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Let the Good Wines Roll: 10 Top New Orleans Restaurants

These Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners have wine programs as bold as their flavors
The Pelican Club holds the Award of Excellence for its 250-selection wine list.
Photo by: David L’Hoste
The Pelican Club holds the Award of Excellence for its 250-selection wine list.

Posted: March 1, 2018

Founded by France, relinquished to Spain and acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans has centuries of history behind its rich culinary identity. But today the city and its dining scene are enjoying a dynamic revitalization. Chefs are building on the Creole traditions that draw from Native American, African, Caribbean and the early European influences, combining them with the food of later waves of arrivals—German, Italian, Vietnamese, Cajun and more. They have built a global food destination, and one with a passion for great wine. These 10 restaurants go beyond great gumbo and jambalaya, enhancing Creole flavors with Restaurant Award–winning wine programs.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,700 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the all 26 New Orleans Restaurant Award winners and the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Commander’s Palace
Commander’s Palace opened in 1893 in New Orleans' Garden District.

Grand Award
COMMANDER’S PALACE
A New Orleans classic with a colossal wine list
1403 Washington Ave., New Orleans, La.
(504) 899-8221
www.commanderspalace.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Wine list selections 3,150
Inventory 27,000
Wine strengths Dan Davis’ list excels in a range of regions including Burgundy, California, Bordeaux, Rhône, Italy, Champagne, Spain, Germany, Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon and Austria. With 320 large-format bottles and 250 Champagne selections, it’s an ideal spot for special occasions.
Cuisine Chef Tory McPhail has ably stepped into shoes once worn by legendary cooks like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. The menu takes a fine-dining approach to Creole cuisine with dishes such as seared scallops with pear purée and caviar, pecan-crusted gulf fish and turtle soup finished tableside with a dry Sherry. Nightly dinner specials are presented with a suggested wine pairing.
NOLA landmark Opened in 1893 in the Garden District, Commander’s Palace is a culinary icon.
Brunch destination In addition to drink deals and special dishes like a Louisiana crawfish frittata, a big draw for brunch is the restaurant’s live jazz trio.
Recent refresh Last year, Commander’s Palace expanded its wine cellar capacity to age even more wines and continue to improve the program.


Sara Essex Bradley
Emeril’s New Orleans is the flagship restaurant of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

Grand Award
EMERIL’S NEW ORLEANS
A hub for Emeril Lagasse’s signature cuisine with a stellar wine program
800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 528-9393
www.emerils.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Wine list selections 2,055
Inventory 11,450
Wine strengths Overseen by Ray Gumpert, the list is strong in California, Burgundy, Rhône, Bordeaux, Italy, Champagne and Spain.
Cuisine Chef Doug Braselman puts a contemporary, globally-influenced spin on New Orleans classics. A sausage and peppers dish is served with pecorino fondue, and a pad Thai noodle cake accompanies the lacquered duck.
Superstar owner Emeril Lagasse has long been known for his affinity for Creole cuisine. He opened the restaurant in 1990 and now owns several in the city, including Best of Award of Excellence winner Emeril’s Delmonico Restaurant & Bar.
Prepared pairings Emeril’s New Orleans offers a nightly food-and-wine pairing selected by the wine team to enhance the dishes while delighting guests with some surprising picks.


Brennan’s Restaurant
Brennan’s Restaurant serves stellar wines to complement robust dishes.

Best of Award of Excellence
BRENNAN’S RESTAURANT
A historic restaurant with fresh cuisine and impressive wines
417 Royal St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 525-9711
www.brennansneworleans.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Wine list selections 1,920
Inventory 14,125
Wine strengths Wine director Braithe Tidwell’s list specializes in Burgundy to commemorate the city’s historical French ties. Additional region highlights include Champagne, California and Bordeaux.
Cuisine The menu features local staples such as turtle soup and frog legs, as well as signature dishes from chef Slade Rushing like shrimp Creole kimchi and rabbit schnitzel.
Gem-filled cellar The restaurant houses dozens of verticals from top producers such as Ponsot, Château Lafite Rothschild and Harlan Estate, and Champagnes that date back to 1970.
Longstanding destination Brennan’s Restaurant was established in 1946 in the French Quarter before moving to its current location in 1956. It has enjoyed a revitalization under Ralph Brennan, nephew of founder Owen Brennan, in recent years. The wine cellars once served as an adjacent carriage house with stables.


Broussard’s
In addition to the dining room, Broussard’s offers seating in its open-air courtyard.

Best of Award of Excellence
BROUSSARD’S
This French-Creole restaurant has been family-owned for nearly a century
819 Conti St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 581-3866
www.broussards.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Wine list selections 490
Inventory 3,800
Wine strengths Wine director Christopher Slack manages the list, which shows strength in Burgundy, Bordeaux, France, California and Italy.
Cuisine Indulgent Southern dishes like glazed pork belly, truffle chicken breast and saffron shrimp pasta are available on chef Jake Shapiro’s menu.
Steeped in culture French-trained chef Joseph Broussard opened the restaurant with his wife in 1920. Broussard's cuisine—and fanatical devotion to Napoleonic decor—attracted celebrities and politicians, including Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.
Extra space to sip Broussard’s adjoining Empire Bar pours more than 20 wines by the glass and serves bites like shrimp rémoulade salad and a Cuban sandwich slider.

Charlotte Latham
Clancy’s offers a range of wine styles and prices to pair with the traditional cuisine.

Best of Award of Excellence
CLANCY’S
A neighborhood bistro beloved by locals for top-notch wines and great cooking
6100 Annunciation St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 895-1111
www.clancysneworleans.com
Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday

Wine list selections 860
Inventory 9,500
Wine strengths Selections from California, Burgundy, Rhône and Oregon are strongest on the list managed by co-owner Brad Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth tends to keep the selections fairly constant from year to year, focusing on regions he feels pair best with the Creole fare.
Cuisine Co-owner Brian Larson also serves as Clancy’s chef, creating their signature plates such as sweetbreads with Dijon and green peppercorns and spaghetti with Bordelaise sauce and fried oysters.
Balance of budgets The restaurant features plenty of bottles under $100 along with splurges like a 13-vintage vertical of Opus One going back to 1991 ($565) and Louis Jadot Clos St.-Denis 1996 ($315).
Dine with the wine A cozy, dimly lit space upstairs makes for a romantic dining spot surrounded by shelves of bottles.


Galatoire’s
Right on Bourbon Street, Galatoire’s serves upscale New Orleans classics.

Best of Award of Excellence
GALATOIRE’S
A legendary restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 525-2021
www.galatoires.com
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday

Wine list selections 970
Inventory 9,700
Wine strengths Managed by Bill Kearney and Rene Sudduth, the moderately-priced list highlights Champagne, Bordeaux, France and California, with particular breadth and depth in Burgundy selections.
Cuisine Galatoire’s adds an extra dose of French influence to traditional Creole cuisine. Highlights from chef Michael Sichel’s menu include the soufflé potatoes, shrimp etouffée and, of course, seafood gumbo.
More than a century of history The restaurant was established in 1905 by France native Jean Galatoire, who used his heritage and family recipes to open the now world-famous destination.
Elegant escape Though it’s located on a street known for chaos, Galatoire’s is a peaceful fine-dining oasis. The upstairs bar transports guests from the buzzy neighborhood, while windows in the dining room provide peeks outside.


Restaurant R’evolution
Restaurant R’evolution’s regional menu is executed by chef duo John Folse and Rick Tramonto.

Best of Award of Excellence
RESTAURANT R’EVOLUTION
Classic New Orleans ingredients showcased by a strong culinary duo
777 Bienville St., New Orleans, La.
(504) 553-2277
www.revolutionnola.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Wine list selections 2,000
Inventory 10,000
Wine strengths Steve Russett oversees the program, which shines in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, Champagne, Germany and Italy. While there are many high-end bottles, a section of the list features more than 20 options for $75 or less.
Cuisine The regional American cuisine is a collaboration by chef John Folse, an acclaimed chef known for introducing Louisiana’s cuisine to countries around the world, and chef Rick Tramonto, former executive chef of the now-closed Grand Award winner Tru in Chicago.
Interactive list Presented on an iPad, the wine list offers special notes and descriptions while updating availability in real time.
Sparkling selections The extensive Champagne and sparkling wine collection spans six pages including verticals like five vintages of Jean Laurent Brut Blanc de Noirs Champagne going back to 1973 ($500).


Jacob Cureton
Atchafalaya serves Creole dishes like grits-fried crab with orange-leaf aioli.

Award of Excellence
ATCHAFALAYA RESTAURANT
Affordable wines from a culinary landmark
901 Louisiana Ave., New Orleans, La.
(504) 891-9626
www. atchafalayarestaurant.com
Open for dinner, daily

Wine list selections 110
Inventory 900
Wine strengths The list is strongest in California and France, with most bottles costing less than $100.
Cuisine Chef Jacob Cureton embraces the restaurant’s mission to be “rather Southern, slightly sophisticated” with dishes such as boudin- and crawfish-stuffed beignets and shrimp and grits with smoked tomatoes.
New Age New Orleans Opened in 1980 as Café Atchafalaya, the restaurant was part of a local culinary movement when chefs were taking a more modern and adventurous approach, combining traditional Creole cuisine with Cajun influences.


Herbsaint Bar & Restaurant
At Herbsaint, entrées include the house-made spaghetti with guanciale and fried-poached farm egg.

Award of Excellence
HERBSAINT BAR & RESTAURANT
The farm-to-table movement meets Southern cuisine and moderately-priced wines
701 Saint Charles Ave., New Orleans, La.
(504) 524-4114
www.herbsaint.com
Open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday

Wine list selections 275
Inventory 1,750
Wine strengths The program has grown dynamically since Hurricane Katrina and is now a Restaurant Award–winning list with strengths in France, California and Australia.
Cuisine Rebecca Wilcomb’s French- and Italian-inspired Southern menu includes dishes like shrimp and fish ceviche and duck confit with dirty rice and citrus gastrique.
Farm-fresh focus The restaurant relies on relationships with nearby farmers and fishermen for produce, proteins and even dairy products.
In good company Herbsaint was founded by chef Donald Link and is owned by his restaurant group, which includes other local favorites such as Cochon Butcher.


David L’Hoste
The Pelican Club has been open since 1990 and has a 250-selection wine list.

Award of Excellence
THE PELICAN CLUB
A regional menu and Restaurant Award–winning list from a husband-and-wife team
312 Exchange Place, New Orleans, La.
(504) 523-1504
www.pelicanclub.com
Open for dinner, daily

Wine list selections 250
Inventory 2,700
Wine strengths Wine director, chef and owner Richard Hughes' list is strongest in California and France and offers more than two dozen wines by the glass.
Cuisine Hughes' moderately-priced menu lists classics like gumbo and roasted rack of lamb, plus inventive plates like escargot in casserole and scallop-stuffed artichoke with lemon beurre blanc.
Family business After operating a Southern restaurant in New York City, Hughes returned to his birthplace of New Orleans and opened the restaurant with his wife, Jeanne, in 1990.

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