In a city that treasures its historic restaurants, restaurant editor Jordana Rothman finds a few upstarts gunning for progress.
There's an underdog coup brewing in the Crescent City these days. A movement of young chefs is shaking up the restaurant scene and siphoning the buzz that’s kept the city’s culinary Goliaths vibrating for years.
At Marjie’s Grill (320 S Broad Ave, New Orleans), chef Marcus Jacobs and his partner Caitlin Carney (vets of Donald Link’s Herbsaint) imagine what a Southern meat and three might look like in Southeast Asia: perfect fried catfish with chiles and herbs or sweet potatoes roasted in coals and drizzled in cane syrup.
A few miles away is Kristopher Doll’s no-frills Shank Charcuterie (2352 St Claude Ave.), a whole-beast butchery and luncheonette. Doll, who also worked for Link, slings headcheese and a soul-rattling pimento cheese patty melt. There’s new growth out of the John Besh root system, too. August alum Michael Stoltzfus earned his own raves at Coquette (2800 Magazine St.)—training ground for Mason Hereford, whose eccentric Turkey and the Wolf (739 Jackson Ave.) was one of F&W’s 2017 Restaurants of the Year.
All this rogue energy may be bringing new heat, but, of course, NOLA has always been one of the world’s great food cities. At Compère Lapin (The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery, 535 Tchoupitoulas St.), Nina Compton’s Caribbean cooking made her a Best New Chef this year, but Leah Chase has been exploring Creole flavors at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant (2301 Orleans Ave.) since the 1940s.
Phillip Lopez’s nostalgic Italo-American Corleone sandwich at Part & Parcel (611 O'Keefe Ave.) was one of the most satisfying bites we’ve had all year, but the muffuletta at Central Grocery (923 Decatur St.) hasn’t lost its place in the pantheon. Even if the city’s food scene is in the grips of a changing of the guard, in New Orleans there are still some things that will always stand the test of time.