New Orleans’s 6 most exciting restaurant debuts of 2023

GAIA is a new-age steakhouse that landed in the Lower Garden District in September. | Credit: GAIA Steakhouse
A hand pours raspberry maple balsamic dressing over a salad of mixed greens, strawberries, and figs at GAIA Steakhouse in New Orleans.

New Orleans’s most exciting new restaurants are giving the city a newfound international edge and include buzzy imports, homegrown stars, and family-owned gems with serious ambitions.

An acclaimed Denver transplant takes street tacos to a smoky new level. NOLA ingredients are prepped Korean style at the latest from a beloved local chef. Hard-to-find South Asian specialties are drawing crowds to an artsy Indian restaurant.

Read on for a guide to six 2023 openings transforming the city’s food scene right now.

Sun Chong (French Quarter)

Larry Morrow (Morrow’s, Monday Restaurant + Bar) drills even deeper into his family’s New Orleanian and Korean heritage at his third restaurant. His French Quarter May debut is named after his grandmother, a pint-sized powerhouse who is often in the kitchen overseeing the preparation of her Korean recipes next to chef Christian Green. Morrow is all about throwing parties for celebs and famous athletes, which is why you’ll spot local sports stars snacking on Korean fried chicken, bulgogi, and lettuce wraps against a classic hip-hop soundtrack at this new city sensation. 

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Mister Oso New Orleans (Central Business District)

High-top tables, tropical wallpaper, and hanging plants at Mister Oso in New Orleans
The IG-friendly interiors at newcomer Mister Oso include tropical wallpaper and hanging plants. | Credit: Mister Oso New Orleans

This acclaimed Denver import comes with all sorts of cred—it scored a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand earlier this year, for starters. Its New Orleans edition opened in September, and the vibe is sassy, with Instagrammable interiors and a pitch-perfect Mexican menu of tacos, empanadas, and agua chile. But Mister Oso isn’t your average taco spot: All the proteins and vegetables arrive smoked, barbecued street-taco style, and come deconstructed. The chef wants you to build your own adventure, and that’s all part of the fun at this festive newcomer.

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GAIA Steakhouse (Lower Garden District)

A glass case displaying rib-eye steaks at GAIA Steakhouse in New Orleans
The rib-eyes at GAIA Steakhouse are displayed in a glass beef gallery. | Credit: GAIA Steakhouse

Although the September opening of this ultra-modern steakhouse drew buzz for its gold-leaf steaks, there’s more to this fancy beef palace. GAIA takes cues from Steak Market, owner Murat Nalcioglu’s sibling restaurant in Atlanta and wows with brontosaurus-size rib-eyes, displayed like fine art in a glass beef gallery, alongside just-as-large sides. Nalcioglu’s restaurant resumé includes stints at the Ritz-Carlton with chefs like Charlie Palmer and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which explains the swanky 24-karat experience at this promising new-age steakhouse. 

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Pascal’s Manale (Uptown)

Barbecue shrimp with a spicy and tangy sauce at Pascal’s Manale in New Orleans
Restaurateur Dickie Brennan purchased this New Orleans institution in March and won’t be changing the time-honored Italian Creole menu, but will introduce updates like an expanded bar area. | Credit: Pascal’s Manale

Pascal’s Manale’s all-star Italian Creole menu of barbecued shrimp, veal piccata, and eggplant Dryades is beloved by multiple generations of New Orleanians. Die-hard fans include chef and restaurateur Dickie Brennan, who purchased the city icon in March. While the time-honored menu stays untouched, Brennan plans to focus on upgrades like improving the noise level, expanding the bar area, and sizing up the banquet space. Regulars can still count on master shucker Thomas Stewart at the oyster bar, where he’s been for more than three decades. And don’t worry, dishes like Brennan’s personal favorite—oysters Bienville—aren’t going anywhere.

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LUFU NOLA (Central Business District)

What started as a popular Pythian Market pop-up in 2022—Eater New Orleans called it “small but fierce”—came into its own in July. It takes just one meal at this artsy Indian restaurant (its name stands for “Let Us Feed U”) to fall for Aman Kota and Sarthak “Shan” Samantray’s regional South Asian specialties. The menu goes beyond the usual suspects like butter chicken and spotlights lesser-seen Indo-Chinese dishes such as the Kolkata-born chile cauliflower and Rajasthani goat curry. Throw in inventive cocktails like curry coladas and masala martinis and it’s no wonder LUFU is becoming one of the most sought-after reservations in the CBD right now.

Hungry Eyes (Uptown)

Mason Hereford and his team, the quirky minds behind locally loved sandwich spot Turkey and the Wolf, have something new up their chef’s-coat sleeves. Hungry Eyes opened its doors in April and brought neon-pink ’80s resto-lounge vibes, plus playful snacks like an ever-changing crudo and char-grilled baby artichokes with garlicky Parmesan cheese. Not to mention a lineup of classic martinis, which includes that quintessentially ’80s invention, the cosmopolitan. Hungry Eyes also turned heads for being one of the few places in the area that’s open till midnight on Friday and Saturdays—a perk that might even stretch into weeknights soon.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Beth D’Addono is a food and travel writer based in New Orleans. Her latest book is 100 Things to Do in New Orleans Before You Die.

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