Grilled seafood, grain bowls and more tips from the Crescent City’s chef ambassador. 

By Max Bonem
Updated August 25, 2017

On location in New Orleans, a TRAVEL + LEISURE World’s Best Award winner.

“The greatest thing about New Orleans is the people and the expression of the people found in the music and food comes from the soul,” says chef John Besh, owner of Restaurant August, Domenica (with chef Alon Shaya) and Borgne. And he should know. Besh has become chef Emeril Lagasse’s heir apparent as the first chef of New Orleans. Here he gives his New Orleans tips, from where to get his favorite breakfast to the best cocktail with a view.

Willa Jean

Besh's favorite breakfast comes from Willa Jean, where his disciple Kelly Fields prepares, what he says, is the best grain bowl in town. “It's a mixture of a number of different grains with some legumes and it’s always evolving and always changing," he says. "Arugula, radishes and finished with a little vinaigrette and a poached egg or two on top and I’m in breakfast heaven.”

Willa Jean, 611 O'Keefe Avenue, 504-509-7334


For a true taste of the gulf, Besh recommends Peche for the freshest, grilled local seafood. "Their redfish is really good, rubbed with a little bit of olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper and that’s it," he says. "Served with a little salsa verde over the top and it’s really something perfect for the table."

Peche, 800 Magazine Street, 504-522-1744

La Petite Grocery

If you're looking for what chef Besh describes as "the one perfect bite in the world," head to La Petite Grocery in the Uptown neighborhood. "My friend, chef Justin Devillier, creates these beautiful little crabmeat truffles and then batters them, fries them so they’re crispy on the outside and golden brown."

La Petite Grocery, 4238 Magazine Street, 504-891-3377

Hot Tin

After sampling flavors from across the city, finish the day with a cocktail on Hot Tin's rooftop bar. “The cool thing about this place is it gives you the perfect view of the skyline of New Orleans," says Besh. Along with the view, chef Besh loves Hot Tin's Skyline cocktail, made with honeysuckle vodka and Camapri. "I’m a huge Campari fan and so it’s kind of this sweet local vodka with this bitter Campari...It’s like a grownup screwdriver and I’m just that simple."

Hot Tin, 2031 St. Charles Avenue, 504-323-1500