Once upon a time, the New Orleans area suburbs provided dining and recreation primarily for folks who lived there. To many residents of the city’s center, Kenner was for the airport, Metairie to visit Lakeside Mall, and any water crossing only out of necessity. Over the last decade-plus, demographic shifts driven by Katrina, the pandemic, and various challenges of urban living have brought new residents – and new offerings – to the city’s suburban neighborhoods. Boulevards once known for strip malls of chain outlets have become hotbeds of entrepreneurship, with locally owned businesses taking advantage of lower commercial rents and growing customer bases for their services, from Honduran baleadas to family-friendly theater productions. We’ve rounded up some of the best reasons, old and new, to explore the growing treasures that lie just across the parish line.
One might argue that this quintessential New Orleans suburb has never been hotter. In addition to the mall and well-known culinary staples like Drago’s and R&O’s, explore the Severn corridor packed with a growing variety of Asian flavors and appealing options for leisure time. Sandro’s Trattoria Tucked into a shopping plaza that also houses T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods, it’s easy to overlook this cozy Italian spot – but you’d miss a gem. Sandro’s opened in 2004 and has since developed a robust local following who pack the house for menu favorites like eggplant lasagna, veal picatta, and rustic lentil soup that makes a meal unto itself. Even the slices of grill-marked bread that start the meal are craveable – and try to save room for the house-made white chocolate bread pudding. 6601 Veterans Blvd., 504-888-7784, sandrostrattoria.com.Mawí It has been a joy to watch (and taste) Mawí’s evolution from sharing just the Avelar family’s tortillas to a broader array of Latin American delicacies. Mawí’s menu is a parade of flavor, led by the birria tacos that have developed a cult following beyond Metairie (the crisp cheese peeking out from each tortilla rivals the birria itself). Sample toothsome yuca topped with chicharron and regularly changing specials like crawfish pupusas and beef and potato empanadas. At breakfast, fill up on baleadas and breakfast tacos. The eatery expanded its footprint last year, allowing ample space for dining in. When pineapple strawberry agua fresca is on the menu, drink up. 5050 W. Esplanade Ave., Ste. C, 504-644-2624, mawinola.com. NUDO If you think you’ve found your favorite Vietnamese spot and don’t need another, NUDO might make you reconsider. This new Metairie spot (located on Houma Blvd. near East Jefferson General Hospital) serves superior Vietnamese fare in cheerful surroundings, with colorful wall murals of noodles and more to whet the appetite. Classics are beautifully done (including a pho broth that is good to the last fragrant drop), and don’t skip the tender steamed bao buns with grilled proteins like lemongrass chicken, pork, or shrimp. 3431 Houma Blvd., 504-581-8628, on Instagram @NUDO.Metairie. T-swirl Crêpe The growing T-swirl franchise has brought this Japanese-inspired delicacy to Metairie. Unlike a more traditional French version, these crêpes are made with gluten-free rice flour, creating a crispy edge and chewy center that makes an ideal wrap for all sorts of fillings (the menu is impressively long). Go sweet with Caramel Fuji Apple or Matcha Azuki Bean, boldly savory with options like Spicy Crabmeat and Shrimp Avocado, or keep it simple and choose your own design. Milk teas, fruit teas, and milkshakes round out the selection. 3200 Severn Ave., Ste. 106, 504-354-8857, t-swirlcrepe.com.Mochinut If you’ve got kids or are just a kid at heart, pop into Instagram-friendly Mochinut. Mochinuts combine traditional donuts with the texture of Japanese mochi, resulting in a marvelously light, chewy treat. Creative flavors like raspberry funnel and caramel churro change frequently, leaving room for experimentation. Mochinut also serves Korean rice flour hotdogs (or mozzarella) – similar to a corndog but with a light, crisp batter and your choice of additional coatings like panko or crunch cereal. Enjoy bubble tea and soft serve ice cream – plus a wall of coin-operated machines dispensing toys and trinkets. 3030 Severn Ave., Ste 2/3, 504-252-9802, mochinut.com.Lafreniere Park This 155-acre park offers a green oasis in East Jefferson, with a 2-mile jogging trail, carousel, soccer fields, play spaces, dog park, event venues, and more. Events to watch: the weekly Farmers Arts market on Wednesdays, family-friendly Halloween festivities, and a dazzling display of lights during the month of December at Christmas in the Park. 3000 Downs Blvd., 504-838-4389, lafrenierepark.org.Jefferson Performing Arts Center Just a stone’s throw from the Saints Practice Facility on Airline Drive sits a beautiful performing arts complex that hosts a range of artistic offerings. Musical productions for adults and families bring outstanding theatrical talent (local and beyond) to the stage, plus dance and concert performances and more. Check their season schedule for information on upcoming events. 6400 Airline Drive, 504-731-4700, jeffersonpac.com.Renaissance Interiors Designers and in-the-know shoppers keep a close eye on this consignment shop. It offers a wide variety of constantly changing merchandise for the home, from antique mirrors to mid-century finds to artwork, rugs, and more. 2727 Edenborn Ave., 504-454-3320, yourrenaissance.com.World Deli It can be tough to nab a parking space in the cramped lot of this Metairie institution, but deciding what to order is tougher. Step up to the counter and try to choose from perfectly fried seafood (po-boy or platter), all the parms, one of the city’s best muffalettas, or tantalizing daily specials. Good luck making it past the register without succumbing to a turtle, brownie, or other tempting treat. 4414 Clearview Parkway., 504-885-4888. Yakuza House This eatery has become one of the hottest tickets in town – the whole town – for its exquisite Japanese cuisine. Due to overwhelming demand for its fare, Yakuza House relocated to this larger space on Severn last fall, enabling Chef Huy Pham and his team to share their temaki (handrolls), sushi, sashimi, and sandos with the many pilgrims seeking a taste of fresh catch flown in from Japan. Pull up to the bar to watch temaki being prepared or settle into a wooden booth to enjoy hearty options like a katsu donburi bowl, topped with a savory fried pork or chicken cutlet. A generous suite of sake offerings enlivens the experience. 2740 Severn Ave., 504-345-2031, yakuzahouse.com.
The once sleepy strip of Metairie Road has been transformed by bustling commercial offerings, from retail to dining of all sorts.Loft 18 This entertainment complex is much more than a [simulated] driving range. While you can book a bay to practice your golf swing in a virtual setting, Loft18 also offers virtual basketball, football, Zombie dodgeball, and more. It’s an ideal option for parties, bad weather days, and happy hour gatherings, with a bar and grill to handle the sporting appetite. Karaoke, trivia nights, live music, and other entertainments fill out a schedule that gives folks another reason to stick around Metairie for fun. 3128 Metairie Road, 504-827-1059, loft18.com/metairie.Jade Old Metairie mavens consider Jade a go-to spot for furnishings, décor, art, gift items, and more. Style abounds for every corner of the casa, from soft goods like plush bath towels and chic throw pillows to glassware and seasonal/holiday inspiration and party supplies. If you’re thinking bigger, Jade also offers interior design. 324 Metairie Road, 504-875-4420, jadenola.com.Em’s Boutique This Metairie Road boutique is beloved by fashion-forward residents of Metairie and beyond for chic offerings that cater to women across generations (anyplace where a teenage girl and her mother can feel equally stylish is a rare find, indeed). Owner Emily Puckett opened the shop in 2005 and recently expanded the space to accommodate her constantly changing merchandise carefully curated to appeal to a broad range of ages and budgets. 246 Metairie Road, 504-834-2795, instagram.com/shopems.Moxie Coffee & Espresso If you find yourself in Old Metairie needing a boost, don’t miss this adorable coffee nook tucked just off Metairie Road. They use beans from local roaster Cherry Coffee to whip up espresso beverages, plus matcha drinks and boba milk teas. 3101 Metairie Road, 504-533-9177, moxieespresso.com.Parish Line Bistro When the news broke that Parish Line was being developed in the former Metry Café spot, it seemed like a no-brainer. The team behind Parish Line wanted to create a place to enjoy great food and drinks in an elevated atmosphere (especially if you snag a rooftop table), all without leaving the neighborhood. The concept clearly struck a choRoad Since its opening in October 2022, Parish Line has been a hit, with folks packing in to enjoy everything from buttery Maine lobster rolls and crispy fries with Cajun Caviar to stellar salads. Hours have expanded to meet the demand, with lunch now offered. 601 Metairie Road, 504-264-7783, parishlinebistro.com.Radosta’s Restaurant Every neighborhood needs its iconic spot, and for Old Metairie, Radosta’s might be it. The order-at-the-counter restaurant and market features a range of po-boys and daily specials that has kept locals packing the place to get their fix for decades. The homemade sausage is hard to pass up, especially on a po-boy, but do consider the Wayne’s Special, which layers fried veal cutlets, red gravy, and gooey melted provolone on perfectly toasted French bread (pro-tip: does not mix well with white apparel).249 Aris Ave., 504-831-1537, on Facebook @Radosta’s Restaurant.
Beyond the highly popular Algiers area (which is part of Orleans Parish), the Westbank offers all sorts of must-see/must-eat spots in Gretna, Terrytown, Harvey, and beyond. Here are just a few of the many that merit the [quick] river crossing. Chicken’s Kitchen No matter which weekday you choose to visit (they are closed on weekends), two things will be true at this inviting corner kitchen. First, the options will be delicious. Second, there will be a line of customers waiting anxiously for a taste of the day’s menu. Monday brings the kind of red beans dreams are made of, with thinly sliced sausage and the just-thick-enough consistency that’s so hard to achieve. Fried chicken is crispy and well-seasoned, and sweet peas could be a meal on their own. Each towering plate includes an entrée (like fried ribs or four-cheese lasagna), a large side (e.g., five-star mac, grilled chicken and sausage jambalaya), and two small sides (e.g., honey cornbread, crawfish hushpuppies). Opening hours run from 10:30 a.m. until sell-out, which happens, so don’t dawdle. Extra sweetness comes from Annointed Confections, which sells gorgeous desserts from a separate shop within the restaurant. 629 Derbigny St., 504-244-2536, on Instagram @chickenskitchen2, @annointed_confections.NOLA Motorsports Park On the days you feel more Autobahn than Audubon, this is the place to go. Located in Avondale, the facility is a racing paradise for high-octane go-karting (adults and kids) on a 30-acre track. There are designated hours for ‘Arrive & Drive,’ as well as events and opportunities to test out your own car on the track (or cycle at their regular Bike Nights) or watch the pros. It’s also a creative, adrenaline-filled birthday party option. 11075 Nicolle Blvd., 504-302-4875, nolamotor.com.Royal Roastery The aromas of roasted coffee beans and nuts greet entrants to this jewel-like Terrytown haven. For lucky visitors, those scents might include house-made Turkish baklava fresh from the oven. It’s nearly impossible to choose from the shelves of pastries crafted from pistachios, honey, chocolate, and dough in an array of flaky forms. Bins of roasted nuts and seeds range from savory (spicy coated peanuts) to sweet (halva pecans), and coffees are sold ground or as whole beans. If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, choose from a dizzying variety of imported chocolates and confections. 1180 Terry Parkway, 504-800-8555, royalroastery.com.Westwego Shrimp Lot There’s a LOT packed in here. Not just shrimp (of every size) but crabs, fish, live crawfish, oysters… and the storefronts lining the shell parking lot are all staffed by folks looking to help you choose. At the rear sits restaurant Segnette Landing for a full dine-in experience, as well as Market Wego, which offers prepared seafood dishes, boudin and other sausages (like crawfish and green onion), grocery items, and super rum cake (whole or by the slice). 100 Westbank Expressway, On Facebook/Instagram @Westwego Shrimp Lot.Perino’s Boiling Pot Perino’s is the familiar local hang that every neighborhood needs. One side is anchored by a long, undulating bar and a handful of hi-top tables; the other houses a brightly lit dining room. The fare is seafood, fresh and simple. Start with a bowl of seafood gumbo (and a gratifying side of saltines and Captain’s Wafers). Move on with crawfish boudin, oysters served raw or charbroiled, and all things fried, from onion rings to beautifully butterflied fried shrimp and crab claws. You can transform any seafood basket into a ‘Make your own po-boy’ situation by ordering bread and all the fixings for ‘dressed,’ a great way to repurpose any leftovers at home. 3754 Westbank Expy., 504-340-5560, perinosboilingpot.com.
Kenner’s patch of paradise holds a rich assortment of tastes and talents. Here are a few of our favorite places to eat, drink, and play. Debbie on the Levee Doberge fans should not miss this quaint spot for sweet lovers. From the owners of Debbie Does Doberge, this Kenner outpost fills a cozy corner with doberge slices and bites in a range of rotating flavors, from classic chocolate and lemon to boozy varieties. And don’t overlook other sweet creations like curry apple hand pies and mini pies and cookie sandwiches. The eatery has also recently introduced breakfast service, with options like chicken and waffles and breakfast burritos. 2118 Reverend Richard Wilson Drive, 504-513-8667, debbieonthelevee.com.Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts Rivertown is a gem for theater lovers. Their impressive showcases of local talent span an enticing range of fare for adult and family audiences. Remaining shows in this season include “The Spongebob Musical” and “Disney’s Newsies,” and it’s well worth a ride for an evening’s entertainment. Parking is ample, and there are plenty of dining options nearby if you want to make a night (or afternoon, for a matinee) of it. 325 Minor St., 504-461-9475, rivertowntheaters.com.Kenner Planetarium and MegaDome Cinema On Saturdays, shows are open to the public and explore the skies, space, and even offer themed laser shows on a 50-foot domed screen. Box office opens at 10:45 a.m., and tickets are $6/adult and $5/child. 2020 Fourth St., 504-468-7231. Online information/program schedules at Kenner.la.us (under the Residents/Rivertown tab). Yummy House This unassuming Chinese restaurant situated near the airport has made a splash since its 2022 opening thanks in large part to delectable dim sum. While there is an extensive Chinese menu available, it’s never a bad idea to make a meal from the expansive selection of dumplings, buns, rolls, and other small plates. Highlights include the steamed soup buns, shumai, sticky rice with pork wrapped in lotus leaf, pan fried bao, and all things crisp, including the fried shrimp ball and the crispy dumpling with pork and shrimp. 3000 Loyola Drive, 504-470-2898, yummyhouse3000.com.La Cocina de Karla Behind the glass at the counter of this Honduran eatery, you’ll find a range of delectably hearty fare. Whatever combination you choose, it will likely be served in a quantity sufficient for two meals. Pick from an array spanning chicken bathed in savory sauce (the coconut was delicious), sliced steak and onions, seafood soup, addicting rice and beans, and colorful salads. A slab of salty queso fresco and thick, warm corn tortillas finish the dish. 3118 Williams Blvd., 504-346-1575.
On a sunny day, cross the Causeway to sample the many gracious offerings flourishing north of Lake Pontchartrain. These are just a few of the myriad options that continue to spring up in Mandeville and Covington – it’s worth a weekend to wander and find new favorites.
In the heart of Covington lies a charming, pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining district packed with appealing options. Wander through the boutiques, art galleries, and antiques emporia then refuel with an espresso from Cured. On Columbia (415 N. Columbia St., 985-893-0355) or a homemade scoop from Hoodoo Ice Cream (405 N. Columbia St., 985-900-2353). Feeling active? Head to the nearby Covington Trailhead of the Tammany Trace, the scenic trail that runs from Covington to Slidell, for a hike or bike ride.Pho Cong Noodles & Grill For a different experience, it’s a short ride to the decidedly more casual Pho Cong Noodles & Grill (1200 US-190 BUS, 985-893-3389, an outstanding Vietnamese eatery with banh mi, pho, spring rolls, and more that surpass most of the competition on either shore (Pho Cong also has family ties to Dong Phuong Restaurant). [caption id="attachment_138763" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Southern Hotel photo[/caption] Southern Hotel If you’re looking for overnight accommodations or a more substantial pit stop, visit the Southern Hotel (428 E. Boston St., 844-866-1907, southernhotel.com), with two beautifully appointed outlets that are worth a visit. The hotel’s elegant restaurant, The Gloriette, serves dinner and weekend brunch (on the dinner menu, look for Buttermilk Brined Poulet Rouge with country ham and asparagus sauce supreme and Parisian gnocchi and at brunch, duck confit hash). Its upholstered banquettes and delicate flower-painted walls make an ideal backdrop for springtime celebrations. The hotel’s Cypress Bar serves excellent cocktails and small plates with a dose of relaxed sophistication.
Liz’s Where Y’at Diner Just off the Causeway sits Liz’s Where Y’at Diner, a funky, delicious diner serving up all-day breakfast plus lunch (and dinner on Thursday and Friday nights). The atmosphere is colorful and spirited, with ample splashes of tie-dye and folk art to stimulate the senses. Breakfast calls for Where Y’at Bennies, Liz’s extensive list of Benedicts including the Crabby (topped with grilled crab cakes) – plus a side of spuds or grits. Lunch brings burgers, salads, sandwiches, and more. Don’t know what to order? Ask the person next to you, who’s probably a regular. 2500 Florida St., 985-626-8477, lizswhereyatdiner.com. Other area standouts include Hambone for the chicken biscuit (544 Girod St., 985-778-0531, eathambone.com), Pardo’s for refined modern American cuisine (5280 LA-22, 985-893-3603, pardosrestaurant.com) and Nuvolari’s if you’re craving a heartier Italian influence (246 Girod St., 985-626-5619, nuvolaris.com). For fresh air fun, hit the hiking/nature trails or lakefront beach at Fontainebleau State Park (62883 Hwy. 1089, 985-624-4443, lastateparks.com).