Back to lunch

Lunch is as important as you want it to be. Donning matching feather boas with a tribe of friends for a boozy midday meal at Galatoire that turns into dinner is as good in this town as grabbing a Reuben at Stein’s Deli or a carton of leftovers from your fridge. to be enjoyed in solitude on a park bench.

After two years of ho-hum sandwiches and salads at your makeshift desk between Zoom meetings or gobbling down a quick bite between your kids’ virtual classes, it’s now safe to put your dining room table back where it belongs and take what you need mid-afternoon Break. This precious time can be used to settle business, catch up with friends, celebrate a special occasion, a casual first date, an attempt at reconciliation or simply relax alone before resuming your daily life.

An unparalleled panoramic view overlooking the sparkling Mississippi River will take you as far away from the daily grind as possible without leaving the city altogether. The main artery of the country is the focal point to Way to the Sea (path to the sea), restaurant by chef Donald Link in collaboration with the Four Seasons hotel. The outdoor terrace is the ideal place to enjoy the fine spring breeze during lunch.

Link’s menu was inspired by his travels to French and Spanish speaking Caribbean islands, as well as France, Spain and Italy. For the West Indian crab salad, chunks of pearly white giant crabmeat are offset with a zesty dressing of lime, jalapeño and mint. Other lunch offerings include seared Ora King salmon with Beluga lentils and fresh herbs; Pan-fried giant prawns with cauliflower rice gratin and duck confit with white bean pesto. Gulf oysters are ubiquitous at raw bass, while other varieties from the east and west coasts as well as other parts of the Gulf cycle come and go.

Following a complete renovation and restoration Hotel Columns (the “The” was lost in the process) reopened last year with a fresh, revamped look and expanded outdoor spaces.

New features also include second-floor dining and event spaces, a guest lounge, rooftop terrace, and a new bar and restaurant with a menu by Executive Chef Paul Terrebonne. The Columns Burger is a safe bet with bacon marmalade, arugula and provolone, as are the Roasted Oysters with Parmesan, Lemon and Swiss Chard and the Hanger Steak with caramelized onions and a classic Bordelaise sauce.

A late lunch on the veranda while watching the roar of the streetcar as it descends the tracks under a canopy of oak trees has the power to realize the vision of moonlight and New Orleans magnolias.

Gianna, a famous Italian restaurant where the luxury of homemade pasta is a given, now offers an all-day menu on Fridays. The Rustic Italian menu mirrors the popular dinner menu that earned Gianna a spot as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant in 2019. Chef Jared Heider’s all-day Friday menu features antipasto favorites like the grilled octopus, Ribollita soup, grilled lion’s mane and mushrooms. roasted heirloom carrots, plus plenty of brunch options. Other dishes on the menu include spaghetti and clams, Pesce del Giorno, fire-roasted chicken, veal Saltimbocca and roasted cauliflower.

Elizabeth Street Cafe, an upscale and bright, colorful Vietnamese cafe and French bakery, opened last year at Hotel Saint Vincent after the property’s more than $22 million restoration. The restaurant is a second location for the Austin, Texas original. Unlike many local family-run Vietnamese restaurants that stick to the BYOB format and thrifty prices, Elizabeth Street Café kicks things off with a sophisticated cocktail menu featuring in-house creations as well as Asian-influenced versions of familiar standards. This sophistication continues with the grilled snail in Thai basil curry butter served on a homemade baguette; and Texas Akauski Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Seared Shishito Peppers, Pickled Hon Shimeji Mushrooms and Lemon Soy. Other highlights include Ginger and Chilli Oil Balls, many varieties of Banh Mi, Bun, Cha Ca Rockfish, Chicken, and Kaffir Lime Laap.

With plenty of covered outdoor seating in leafy surroundings, it’s an inviting place to enjoy the glorious late spring weather in the Lower Garden District.

Early this spring City of Wishes Cafe brought its light-hearted take on Vietnamese sweets to a bustling Uptown spot just blocks from Audubon Park. Founders Vivi and Kevin Zheng’s new location offers full service with an abundance of patio seating as well as wraparound porch seating. There are a few cozy rooms inside, and the dessert counter hits you hard in its considerable splendor as you enter.

Vivi’s sumptuous cakes and desserts include Green Tea Cakes, Durian and Taro Crepe, the signature Wishing Cake, puff pastries with egg yolk and custom cakes. On the savory side, there is a huge range of delicate and savory parcels, including pork buns, scallop and shrimp pocket dumplings, onion and beef triangles as well as octopus dumplings, pork tang cakes, spicy soups and fondues.

To share between them the sandwiches L’Atlantique (smoked salmon, lemon mayonnaise, avocado, arugula on bread with grilled olives) and Le Parisienne (cooked ham, butter, Comté cheese, gherkins on baguette) accompanied by glasses of iced tea at The bakery from a sidewalk table overlooking Magazine Street can be the most perfect casual lunch. Chef Maggie Scales offers daily specials, quiches, salads, and artisan pastries and breads.

In August 2020, Chef Suda Ounin and Jeerasak Boonlert opened the restaurant and bakery they had long dreamed of. Housed in a cottage the color of Strawberry Buttercream Frosting and in front of a lush garden, thai dj waves happily from 5th Street at Old Gretna.

Thai DJing’s menu changes regularly to accommodate specialties like whole fried fish served with pineapple and peppers, spicy Thai scallops and exceptional soups. Equally adept in the baking arts, Ounin keeps a changing selection of painstakingly crafted signature products on display in the bar’s baking display case.

Lunch specials (Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) include a fresh vegetable salad with a sensational ginger-curry vinaigrette, a choice of soup, and a roti slider with a choice of protein or a aperitif. A hotspot for casual Latin American cuisine and cocktails, the team behind Cure and Cane & Table have carved by Val of a once charmless gas station, the remaining harsh edges of which are obscured by garden spaces heavily filled with colorful tropical foliage to create a lush barrier between the covered outdoor seating area and the sidewalks at the intersection of Freret and Valence.

After more than a year of research and travels across Mexico, chef Fredo Nogueria has created a menu of ceviche, snacks and tacos (crispy beef belly, carnitas pork shoulder, green mole chicken and fried fish ). Corn tortillas are homemade. A rotation of specialties (oyster tacos and scallop ceviche) keeps things interesting. Exceptional cocktails are prepared with homemade fruit juices. There’s the long-awaited Margarita, the Frozen Margarita (there are classic and daily special options), plus new takes on classics and a few house originals.

Lunch in the French Quarter with that special someone and looking for a bit of luxury? Criollo in the historic Hotel Monteleone recently started a daily caviar service with Kaluga and Oscietra caviars. Made with jumbo Gulf shrimp, the Shrimp Louie is also impressive, as is the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake topped with Roman-style grilled artichoke hearts. Pair lunch with a bottle of specially priced Taittinger Champagne ($39/bottle – you can’t beat that anywhere) for a midday splurge without the high price tag. If you’re from New Orleans, chances are your grandparents (or even your great-grandparents) shared a drink on a date at the Bar Bayou on the ground floor of the historic Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. It’s now a laid-back tavern-style bar filled with history and memorabilia as a drinking haunt for Sinatra and Capote. Under the direction of Chef Brian Landry, the Bayou Bar is open for lunch with uncommon offerings like Duck Poppers with Gastric Cane and Herbed Cream Cheese; Sticky Rib Tips with Pepper Jelly; Grilled Cheese with Wild Mushrooms with Manchego and Truffle; and Steak Frites with Wagyu flank, fries and salsa verde. There are also daily specials for lunch. The midday meal at Palace of the Commanders can be a very affordable luxury. Chef Meg Bickford constantly changes the menu to showcase the best of what’s in season to keep things fresh and interesting. Today’s Two dish of the day consists of an entrée and a choice of soup or salad for less than $23.

In addition to 0.25-cent martinis (available with the purchase of any main course), there are special $5 lunch libations. “You celebrate everything,” said Ti Adelaide Martin, co-owner of Commander’s Palace. “You celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, business, each other, LIFE, at lunch, brunch, and dinner…and we partake in those joyous occasions. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just like to have fun.

Bar Bayouat the Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St Charles Ave, 504-323-1454,

Way to the Seaat the Four Seasons Hotel, 2 Canal Street, 504-434-5895,

ColumnsSt. Charles Avenue, 504-899-9308,

Commander’s Palace1403 Washington Ave, 504-899-8221,

Criolloat the Monteleone Hotel, 214 Royal Street, 504-681-4444,

Elizabeth Street Cafe at Hotel Saint Vincent, 1507 Magazine Street, 504-350-2435,

Gianna700 Magazine St #101, 504-399-8016,

The bakery4600 Magazine Street, 504-269-3777,

thai dj93 5th Street, Gretna, 504-766-0681,

by Val4632 Freret St., 504-356-0006,

Wishing Town Bakery & Cafe802 Nashville Ave, 504-533-9166,

About Laurence Johnson

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