Cook Dat! A Celebration of New Orleans Cuisine

Owen Brennan opened Brennan’s on Royal Street in the early 1950s. The menu featured breakfast foods but particularly poached eggs that became a local delicacy. Shortly after opening, Brennan’s created one of New Orleans’ most famous desserts, Bananas Foster. Brennan’s, however, was not the only new kid on the block. Mena’s opened in 1952, followed by Bud’s Broiler, Bon Ton Café, Frostop, and the Banks Street Bar and Grill.

During the 1960s, a new French-Creole style of cooking emerged. A restaurant best known for this style was LeRuth’s. Chef/owner Warren LeRuth created oyster and artichoke soup and many new crabmeat dishes. Some other well-known eateries from the 1960s include Port of Call and Eddie’s.

By the 1970s and 1980s the emergence of European continental restaurants such as La Provence and Gunter Preuss’ Versailles were quite prominent. A lot of changes and new innovations took place in this time frame. Smoothie King and PJ’s Coffee opened. Ella, Dottie, Dick and John Brennan purchased Commander’s Palace in 1974. Commander’s served as a launching pad for some of the city’s most successful chefs, including Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon, and Tory McPhail. Tom Cowman, a New Yorker, becomes the head chef at Upperline and Chef Paul Prudhomme popularized his iconic blackened redfish at K-Pauls. Paul Prudhomme’s line of seasonings, especially Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning, showed up in supermarkets nationwide, giving Cajun cuisine a national audience.

During the mid-1970s, towards the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese families immigrated to New Orleans to escape war and communism. Newcomers to New Orleans, the Vietnamese started working in factories, service industry positions, odd jobs, and fishing. The transition from Vietnam to New Orleans was made easier considering the similarities of terrain and climate. As a result, New Orleans cuisine has been influenced by Vietnamese culture. Dong Phuong Bakery, the best-known Vietnamese bakery, opened in 1981. The New Orleans area is filled with many Vietnamese restaurants today, including Kim Son, Hoa Hong 9 Roses, PHOBISTREAUX, Singleton’s Mini Mart, Mint Modern Vietnamese Bistro, Magasin, Namese Vietnamese Restaurant, MOPHO, Pho Cam Ly, Lilly’s Café, Lost Love Lounge, T2 Street Food.

In 1983, Robert Mendez opened Taqueria Corona on Magazine Street and Emeril Lagasse starts work at Commander’s Palace, making a huge impression on New Orleans diners. Lagasse eventually opens his own restaurant, Emeril’s, and buys Delmonico’s in the 1990s, thus beginning his now world-famous empire of restaurants. Other notable chefs stirring things up include: Frank Brigsten, Armaude Jonte, Susan Spicer, and Patti Constantin. In 1997, the “world’s first Creole taqueria,” Juan’s Flying Burrito opened in the Lower Garden District.