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Jan 7, 2009 05:49 AM

new NOLA Zagat Survey results

NEW YORK, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Zagat Survey is releasing the results of its 2009 New Orleans travel survey today. The guide in its 20th edition covers 704 of the city's finest restaurants, nightspots, attractions and hotels, based on the input from 3,877 local consumers.

New restaurants such as the following show the resurgent strength of the city's dining scene:

* Arabesque
* Creole Skillet
* Gimchi
* Hostel
* Il Posto Cafe
* Lago
* Pellicano
* Rambla
* West Indies Cafe
* Wolfe's

Winners: Since 28% of surveyors in New Orleans named Creole and Cajun as their favorite cuisines, it is no surprise that Brigtsen's (Contemp. Louisiana) won Top Food and Top Service; while Commander's Palace (Creole) was voted Most Popular restaurant (as it has been every time it's surveyed) and Top Decor to boot. Best Bets for a bite at top value are at Hansen's Sno-Bliz, Angelo Brocato and Morning Call. Other food and popularity winners are:

* August
* Bayona
* Cafe Du Monde
* Dakota
* Galatoire's
* Stella!

Back In Business: In the three years since Hurricane Katrina, 97% of surveyors report their favorite restaurants are back in business. The French Quarter's arty Cafe Sbisa and Uptown's iconic Charlie's Steak House finally reopened this year to the delight of loyal locals, and Ruth's Chris Steak House returned to the city proper in fancy new digs at Harrah's.
(it was reported in T/P last week that Cafe Sbisa has closed, but waiting on news of possible ownership changes and reopening again).

Diversity: Showing the wide variety of cuisines available in New Orleans, here are the wealth of winners by food category:

* American (New) - Stella!
* American (Trad.) - Surrey's Juice
* Barbecue - The Joint
* Burgers - Port of Call
* Cajun - K-Paul's
* Chinese - Royal China
* Coffee Shops/Diners - Elizabeth's
* Coffeehouses - Morning Call
* Contemp. Louisiana - Brigtsen's
* Creole - Clancy's
* Dessert - Hansen's Sno-Bliz
* French - Gautreau's
* French (Bistro) - Lilette
* Italian - Ristorante del Porto
* Japanese - Sushi Brothers
* Mediterranean - Acropolis
* Mexican - Juan's Flying Burrito
* Pizza - Theo's
* Po' Boys - Crabby Jack's
* Sandwiches - St. James Cheese Co.
* Seafood - GW Fins
* Soul Food/Southern - Jacques-Imo's
* Thai - La Thai
* Vietnamese - Cafe Minh

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  1. Great news and a great list. As far as the winners by category, I honestly can say that none elicit a "that place is not good" reaction from me.

    A friend is going to the press release party at Galatoire's this morning. Will try to relay a report from him if possible.

    1. Never heard of nor been to Acropolis...any good? I've also never been to Sushi Brothers because I was universally warned away from it. Maybe I should give it a shot.

      9 Replies
      1. re: N.O.Food

        Acropolis Cuisine is on Vets in Metairie. I've always read about their incredible rack of lamb.

        1. re: N.O.Food

          That is surprising to hear about Sushi Brothers. It's actually one of my favorite sushi places in the area. Big rolls, quality fish, and affordable. I would probably place it on the same level as Little Tokyo on Carrolton, not as good as Kyoto on Magazine, but better than Horinoya and Hoshun.

          1. re: Bocuse NOLA

            No way is Sushi Bros. better than Horinoya! With opinions like that, I'd expect you to have a blog or something.

            1. re: uptownlibrarian

              I think Sake is the most consistent sushi joint in town (that I have tried). Always fresh, never funky. I can't say that about any other sushi place. I've had bad fish at every one of them except Sake. I eat Kyoto twice a week because it's 2 blocks from my house, but Sake is my favorite. That said, I rate a sushi place based on the quality of the fish, not the rolls. FWIW, I wasn't impressed with Horinoya. I thought it on par with Kyoto, Ninja, etc. Perhaps my expectations were too high, since I had heard that it was the best sushi place in town.

              1. re: N.O.Food

                Forgot to mention Sake Cafe as one of the better sushi joints as well. But for some reason, I don't eat there as often as Sushi Bros.

                As far as rating sushi places, I agree that quality of the fish should be the most important factor. However I think that the amount of fish (imitation crabmeat obviously excluded) in the "basic" rolls is something to consider. In my experience, the rolls at Sushi Bros are loaded with fish - but not to the point where the pieces are too big to chew in one bite. Special rolls are a whole other matter. I am all for mixing and matching flavors, but jamming every different species of fish inside a roll and then covering it in eel sauce just is not very appealing to me.

                Sorry Uptown Librarian, but Horinoya just doesn't do it for me. Which is a shame because it's the only sushi bar downtown. Maybe I order poorly?

                1. re: Bocuse NOLA

                  I see the problem - I don't order rolls very often. I always get sashimi/nigiri. I guess I got into the habit because it seems like everyplace does the huge gross overstuffed rolls like Sushi Bros special rolls. I didn't realize that their regular rolls are normal sized.

                  At Horinoya I really like the udon bowls/pots for lunch. It's too expensive to have very often though. As for sushi places downtown, the fact that there's only one is a disgrace. One place that I really don't care for is Samurai Sushi on Decatur.

                  My favorite sushi is Kyoto II, but maybe I'm glamourizing it because of it's posh location.

                  1. re: uptownlibrarian

                    no one has mentioned rock-n-sake. it is good and it is a fun place to go with a group. my favorite places for sushi are sake cafe II, and little tokyo.

                2. re: N.O.Food

                  Only did Sake Cafe (Metaire, off of Vets) once, and have to say that it did not impress me. OTOH, I have not had any other sushi in NOLA, so I don't have a lot to judge it by.

                  Still, compared to SF, CA Coast and Hawaii, it left me wanting. Heck, even in land-locked Phoenix, I've had much better.

                  Maybe it was a bad night. The chef's and foodies in my family, all raved about it, and did seem to be having a better dining experience, than either my wife, or I. Maybe expectations were just too high?

                  Need to give it another try, and maybe they'll not be out of all Sauvignon Blancs, when we dine there again.


                3. re: uptownlibrarian

                  Horinyoa failed to impress here, either (i lived in San Diego for a few years w/ plenty of sushi). the time i was there for dinner the rice was uncooked, and the two times ive had their lunch box ive found some unpleasant selections.

                  will try them one more time.

            2. Thanks for the great list. I'll be in town in a couple of months with my wife and best friends for a fun long weekend. We are happy to get back to NOLA to give it some post-K love. If you had 3 nights - where would go?

              We are good for at least one expensive meal, but would love to hit some more local, in the know, not expensive places. We eat all types of cuisine and have no dietary restrictions, etc. We are your typical foodies who have lived in NYC, SF, and now come from AZ and FL.

              Would love recs on po-boys and some lunch/brunch places too.

              1. Didn't Cafe Sbisa close already?

                1 Reply
                1. I'm floored that Juan's gets "Best Mexican," since it's neither. This is like the New Orleans Magazine poll listing Taco Bell as the "best Mexican food" in the city. If you read the actual Zagat review, it notes the food is passable and affordable, but the decor is lousy, the music is so loud it's "like they're asking you to leave" and that it might be best to get stuff to go. Not exactly a stellar review.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ZydecoPlayer

                    Juans in midcity is much better then the juans uptown-I love the super pork burrito. We eat there probable once every two weeks it's not the best Mexican, but it's defintetly better then passable! it's also really reasonable priced if your not trying to spend a lot

                    My vote for best mexican is El Gato Negro- I just recently tried Felipes on N.Peters, and it was very good as well.

                    I was shocked to see Commanders as the most popular-I thought it was kinda going down hill- and Brightsens is definetly not my favorite - just goes to show you that peoples opinions can be different

                    1. re: ZydecoPlayer

                      That description does not make me want to dine there.