Hooked on Seafood - Alluring restaurants that are sure to reel you in!

March 03, 2023
In a city revered for its fantastic fish, mouthwatering mollusks and choice crustaceans, and where finding tasty eats is like shooting fish in a barrel, standing out in the seafood scene is no easy feat. We dove in head-first to catch a glimpse of just a few local dining establishments that are dishing up some delish catch of the day, so you don’t have to go fishing around.

Acme Oyster House – acmeoyster.com
Looking for a casual joint to plop down and slurp up some salty Louisiana oysters? While there are plenty of fish in the sea, there’s only one Acme Oyster House! In 1910, Acme Café opened on Royal Street in the French Quarter, where it successfully operated for more than 10 years until being destroyed by fire. It was re-established in 1924 as Acme Oyster House in a new location on Iberville Street, where the illustrious eatery continues to shuck, fry and chargrill a boatload of oysters each day. Acme fell on difficult times in the early 1980s until local businessmen Mike Rodrigue and managing partner Mike Guibault threw the restaurant a lifeline by purchasing the floundering business in 1985. Over the next several years, the eatery and bar continued to thrive, ultimately opening new locations in Louisiana and surrounding states. Today, bolstered by the second generation of Rodrigues, the company operates six flourishing locations, which have served up more than one million oysters! It’s easy to spot the French Quarter location, as there’s typically a line of hungry seafood-seekers patiently waiting their turn to belly up to the oyster bar. Your diligence will be rewarded with savory New Orleans seafood dishes, overflowing po-boys and, of course, freshly shucked oysters. From gills to tails, Acme Oyster House dishes up perfectly seasoned, crispy fried oysters, shrimp, crawfish tails, soft shell crabs and fish, most of which can be enjoyed as a po-boy or a platter, served with your choice of side. Sop up a French bread bowl brimming with classic shrimp and crab gumbo or oyster Rockefeller soup, or revel in the creamy seafood étouffée seasoned in a butter roux with shellfish, served over rice. If you’re looking for something a tad more exotic, cast your net for the fried alligator appetizer—double tenderized gator meat fried crispy and served with creamy sriracha aioli. Other tempting starters include fried oysters with a tangy house-made remoulade sauce, craw puppies, and crispy crab cake served atop corn maque choux with remoulade. The world is your oyster at Acme, whether you prefer to gulp them down right off the shell or revel in Acme’s chargrilled version served sizzling and swimming in herb butter topped with a special blend of cheeses. You may even find your pearl in the form of a cocktail with an oyster shooter—a titillating concoction featuring a freshly shucked oyster floating in cocktail sauce and vodka served in a shot glass. Feeling competitive? Suck down 180 raw oysters in one hour or less (chaperoned breaks are allowed) and you’ll become a member of the elite 15 Dozen Club. That’s one shell of a match up!

Bourbon House – bourbonhouse.com
In the Crescent City, the Brennan name is synonymous with notable cuisine and exceptional service. The third restaurant in Dickie Brennan & Co.’s family of six, Bourbon House is no exception. Located at the bustling corner of Bourbon and Iberville streets, Bourbon House opened its doors October 2003 with the goal of showcasing the best local seafood possible in a casual, lively atmosphere. Chef de cuisine Devan Giddix’s commitment to top-notch seasonal ingredients is evident. The Connecticut native got his first taste of the restaurant biz as a high school student working for a catering company. It didn’t take long before he was hooked on the culinary industry like a fish to water and took to cooking. Chef Giddix headed to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), which led him to an externship in New Orleans working at Palace Café, a sister restaurant to Bourbon House. During his time in the Big Easy, he fell in love with the city and its culinary lineage. Upon graduating from the CIA, he packed up his knives and followed his dream of relocating to New Orleans, landing a job back at Palace Café, where he quickly moved up the kitchen ranks. Eventually, he shifted over to Bourbon House, where his love and appreciation of seafood flourished. Chef Giddix draws inspiration through the way in which ingredients at their peak freshness speak their own culinary language. One of the standouts at Bourbon House is the charbroiled oysters on the half shell coated in Creole bordelaise sauce. Other fin-tastic dishes include the expertly seasoned redfish on the half shell, accented by crab-boiled potatoes and lemon beurre blanc, and the celebrated BBQ shrimp po-boy, which was originally sold only at French Quarter Festival, but due to overwhelming requests was added to the menu. Grab a seat at the corner oyster bar, one of the most popular spots on Bourbon Street, to enjoy the bountiful fruit de mer platter teeming with fresh oysters, marinated crab fingers, smoked fish dip, boiled shrimp and tuna crudo. You’ll be reeled in by exceptional dishes like shrimp-stuffed mirliton (with Tasso breadcrumbs and lump crab meat), bourbon shrimp and grits (with Andouille sausage, mushrooms and scallions in a New Orleans-style buttery BBQ sauce) and alligator hot wings (fried gator coated in a tangy Crystal hot sauce honey glaze with ranch dressing and blue cheese). Just one sip of the frozen bourbon milk punch—the perfect to-go drink—and you’ll be hooked! With its stylish décor and inviting atmosphere, Bourbon House boasts the South’s largest collection of bourbons with more than 300 bottles. Additionally, the eatery is home to the New Orleans Bourbon Society, which regularly hosts bourbon dinners and tastings. They proudly participate in the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program, which collects oyster shells to restore the reefs that protect Louisiana’s eroding coastline. Since joining the program in 2014, Bourbon House has recycled in excess of 735 tons, which is equivalent to the weight of 100 elephants!

Briquette – briquette-nola.com
Located in the trendy Warehouse District in a former molasses refinery dating back to the 1800s, Briquette opened its doors in 2017. Owners AJ and Anna Tusa, who also own and operate New Orleans Creole Cookery located in the French Quarter, have a combined 68 years of restaurant experience and expertise. “We decided to open Briquette in the Warehouse District because it’s a very happening area,” explains Anna. “We chose to focus on seafood because we felt that the neighborhood was lacking a coastal contemporary seafood concept. We love our city and its culinary scene, but frankly, most of the seafood here is fried. We wanted to feature whole fish cooked on briquette, as well as other Gulf Coast favorites,” she adds. The casual, contemporary, chic eatery features a signature open-concept kitchen, whereby guests can watch the chefs work their culinary magic. There’s also an eye-catching 18-foot seafood display case teeming with fresh halibut, bronzino, salmon, Louisiana redfish and other whole fish varieties. Fresh fish selections are prepared over red-hot briquettes, which imparts a mild, smoky flavor due to its slow-burning properties. Today, the talented culinary duo of executive chef Peter Isaac, who trained in the kitchen at Arnaud’s, and chef de cuisine John Trihn are churning out tempting signature selections such as snapper Pontchartrain (pan-sautéed red snapper topped with Hollandaise sauce and lump crab), whole redfish cooked on the briquette (topped with poblano butter and served with fennel slaw) and steelhead salmon cooked skin on (served over jasmine rice and topped with a seaweed, shrimp and lump crab salad finished with sweet chili glaze). You’ll be lured in by tempting appetizers like caramelized sea scallops with poblano butter and fried goat cheese grits; oysters Bienville en casserole with shrimp, pork belly, mushrooms and garlic butter sauce; steamed Prince Edward mussels in Chardonnay cream with pommes frites; and lump crab bisque with Louisiana mirliton, and roe garni. On the lighter side, check out the house-cured salmon salad with wild arugula, shaved fennel, crispy bacon and dill crème vinaigrette that’s sure to satisfy. The spacious, inviting bar is the ideal spot to sip a glass of vino from their extensive wine list or a creative craft cocktail such as a Royal Sazerac, kicked up with absinthe or a New Fashioned made with Longbranch Bourbon. Briquette, which regularly hosts wine and cocktail pairing dinners, is available for private events for up to 400 guests. The couple’s classic Southern charm and passion for delectable food make them natural restaurateurs. “Nothing makes us happier than seeing our guests smile when they take that first bite,” states Anna. “It’s incredibly rewarding seeing our guests happy, whether they’re celebrating a special occasion or simply enjoying a night out.”

GW Fins – gwfins.com
When GW Fins opened its doors more than 21 years ago, the owners cast their net to become the city’s premier fine dining seafood restaurant, an ambitious task in a city celebrated worldwide for its culinary prowess and prized seafood. Not only did GW Fins achieve their lofty goal, but they continue to be a dominant force in the local seafood scene—hook, line and sinker! Owner Gary Wollerman began with the simple philosophy “to locate the freshest seafood available and prepare each variety in a way that pays respect to its natural flavors.” In addition to offering a stunning selection of globally sourced seafood, GW Fins’ culinary team, lead by executive chef Michael Nelson, has perfected the art of using subtle cooking techniques and flavorings to perfectly highlight each item. Chef Nelson, a 20 plus-year culinary veteran who worked at top restaurants in Seattle and Chicago before relocating to NOLA in 2005, inspects every fish that comes into the restaurant and sends back those that do not meet his high standards. Each day the restaurant typically offers 15 to 20 different varieties of fish that are received whole then butchered onsite. (An astonishing 700 to 1,000 pounds of fish are butchered daily!) Chef Nelson has traveled the country demonstrating his revolutionary butchering technique, which he calls “ocean conservation cuts” that utilizes every aspect of the fish. He has recently begun dry-aging fish, something that no other chef in the South has done. This process dramatically improves the flavor and texture of the fish, breaks down the tissue to make it tender and creates a crispy, cracklin’-like texture on the skin. Entrees like the dry-aged yellowfin tuna ribeye with béarnaise and house-made Worcestershire sauce, and wood grilled, dry-aged swordfish chop in brandy peppercorn demi-glace have quickly become top sellers. Dive into menu mainstays like their original Scalibut, an ingenious melding of halibut and sea scallops, served with royal red shrimp risotto, snow peas and pea shoot butter, and parmesan-crusted sheepshead topped with lump crab, crispy capers and charred Meyer lemon beurre blanc. For starters, don’t miss the delectable lobster dumplings—creamy white fish mousseline wrapped in delicate dough topped with lobster butter—or the flavor-packed firecracker tuna tacos with ginger slaw, avocado aioli and wasabi tobiko. While it’s a challenge not to fill up on the enticing, free-flowing biscuits, be sure to save room for the heavenly Salty Malty—a divine ice cream pie with a salty pretzel crust and caramel whipped-cream, garnished with chocolate covered pretzels. Located in a turn-of-the-century warehouse, the spacious restaurant, which seats over 200 diners and offers a private space for 30 guests, has received local and national accolades and was named one of the “Top Twenty New Restaurants in America” by Esquire Magazine.

Pêche Seafood Grill – pecherestaurant.com
Yet another award-winning restaurant created by the Link Restaurant Group, Pêche Seafood Grill has been wowing locals and visitors with its innovative, well-crafted seafood since 2013. One year after opening, Pêche Seafood Grill was honored with the James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant and that same year, partner/chef Ryan Prewitt received the award for Best Chef: South. A native of San Francisco, chef Prewitt began his culinary career working in the farmer’s markets of his hometown, where he developed a passion for food. He dove head first into the restaurant industry in San Francisco, before moving to New Orleans to work with Chef Donald Link at Herbsaint, where he ultimately rose to the position of executive chef of the entire Link Restaurant Group. In this position, he was afforded the opportunity to travel, including a trip to Uruguay to study traditional open-fire cooking and to Spain to observe their distinct grilling techniques. The team at Pêche remains focused on working with local fishermen and farmers who harvest sustainably to bring diners the freshest seafood possible. Chef Prewitt’s remarkable contemporary, minimalist take on South American, Spanish and Gulf Coast-inspired cuisine continues to place Pêche at the top of the list for many seafood aficionados. Pêche’s “let the food speak for itself” approach can easily be seen in dishes such as catfish with pickled greens and chili broth, fried oysters with kimchi aioli and pickled pumpkin, jumbo shrimp with broccoli and purple rice and baked drum with mushroom broth. The raw bar is swimming with mouthwatering selections including a succulent seafood salad, steak tartare with oyster aioli, blood orange poached gulf shrimp, freshly shucked oysters and a lavish seafood platter. Pastry chef Maggie Scales—yes, you read that correctly!—whips up delectable desserts, making Pêche the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth. Choose from tempting selections including salted caramel cake with caramel buttercream and milk chocolate ganache, and carrot sticky toffee pudding with cream cheese ice cream and candied pecans. But Pêche’s specialties don’t end there—take the bait and order a signature cocktail like the Kumquat Spritz made with vodka, dry vermouth, kumquat, thyme and cava, or the Gintilly Shakedown, a refreshing blend of gin, rosemary, ginger, cucumber, lime and tonic that’s sure to have you reeling with delight!