New Orleans’ food scene is a crown filled with gems both obvious and hidden. It’s those lesser-known spots, tucked into neighborhoods across town, that give heft to that headpiece. Here are a handful worth mining.
A particularly interesting and delicious way to understand Louisiana’s foodways is through farmers’ markets. For some time, the Crescent City Farmers Market has been operating Tuesday mornings Uptown near Audubon Zoo, Thursday late-afternoons in Mid-City and Saturday mornings in the Warehouse District. The scene recently expanded, with a new Wednesday market in Bywater near the “rusty rainbow” footbridge at Crescent Park and a Friday market at Bucktown Harbor along the lakefront. Both take place from 3 to 7 pm, and are excruciatingly close to iconic restaurants with everything from pizza to po’ boys.
Just off Metairie Road behind Nor-Joe’s (an incredible Italian market and eatery), Kelly Mayhew, a reformed fine-dining chef now baker extraordinaire, throws open the window of his Mayhew Bakery. From 1 to 6 pm Mondays and Fridays, he retails jaw-dropping baguettes, specialty breads, pastries, cookies and whatever he damn well pleases.
There are other former white-tablecloth chefs keeping their skills razor-sharp in smaller, more low-key spaces. On the French Quarter side of the river, chef Alfredo Nogueira (formerly of Publican in Chicago) explores his Cuban roots at Cane & Table, with Havana-inspired dishes dotting both the dinner and brunch menus. Across the Mississippi, world cuisines and American comfort foods are the playground of chef Pete Vazquez, whose tiny (no seating) Appetite Repair Shop is just a quick ferry hop away. His place inspired chef Bob Iacovone’s cool micro-café, Iacovone Kitchen. Daily menus include stunning handmade pastas, soups and more. There is a small amount of seating for dining in and lots of opportunities for killer people-watching.
More than diamonds in the rough, these hidden dining gems complete New Orleans’ culinary crown.