Now that the business of electing a president and a new Congress are over, we can hunker down to tallying the votes that count the most – our readers’ selection of New Orleans’ Best.
To further exercise democracy, self-addressed, postage-paid detachable ballots were included in our September and October issues. Ballots were also available online. We tabulated the results from more than 650 ballots and have declared the winners according to the following rules.
- Anyone designated as a winner had to have a significant cluster of votes based on the total votes cast in each category.
- In those cases where the votes were so dispersed in so many ways that there not any clusters, the categories were eliminated.
- In those cases where several names fell above the cluster line, finalists were listed in rank order.
- Whenever there was evidence of ballot-box stuffing, those votes were eliminated.
- Ballots with hanging chads were sent to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
Finally remember these are readers’ choices, which aren’t necessarily the choices of the editorial staff. Because of that, winners may include franchises and other places not usually reported on. Readers did the voting; we did the tallying.Here then are our readers’ picks of New Orleans’ Best. If you have any comments please send us a Letter to the Editor c/o New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA, 70005. We remain in awe of the wisdom of our readers and appreciate that they have the wisdom to be our readers. Most Attractive New Orleanian:
Lucy Bustamante The news in New Orleans isn’t always pretty, though readers think one of the people reporting it to them is easy on the eye.
WWL-TV anchor Lucy Bustamante is our readers’ choice for “Most Attractive New Orleanian,” but the other achievements she has racked up during her career prove this New Orleans native’s qualities are more than skin deep.
With a Spanish mother and Cuban-born father, brother and sister, Lucy was the first member of her family born on American soil. She had an early start in journalism, getting her first job in the industry while still a sophomore at Loyola University. By her senior year, she was reporting for a news station in Houma. Later she worked at a station in Mobile before returning home to join the WWL-TV news team in 2004.
“The staff here is amazing,” Bustamante says. “Everyone comes to work hungry to find a story, give a voice to the underdog and hold politicians accountable. I work with some pretty passionate people, in a city where people care about their surroundings.”
When she’s not working, Bustamante enjoys dancing, swimming, traveling and spending time with her goddaughter Payton.
– Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood
& Best Neighborhood to Raise Children:
Lakeview Prior to 2005, Lakeview might not have topped the list of New Orleans’ “up-and-coming neighborhoods,” but that was before the levee failures threw the future of the once eminently stable community into question.
But from the crucible of so much loss and destruction, Lakeview has emerged as an ongoing success story of citizen-driven recovery and an example of the tenacity of neighborhood pride.
“The feeling in Lakeview right now is really positive. There’s still so much work to do, but we’ve really galvanized here,” says Denise Thornton, founder of the Beacon of Hope Resource Center, a nonprofit helping residents during Lakeview’s recovery. “It’s not as beautiful as it was before, but there’s nothing like tragedy to bring people together. People really do go down the street now to borrow a cup of milk from their neighbor.”
At the same time, the widespread damage has brought some Lakeview real estate prices within reach for more people, she says, which has been a lure for families with young children.
Recovery work continues, while frequent block parties, fundraisers and the monthly Harrison Avenue Marketplace give residents more opportunities to celebrate their progress together. Often, the talk at these events revolves around who just moved back home.
“There’s momentum here. People are coming back now who you thought were gone for good.”
– Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Museum:
New Orleans Museum of Art The draw that has made the New Orleans Museum of Art so popular with locals isn’t limited to what hangs on the walls or sits in display cases. Consider, for instance, its Mid Week in Mid-City program, when the museum stays open until 8 p.m. each Wednesday, serves drinks and features film screenings, lectures or live bands.
“The idea was to help bring people back to Mid-City right after Katrina so they would hopefully support a neighborhood restaurant or bar before or after the event,” says NOMA spokesman Jim Mulvihill. “Now the neighborhood is doing well, but the program is so popular we’re keeping it going.”
The museum has been aggressive in reaching out to new visitors and getting locals engaged with their nearly century-old community asset. One new initiative is its Teen Advisory Board composed of local high school students who get to help plan museum programming for their peers. The museum has also waived the admission fee for Louisiana residents.
Later this year, the museum will present what it hopes will be the next blockbuster with “Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio,” featuring hundreds of original pieces from Disney.
– Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Asian Restaurant:
Five Happiness For 30 years now, Five Happiness has been the Chinese restaurant of choice for countless local diners, and along the way has helped educate the New Orleans palate to the broader possibilities of a regal and diverse cuisine.
Proprietor Peggy Lee first opened the restaurant in 1978, replacing an earlier Chinese restaurant on South Carrollton Avenue. It was a relatively small space, but Five Happiness was soon to grow by leaps and bounds. The Lee family took over first one and then another adjacent business in the same building, uniting them as one large restaurant where the décor spoke of imperial Chinese glory. Later, Five Happiness would expand even further by buying the neighboring building and turning it into a banquet facility.
The menu is longer and deeper than most typical Americanized Chinese restaurants, introducing Sichuan, Hunan and Mandarin dishes that go beyond fried rice and Gen. Tso’s chicken. Though more familiar fare has always been a cornerstone of the kitchen, the adventurous find whole steamed fish, bubbling hot pots of seafood, meats, vegetables and such traditional presentations as Peking duck.
Ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Five Happiness returned to business quickly, picking up with all the dine-in and take-out for which its regulars hungered. – Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Ice Cream Flavor and Best Gelato Flavor:
Angelo Brocato’s Spumoni & Tirasumi Gelato parlors are cropping up all over the country, but the Italian-style ice cream is hardly new to New Orleans. Angelo Brocato’s has been selling gelato since 1905, though it hasn’t always been known by that name.
Third generation owner Arthur Brocato explains that even though most of his family recipes begin with a rich base of custard, the Italian term gelato and its English equivalent, ice cream, have been used interchangeably for much of the shop’s history.
“When my grandfather first started making ice cream, it was gelato. But back in the 1930s, when the health regulations starting coming around, gelato just wasn’t in their vocabulary, so it became ice cream,” says Brocato.
No matter what it’s called, any Sicilian would recognize the product’s dense texture and intense flavors as deeply traditional. Brocato’s still sticks to small-batch production, making flavors at just five to 10 gallons at a time and rotating seasonal favorites into its line-up throughout the year.
“Spumoni was one of the first flavors my grandfather made, back before there were freezers when it was packed in ice and salt and scooped right from the barrel for the customer,” Brocato says.
Tiramisu was added to the menu 25 years ago, a relative newcomer by the standards of this New Orleans classic.
– Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Place to Get Raw Oysters:
Acme Oyster House Oysters are easy. Inexpensive and abundant locally, you just open them and eat. But there is a big serving of ambiance that comes with eating at dedicated oyster bars in New Orleans, and for many locals a trip to Acme Oyster House is as much a part of the experience as the wet ceramic sound of the shells opening and the zing of a lemon wedge squeezed over the meat.
Acme has been a New Orleans institution since opening on Royal Street in 1914. The business moved around the corner to Iberville Street in 1924, and has been shucking (and frying and grilling) oysters there ever since. The company has grown from there, adding four more restaurants as close as Metairie and as far off as Sandestin, Fla.
But the old French Quarter oyster bar is still the revered location for many Acme fans and a magnet for visitors hungry for a taste of the local bivalve bounty. It is common to see a line form outside Acme’s door, and competition for the coveted stools right at the oyster bar can be intense. But wedge your way in, and it may be hard to stop at just a dozen.
– Ian McNulty New Orleans’ Best Dive Bar:
F&M Patio Bar The two four letter words you never want to hear at F&M Patio Bar are “last” and “call.” That would be a clear sign that you have stayed out too late because, if those words are uttered together within this Uptown party hall, the morning sun will surely greet you just outside its door.
Time is a relative concept at F&M. As happy hour is being toasted across town, F&M’s is barely open. By 10 p.m., when other Uptown bars are riding high, the squat, red Tchoupitoulas Street watering hole is usually still schlepping along. Pull open the door at 3 a.m., however, and the party is in full swing.
On weekends, limousines pull up outside to disgorge tuxedo- and gown-clad wedding parties bent on keeping the good times rolling. The entire front barroom can become a dance floor as the jukebox pumps out party music. On busy nights in the patio area, late-night patrons whose last meal may have been many hours ago rip into hamburgers and football-sized baskets of waffle-cut cheese fries.
And then there’s F&M’s famous pool table, which, at the stroke of 2 a.m., is covered with a sheet of battered plywood and officially converted to a raised dance floor.
– Ian McNulty People
New Orleanian of the Year: Arnie Fielkow. Readers looking for some leadership from City Hall are increasingly looking toward the council. Former Saints exec knows what it is like to play tough.
2) Bobby Jindal
3) Chris Paul
New Orleanian I admire most (male): Jim Letten. U.S. Attorney is gradually restoring confidence in government integrity and perhaps sending a message to others who might be vulnerable to straying in the future.
2) Garland Robinette and Arnie Fielkow (tie)
New Orleanian I admire most (female): Angela Hill and Stacy Head (tie). Newcomer council member Stacy Head has earned a reputation for being smart, tough and aggressive. TV anchor Hill’s star keeps shining, plus she’s a nice person, too.
2) Anne Milling
Most attractive New Orleanian (male): Sidney Torres. Sure there have been questions about where the trash is being dumped, but his Euro rock star appearance makes him a looker, and he has cleaned the streets.
2) Harry Connick Jr.
Most attractive New Orleanian (female): Lucy Bustamante. Though the news is seldom pretty, those who deliver it can be. The WWL-TV evening anchor has a twinkle in her eye to add to her good looks.
2) Angelina Jolie
Best politician: Bobby Jindal. Fast track governor hasn’t fully settled in the mansion yet and folks are talking about a move to Pennsylvania Avenue. Performed especially well facing down hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
2) Arnie Fielkow
3) Mary Landrieu
4) Mitch Landrieu
Best New Orleans musician (living in the city): Fats Domino. He found his thrill on “Blueberry Hill” and his stress during Katrina. Here’s hoping he can find his bliss back home in New Orleans.
2) Allen Toussiant
3) Irma Thomas and Lil’ Wayne (tie)
Best New Orleans musician (living outside of the city): Harry Connick Jr. and Aaron Neville (tie). At least Aaron Neville has moved closer to home. Harry is in so many movies and TV shows it seems like he’s always around.
2) Wynton Marsalis
Best New Orleans actor/actress (local theater): Ricky Graham and Becky Allen (tie). Talented, fun, versatile – they are of and about New Orleans.
2) Spud McConnell
Best Saints Player: Drew Brees. Good looks, smart, articulate and a great passing arm. The only thing he’s missing is winning a Super Bowl. Maybe next year …
2) Reggie Bush
3) Deuce McAllister
4) Marques Colton
Best Hornets player: Chris Paul. No. 3 is No. 1 not only with Hornets fans, but possibly in the NBA. Kobe who?
Best local TV news anchor: Angela Hill. Not only does this WWL-TV mainstay inspire confidence, she’s been around long enough to have news memory.
2) Lucy Bustamante and
Norman Robinson (tie)
3) John Snell, Lee Zurik and Roop Raj (tie)
4) Mike Hoss
Best TV sports reporter: Jim Henderson. WWL sports anchor is a good writer capable of offering well crafted commentaries. He is also the radio voice of the Saints, though he cannot be blamed for the message.
2) Fletcher Mackel
3) Juan Kincaid
Best TV meteorologist: Bob Breck. Perennial front-runner is back on top with a boost from Gustav and Ike.
2) Dawn Brown and Margaret Orr (tie)
3) Carl Arrendondo
Best local radio personality: Garland Robinette. First a popular TV anchor, always an artist and now riding a second career in radio’s think tank, this local also staged a recovery of his own.
2) Spud McConnell
3) Tom FItzmorris
Best local writer: Chris Rose. Times-Picayune columnist has lived the ups and downs along with all of us – only he’s so good at telling about it.
2) Peter Finney
Best grocery store/deli: Dorignac’s. There is the tradition, plus the great wine and liquor selection and store-made Creole Cream Cheese. This place speaks New Orleans.
2) Whole Foods
3) Central Grocery
Best gym: Elmwood Fitness. Four locations throughout the area … Jogging to each one of them would be great exercise.
2) New Orleans Athletic Club
3) Jewish Community Center
4) Franco’s Athletic Club
Best day spa: Belladonna. After a hard day of antique shopping along Magazine Street, a facial and a massage are a good way to end the day.
4) Spa at the Ritz-Carlton
Best place to buy unique furniture: New Directions. Showroom and warehouse provide lots to choose from, especially if your new direction is contemporary.
4) Magazine Street
Best florist: Federico’s. Long-time florist has a loyal following. Large selections; good quality.
Best lawn/garden supply: Perrino’s. Many area post-Katrina gardens were rebuilt with trees and plants from the Veterans Boulevard landmark.
2) Home Depot
3) Plant Gallery
Best movie theater: Prytania. Ignatius Reilly’s favorite movie house is one of the few single-screen theaters left in the world. See movies the way they were back when the screens were big.
3) Canal Place
Best place to hear live music: Tipitina’s. Somewhere on the second level the spirit of Professor Longhair stills sways with the rhythm.
2) House of Blues
3) Snug Harbor
Best happy hour: Superior Grill. One word: “margaritas.” OK, another word: “Corona.”
2) The Columns
Best jazz club: Snug Harbor. Cool music and hot burgers. Both better with a brew on the side.
2) Preservation Hall
Best museum: New Orleans Museum of Art. Interesting collections; beautiful settings – and there’s the sculpture garden on the side.
2) National World War II Museum
3) Odgen Museum of Southern Art
4) Louisiana Children’s Museum
Best historical landmark: St. Louis Cathedral. This is one church that isn’t going to be closed. The magnificent ceiling makes visitors look toward heaven.
2) Jackson Square
3) Lee Circle
Best place to spot celebrities: French Quarter. We saw Elvis walking with Michael Jackson along Bourbon Street just last night.
2) Commander’s Palace
Best place to take out-of-towners: French Quarter. Stop and smell the café au lait!
2) Café du Monde
3) Pat O’Brien’s
Best place to play hooky: French Quarter. Beware, the principal might be playing hooky there, too.
2) The Lakefront
3) Audubon Park and The Fly (tie)
Best golf course: Audubon Park. It has only nine holes but what a great way to cut your score in half!
2) English Turn
Best biking/walking/running route: Audubon Park. Paved pathway is a picturesque route alongside lagoon, oaks and glimpses of “the avenue.” Just watch out for slow walkers.
2) Bill Keller Memorial Path
4) City Park
Best weekend getaway: Destin, Fla. Sand is white; water is green. And if you get homesick there are several restaurants with New Orleans links.
2) French Quarter
3) Gulf Coast
4) Biloxi, Miss. and Beau Rivage (tie)
Best street for a Sunday drive: St. Charles Avenue. Oak lined loop follows the curve of the river. Just watch out for the joggers.
2) Lakeshore Drive
3) Magazine Street
4) River Road
Best up-and-coming neighborhood: Lakeview. It is coming back. Soon Harrison Avenue will be a thriving commercial center again.
Best neighborhood to raise a family: Lakeview. Urban amenities with suburban casualness. Close to City Park, too.
3) Old Metairie
Best place to buy a wedding dress: Yvonne LaFleur. And if there are any questions, LaFleur herself will likely be in the back overseeing the process.
2) Wedding Bells
3) House of Broel
Best nail salon: Earthsavers and Beladonna (tie). A great place to relax, too. Nice nails are a bonus.
Best place to place your bets: Harrah’s and Fairgrounds (tie). One has table games, the other has horses, both have slots. Feeling lucky tonight?
What did New Orleans do right this year: Evacuating. We learned a lot from Katrina.
2) Inspector General
What did New Orleans do wrong this year: Ray Nagin. Repeat after us: 2010, 2010…
2) Bill Jefferson
Best local event open to the public: French Quarter Fest. A great warm up for Jazz Fest, as though that required warming up.
2) Mardi Gras
Best Sound in New Orleans: Streetcars. We love the swaying sound and the clanging of the old green cars.
Worst Sound in New Orleans: Gunshots. We keep wishing it’s just the sound of fireworks in the distance.
2) Mayor Nagin
3) Police Sirens
4) Rap Music
Best New Orleans Song: “Do You Know What It Means.” Since Katrina, this has become the new anthem.
2) “New Orleans”
3) “When the Saints Go
4) “Walkin’ to New Orleans”
5) “Mardi Gras Mambo”
Best Local Band: Topcats. Calls itself, “The hardest working band in the New Orleans area! The little band with the big sound!” Also, fun to listen to.
2) Better Than Ezra
Best Local Radio Station: WWL. Garland and Spud have a following.
Best Local TV Station: WWL. Still “Louisiana’s news leader.”
Best Festival: French Quarter Fest. Its free – and the music is
2) Jazz & Heritage Festival
3) Voodoo Fest
Best Carnival Parade: Endymion. Most populous parade in Carnival naturally throws the most stuff. Please stay on Canal Street.
Best Live Theater: Le Petit. No place does musicals better. Courtyard remains a charmer.
Best Local Bank: Whitney. Cashing your paycheks since 1883, Whitney’s homegrown.
2) Capital One Dining
Quick & Easy
Best place to buy king cakes: Randazzo’s. Randazzo’s adds a special sweetness to the Carnival treat with their version of this uniquely New Orleans tradition.
Best takeout: Five Happiness. Lovers of Chinese keep coming back for the telltale white cartons stuffed full of tasty Moo Shu Pork and BBQ Spareribs.
Best gourmet takeout: Whole Foods. Prepared meals from Whole Foods makes rustling up a healthy, socially-conscious dinner for the family a snap. And at Martin, finding a delicious side dish is as easy as finding the perfect Premier Cru Bordeaux.
2) Martin Wine Cellar
Best fried chicken: Popeyes Popeyes and Mardi Gras go together like chicken and biscuits. Also, Popeyes is quickly becoming the go-to place for all your deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey needs.
3) Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Best poor boys: Parkway Bakery. It’s all good here at this neighborhood joint at the foot of Bayou St. John. But the NOPD should put out an APB on their illegally sinful French Fry Poor Boy with gravy and cheese.
3) Short Stop
Best tacos: Taqueria Corona. The fish tacos at Taqueria Corona are the best in town. Dressed with chopped cabbage, fresh cilantro and a spiced-up tarter-style sauce, they remain the gold standard.
2) Juan’s Flying Burrito
3) Taco Bell
Best sushi: Rockin’ Sake. Rockin’ Sake is part restaurant, part club and totally delicious. Try the Saints’ inspired rolls and have fun with the huge selection of fusion-y Japanese fare.
3) Sake Café
4) Little Toyko
Best wings: WOW Café and Wingery. WOW wins again thanks in part to their awesome selection of sauces. This homegrown chain is one to watch.
Best onion rings: Liuzza’s. Liuzza’s claims top prize for their golden rounds of fried goodness.
Best snowballs: William’s Plum Street Snowballs. William’s Plum Street Snowballs is at the front of the pack thanks in part to their huge selection of flavors. Their cream-based syrups coupled with condensed milk makes for a real summer treat. Hansen’s offers lots of nostalgia along with the quintessential Nectar Cream.
Best place for cajun food: Mulate’s. Mulate’s is the place for all things traditional, including the music. Cochon’s Southern and Cajun cuisine looks to the future and offers Moonshine as well … always a plus.
Best place for creole food: Galatoire’s. Friday lunch doesn’t get any better than it does at Galatoire’s. Along with the tried-and-true, look for Chef Brian Landry to serve up great new off-menu specials as well.
Best middle eastern restaurant: Byblos. Lamb reigns supreme at Byblos, along with the little things like perfectly cooked basmati rice. And belly dancers. Did we mention belly dancers?
Best Italian restaurant: Vincent’s. Old-school Sicilian is the name of the game at Vincent’s, where cannelloni is king. But if you crave Italian in Lakeview, head for Tony Angelo’s, order the “Feed Me Tony,” and prepare to be shocked and awed.
3) Tony Angelo’s
Best Asian restaurant: Five Happiness. Five Happiness takes tops in Best Asian, where the bustling, friendly service complements the wide selection of sizzling delights.
Best Indian Restaurant: Nirvana
Curry cravers flock to Nirvana, whose lunch buffet can’t be beat. Tandoori-roasted meats and awesome breads round out the menu.
2) Taj Mahal
Best Mexican/southwestern restaurant: Taqueria Corona.
Taqueria Corona wins again, beating out other favorites like Juan’s and Superior. Watch for newcomer Casa Garcia, who’s moving up in the polls.
2) Juan’s Flying Burrito
3) Superior Grill
4) Casa Garcia
Best seafood restaurant: Deanie’s.
What a tough category. Deanie’s remains the Bucktown Favorite. G.W. Fins serves up top-notch seafood-specific fine dining in the quarter, while the Galley remains home of the Jazzfest deep-fried softshell crab poor boy. Oh, and how about Drago’s charbroiled ’ersters? Maybe you’ve heard about them …
2) G.W. Fins
4) The Galley
Best place to get raw oysters: Acme Oyster House. There is nothing generic about Acme, who continues to lead the pack in serving up fresh-shucked morsels from the Gulf.
3) Cooter Brown’s
Best place to get boiled crawfish: Deanie’s. Deanie’s is tops for berled mudbugs, though Frankie and Johnny’s remains an Uptown favorite.
2) Frankie and Johnny’s
Best pizza restaurant: Reginelli’s. Reginelli’s remains the favorite in this category, but competition is heating up faster than a wood-burning oven thanks to upcoming pie-makers like Slice.
2) Mark Twain Pizza
3) Louisiana Pizza Factory
4) Slice, Theo’s, Mo’s (tie)
Best pizza topping: Pepperoni. No surprise here – Pepperoni remains tops for the top.
Best restaurant for a steak: Ruth’s Chris. Ruth’s remains the top choice, perhaps shored up by the new outpost in the Harrah’s Hotel. Dickie Brennan’s sure knows how to dress things up, making a fine thing even better, while Crescent City Steakhouse inspires.
2) Dickie Brennan’s
3) Crescent City
Best burger: Port of Call.
Port of Call and Snug are the classics, while newcomer Phil’s Grill is closing fast with their great “Choose-Your-Own-Burger-Adventure”menu concept. Do not miss their fried pickles.
2) Phil’s Grill
3) Sung Harbor
Best place for gumbo: Gumbo Shop. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1948, and is preparing to franchise. It’s consistently the winner in this category for good reason.
3) Mr. B’s
Best place for turtle soup: Commander’s Palace. Hearty with just the right tanginess, there’s lots of flavor especially if let the waiter aadd a splash of sherry.
Coffee and Dessert
Best Coffeehouse: PJ’s. In a city where the coffee culture has always been strong, PJ’s continues to be the locals’ favorite for its excellent, fresh-brewed coffee and strong neighborhood focus.
3) Café du Monde
4) Rue de la Course
Best coffeehouse for food: Rue de la Course. The most “European” of our local coffehouses, Rue de la Course always has an excellent selection for folks who want a nosh with their coffee or tea.
Best dessert menu: Commander’s Palace. Bread Pudding Soufflé has been a hit with locals and visitors alike since it was introduced, but Commander’s dessert menu doesn’t stop there. Banana’s Foster, Creole Cream Cheese-Cake and Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake are additional features to a menu that keeps making new fans.
2) Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro
Best bakery: La Boulangerie. A true French bakery that produces both great bread and delicious pastries our readers can’t pass up.
Best ice cream & flavor: Broccato’s Spumoni. Our readers love Broccato’s for any number of reasons, but their Spumoni is a perpetual favorite.
2) Creole Creamery’s Red Velvet Cake
Best gelato and flavor: Brocatto’s Tiramisu. Founded in 1905, Brocatto’s makes: one, a two, a helluva tiramisu!
2) La Divina’s Pistachio
Best house for specialty drink: Pat O’s Hurricane. In its 75th year, Pat O’s Hurricanes are fruity, powerful, and consistently popular among our readers.
2) Port of Call’s Monsoon
Best place for a margarita: Superior Grill. The atmosphere and the food are the perfect accompaniment to one of Superior’s margaritas.
2) El Gato Negro
Best wine list: Emeril’s. After Katrina, the staff at Emeril’s flagship restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street had the unenviable task of disposing of one of the best wine cellars in the city. It is to Emeril’s credit that he’s been able to rebuild it so rapidly, and it remains our readers’ favorite.
Best dive bar: F&M’s. Late-night food like cheese fries and late night activities such as dancing on pool tables make F&M’s popular with a diverse mix of folks.
Best hotel bar: Carousel Bar. A bar that revolves to give every patron a full 360-degree view of the Hotel Monteleone’s lobby bar, combined with outstanding drinks from a friendly and knowledgeable staff, make this our reader’s favorite.
3) Swizzle Stick and Ritz-Carlton (tie)
Best restaurant for fine dining: Commander’s Palace. Consistently one of the best restaurants in the U.S., it’s no surprise that Commander’s rates highly among our readers in just about every relevant category.
Best casual restaurant: Mandina’s. Locals come for the seafood, or the daily specials, or the sense that you’re one of the family. Post-Katrina renovation has made the place a little more spiffy than before, but there is still that inherent funkiness.
3) Jaques-Imo’s and Dick & Jenny’s (tie)
Best outdoor dining: Court of Two Sisters. A classic Creole menu in one of the most beautiful old-world courtyards in the city
2) Martinique Bistro
Best restaurant for a power lunch: Galatoire’s. Be here to see and to be seen. The ultimate room to see and be seen, Galatoire’s “downstairs” dining room has the additional advantage of excellent Creole food, and waiters who will pour you a generous cocktail.
2) The Rib Room
Best french bread: Leidenheimer’s. A light “crumb” and a crisp crust make Leidenheimer’s the ultimate poor boy bread.
Best place for a salad: Café Rani. Fresh ingredients, friendly service and a great location make Cafe Rani popular with our readers.
Best place for vegetarian: Nirvana. Indian restaurants are always a great choice for vegetarians, but Nirvana is an excellent restaurant whether you’re a meat-eater or not.
Best place for late-night dining: Camellia Grill. The counter service, friendly faces and classic diner menu have Camellia Grill at the top of our readers’ choice for best late-night dining restaurant.
Cleanest restaurant: Commander’s Palace. In addition to being a great restaurant, with a first-rate dessert menu, Commander’s wins our readers’ choice award for having the best standards of cleanliness.
Personalities and places
Best chef: John Besh. His attention to detail and creative approach to local products have made John Besh one of the best chefs in the country for years, a fact that hasn’t escaped our readers’ notice.
2) Frank Brigtsen
3) Susan Spicer
4) Emeril Lagasse
Best restaurant: Commander’s Palace. What more is there to say about one of the finest dining experiences, from the moment you enter, until the moment you leave, than that Commander’s Palace is our readers’ choice for best restaurant.
3) Jaque-Imo’s and Brigtsen’s (tie)
Best restaurant worth the drive: Middendorf’s. Horst and Karen Pfeiffer had some trouble with the recent hurricanes, but they’ve reopened their Manchac restaurant and serving the best thin-fried catfish you’ll ever taste.
2) Trey Yuen
3) La Provence