New Orleans is famous for its food and drink culture. Locals are proud of their city’s culinary repertoire, and visitors often book their trips with plans to try dozens of different restaurants, whether that be the delicious comfort food of Dooky Chase’s or a jazz brunch at historic Antoine’s.

Photo Courtesy of Cure New Orleans

It turns out, the James Beard Awards have caught on to what New Orleans’ food and drink scene is all about. The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit culinary arts organization that honors leaders that make America’s thriving food industry sustainable, diverse, and delicious.

The Foundation’s yearly awards are one of the highest honors in the restaurant business, and this year, NOLA’s very own Nina Compton of Compere Lapin took home the prestigious accolade of “Best Chef: South” and the impeccable cocktail bar, Cure, took home “Outstanding Bar Program.” New Orleans East’s Dong Phuong Bakery was also honored as an “America’s Classic.”

Here’s a little bit about the winners, and how you can go experience their delicious cuisine and cocktails:

Paul Broussard
Compère Lapin

Nina Compton, Compere Lapin

Best Chef, South

Nina Compton fell for the Crescent City during her time on BRAVO’s Top Chef: New Orleans. After placing second on the show, she continued her cooking career by relocating from Miami to NOLA to open Compere Lapin, a beautiful restaurant in the Warehouse District that combines influences of both Caribbean and Creole cuisine.Be sure to book a reservation during your stay here. For ultimate convenience, stay at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Compere Lapin is inside of it, and it’s been voted the #1 New Orleans Hotel by Conde Nast Traveler. And if you’re hungry for more of Nina’s award-winning cuisine, be sure to check out her second restaurant, the recently-opened Bywater American Bistro.


Outstanding Bar Program

This sophisticated cocktail bar on burgeoning Freret Street has been awarded “Outstanding Bar Program” for good reason. Not only is the bar’s atmosphere lovely, with a lush outdoor patio and a dark, elegant interior, but each cocktail is carefully crafted by a team of phenomenal bartenders. The entire experience is inspired by historic cocktail bars that were meant to combine alcohol with home remedies. Enjoy one of these cocktails with a delicious small plate, and continue exploring Freret Street after you visit Cure with this guide.

Paul Broussard
King Cake from Dong Phuong Bakery

Dong Phuong Bakery

American Classic

Every year, the James Beard Foundation awards beloved regional restaurants with the “American Classic” accolade. These are locally owned restaurants with timeless cuisine that communities have and will continue to love. Dong Phuong is a Vietnamese bakeshop in New Orleans East, a neighborhood with a thriving Vietnamese community. Breads, bahn mi, and baked goods are always on the menu, and during Mardi Gras season, Dong Phuong’s king cake is among the city’s most coveted (and often sold out).

To see all of New Orleans’ past James Beard Award winners, see here.