We have always known that our readers are the “Tops of the Town” in their own way, now they have a chance to tell us their picks of the Tops of the Town in other ways. Our October 2009 issue included a detachable, postage-paid, self-addressed ballot that readers were invited to use to give their picks in 65 different categories. A similar ballot was also posted on our Web site. Response was good with more than 200 returns. To be considered worthy of the Tops of the Town designation an entry must have received a cluster of votes. Those entries that received only a few votes were eliminated. Here are the winners. Check out the list. Begin at the top.

 

Tops of the Town

BEST Local Actor
Becky Allen

GREG MILES PHOTOGRAPH

The classic advice to aspiring authors searching for their literary voices is to “write what you know.” For many years New Orleans actress and comedienne Becky Allen has mined what she knows about her hometown, and the result has been a career on stage that has kept local audiences both laughing  and nodding along at the truth behind her over-the-top satire and parody of Crescent City culture.

“It’s a fun town to do this work in, because everyone’s ready to party and they don’t mind laughing at themselves,” she says. “The best compliment I think I ever got was from a guy who said his wife always drags him to the theater, that he hates it, but when he hears I’m in it he knows he’ll have a good time because he’ll get to laugh a lot.”

Allen was an extrovert from a young age. During her childhood in Metairie, she was drawn to all manner of performance, taking part in school theater, dance lessons, baton twirling – essentially, she explains today, anything with an audience. She began her professional career in the 1970s, working frequently with the late composer Freddie Palmisano and with actor, writer and director Ricky Graham, who remains one of her most constant comedy collaborators.

Together, they put on cabaret pieces and lampoons, and Allen quickly learned how readily New Orleans audiences respond to their own peculiar culture portrayed on stage. She frequently plays a number of roles in And the Ball and All, the comedy Graham wrote in 1996 as a send-up of nostalgic New Orleans. Another of her most popular roles is in The Queen of Bingo, a comedy about two sisters and their mother who are addicted to bingo.

Her trademark campy style, vigorously applied makeup and frequent performances at gay bars have earned her the comic handle as New Orleans’ only “female, female impersonator,” a title she claims proudly. But whether she’s on stage with a cast, taking the microphone for a solo cabaret act or appearing in local television commercials, Allen’s most memorable roles center on only-in-New Orleans characters who hit audiences as close to home as they do the funny bone.

“People have a good time here and I have a good time when I’m part of that,” she says. “It makes me happy to make them happy.”

— Ian McNulty

 

Tops of the Town

BEST Place to Place Your Bets
Harrah’s

Games of chance have long held a prominent place in the New Orleans cultural mix. Professional gamblers once plied the riverboat trade here, and a stretch of modern-day Burgundy Street through the Faubourg Marigny was originally named Rue de Craps after the popular dice game. But when Harrah’s New Orleans Casino set up shop, it opened a new chapter in New Orleans gambling history. Harrah’s became the city’s first, officially recognized, land-based casino.

Harrah’s evokes New Orleans imagery everywhere, from its Carnival motif to the artificial live oaks sprouting up through the gaming floor, to Jean Lafitte pirate themes in the décor. Across 115,000 square feet of gaming areas, visitors can try their luck at more than 2,100 slots, from penny-a-pull to high-limit machines. There are more than 100 table games, plus a dedicated poker room. The facility houses a diversity of entertainment and dining venues including Masquerade, Harrah’s Theatre, Besh Steak, Bambu Asian Grill & Sushi Bar, the Buffet at Harrah’s, Fuddruckers, McAlister’s and Starbucks.

The gaming company traces its roots to a bingo parlor opened in Reno, Nev. by entrepreneur Bill Harrah in 1937. Today, it’s a global concern doing business on four continents under the casino brand names Harrah’s, Caesar’s and Horseshoe. Harrah’s first came to New Orleans in 1995, opening what was billed as a temporary casino inside the Municipal Auditorium. Within six months, the operation closed and Harrah’s filed for bankruptcy protection, but it was hardly the end for the story. Plans for the company’s permanent facility moved forward, and the modern casino opened in 1999 at the foot of Canal Street on the site of the demolished Rivergate convention center.

After Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, Harrah’s reopened in 2006, and that same year debuted its new Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel on Poydras Street. This 450-room hotel added a new, 27-story tower to the city’s skyline. Closer to the ground, the company has developed its Fulton Street Mall, a pedestrian corridor lined with shops and restaurants and an outdoor venue for special events. Each holiday season, the company hosts its “Miracle on Fulton Street,” with a block-long corridor of festive lights and periodic “faux snow” flurries, and the mall has hosted pep rallies for the city’s sports teams. 

– I.M.

 

Tops of the Town

BEST LIVE THEATRE
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré

JEFFERY JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPH

Less than a year ago, it looked like it might be curtains for Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré. The 450-seat “Little Theatre” is widely recognized as the oldest community theater in America, with roots dating back to 1916, and for generations it has been both hearth and cradle for the New Orleans theater community. But serious debt, abetted by the loss of income after Hurricane Katrina, put its future in doubt. By March 2009, the board of directors laid off the entire staff.

Gary Solomon Jr., then just 22, stepped in, volunteering the services of his nascent entertainment company the Solomon Group to engineer a turn-around plan for the historic French Quarter icon. What followed was a series of benefit shows by local and national performers who had their start on Le Petit’s stage, plus other fundraisers, event rental opportunities and a slew of cost-cutting and management moves all intended to put the theater’s finances back in trim. Along the way, these efforts to save Le Petit stirred new interest from New Orleanians.

“The organization and the building have a lot of character and people respond to that,” says Solomon. “There was a moment of rediscovery for a lot of people who had a chance to come through the place again. I think it gets to that feeling that you don’t know what you’ve got until you almost lose it.”

In the past year, Le Petit doubled its number of subscribers and the theater began a highly successful volunteer recruiting drive. The theater also launched its inaugural giving campaign, which was supported with a dollar-for-dollar match pledged by an anonymous foundation. Good things have been happening on stage too. Le Petit hosted a three-week test run of White Noise, a possibly Broadway-bound musical that was the first production to take advantage of the state’s new Live Performance Tax Credit. This month’s programming includes the stage-to-Hollywood hit Steel Magnolias and Taste, a comedy from the New Orleans Project theater company.

Meanwhile, local theater favorite Ricky Graham performs one-man shows at Le Petit each Sunday in January.

“The volunteers, the staff, the performers – I think all of us have this feeling that there’s a new vibrancy here and that’s very exciting,” says Solomon.

– I.M.

 

Tops of the Town

BEST MOVIE THEATER
Prytania Theatre

JEFFERY JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPH

It is easy to get swept up in nostalgic feelings at the Prytania Theatre. After all, a visit to the Uptown landmark isn’t just a trip to the movies, but also a journey back in time to the days when single-screen theaters such as this dotted New Orleans neighborhoods.

The Prytania, which marks its 95th birthday in 2010, is the last of its breed, Louisiana’s only single-screen theater still in regular operation. Details abound, from the single ticket window under the Prytania’s brick-arch entrance, to the balcony seating available up by the projection room, to the animated snipe “Let’s All Go to the Lobby,” a 1950s-vintage popcorn promo played before the previews of coming attractions.

Yet the Prytania is no relic. The theater screens the latest movies and remains a destination for couples on dates, families lining up for blockbuster opening nights and teens swooning over the Hollywood heartthrob du jour. The Prytania is a beloved local institution, but also one very much in active use, and one that has kept pace with the times.

Recently, the Prytania underwent a thorough renovation that included new seating, a huge new screen, a state-of-the-art digital projector and a powerful new sound system – all of it aimed at keeping the movie-viewing experience on par with that promised by the sprawling cineplexes that have largely replaced the old neighborhood theaters elsewhere.

While time marches on, the Prytania’s legacy remains a matter of pride and dedication for its current owners. Since 1996, the Prytania has been operated by second-generation movie man Rene Brunet Jr. and his family, who can trace their own roots in the New Orleans theater business back more than 100 years. At 89, Brunet greets patrons at the door each night, dressed in one of his countless movie-theme neckties, and he often holds forth on New Orleans theaters of the past, many of which are remembered in photos on the Prytania’s lobby walls.

Today, the Prytania shows its own nostalgic side with its Classic Movies series, screening Hollywood gems at noon, while its Midnight Movies series features cult classics in the wee hours. Meanwhile, as the latest hits arrive at the Prytania, the old theater keeps captivating the imagination of new generations of New Orleanians, just as it has since 1915. 

– I.M.

 

Tops of the Town

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Deanie’s Seafood

EUGENIA UHL PHOTOGRAPH

If hot shellfish and cold beer were a form of currency, Deanie’s Seafood would be the Federal Reserve of Bucktown. Famous for its formidable portions and family-friendly pricing, the Deanie’s dining room is packed nightly with locals and visitors digging into the convincing traditional flavors of this lakefront legend.

The summit of the menu is called the “giant seafood platter,” which is loaded with fried oysters, shrimp, catfish, soft shell crabs and crawfish balls. It weighs several pounds and of course should be shared by at least two people. Frying is only the beginning of the story here, however. Patrons can track the seasons by which type of local seafood is being piled onto overflowing trays, with crawfish now making its annual appearance. There are always entrées such as stuffed flounder, bayou seafood salad topped with crabmeat and boiled shrimp and Bucktown boil pizza with shrimp, crawfish and crabmeat baked on a crust with mozzarella and white sauce. Meanwhile, peppery, buttery New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp has become a bestseller.

But Deanie’s is more than just a restaurant. It is also a booming market for fresh and boiled seafood and other take-away eats, and in this role it helps doubly preserve the spirit and history of Bucktown as a seafood destination.

Deanie’s opened in 1961 and is the oldest member of neighborhood’s cluster of restaurants. It was first run by John and Alma “Deanie” Livacari on Old Hammond Highway. Later, the Livacari family moved the business to Orpheum Street and eventually Deanie’s found its current home on Lake Avenue. The founders sold Deanie’s to Joseph George and Donald Melancon in the 1970s and in ’82 another set of new owners, led by Frank Chifici, bought the business.

After Frank’s death, Barbara Chifici began to buy out the other owners and, in the years since, she and her family have overseen the legacy and expansion of Deanie’s. In 2002, they opened a second Deanie’s in the French Quarter, putting Bucktown-style seafood within easy reach for downtown denizens and visitors. For many though, there’s nothing like a pilgrimage to Lake Avenue for a hamper of boiled crawfish from the market or another attempt to tackle that towering seafood platter in the dining room.

– I.M.

 

Tops of the Town

BEST TACOS
Taqueria Corona

Taquerias have bloomed across the New Orleans area since Hurricane Katrina, an edible upshot of the demographic influx of Latin Americans to the community. Their offerings are authentic, including tacos that can be quite different from the Tex-Mex cantina fare that had previously so dominated the market here.

Fortunately for many local diners, advanced courses on the subject of authentic, casual Mexican cooking have long been available in New Orleans thanks to Taqueria Corona. This small local chain has been showing locals what taquerias are all about for more than 20 years, starting with the idea that a taco doesn’t necessarily have to be made using a crunchy corn shell filled with ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheddar. 

Just such a taco is available, and popular, at Taqueria Corona. The menu lists it as the American taco, and it’s evidence of why Taqueria Corona has remained so popular. This is a casual, inexpensive place that will please culinary purists without alienating guests whose ideas of a good Mexican meal were formed more by Taco Bell than taco trucks.

In addition to the hard-shell American taco, you can order up a sampling of tacos from the tender, barbecue-like beef tongue to spicy, brick-red chorizo sausage to charbroiled pork, all made on soft flour or corn tortillas with pico de gallo. One of the most popular tacos here is a little different; but this puffy, crunchy fried fish taco topped with red cabbage and a spicy tartar sauce is still every bit as convincing as the fish tacos served from beach shacks on the Pacific coast.

All of this was revolutionary for the New Orleans palate when El Salvador native Roberto Méndez opened his first Taqueria Corona on Magazine Street in 1988. At the beginning, he was the sole employee, cooking his tacos in an open kitchen and serving them to curious patrons seated along a small, 10-seat bar and at just two tables. This flagship restaurant soon expanded, and Méndez later opened more taquerias in the area. There are many more options now for authentic Mexican food today, but locals still flock to the place where they first learned to love it. 

– I.M.

 

People

New Orleanian of the Year:
Jim Letten. Jim Letten wins this category so often there should be an investigation — just kidding. The popular crime busting U.S. Attorney edges out defense-busting Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
2) Drew Brees
3) Arnold Fielkow

New Orleanian I admire most:
Jim Letten. Folks like football victories, but they apparently like putting crooks in jail even more; another win for Letten with Brees finishing second.
2) Drew Brees

Most attractive New Orleanian (male): Sidney Torres IV. The SDT Waste and Debris Service boss talks a lot of trash, but when it comes to looks, readers put him at the top of the heap. That’s high praise, especially with movie heartthrob Brad Pitt finishing second.
2) Brad Pitt

Most attractive New Orleanian (female): Lucy Bustamante. This WWL-TV Eyewitness Newsanchor has that twinkle in her news-witnessing eye, edging out Angelina Jolie who, unlike Bustamante, has never co-hosted alongside Regis.
2) Angelina Jolie

Best politician: Arnie Fielkow. They once ran against each other for a council-at-large position and now, among readers, finish in the same order.
2) Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson

Best New Orleans musician (living in New Orleans): Aaron Neville, Allen Toussaint (tie) One sings New Orleans classics; the other writes them. They deserve to be tied.

Best New Orleans musician (living outside New Orleans):
Harry Connick Jr. He can act too.

Best New Orleans actor/actress: Becky Allen.
2) Ricky Graham
Stars of local music and comedy, they will be remembered as two of the city’s all-time greats.

Best Saints player: Drew Brees.
Saints quarterback dominated this category as he did with Patriots’ defense.

Best Hornets player: Chris Paul.
Plus, he’s a classy guy.

Best local TV news anchor:
Angela Hill. 
2) Lee Zurik
3) Lucy Bustamante
WWL’s Angela Hill is immovable among local favorites; Zurik has moved to a new stage; Bustamante glows from her high-profile 10 p.m. gig.

Best local TV sports anchor:
Jim Henderson. One of the most gifted writers among sportscasters; he’s also the radio voice of the Saints.

Best local TV meteorologist:
Bob Breck. A good thing about local TV meteorologists is that we didn’t need them as much this past year thanks to an anemic hurricane season. May they not be needed so much next year either.
2) Margaret Orr
3) Laura Buchtel
4) Carl Arredondo

Best local radio personality:
Garland Robinette.
2) John “Spud” McConnell
Robinette reigns from atop his think tank; “Spud” ain’t doing bad for a guy who doubles as Ignatius Riley.

Best local writer: Chris Rose. He became “everyman’s” voice of the recovery.

 

Places

Best grocery store/deli: Rouses Supermarket. What’s really cool
is that four of the five are
locally owned.
2) Whole Foods Market
3) Langenstein’s
4) Dorignac’s, Central Grocery (tie)

Best gym: Elmwood Fitness Center. Will those new 24/7 places muscle in by next year?
2) New Orleans Athletic Club, East Jefferson General Hospital’s Wellness Center (tie)
3) Jewish Community Center – Uptown

Best day spa: Earthsavers. A good retreat after a day of writing captions for lists such as this one.
2) Belladonna

Best antiques store: Renaissance Interiors, M.S. Rau Antiques LLC (tie). Remember, Edwardian goes back further than the reign of Edwin Edwards.

Best place to buy unique furniture: New Directions Furniture. Today’s cutting-edge is the future’s antiques.
2) Hurwitz Mintz

Best place to buy a wedding dress:
Town & Country Bridal. Don’t forget the something borrowed and something blue.
2) David’s Bridal

Best florist: Mitch’s Flowers, Federico’s Family Florist (tie).
Oh, to be buying a corsage for the prom (Deacon John is probably still playing).

Best lawn/garden supply:
Perino’s Garden Center. Save our culture: Plant more mirliton vines and fig trees!
2) Jefferson Feed Pet & Garden Center, Home Depot (tie)

Best Movie Theater:
Prytania Theatre. The Prytania was Ignatius Riley’s favorite place to see a movie.
2) AMC Elmwood Palace 20, AMC Clearview Palace 12 (tie)
3) Canal Place Cinema

Best place to hear live music:
Tipitina’s. Any place named after
a Professor Longhair song has to have soul.
2) House of Blues
3) Snug Harbor

Best happy hour: Superior Grill.
With enough margaritas it’s a great place to watch parades pass by, even when there are none marching.

Best jazz club: Snug Harbor.
Funky enough to go along with
the music.

Best museum: New Orleans Museum of Art.
2) National World War II Museum
Two different worlds, but both worth many visits.
Best historical landmark:
Jackson Square.
2) St. Louis Cathedral
3) Lee Circle
Classic advantage for both the square and the cathedral: location, location, location.

Best remodeled/renovated building: Roosevelt New Orleans.
Who would have thought; the city’s greatest lobby is back, and grander than ever.

Best place to spot celebrities: French Quarter. We thought we saw Elvis disguised as a tarot card reader.

Best place to take out-of-towners:
French Quarter. Tell them to look closely at the tarot card readers.

Best place to play hooky:
French Quarter.
2) Audubon Park
Either place can be a zoo, in a good way.

Best golf course: Audubon Park.
Can golf clubs be carried on a streetcar?

Best biking/walking/running path:
Audubon Park.
2) Levee
3) City Park
City Park’s Big Lake will be an up-and-comer.

Best weekend getaway: Gulf Coast.
2) Destin, Beau Rivage
We know, Destin and Beau Rivage are part of the Gulf Coast, but readers think big.

Best street for a Sunday drive:
St. Charles Avenue. Landslide win for “the Avenue,” where beads seem to grow on trees.
2) Lakeshore Drive
3) Magazine Street
Best up-and-coming neighborhood:
Lakeview.
2) Mid-City
They both up-and-came before Katrina, now they’re up-and-coming again.

Best neighborhood to raise a family: Uptown. Life among the oaks can be rewarding.
2) Metairie

Best place to place your bets:
Harrah’s Hotel & Casino.
2) Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
The two locations ran neck and neck. Harrah’s won by a photo finish.

 

Misc.

Best decision New Orleans made this year: No new City Hall.
Next time let’s begin by having some public discussion.

Worst decision New Orleans made this year: Re-electing Nagin.
Actually the decision was made in 2006, but we get the point.

Best work accomplished by charity, organization or group: Musicians Village/Habitat for Humanity. And there are many others. Bless them all!
2) Make It Right/Brad Pitt

Best sound in New Orleans:
Foghorns on the river.
2) Calliope
3) Jazz music
Think about it, what other city can offer these sounds? And they can usually all be heard at once.

Worst sound in New Orleans:
Gunshots/gunfire/sirens.
2) Car horns/trucks
Way too much of No. 1.

Best song about New Orleans:
“Do You Know What It Means.”
2) “When the Saints Go Marching In”
After football season we will know what it means to miss the Saints.

Best local band: Cowboy Mouth.
To some readers, the band is the love of their life, (you’ll need to know their music to understand).

Best festival. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
2) French Quarter Festival
Both make April a huge month, and we have barely had time to recover from Mardi Gras.

Best Carnival parade: Endymion.
2) Rex
One is big; the other is classical. Both show Carnival at its best.

Best live theater company:
Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré.
Le Petit’s comeback is worthy of a good drama.
2) Southern Reperatory

Best local bank: Whitney. And its clock chimes play “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Best charter school: Lusher Charter School. A school with a history and a reputation to build on.

Best private elementary school:
Isidore Newman School.
It is all about the academics, but two Superbowl quarterbacks – the Manning brothers – went there, too.

Best private secondary/high school: St. Mary’s Dominican High School.
2) Jesuit High School
One for the guys and one for the gals.

 

Dining/Food

Best place to buy King Cake: Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery. A Carnival tradition, these sweet treats vary by bakery and personal taste but are always welcome.
2) Haydel’s Bakery

Best fried chicken: Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits. Like beads and plushies, Popeyes chicken and biscuits are a Carnival tradition.

Best poor boys: Parkway Bakery & Tavern. Parkway may be at the foot of Bayou St. John, but it’s in the hearts of our readers.
2) Domilise’s Po-Boys

Best tacos: Taqueria Corona. The gold-standard of tacos in New Orleans, make sure to visit all three of their locations to sample the myriad delicious fare.

Best sushi: Kyoto. Though they’re winners for their sushi, on a chilly night Kyoto’s udon might even beat out chicken soup.

Best wings: Hooters. If you can tear your eyes away from the waitresses, the wings are even more mouthwatering.

Best snow balls:
Hansen’s Sno-Blitz.
2) William’s Plum Street Snoballs
New Orleans institutions, these two have been trading the title back and forth since they began (Hansen’s 1939; William’s 1945).

Best place for Cajun food: Mulate’s. Go for the music and the moonshine as well as the multiple wins in this category – or just for the food.
2) K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Best place for Creole food:
Dooky Chase Restaurant.
When Disney dedicates a movie to a chef, as it did The Princess and the Frog to Leah Chase, you know the cuisine is more than memorable; it’s epic.

Best Middle Eastern restaurant:
Byblos Restaurant. Winners two years in a row; go for the lamb, stay for the belly dancers.
2) Mona’s Cafe

Best Italian restaurant: Andrea’s Restaurant & Catering. His eponymous restaurant turns customers into family; try the new Capri Blu piano bar. 
2) Impastato’s Restaurant

Best Asian restaurant: Kim Son Restaurant. Also known for its Vietnamese, try the salt-baked crab at this Gretna restaurant.
2) Five Happiness Restaurant

Best Indian restaurant: Nirvana Indian Cuisine. The tasty breads hooked us and the lunch buffet keeps us coming back.
2) Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine

Best Mexican/southwest restaurant: Superior Grill.
It is known as much for its Carnival crowds as its margaritas.

Best seafood restaurant:
Deanie’s Seafood.
2) Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
Fried or charbroiled, we love our seafood.

Best place to get raw oysters:
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. As good as the charbroiled oysters are, the simple taste of a perfect oyster is hard to match.
2) Acme Oyster House
3) Casamento’s Restaurant

Best place to get boiled crawfish:
Franky and Johnny’s. This Uptown favorite cooks comfort food as well as great crawfish – ahh, bell pepper rings.

Best pizza restaurant: Reginelli’s.
This perennial favorite has pizzas for every taste.

Best pizza topping: Pepperoni.
2) Italian sausage
No surprise, in New Orleans we take meat seriously.

Best restaurant for steak:
Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Ruth may have left Broad Street, but New Orleans sticks with her no matter where she goes.

Best burger: Port of Call.
How better to complete a meal of a giant burger and loaded baked potato than with a Monsoon?

Best place for gumbo: Gumbo Shop. This restaurant is named after gumbo for a reason: it’s just that good.

Best place for turtle soup:
Commander’s Palace. You can’t help but smile at the sight of sherry hitting the perfect turtle soup.
2) Mandina’s Restaurant

Best coffeehouse: CC’s Community Coffee House. We take our coffee very seriously, and we like it local.
2) Starbucks
3) PJ’s Coffee House
4) Café Du Monde

Best dessert menu: Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro. The “cheesecake” in the title might give it away, but the ones here always leave you with a little left over.
2) Commander’s Palace

Best bakery: La Boulangerie. The new, larger location on Magazine Street cements this bakery as a local favorite.
2) Haydel’s Bakery, Maurice French Pastries (tie)

Best sweet shop:  Sucré. Dessert competition award winner Tariq Hanna helps make the sweets here just a little sweeter.

Best restaurant for fine dining: Commander’s Palace.
2) Galatoire’s Restaurant
Consistently ranked among the best restaurants in the U. S., these grande dames continue to whet our appetites.

Best casual restaurant: Mandina’s Restaurant/Copeland’s of New Orleans (tie). We love our Italian – New Orleans-style.

Best outdoor dining: Café Rani.
2) Court of Two Sisters
The canopy of trees that shade these dining areas keep us cool in the summer.

Best restaurant for a power lunch:
Galatoire’s Restaurant.
2) Commander’s Palace
When you want to impress, these restaurants will make sure you’re seen when you want to be.

Best house specialty drink: Sazerac; Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt New Orleans. New Orleans’ official drink, in its eponymous bar – we’re glad to have you back.
2) Hurricane; Pat O’Briens

Best place for a margarita: Superior Grill. The superior deals on these tasty drinks during happy hour, plus the extra shots available, might be the reason this corner is always packed.

Best hotel bar: Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone. Have you ever sat on a stool placed before a circular bar decorated as a carousel that rotates with shooting stars fly across the ceiling overhead? No? Then get to there now!
2) Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt New Orleans

Best local beer: Abita Amber.
This isn’t really a contest, but with seven flagship brews, five seasonal brews, three harvest brews, two big brews, a root beer and a select draft (with nine flavors currently) there are so many reasons to love our Abita.

Best French bread: Leidenheimer.
The ultimate poor boy bread, with a crisp crust and a light “crumb.”

Best place for a salad: Café Rani. The huge salads made from fresh ingredients and its fantastic location keeps Café Rani our readers’ favorite.
2) Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro

Best place for breakfast or brunch: Court of Two Sisters.
Rising from its second place win last year, readers love the Court of Two Sister’s location, large high-end buffet and pitchers of mimosas.

Best chef: John Besh.
2) Susan Spicer
Two years in a row Besh has won this category (2007 was Spicer’s year).

Best restaurant:
Commander’s Palace.
2) Galatoire’s Restaurant
Year after year, these two restaurants are chosen by our readers as the best in the city – cheers and see you soon!

Best restaurant worth the drive:
Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant.
Horst and Karen Pfeffier celebrated their restaurant’s 75th anniversary in 2009, “… through thick and thin;” we prefer thin – as in the amazing thin-fried catfish.