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May 30, 2013

TechEd 2013: Top New Orleans restaurants to try

By butcher

It’s t-minus five days to TechEd. This is my first year attending Microsoft’s mega conference, and I’m excited for a lot reasons. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of those reasons is the conference location and, more specifically, its dining options. There are few food-centric cities I get as excited about as New Orleans, where TechEd takes place June 3-6. I haven’t been in several years, so I asked my food-loving friends who hit up the city frequently for their restaurant recommendations. These are the spots I’m most excited to check out. Maybe I’ll see you there!

More Cowbell, please

A friend of mine divulged that the last time she was in NOLA, she ate at Cowbell (8801 Oak Street, 504-298-8689) not once, not twice, but three times. And I can see why just by looking at the restaurant’s Twitter feed, which boasts chicken and waffles Wednesdays, a special burger made with housemade chorizo and grass-fed beef, and a crispy oyster salad with smoked bacon (seriously, look at this thing).

Cocktails and local eats

I bet people would hit up Maurepas Foods (3200 Burgundy Street, 504-267-0072) even if it didn’t serve food. With a staff “intoxicologist,” as it proclaims on its website, and drinks like the Death Metal Cola (gin, lemon, Aperol and a dark cherry beer), the cocktail menu alone is worth the trip. The menu, divided into a vegetables, starches and grains section and meat and fish, changes often because it sources most of the goods locally. This looks like the place where you order nearly one of everything to share.  Some of the items that may be on the menu currently include Brussels sprouts with lamb belly and strawberry hot sauce, pulled duck sandwich and goat tacos. It also has a solid cheese and charcuterie selection.

Not your typical po’boys

Just like you can’t go to New Orleans without getting a muffuletta from Central Grocery or beignets from Cafe Du Monde, you can’t leave the Big Easy without getting your hands on a po’boy. There are probably lots of places doling out amazing po’boys, but Killer Poboys (811 Conti Street, 504-523-8819) stands out. Why? For one thing, it’s located in the back of a bar, Erin Rose Bar in the French Quarter, to be exact. It also stuffs its po’boys with unconventional ingredients, calling them “internationally inspired, chef crafted, New Orleans style sandwiches” on its website. Expect ingredients like pork belly or lamb meatloaf, and visit its Facebook page for more offerings. I dare you to do it on an empty stomach.

A bistro in the Garden District

The most refined dining spot on the list (although it still looks approachable), Coquette (2800 Magazine Street, 504-265-0421) offers a tasting menu of four ($50) or seven ($75) courses, as well as large and small plates a la carte. It too sources as many ingredients locally as possible, so the menu changes daily. Some of the items shared on its Twitter feed recently include sea scallops topped with smoked pork and hollandaise and shaved foie gras with spring vegetables. If you’re lucky enough to get back to New Orleans in late June, it’s hosting a fried chicken and champagne dinner. Enough said.

Brunch and hospitality

Located in what looks like an old house, Dante’s Kitchen (736 Dante Street, 504-861-3121) oozes Southern charm. If you get in early enough on Sunday or are staying through the following weekend, consider taking the 15-minute drive from the convention center for its brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. It’s rumored to be one of the better breakfast spots in town, and gets raves for its hearty comfort food, bacon praline cinnamon sticky buns and buttermilk biscuits. If you can’t make it for brunch, the dinner menu is just as good and the atmosphere is great for a group.

Possibly the best sandwich you’ll ever have

On my last trip to New Orleans, I couldn’t get a reservation at the super-popular, widely praised Cochon, so I walked into its sister restaurant, Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504-588-7675), for lunch instead. If Butcher is any indication of how mouth-watering Cochon is, I recommend trying to eat at both. Grab a sandwich with housemade meats or sausages, like porchetta with smoke gouda, maybe a side or two or three, and you’ll be set for the day. The interior is small and there will most definitely be a line, but it’s worth the wait.

Other eats to consider…

Solid brunch in Jackson Square at Muriel’s.

Get your fill of celebrity chefs at Emeril Lagasse’s namesake restaurant or John Besh’s August.

Modern eats with artistic presentations (think scallops served in a cigar box) at Root.

Excellent Italian in the Warehouse District at a Mano.

Fine dining in a tucked away residential area at Gastreau’s.

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Photo courtesy of Cochon Butcher’s Facebook page.

About the Author

is the Director of Branded Content at Pluralsight. After working for years in Chicago media, she joined the team in 2012 to continue bringing quality news, tips and more to Pluralsight's audience. Find her @ChicagoDana or on Google+.

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