New Orleans’ Eater Awards Winners 2018

After nearly a week of intensive reader voting,

today we announce the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.

This year, New Orleans saw the opening of charming watering holes and trendsetting restaurants. The city saw chefs bring something more to the table than food. Each winner this year contributes in a meaningful way to the conversation we’re all having: What does it mean to eat in New Orleans? What is New Orleans cuisine now and how does that relate to the past and to the future? Importantly, all the winners took the New Orleans food world by storm in 2018.

And the masses have spoken clearly as well. Talented chef Eric Cook’s Gris-Gris won big with the readers, taking home both the Readers’ Choice Award Restaurant of the Year and the Reader’s Choice Award for Chef of the Year.

Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the reader’s choice and editor’s choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.

Restaurant of the Year

>Bywater American Bistro

, Bywater

Bywater American Bistro

Bywater American Bistro, the feverishly anticipated restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Nina Compton, followed a tough act considering the meteoric success of Compton’s first restaurant, Compére Lapin. Opened by Compton, Larry Miller, and former Compére sous chef Levi Raines, Bywater delivered big-time.

Already named one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America, the precisely executed menu from Compton and Raines acknowledges the various groups that make up New Orleans’ cuisine as it also reflects America’s current culinary landscape with tuna-brasaola-topped toast, rabbit curry, crab fat rice, and a spaghetti pomodoro that has critic Bill Addison “wondering if Compton has the lock on the next pasta trend.”

Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: >Gris-Gris

Chef of the Year

Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson

>Piece of Meat Butcher Shop and Restaurant

, Mid City

Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson at Piece of Meat
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Leighann Smith once responded to a phone call that some “hipster” was keeping a pig tied to a fence by untying the pig as the owner protested, according to >Food and Wine. She told him to go ahead and call the cops. He didn’t. Smith is a butcher who cares about animals a lot.

The former Eater Young Gun and Daniel Jackson have built a Mid City butcher shop and restaurant centered around sustainably and ethically raised meat, mostly from the American South. As meat consumption in the United States soars, spots like Piece of Meat matter a lot.

With memorable, affordable sandwiches that diners can munch sitting on stools around the actual butcher area, the eatery offers a firsthand glimpse at Smith and Jackson breaking down animals and using as many parts as possible. Folks can buy meat to take home and cook as well, with the butchers eager to share their knowledge on the best methods.

Besides all that, little neighborhood specialty markets are part of the city’s fabric, one that eroded with the advent of large grocery stores. Piece of Meat just feels like a natural fit for the Crescent City.

Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Eric Cook, >Gris-Gris

Most Gorgeous Restaurant of the Year



Andrew Thomas Lee

French brasserie Couvant sits within a former bitters factory (that once manufactured Peychaud’s), one of six warehouses combined to make the historic and funky 196-room Eliza Jane hotel in the CBD. Featuring some of the original brick walls of the factory and a 300-square-foot oak bar with antique newel posts from the building’s original staircases, NYC firm Stonehill Taylor invigorated the old New Orleans industrial charm with areas of black and white tiled floor, a quartz oyster bar, mosaic tile, and modern brass light fixtures. There’s an intimate private dining area under an unused staircase and a brick courtyard to for outdoor dining. Arched doorways gracefully soften any harshness of the concrete flooring and other industrial notes. It’s the perfect setting for a spot-on French brasserie menu from the restaurant’s outstanding chef, Brad McDonald.

Design of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: >Capulet

Bar of the Year


, French Quarter

Nick Detrich, Konrad Kantor, and Chris Hannah at Manolito
Katherine Kimball

In the last few years, New Orleans has been examining the Caribbean roots of its revered cuisine (stoked by Nina Compton’s Compére Lapin). Manolito, a petite bar from Chris Hannah, Nick Detrich, and Konrad Kantor, furthers this conversation in the drinks arena with its menu of classic Cuban cocktails, like the papa doble, concocted in traditional ways (like using the Basque style of throwing cocktails — where the bartenders pour the cocktail between glasses over and over from high up in the air).

Of course there are traditional daiquiris, a drink closely associated with New Orleans (especially the frozen variety) that originated at Cuba’s famed bar (and Hemingway haunt) El Floridita. The group named the restaurant for Cuban bartender (and mentor to Hannah and Detrich) Manuel Carbajo, the longtime bartender at El Floridita who died in 2017.

It’s no surprise this place stuns considering that some of New Orleans’ most admired bartenders are behind it.

Bar of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: >Longway Tavern

Vegan Restaurant of the Year

Sweet Soulfood, Treme

Chetwan and Anthony Smith at Sweet Soulfood
Katherine Kimball

It may seem uncharacteristic to have a vegan restaurant award in New Orleans. After all, gumbo z’herbs, often touted as the vegetarian gumbo that the Catholic church recommended for no-meat days, is most often served with meat, even if it’s just the hambone from the weekend. New Orleans cooks just can’t help themselves.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the number of vegan eateries that swung open their doors this year at a steady clip across many of the city’s neighborhoods.

Tremé’s Sweet Soulfood brought it all the way home with a menu that is as vegan — and as New Orleans — as you can get. Stuffed bell peppers, mac and cheese, chicken fried cauliflower, and jambalaya appear regularly on the constantly changing menu. It’s a vegan spot that feels right at home in New Orleans, building on the city’s rich culinary tradition rather than changing it completely.

Vegan Restaurant of the Year Reader’s Choice Winner: >Midnight Noodle

at the Catahoula Hotel


Eater NOLA

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