* Best All-around Dining Experience You Can Have in New Orleans: No surprises here, they’re world-famous for good reason: Commander’s Palace hands down. At the other end of the spectrum, Café du Monde. Somewhere in the middle: Brigtsen’s.
* Best Classic New Orleans Restaurant: Of the three old-line, fine-dining mainstays that have been enjoyed for generations, Arnaud’s is our choice for food; Galatoire’s for the overall experience; Antoine’s for room after amazing room full of history.
* Best Contemporary Creole: We’re awfully fond of Herbsaint, MiLA, and the lovely Coquette.
* Best Contemporary Cajun: Pork-centric Cochon, where you won’t find yo mama’s Cajun, and K-Paul’s, the originator and still a standard-bearer.
* Best Italian: Irene’s Cuisine represents New Orleans’s traditional Italian; Domenica carries the contemporary banner; and we fell hard for newcomer Marcello’s nuovo Sicilian.
* Best Neighborhood Restaurants: New Orleans tucks away some shockingly good restaurants on unassuming residential streets. Clancy’s, Elizabeth’s, Gautreau’s, and Liuzza’s by the Track show the range.
* Best Neighbahood Restaurants: In contrast to those above, these are old-school joints, where locals still ask, “Hey, dahwlin’, wheah y’at?” We’ve gotta go wit da Creole Italian oldies, at Mandina’s and Liuzza’s.
* Most Innovative Restaurants: The gastronomic trickery at Root and rich uncle Square Root aren’t just sleight of hand. Maurepas Foods is right up there and Killer Poboys pushes the sammie boundaries.
* Best Expense or Savings Account Blowouts: Restaurant R’evolution, Emeril’s, August and $150 prix-fixe Square Root.
* Best Bistro: Tough choice, given the richness of this category, but La Petite Grocery, Annunciation, and Sylvain figure highly.
* Best Outdoor Dining:Start with the pretty courtyards atBayona, Martinique, and Café Amelie on starry nights or balmy afternoons; or the scenic balconies at Tablea and Dat Dog on Frenchmen.
* Best for Kids: The no-brainers are Café du Monde, for powdered sugar mess and mania; the counter at Camellia Grill; and a snoball outing. Antoine’s offers a good fine-dining introduction.
* Best Slightly Offbeat but Utterly New Orleanean Restaurants: Definitely Jacque-Imo’s and Bacchanal. Cochon Butcher and the even fancier Upperline fit the category.
* Best Seafood:GW Fins sets a high bar; Peche and Borgne are strong contenders; straight-up simple Big Fisherman covers the boiled seafood angle.
* Best Desserts: A meal at Emeril’s is incomplete without its banana cream pie; ditto Commander’s Palace’s bread pudding soufflé. The Grill Room’s Japanese Pumpkin Cheesecake is a stunner, and the pastry chefs at Lilette, La Petite Grocery, and Coquette excel. Or head to a specialist at Sucré or Angelo Brocato’s.
* Best Brunch:Ralph’s on the Park or Dante’s Kitchen can’t miss, while the jazz brunch at Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, and Commander’s Palace are great fun. Long lines at the casual Biscuits & Buns and Elizabeth’s are full of those in the know.
* Restaurants with the Best Cocktail Programs: From a looong list, we’ll go with Kingfish, Dominique’s, High Hat, and Café Adelaide.
* Best Wine Lists: The extensive collection at Emeril’s, Commander’s Palace, and Antoine’s cover every base. The lists at Bayona and Gautreau’s are smaller but well-curated.
* Best for Late-Night Eats:Get 24-hour satisfaction at Clover Grill, Camellia Grill, Buffa’s, and Verti Marte. For heartier, sit-down fare, La Boca, St. Lawrence (219 N. Peters St., www.saintlawrencenola.com), and Yuki serve late. There’s always beignets from Café du Monde or Morning Call.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.