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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Six Exciting Restaurant Openings in New Orleans - [Eater New Orleans - All]

Mazemen, a brothless ramen, from Union Ramen | Union Ramen/Facebook

Despite the pandemic, these brand new restaurants have recently made their debut in New Orleans

Despite the loss of some significant New Orleans restaurants, bars, and music venues throughout the pandemic-related shutdown, June and July also brought the opening of a number of new restaurants in the area. A few are among those most anticipated for this season, and all were years in the making. Here, Eater tracks the noteworthy restaurant openings in the New Orleans area; for the latest restaurant closures diners need to know about, see here.

Did we miss a brand new restaurant? Let us know.


Union Ramen — Union Ramen is a long-anticipated restaurant from Nhat “Nate” Nguyen, the opening chef at Gert Town ramen gem Kin who left the restaurant in 2016 to start his own pop-up. The casual, counter service restaurant by the same name just debuted on Magazine Street, serving a menu of chicken broth-based ramen, poke, and Vietnamese small plates. Order online for pickup 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. or for delivery via Waitr or D’livery Nola.

Saj Mediterranean — Now open in the renovated space of the former Magazine Street location of Mona’s, Saj serves a menu of dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, and muhammara; falafel, kebabs, Lebanese sausage, chicken shawarma, along with plenty of wraps, salads, and vegetable dishes. Takeout, dine-in, and outdoor seating available daily, 4 to 9 p.m.

Plume Algiers — After a year of restaurant pop-ups serving regional Indian cuisine, Tyler Stuart and Merritt Coscia have opened their restaurant Plume Algiers at 1113 Teche Street for takeout. The opening menu includes Kozhi, a spicy fried chicken stew with coconut dumplings, Recheado shrimp salad, chow mein, and aloo chaat. Open for takeout 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Yo Nashi — Yo Nashi is an inviting new CBD restaurant serving eight-to-ten course tasting menus in the Japanese dining style of omakase, meaning the meal is in the hands of the chef. One or two plated appetizers (like Kombu-cured scallop with beet vinaigrette, black sesame tōgarashi cracker, purple radish, and crab roe bottarga) is followed by a round of five nigiri, like a lightly-torched chūtoro nigiri with seared foie gras; then one or two savory courses with proteins like New York strip or pork belly; then dessert. The menu will change slightly every day, with big changes happening weekly. Open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.


Cho Thai — First announced early this year, Cho Thai is the latest from BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group). It opened at the end of last month for takeout and delivery, taking over the former Magazine Street space of Warbucks, the restaurant group’s now-closed attempt at modern comfort food. BRG partnered with Jimmy Cho of Banana Blossom Thai Cafe, a family-run restaurant that’s been serving contemporary Thai food on the West Bank for a decade. Small plates include spicy clams, pork rolls, and crab claws with chili basil broth and roti; entrees include Louisiana crab fried rice, ka pao gai, and green curry soft shell crab. Open 4 to 9 p.m. daily.

Vals — From the CureCo team, including Matthew Kohnke, Neal Bodenheimer, Turk Dietrich, and Cane & Table chef Fredo Nogueira, Vals opened in late June in a former service station at the corner of Valence and Freret. It’s described as a casual, laid-back restaurant and bar serving regional Mexican dishes, tacos, and agave-based drinks. The to-go window is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m., serving an abbreviated food menu.


Double Dealer — Located under the Orpheum Theater, The Double Dealer is intended to be a “one-of-a-kind speakeasy” celebrating Dixie Bohemia, a term describing the writers, artists, and hangers-on in the New Orleans art scene of the 1920s. With designers Farouki Farouki behind the interior (they also did worked with Saffron and Justine), it should feel vibey indeed, and the cocktail menu seems refreshingly unpretentious — they’re even all under $12.

Nagomi — The eagerly-anticipated Nagomi opened in the Bywater on February 12, but it’s going to be a tough to land a reservation anytime soon. Calling itself New Orleans’s first omakase sushi bar (a Japanese dining style where the order is left to the sushi chef), the 12-seat restaurant showcases the skills of local sushi chef Kazuyuki “Kaz” Ishikawa, a longtime Shogun sushi chef. Reservation-only, Nagomi has two seatings per night for meals starting at $65, Wednesday through Saturday.

Sorella5 Opened last month, Sorella5 is the newest addition to a buzzing area of the CBD, with a promising approach to “home cooking and New Orleans-style cuisine.” Owned and operated by five(!) sisters, the menu is based on family recipes like red beans and rice, po-boys, and other homestyle cooking. Sorella5 is open for lunch Monday; from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.


Blue Giant — The long-awaited Blue Giant is now slinging reinvented Chinese takeout standards for lunch and dinner in the LGD. The extensive menu of “straightforward American-Chinese food with the best ingredients we can find” includes peking duck, fried rice, egg foo young, shrimp wontons, blue crab rangoon, dan dan noodles, and blanched bok choy with a sauce made from Louisiana oysters. Appetizers range from $3 to $10, with noodle and entree dishes between $14 and $18 (except for the whole peking duck for $65).

Seed — While not technically brand new, Seed’s reopening brings new life to a restaurant that has arguably been New Orleans’s top destination for vegan and vegetarian fare since its 2014 opening. The new owners (also the trio behind local favorite District Donuts) brought in a head chef who’s background skews fine dining, Dan Causgrove, most recently head chef at the Ace Hotel’s Seaworthy. The new menu is reflective of Causgrove’s experience, with small plats like carrot cavatelli and masa gnocchi and cauliflower katsu, a kelp po-boy, and eggplant schwarma.

Lotus Bistro — Lakeview has a new sushi restaurant, quietly opened a few weeks ago (a grand opening party is on February 4). The wide-ranging menu covers noodles, soups, fried rice, and lunch bentos in addition to a huge selection of sushi rolls and sashimi. The best part? The woman-owned Lotus Bistro named a few specialty rolls after notable women in Japanese history, like Tomoe Gozen and author Mineko Iwasaki. Yay for more sushi options in New Orleans proper.

Laurel Oak — A new CBD hotel brings with it a solid contemporary Southern restaurant, under the consultation of star Colorado chef Troy Guard. Guard brought in Houma native Wesley Rabalais for the head chef role, and Rabalais executes on refined versions of Louisiana classics like boudin, barbecue shrimp, and Gulf fish entrees. The excellent gumbo is made with poblano peppers instead of green, the twist on a shrimp cocktail is delightful, and the fried oyster dish hits all the right flavors.

Swamp Room — This longtime Metairie hangout is back, reopening just down the street on Vets Boulevard. It feels as close to it once did as is possible in a new location, with the same menu of juicy burgers topped with shredded, not sliced, cheese (among other options). Keep an eye out for a forthcoming attached venue intended for DJ nights and private events.

Long Chim — Taking over the now-closed Superfood Bar on Magazine Street, Long Chim is now serving up dumplings, soups tom yung and khao soi, and “unicorn noodles,” a glass noodle dish with a purple tint from being soaked in butterfly pea flower. For now it’s just open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 4113 Magazine St., Irish Channel.

Nola Caye — First announced last spring, NOLA Caye is a fast-casual Caribbean restaurant from the owners of the Westbank’s Restaurant des Familles, now open in the Warehouse District in a new mixed-use condo building. The menu offers ceviches and various ahi tuna dishes, tacos, burgers and sandwiches, and a fairly basic list of protein-based entrees. 898 Baronne St., Warehouse District.

Aqua S — Aqua S is an Australian ice cream shop known for whimsical soft-serve creations, rotating monthly flavors, and an Instagram-friendly, vibrant aesthetic. The specialty shop that originated in Sydney first announced the New Orleans location in March, part of its U.S. expansion that includes Houston and Virginia Beach. It finally opened over the holidays with apple cinnamon, signature sea salt, and toppings like lychee, popcorn, “fairy floss,” etc. 1000 Girod St. #4B, CBD.

Bearcat Cafe — A Jena Street city favorite for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dining, Bearcat Cafe recently expanded with a new downtown cafe. The menu is split into Good Cat and Bad Cat sections, and is open for breakfast and lunch with vegan rancheros, vegetarian portobello Philly, and vegan queso, to name a few. 845 Carondelet St., Warehouse District.

Breads on Oak — Another downtown expansion now open is Breads on Oak, an all-vegan bakery offering breads, pastries, king cake, biscuit sandwiches, salads and vegan versions of muffulettas, burgers, and more. Open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 222 Carondelet St., CBD.

Looking for restaurant recs or a place to chat about favorite restaurants? Join Eater NOLA’s Facebook group.

Source: Eater New Orleans - All

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