New Orleans food is world-famous for a reason: the flavor and soul of our cuisine comes from a whole lot of love. In fact, many of our restaurants are family owned and operated businesses passed on from generation to generation. Others have been inspired by family members, built in honor of fathers and sons, grandmothers and granddaughters. This Father’s Day, we’re shouting out some of our favorite family-owned restaurants in NOLA, with dad at the center of it all.
Located in the historically black neighborhood of Tremé, Li’l Dizzy’s is a Baquet family restaurant that serves delectable Creole cuisine. Owner Wayne Baquet was inspired to start Li’l Dizzy’s after growing up alongside father Eddie and his namesake restaurant. Li’l Dizzy’s is named for Wayne’s grandson Zachary, a talented trumpeter in the St. Augustine High School marching band. The family legacy lives on at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and N Robertson Street.
This James Beard-nominated restaurant is relatively new to New Orleans’ dining scene but came after years in the making. Arvinder Vilkhu and Pardeep Vilkhu immigrated from India to New Orleans in 1984 where Arvinder spent years working in the city’s food and beverage industry before founding Saffron. What started as a catering business and pop-up culminated into one of New Orleans’ finest restaurants. It’s a family affair, with the owners’ son and daughter serving in various roles. Son Ashwin is General Manager and Beverage Director, while daughter Pranita is Director of Human Resources and Finance. Visit Saffron for a delicious Indian meal cooked with a whole lot of love.
A Mid-City favorite, Katie’s was the idea of Leo Leininger’s daughter Cathy, founded in the wake of the sagging oil industry in 1984. It was named for Cathy’s grandmother, Katie. Though the restaurant has since been sold, the current owners built the legacy to what it is today through the hard work of Scot Craig and his family, who continue to pitch in around the restaurant. For that neighborhood feel and some good Southern/Italian cooking, visit Katie’s in Mid-City.
Known for delicious pho, banh mi, and other Vietnamese staples, Pho Tau Bay began as a stand in the Algiers Flea Market until the restaurant was established in 1982. But the restaurant’s legacy dates back to 1960s Saigon where family patriarch Vu Van Y and family owned 13 Pho Tau Bay restaurants. An American GI, Karl Takacs, who was stationed in Saigon, fell in love with one of Vu’s daughters, Tuyet, and they relocated and settled in Louisiana where the legacy of Pho Tau Bay continues. From father to daughter, Vietnam to New Orleans, the restaurant spans generations.
For Jeffery Heard Sr. and daughter Tia'Nesha Heard-Dorest, Heard Dat is a father/daughter business. The whole family is involved in cooking up classic New Orleans cuisine and by extension has Audrey Mae’s Catering, named after Heard’s mother. Enjoy red beans, seafood, and Heard Dat’s signature dishes from Chef Jeff and his family.
Named for Chef Greg Sonnier’s daughter nearly 30 years ago, Gabrielle Restaurant is known for its Creole-Cajun fare and gourmet desserts. Today, you’ll find Gabrielle herself at the front of the restaurant helping out at the restaurant she grew up in. Seafood adorns the menu of this family-owned, one-of-a-kind eatery (the gumbo is a must-try).
*Editor’s Note: The tagged businesses remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information regarding what’s open, see here. For information on the city’s Phased Reopening Plan, see here.