Sure, the name of this column sounds demanding; and as a creative spirit whose medium is food and beverage, the last thing you want is to be bossed around and told where and what to eat. But trust us. You don’t take your precious time reading just because you’ve been everywhere and eaten everything. You’re on this page because you are as excited about discovering the best dining in cities around the globe as you are passionate about creating new items for your menus that keep your guests enticed and coming back.

So, we’re giving it to you, city by city, our take on where you’ll want to eat. Plus, the inside scoop from the locals (aka your industry colleagues in each city).

Finding great places to eat in New Orleans is easy, finding enough time and energy and space in your stomach to try them all is a little harder. Particularly during the heat of the summer when you may find yourself amongst the crowd of thirsty and dedicated cocktail aficionados who descend on New Orleans to celebrate the art of the cocktail at Tales of the Cocktail. It’s a well proven fact that man doesn’t live on booze alone, and to withstand the humidity of NOLA in the summer plenty of good food is definitely in order to refill the belly between educational seminars and tastings.

We’ve keen on our favorite go-to meals, like the Jazz Combo sandwich at the teeny local deli
Verdi Mart that’s deep into the French Quarter at 1201 Royal Street. A long walk, but worth it for this five napkin alert, bread encased turkey, ham and melted cheese bit of taste bud happiness. Always pleasing too are the grits, pork rillette, and cochon de lait at Lüke at 333. St. Charles.

But there’s so much more to be enjoyed. John Pomeroy of New York City had this to say about his food experiences while attending Tales of the Cocktail, “The Green Goddess was exceptional in that the chef was a very interesting Louisiana personality, huge belly underneath a dirty apron, very Cajun, indeed. The dish that really stole the show was a shrimp dish with an absinthe heavy cream sauce with parsley and rice noodles. Amazing. The ambience was very casual, but the plates were five star. Flavors all over the spectrum and extremely well balanced. What I liked most about Arnaud’s was the historical element; it was almost like a functional museum. Like a mansion, each of the seemingly dozens of rooms had its own flair, complete with furnishings unique to each room. Very attentive staff and heavenly deserts, especially the Strawberries Arnaud, a port-wine reduction with ice cream and whipped cream. Of the five or so that I tried, Broussard’s had the best jambalaya I had while in NOLA, and the service was exceptional… almost as though they read my mind when I wanted something. I never had to ask for anything.”

The only thing we ask for when we’re in New Orleans is more time to savor all the wonderful cuisine.

And the locals recommend:

BARTENDER – Kimberly Patton-Bragg of Swizzle Stick

Green Goddess – in Exchange Alley, tiny tucked away place in the quarter with outstanding food. Their sweet potato biscuits have got to be the best I’ve ever tasted – bar none (sorry, Grandma). Their duck sausage bangers and mash with Steen’s cane syrup is also no joke. They also have a kick-ass Bloody Mary using heirloom tomatoes.

Cochon – there’s a reason why it’s packed all the time. I am addicted to their pork cheeks, it has the best fried alligator and I love their rabbit and dumplings. Love me some dead bunny. Their cornmeal pineapple upside-down cake should be illegal.

The Joint – on Poland Avenue, way out in the Bywater but worth the trip. Great couple runs this BBQ place and their ribs and sausage are ridiculous.

Boucherie – worth the trip Uptown. For god sakes they have Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce!

Cure – of course. Sublime cocktails and pretty damn good small plates. It’s a cocktail nerd’s paradise down here.

French 75 – I love walking down Bourbon Street to watch the trashy hedonism, the barkers, and off-key karaoke noise and then walk into – ahhhhhhh, Edith Piaf playing in a beautiful, classic bar where Chris Hannah makes beautiful cocktails and always picks out a nice cigar out for me. My favorite oasis.

Coop’s Place – simply the best fried chicken and Jambalaya in town in a no-nonsense setting on Decatur Street.

Yo Mama’s – great burgers and the best tequila list at insane prices. Don Julio 1942 for $12.50? Si, por favor.

CHEF – John Besh – Besh Restaurant Group (August, Besh Steak, Lüke, La Provence)

Late night – 13
517 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, La 70116 (504) 942-1345
13 on Frenchmen Street is a great little place to duck into after a late night of dancing and partying in the Marigny just steps away from the French quarter but worlds apart by attitude!

Special occasion – Galatoire’s
209 Bourbon St. New Orleans, La 70130 (504) 525-2021
I love the Galatoire’s thing where the cocktail has never gone out of style and the pommes soufflé’ have been made the same the way for over a hundred years but still aren’t tired. Don’t order from the menu, instead ask your server (mine is John) what you’re having. Chances are it will include Crab meat and hollandaise.

Sunday Brunch – Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 899-8224 Commander’s Palace is the quintessential Sunday Brunch in New Orleans, if not the birth place of the Sunday Brunch for the entire country, which some would argue. Start with the Spicy Creole Bloody Mary and make sure you finish with the bread pudding soufflé’ and a Milk Punch, and a designated driver.

Quick Snack – Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery and Restaurant
14207 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, La 70129 (504) 254-0214
Dong Phuong is one of my favorite places that I pass in the mornings on my way into the kitchen, located in the heart of New Orleans East it is a French Vietnamese Bakery that produces positively the best bahn mi ever! At $2.50 the “Vietnamese Po-Boy” is the tastiest bargain in the city. I often call in advance ordering 30-40 of them for all of our cooks downtown.

Quintessential New Orleans Cooking – Bon Ton Café 401 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, (504) 524-3386
BonTon Café’, just around the corner from my restaurant, August is a flash back to the days when restaurateurs ran a restaurant and the seafood that came in that day dictated the menu. Whether it’s oysters en brochette, turtle soup, crab bisque, crawfish etoufee’, crab meat au gratin and shrimp Creole it is all going to be authentic and great.

The In-laws or parents – Sal and Judy’s
27491 Hwy 190, Lacombe, LA 70445 (985) 882-9443
My entire family both in laws and out law, live here so it is normally a casual occasion like Sal and Judy’s Restaurant in Lacombe Louisiana, where Sal Impastato dishes up the best Creole Version of Italian in the city and where the portions are large enough to feed the family for an additional day or two. Crab meat cannelloni and trout Nicki with artichokes and shrimp.

Date Night – Horinoya
920 Poydras St., New Orleans, LA 70112 (504) 561-8914
The most common date is a late night sneak out of the restaurant and my wife ditching the kids for Horinoya on Poydras street where we feast on monkfish liver, shu mai, local amberjack, snapper, tuna, cobia all transformed into sushi and sashimi.

Family Dinner – Lüke
333 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130
When we do family dinner together, it’s at Lüke on St. Charles. With four boys and one of them named Luke it’s hard to go anywhere else. The Lüke burger with fries, shrimp and grits, trout almandine and cochon de lait are almost always the biggest hits with my boys.

HOTELIER – Zach Curry – of Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (Hotel Manager)
Hoshun Restaurant
1601 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA (Uptown)
Where else can you go for authentic Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and South Asian cuisines at 2:00 a.m.? The cracked pepper calamari is amazing.

Parkway Bakery
538 Hagan Avenue, New Orleans, LA (Mid-City)
I call it Po-boy Heaven. It is critically acclaimed and always packed. You will find me at the bar on Monday’s for lunch (my day off).

Crescent City Brew
527 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
This is the best brew pub in New Orleans and the fried chicken salad is a must when accompanied by their Red Stallion beer.

Elizabeth’s Restaurant
601 Gallier Street, New Orleans, LA (Marigny)
The secret is out—this restaurant in the historic Marigny area is something special. Nothing beats Praline Bacon, morning, noon or night.

Royal House
441 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
The best raw bar in town and this open-air restaurant has a fantastic French Quarter location.

930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA (Warehouse District)
The best boudin balls in town and the rabbit with dumplings and ham hock are mouth-watering. Try the moonshine and the cracklins.

2027 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA (Uptown)
The menu is Latin Fusion and I always get a glass of homemade Sangria and Papa Rellena or Nacatamal. It has a great Magazine Street location and is open for lunch and dinner.

El Gato Negro
81 French Market Place, New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
I would say that this restaurant is beyond authentic Mexican – I don’t know if I love the pulled pork, fish, margaritas or the service the most; it’s a tossup. Did I mention the guacamole?

3312 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA (Mid-City)
Their paella is made-to-order (enough said). It used to be strictly B.Y.O.B., which locals still prefer, but you can get a carafe of Sangria, sit back and relax. Cash only.