While these days she heads home early to spend time with her little ones, Chef Sue Zemanick is no stranger to nightlife in New Orleans. The three-time James Beard Award-winning chef’s 15-year culinary career here in New Orleans includes some of the city’s best spots. From her humble beginnings as a line cook and sous chef at Commander's Palace to executive chef at Gautreau’s Restaurant and now the owner of her Mid-City based restaurant, Zasu, Zemanick’s recommendations cover all parts of the city and come straight from her years of experience.
Here’s how Chef Sue Zemanick navigates a night out in the Crescent City.
Where do you go to get the night started in New Orleans?
Depending on how you want to set the tone for your night out, Chef Zemanick suggests both d.b.a. or Effervescence to get it started. The first is a local hangout nestled on Frenchmen Street offering a selection of tap beers, full bar and nightly live music performances that Zemanick swears by. Effervescence, on the other hand, is an elegant champagne bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter where she enjoys a glass (or bottle) of bubbly, and chef-inspired small plates and light bites.
What’s are some off-the-beaten-path gems in New Orleans?
Chef Zemanick is a huge fan of Marjie’s Grill in Mid-City, and says she visits this eatery at least once a week. They’re known for their locally sourced ingredients prepared with a combination of Southeast Asian and Louisiana flare.
Inspired by the Asian influence here in the city, Zemanick also recommends a visit the Dong Phuong to explore menu items beyond their award-winning king cakes. Located in New Orleans East, it’s slightly outside of the New Orleans metro area, but well worth the trip.
Favorite late night New Orleans hangout?
Her love for the Bywater/Marigny made Mimi’s in the Marigny an obvious choice for Chef Zemanick’s favorite late night hang out. Craft cocktails, wines, beers, tapas and unspecified closing hours are all the makings for a perfect late night out at Mimi’s.
What’s your favorite cocktail in New Orleans?
According to Zemanick, nothing beats a classic Ramos Gin Fizz, and one of her favorite places in the city to get it is Revel Cafe & Bar. They also make an assortment of other iconic New Orleans cocktails like the Absinthe Frappe, Brandy Milk Punch, Pimm’s Cup and more.
What are some of your favorite live music venues in NOLA?
You can’t talk New Orleans’ live music scene without mentioning Tipitina’s, and Chef Sue agrees. Tipitina’s is a hotspot for live music and a stomping grounds for unique New Orleans talent. Music legends from the late Professor Longhair and Dr. John, to the Neville Brothers and Trombone Shorty have all graced its stage.
What are three must stop spots for first-time visitors?
While her first mind told her anything in the Bywater, Chef Zemanick singled out three special locations that are go-to’s for any first-time visitors to the Crescent City.
First, Bywater American Bistro for brunch and then head over to the Country Club for poolside relaxation or a dip. Close out the evening with drinks from Elysian Bar inside of Hotel Peter and Paul and if you’re not worn out, Zemanick recommends a glass of wine from Bacchanal.