‘Tis the season for decadent eating, holiday cheer, and plenty of gifting. On that note, the New Orleans restaurant scene was early to deliver its holiday presents in the form of new spots we’re dying to check out this month. First off, Dakar, one of the most celebrated pop-ups of the past two years, has opened a much-anticipated brick-and-mortar on Magazine Street. Chef Serigne Mbaye, who was named Eater NOLA’s Chef of the Year in 2021 and received a nomination from the James Beard Foundation for Best Emerging Chef in 2022, serves his seven-course Senegalese-inspired tasting menu four nights a week, from Wednesday to Saturday, with one seating each night.
Also new to the scene? MaMou, a sleek-yet-cozy brasserie along Rampart Street on the edge of the French Quarter. With its rich color palette and lush floral design, the dreamy interior feels like a small portal to Paris, with a menu that feels like the perfect marriage between classic French and Creole cuisine and modern coastal Louisiana seasonality. Ayu Bakehouse is another notable newbie. The gorgeous Marigny-based bakery overlooks Washington Square Park and features otherworldly sweet and savory pastries, including the Boudin Boy (layers of puff pastry filled with Cajun-spiced sausage) and a muffuletta breadstick, which weaves the star ingredients of the famous sandwich into a very portable wand of deliciousness.
Switching gears back to holiday, December is full of opportunities to soak up the spirit of the season, and one of the best places to do it is out at City Park for Celebration in the Oaks. If you’re heading out with kids and looking for family-friendly eats nearby, Blue Oak is always a solid pick for barbecue, as is Venezia for red-sauce Italian and pizza (bonus points for it being down the street from Angelo Brocato’s if you’re in the mood for gelato after dinner). For merrymakers looking for more adult options, we love MoPho and Rosedale for casual picks, or Café Degas and Ralph’s on the Park for fine dining. The latter two are also offering Réveillon menus. This tradition dates back to the early 19th century when New Orleanians would create extravagant meals to await them when they came home from midnight mass on Christmas Eve. These days, local restaurants offer multi-course pre-fixe menus all month long–and while many stick with the traditional format, you’ll also find more modern offerings as well.
On the traditional side, Tujague’s features a lineup of dishes like an oyster pan roast in puff pastry, followed by gumbo, Gulf fish in blue crab butter sauce, and an apple spice café with eggnog ice cream. Or on the modern side, Boucherie’s menu includes dishes such as Gulf shrimp bisque crab rangoon, blackened shrimp and grit cakes with house-made bacon vinaigrette, Wagyu steak frites, and their famous Krispy Kreme bread pudding.
There are even more incredible Reveillon menus to check out here, as well as a full lineup of all restaurants open throughout the holidays. Thinking of booking a last-minute holiday getaway? Check out Papa Noel hotel deals here.