Trey Smith and Blake Aguillard's New Orleans City Guide

The 2021 Best New Chefs go for po'boys, pastries, cocktails, and coffee in the Crescent City.

Learn more about the 2021 class of Food & Wine Best New Chefs.

September 2021 Editors' note: many of the businesses below have been impacted by Hurricane Ida; at press time, many could not be reached or were planning to be closed for repairs or until their employees could safely return to the city. Please check websites and social feeds, or call them directly, before visiting. Where information on how to help was available from each vendor, we've updated this guide to include that information.

Worth the Wait

Trey: "New Orleans seems to have so many signature dishes: gumbo, red beans and rice, étouffée. However, you frequently find the best versions of these dishes in people's homes, prepared following traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. When I think about a dish that people primarily go out for, the New Orleans po'boy is the first thing that comes to mind. There are great examples all over the city, but my personal favorite is the shrimp po'boy from Guy's Po-boys. It's a small shop that's always busy but definitely worth the wait."

Blake: "I don't know anyone that can make beignets at home as good as Café Du Monde. Café Du Monde is the perfect way to start off a quintessential New Orleans day."

Cocktail City

Trey: "My favorite cocktail is without question an old-fashioned. Fortunately, there are many places in town that really know how to bring the classic cocktail to life. My personal favorite is Cure. You can feel their respect for the craft the moment you walk in, for both drinks and food."

Blake: "My favorite cocktail in the city is whiskey milk punch from Bar Tonique."

Passion-Fueled Pastry

Blake: "I love the cinnamon roll from Levee Baking Company. They use a granulated sugar sprinkle, and the dough is very light and airy, so it doesn't weigh me down."

Ed note: Levee Baking company shared on their Instagram feed that they are looking at being closed for at least three weeks, and request that supporters donate to a fund for People of the Bayou on GoFundMe.

Trey: "I had a Parker House roll stuffed with pimiento cheese once at Molly's Rise and Shine, and it still lives on in my mind. The whole team there has such a passion and love for the place. It comes through in the food and service. It's one of my favorite places to go overall, and their pastries are always great."

Edible Gifts

Trey: "I frequently shop for gifts at Bellegarde Bakery. They carefully source and grind their flours, cornmeal, and grits. A bread or cornbread recipe with a bag of fresh-ground flour or cornmeal is always a fun gift."

Local Heroes

Blake: "Melissa Martin at Mosquito Supper Club is doing small-batch Louisiana dishes in an intimate setting that often gets lost in the big-batch kitchens. At Dakar Nola, chef Serigne Mbaye has been doing a pop-up for a few years. He's from Senegal and one of the most driven cooks I've met in a while. He's saving to possibly open his own place one day."

Trey: "One of my personal favorite places is High Hat. It's a no-fuss Southern restaurant that always delivers. Co-owner Adolfo Garcia is a great example of someone in the restaurant business who really tries to support other restaurants. In the early days of Saint-Germain, we had an abundance of drive and passion, but not much money. He came by and supported us when he could and rented the restaurant for his Christmas party our first year."

Kolaches Fit for a King

Trey: "I spent my college years in Houston and fell in love with kolaches, particularly the savory ones filled with sausage or bacon, egg, and cheese. If I'm heading to do something work-related or just for fun, grabbing kolaches on the way gets me excited for the day. My favorite kolaches in the city are from District Donuts."

Big Night Out

Blake: "Since I own a fine-dining restaurant, I tend not to do fancy nights out too often unless my girlfriend and I decide to get dressed up and do it up. If this was the case, we would start off with Champagne at Effervescence and then dinner at Pêche."

To Market, To Market

Trey: "The Crescent City Farmers Market is a great place to shop in New Orleans. It opens in different locations on different days to help provide more neighborhoods with access to farm-fresh ingredients. It's extremely well-run and provides many local growers and vendors with an opportunity to sell their products."

ED note: In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Market Umbrella, the non-profit organization that runs the Crescent City Farmer's Market, is collecting donations via their Market Umbrella's Crescent Fund, "in light of the extensive damage sustained by local farms, fishing boats, and other infrastructure needed to operate these small, local food producing businesses due to Hurricane Ida." Donations will go directly to the farmers, fishers, ranchers, and food producers of the Crescent City Farmers Market community.

Wine Enthusiast

Trey: "The Independent Caveau NOLA and Bacchanal are the two places I recommend most often for wine. Great wine is obviously a must, but I would say bringing a level of fun and comfort to drinking those wines is just as important."

Just Brew It

Trey: "I appreciate the skill that goes into more intricate coffee drinks, but I nearly always drink drip, black coffee. Coffee Science is my favorite. They put as much thought into a to-go cup of medium roast as they do their cappuccinos and lattes.

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