie)
2) Katie’s Restaurant (tie)
3) Drago’s Seafood Restaurant (tie)
3) Mr. Ed’s (tie)
3) Zea Rotisserie & Grill (tie)

Favorite outdoor dining
1) The Court of Two Sisters
2) Café Amelie
3) Martinique Bistro

Favorite restaurant for
a power lunch
1) Galatoire’s Restaurant
2) Commander’s Palace
2) Ruth’s Chris Steak House
3) Mr. B’s Bistro

Drinks

Favorite house
specialty drink
1) Sazerac, Sazerac Bar
2) Hurricane, Pat O’Brien’s
3) Pimm’s Cup, Napoleon House Bar & Café

Favorite place for
margarita
1) Superior Grill
2) Juan’s Flying Burrito
3) El Gato Negro

Favorite wine list
1) Emeril’s Delmonico (tie)
1) Martin Wine Cellar (tie)
2) The Delachaise
3) Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro

Favorite sports bar
1) Manning’s
2) Cooter Brown’s Tavern & Oyster Bar
3) Walk-On’s

Favorite dive bar
1) Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar (tie)
1) The Club, Ms. Mae’s (tie)
1) Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge (tie)

Favorite hotel bar
1) Carousel Bar & Lounge, Hotel Monteleone
2) Davenport Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton
3) Sazerac Bar, The Roosevelt New Orleans

Favorite corner bar
1) The Bulldog
2) Cure
3) The Delachaise

Miscellaneous

Favorite French bread
1) Leidenheimer Baking Co.
2) Alois J. Binder Bakery (tie)
2) Reising’s French
Bread (tie)
3) La Boulangerie

Favorite place for salad
1) Houston’s
2) Caffe! Caffe!
3) La Madeleine

Favorite place for
vegetarian dishes
1) Green Goddess
2) Carmo
3) Mona’s Cafe

Favorite health-conscious restaurant
1) City Greens

Favorite place for
breakfast or brunch
1) Ruby Slipper Cafe
2) Surrey’s Café & Juice Bar
3) Camellia Grill

Favorite place for
late-night dining
1) The Camellia Grill
2) Verti Marte

Cleanest restaurant
1) Commander’s Palace
2) Casamento’s Restaurant
3) Arnaud’s

Personalities
and Places

Favorite chef
1) John Besh
2) Emeril Lagasse
3) Susan Spicer

Favorite restaurant
1) K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
2) Commander’s Palace
3) Galatoire’s Restaurant

Favorite restaurant opened in 2013
1) Tableau (tie)
1) Pêche Seafood Grill (tie)
2) Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails (tie)
2) McClure’s Barbecue (tie)
3) Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar (tie)
3) Dominique’s on
Magazine (tie)
3) Little Vic’s (tie)
3) Restaurant R’evolution (tie)

Favorite restaurant
worth the drive
1) Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant
2) Mosca’s Restaurant
3) La Provence

Favorite caterer
1) Pigéon Caterers
2) Joel Catering and Special Events
3) Martin Wine Cellar (tie)
3) Rommel’s Catering Inc. (tie)
 

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