A typical person’s weekday schedule isn’t breakfast-friendly, allowing only for a coffee jump-start and a possible pastry, protein bar or a bowl of something either crunchy and cold or oppositely mushy and hot. The weekend, however, lends itself to a more glamorous culinary experience, one in which sleeping in is welcomed and the awkward time between breakfast and lunch transforms into the boozy, beautiful and decadent meal we call brunch. New Orleans takes the mostly weekend tradition to new heights, with both casual and fine dining restaurants putting their own unique spins on the breakfast-lover’s dream.
The Sunday Jazz Brunch is a common take on the experience, featuring small ensembles of Dixieland jazz musicians weaving through dining rooms and courtyards, establishing that old New Orleans feel at many of the city’s oldest restaurants.
Arnaud’s Eggs Fateaux
Arnaud’s is one such establishment, offering a Sunday Jazz Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The four-course “prix fixe” menu contains extensive options of both appetizers and entrées. Co-proprietor Katy Casbarian recommends the Eggs Fauteaux, poached eggs with house-smoked fresh Gulf pompano on English muffins, topped with a dill-infused hollandaise sauce, red onion and capers.
In addition to the classics, original cocktails at Arnaud’s are a highlight of a leisurely brunch. Casberian’s favorites include the Lady Germaine (St. Germaine, gin, strawberry syrup and sparkling wine) and the Punch Romaine (sauvignon blanc, rum and orange and lime juices).
Arnaud’s 813 Bienville Ave., 523-5433, Arnauds.com
Antoine’s Eggs Sardou
Antoine’s, celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, hosts a longstanding Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Featuring music by the Jimmy Maxwell Trio and Julie Jules, Antoine’s Sunday Jazz Brunch expanded outdoors this April with the addition of balcony seating. The Oeufs Sardou is a local favorite, consisting of poached eggs atop steamed artichoke bottoms and topped with Antoine’s rich hollandaise.
In addition to its regular Sunday Jazz Brunch menu, Antoine’s also offers a special three-course brunch menu with a complimentary mimosa and your choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert.
Antoine’s 713 St. Louis St., 581-4422, Antiones.com
Commanders Palace crawfish frittata
Uptown, Commander’s Palace continues the Jazz Brunch tradition, offering traditional tunes alongside distinguished dishes on Saturdays (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sundays (10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.). According to Executive Chef Tory McPhail, diners at Commander’s are a diverse bunch, “everyone from families with small kids to bachelorette parties and adults enjoying a brandy milk punch on the patio.” The lively and relaxed atmosphere accompanies well the ever-changing menu.
The Creole Crawfish Frittata has been a hit of late and features Louisiana crawfish tails folded into a farm-fresh hen’s egg frittata with hand-pulled mozzarella, melted leeks, shiitake mushrooms and white truffle oil.
Commander’s Palace 1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221, CommandersPalace.com
Another popular courtyard jazz brunch is that of The Court of Two Sisters, where brunch is served seven days a week buffet-style, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The offerings change according to season and time of day, and include everything from eggs, omelets, benedicts, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns and grits to more lunch-friendly items such as shrimp étouffée and Creole jambalaya. Cold dishes include boiled shrimp and crawfish (when available); seafood and pasta salads; fresh fruits; and a number of desserts.
According to Director of Marketing Michelle Fein Morantez, favorites of regulars and tourists through the years have included the Seafood Orleans Omelet, Turtle Soup and the Veal Grillades and Gravy with corn grits.
Court of Two Sisters 613 Royal St., 522-7261, CourtOfTwoSisters.com
Broussard's Pain Perdu
French Quarter fixture Broussard’s offers a Courtyard Jazz Brunch every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A relatively recent addition to the restaurant’s team, Executive Chef Neil Swidler has revamped the restaurant’s brunch menu.
“The menu is a blend of New Orleans and haute Creole, with a little Caribbean flare because of our proximity to the Gulf and sharing of ingredients,” says Swidler, who added both a Cuban sandwich and Broussard burger to the Sunday menu, noting that sandwiches are his personal favorite brunch items to eat.
The more breakfast-inspired entrées include Raspberry Mascarpone Stuffed Pain Perdu and an elevated Biscuits and Gravy. A recent special is the Eggs Benedicto, poached eggs with prosciutto on herbed focaccia, topped with a basil pesto hollandaise and served with a sundried tomato and arugula salad.
Broussard’s 819 Conti St., 581-3866, Broussards.com
Mr. B’s Bistro offers Sunday Jazz Brunch from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., featuring the lively tunes of the strolling Joe Cushenberry jazz trio. Mr. B’s is known for their Brandy Milk Punch, a creamy, sweet eye-opener cocktail spiked with brandy and dusted with nutmeg. The restaurant is also a popular spot for Shrimp and Grits.
“We wrap jumbo shrimp in pecan wood-smoked bacon, pan sauté them and serve them with creamy stone ground yellow grits. The smokiness of the bacon-wrapped shrimp and the sweetness of the red eye gravy is the perfect complement to the rich, creamy stone ground grits,” says Julie Brignac, Marketing Director.
Mr. B’s Bistro 201 Royal St., 523-2078, MrBsBistro.com
Among upscale spots for Sunday Jazz Brunches, Restaurant R’evolution is a notable addition to the French Quarter scene. Offered Sundays from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., the brunch features the Creole-inspired creations of Chef John Folse.
“Eggs à la crème was first served at a well-documented Creole breakfast in the 1860s,” says the renowned Executive Chef. “This recipe incorporates the classic French omelet with Louisiana crawfish tails. Today, this early plantation-inspired dish is the premier brunch item at Restaurant R’evolution,” he says.
Champagne (with or without orange juice) is a bubbly brunch staple, and you can count on encountering the good stuff here – Restaurant R’evolution’s Director of Wine and Spirits, Molly Wismeier, was recently honored as one of the Top 7 Sommeliers in the Nation by Food & Wine.
Restaurant R’evolution 777 Bienville St., 553-2277, RevolutionNola.com
While plenty of brunch dishes highlight the savory side of a meal, there’s certainly a sweet side to the experience that some do better than others. Pastry Chef Shun Li of The Grill Room at Windsor Court has designed an elegant menu, updated regularly, that offers a nice finish for an afternoon brunch. The Grill Room’s dessert options include favorites such as the Tempura Banana Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Spread and Brulée Banana as well as the Dark Chocolate Crémeux with Pistachio Sponge Cake, Almond Sable Crumb and Strawberry Leather.
Sunday Jazz Brunch at The Grill Room takes place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Seating on the window-walled terrace allows for plenty of natural light and views of the courtyard below complemented by the sounds of live jazz.
The Grill Room at Windsor Court 300 Gravier St., 2nd floor, GrillRoomNewOrleans.com
While “brunch” may not be what they call it, Galatoire’s Restaurant has offered egg and omelet dishes for years, and it’s their belief that brunch or breakfast should be served all day and night. Open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays, Galatoire’s maintains one menu and of course a reputation for long, laidback lunches with libations continuously flowing from the bar.
In addition to their seafood, poultry, meats and sides, Galatoire’s more brunch-like items include Eggs Benedict, Eggs Sardou and a variety of omelets such as Crabmeat, Crabmeat and Asparagus, Bacon and Mushroom, Ham and Cheese and Shrimp.
Galatoire’s 209 Bourbon St., 525-2021, Galatoires.com
For a light, airy family-friendly brunch atmosphere, Mondo in Lakeview presents a unique brunch option on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Mimosas and bellinis ring in at a more-than-affordable $3 (which, depending on your thirst, is comparable to the $12 to $15 “bottomless mimosas” elsewhere) and they also offer a well-fashioned cocktail and wine list.
Famed chef Susan Spicer’s favorite brunch item is a special one that not many, if any do in New Orleans: the bialy. A bialy is as if a bagel and an English muffin had a love child, according to Spicer. Mondo’s bialys are house-made, baked in the wood-burning oven and served with a side of Smoked Trout Spread.
Mondo 900 Harrison Ave., 224-2633, MondoNewOrleans.com
Endless champagne and mimosas are a growing trend in the brunch scene, and café b of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group has welcomed the trend in Old Metairie. At café b, the bubbly flows freely at Sunday brunch, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., at $12 (champagne only) and $14 (mimosas).
Starters include sweet cinnamon-sugar donut holes or the more savory crawfish beignets. The most popular entrées include the Boudin Benedict, poached eggs and Creole Country boudin on an English muffin with a cayenne hollandaise and house-made bacon crumbles, and the Oyster Sardou, poached eggs, flash-fried oysters and bacon sautéed baby spinach on an English muffin with an artichoke béarnaise.
café b 2700 Metairie Road, Metairie, 934-4700, cafeb.com
Over in the Warehouse District, Sac-a-Lait is a newcomer on the restaurant scene and features a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. While the restaurant is new, its owners are not – Cody and Sam Carroll also run the well-known New Roads restaurant Hot Tails. According to chef de cuisine Bradley Andries, Sac-a-Lait and its name come from the owners’ rural Louisiana farming and fishing backgrounds.
The menu features Louisiana seafood and game with brunch changing week-to-week. One staple has been the River Gumbo, which incorporates smoked frog legs and an alligator sausage verde and is served with whipped Creole potato salad. Demonstrative of their creativity and skill, the culinary team recently received an invitation to cook at the James Beard Foundation later this year.
Sac-a-lait 1051 Annunciation St., 324-3658, Sac-A-LaitRestaurant.com
Whether you’re looking for salty or sweet, casual or upscale, mimosas or masterful cocktails, jazz music or weekend sports games—the weekend (or in some cases, weekday) late morning/early afternoon celebration we know as brunch beckons from every corner of the city. Set the alarm, or hit the snooze button. Either way, the meal waits for you.