Home FOOD & DINING Weekend Cheat Sheet: Festive Feasting

Weekend Cheat Sheet: Festive Feasting


Let the joy of the holiday season fill your heart and share in a weekend of beloved local festivities, food and frivolity with all your friends and family!



Lunch at: Emeril’s latest New Orleans concept Meril, named after his daughter, possesses all of the elegance and quality of Lagasse’s other restaurants — but with a more casual atmosphere and affordable small plates. Located in the Warehouse District on Girod Street, the brand new eatery is less than three blocks from Emeril’s eponymous flagship restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street. Chef de cuisine Will Avelar offers a menu both familiar and unique with dishes like yellowfin tuna wraps with ponzu and crunchy noodles; Spanish-style croquettes with ham and manchego cheese; Mexican-style corn-on-the-cob with chiles and cotija; and Korean short ribs with kimchi cucumber. Pick a number, any number, and discover a cocktail to crow about — from the No. 21 made with gin, Southern Comfort and house made falernum to the No. 61 with Aperol, raspberry shrub, lemon and red bell pepper juice. Meril is open daily for lunch and dinner. 424 Girod St., (504) 526-3745, emerilsrestaurants.com/meril

Sip at: Refined and elegant, the Empire Bar at Broussard’s — with its long, marble-topped bar, well-cushioned bar stools and lush courtyard — is reminiscent of a time where folks dressed up to go out on the town. Seasoned bartender Paul Gustings, formerly of Tujague’s and Napoleon House, is behind the stick serving well-crafted cocktails both classic and contemporary. Keep it old-school with a La Louisiane mixed with Old Overholt Rye, Bénédictine, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino and Herbsaint, or sip on something new like The Egyptian Campaign with Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum, Batavia Arrak Van Oosten, lemon juice and acid phosphate. If you get there between 5 and 7 p.m., you may want to try the bar’s traditional absinthe service where you can explore the different hues of the “green fairy” from the Swiss Duplais and Kübler Absinthe Supèriore. 819 Conti St., (504) 581-3866, broussards.com

Bask in artistic illumination at: A five-year initiative intended to culminate in New Orleans’ 2018 tricentennial, Luna Fête — presented by the Arts Council — is a week-long, community-wide, art experience being held this year from Dec. 7 to 10. Using the Crescent City’s unique landscape and architecture, this festival features digital sculptures, illuminated installations, video-mapping projections and art animated by technology. Immerse yourself in the art of light and technology at Lafayette Square for this unique tribute to the city’s creative and tech-based industries. artsneworleans.org/event/luna-fete


Revive at: Inside the newly renovated Pontchartrain Hotel, the Silver Whistle Cafe was once known as the Garden District’s “power-house” coffee shop where everyone that was anyone would go to discover the latest gossip from the city’s prominent judges, lawyers and businessmen of the time. Stop in for a cup of joe from Revelator Coffee, a new micro-roaster located downtown, brewed by skilled baristas offering specialty drinks from a cappuccino to a Japanese-iced. Chef Chris Lusk, who also heads the kitchen for the Caribbean Room, offers a simple yet delicious menu with dishes like a pecan waffle with bourbon-cane syrup or a Pontchartrain Benedict with fresh biscuits, sugar-cured ham and Sriracha hollandaise. 2031 St. Charles Ave., (504) 323-1455, silverwhistlecafe.com

Go ice skating at: Because New Orleans isn’t known for it’s freezing temperatures, it’s likely not a shock to discover there are no ice skating rinks in town. That is, until the NOLA ChristmasFest comes around! Launched only three years ago by the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, NOLA ChristmasFest is quickly becoming a popular place for kids of all ages during the holiday season. Along with a tree-decorating contest, carnival rides, snowball fights and a maze, this festival also includes the city’s only indoor ice-skating rink! It’s a 52 feet by 150 feet, real ice rink complete with skate rentals both for children and adults looking to grasp hands and glide along, while humming to holiday tunes and working up a craving for hot, rich cocoa. NOLA ChristmasFest is held from Dec. 16 to 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. 900 Convention Center Blvd., nolachristmasfest.com

Dine at: Located inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Toups South is celebrity chef Isaac Toups’ second incarnation, the first being Toups Meatery. Situated on the ever-growing Oretha Castle Haley corridor in Central City, Toups South offers a few familiar flavors carried over from his Mid-City restaurant — like those mouth-watering cracklins and Heritage Pork boudin — but you’ll discover some new tastes as well. Try the 100-year-old starter sourdough biscuits with crab fat butter; smoked lamb leg with sweet corn chowchow and aged sheep cheese; marinated Gulf snapper with butternut squash and pepitas; and spatchcock grilled poussin with pecan dumplings and heirloom broccoli. 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 304-2147, toupssouth.com


Brunch at: The incredibly popular Three Muses on Frenchmen Street has expanded into a second location Uptown in the Riverbend on Maple Street. Three Muses Maple from chef Daniel Esses, singer Sophie Lee and bartender Kimberly Patton-Bragg offers much of the same delights to be found on Frenchmen Street, but it has a larger dining room with more seating space — giving the trio an opportunity to offer full-sized entrees as opposed to sticking to small plates. Chef Marcus Woodham, formerly of Tivoli & Lee and Patois, heads the kitchen at the Maple Street locale with many familiar dishes, plus a brand new brunch menu not offered on Frenchmen Street. Try some pumpkin hand pies with Creole cream cheese and sorghum; lobster bisque with pickled quail egg salad; fried chicken and hash with marinated chick peas and harissa/pomegranate salsa verde; and the Elvis waffle smothered in fresh bananas, peanut butter cream cheese and plenty of bacon. 7537 Maple St., (504) 510-2749, threemusesmaple.com

Keep the tradition glowing at: Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Celebration in the Oaks is not only a long-standing New Orleans tradition, but it has also been hailed as one of “the most spectacular holiday lights festivals in the country.” Every year, New Orleans City Park is decorated with hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights and holiday displays, drawing in over 165,000 visitors to ooh and aah. Covering 25 acres of the park, Celebration in the Oaks features not only a veritable cornucopia of twinkling trees, but also carnival rides, plenty of hot cocoa, Mr. Bingle and pictures with the one and only Santa Claus. 1 Palm Drive, (504) 482-4888, neworleanscitypark.com/celebration-in-the-oaks

Relax at: Open for almost a century, Casamento’s Restaurant on Magazine Street has long been one of the best spots to find the city’s favorite mollusk in all of its forms. Shuffle into the distinct, overtly tiled establishment (run by Casamento family members to this day) for classic New Orleans fare like fresh oysters on the half-shell, creamy oyster stew, crisp-fried crab claws and calamari, and of course the famous loaf. Served on thick-cut white bread, the fried oyster loaf dressed with lettuce and tomato is an experience you’ll never forget and long to enjoy again. Casamento’s also offers full-sized dinner plates of fried or grilled shrimp, catfish, oysters and trout, plus their own spaghetti and meatballs that will only go down smoothly with a tall glass of iced tea, a Barq’s longneck or a hot cup of Union Chicory Coffee. 4330 Magazine St., (504) 895-9761, casamentosrestaurant.com