Trend alert: What's heating up New Orleans' food scene this month

Trend alert: What's heating up New Orleans' food scene this month
Photo: Belle Epoque/Yelp
By Hoodline - Published on January 23, 2020.

Wondering where New Orleans's in-the-know crowd is eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp and SafeGraph, a dataset of commercial points of interest and their visitor patterns, to uncover which local businesses have been seeing especially high review volumes this month.

To find out who made the list, we first looked at New Orleans businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance. Then we analyzed foot traffic data from SafeGraph to validate the trends.

Read on to see which spots are extra cool, right now.

Belle Epoque

Photo: belle epoqueYelp

Open since October, this cocktail bar, lounge and French spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Cocktail Bars" on Yelp.

Citywide, cocktail bars saw a median 2% increase in new reviews over the past month. Belle Epoque only recently appeared on Yelp, but while many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, it has seen strong initial popularity.

Want to know more about this business? We found this in its Yelp history section: "Belle Époque is housed in a lovingly restored 200-year-old building. Informed by the tradition and history of the Old Absinthe House, Belle Époque has carefully restored the original 1800s cypress bar and marble water-drip absinthe fountains. The curio cabinet in the lounge serves as a tiny, absinthe museum, filled with authenticated antique artifacts and historical trinkets."

Located at 240 Bourbon St. in the French Quarter, Belle Epoque offers a wide array of absinthe and other liquor drinks, beer and wine. Hungry? Score dinner plates like crispy duck breast with spicy honey, ugly dumplings with French onion soup or Parisian gnocchi with lump crab, sweet potato, chilies and mead.

Belle Epoque is open from 6 p.m.–2 a.m. on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and 2 p.m.–2 a.m. on Friday. (It's closed on Monday-Wednesday.)

Le Bayou

Photo: bradley l./Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about the French Quarter's Le Bayou, the Cajun/Creole spot, which offers seafood and more, is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as "Seafood" on Yelp saw a median 1.5% increase in new reviews over the past month, Le Bayou bagged a 13.7% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a mixed 3.5-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 10 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.

There's more that's trending on New Orleans's seafood scene: Franks Restaurant has seen a 1.8% increase in reviews.

Open at 503 Bourbon St. since May, Le Bayou offers cooked and raw oyster bars, entree salads and large plates like the blackened redfish, crawfish etouffee, blackened chicken alfredo and much more. (Here's the menu.)

Le Bayou is open from 11 a.m.–midnight on Monday-Thursday and Sunday and 11 a.m.–2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Photo: amanda t./Yelp

Central City's Nolé is also making waves. Open since May at 2001 St. Charles Ave., the popular Latin American, Mexican and Cajun/Creole spot has seen an 8% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.4% for all businesses tagged "Cajun/Creole" on Yelp.

There's more than one hot spot trending in New Orleans' Cajun/Creole category: Landry's Seafood House has seen a 7.9% increase in reviews, and Jack Rose and Gris-Gris have seen 6.9 and 6.4% increases, respectively.

Nolé offers appetizers (seafood cocktails, chicken flautas, jalapeño poppers and more), handcrafted tacos (adobo, blackened chicken, smoked brisket and more) and a variety of entrees (tamales, quesadillas, catfish and beans, hickory grilled salmon and more). Over the past month, it's maintained a strong four-star rating among Yelpers.

Nolé is open from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday. (It's closed on Monday.)

Two Chicks Cafe

Photo: emilio p./Yelp

Lower Garden District's Two Chicks Cafe is the city's buzziest breakfast and brunch spot by the numbers.

The well-established breakfast, brunch and New American spot, which offers juices, smoothies and more opened at 901 Convention Center Blvd., Suite 109, in August of 2015, and increased its new review count by 1.2% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.7% for the Yelp category "Breakfast & Brunch." As for foot traffic, visits to Two Chicks Cafe increased by more than 50% over the past month, according to SafeGraph data.

Here's more about the business from Yelp: "The café came to life by two chicks who love to eat. We are two friends who have a passion for food and a love for New Orleans. It wasn't easy to put the dream to reality, but we couldn't have done it without the support of our handyman husbands. Everything from the tables you eat on to the juice you drink, and the menu you choose from has been handcrafted by the two chicks. 

It's not the only trending outlier in the breakfast and brunch category: Vessel NOLA has seen a 5.7% increase in reviews, and Daisy Mae's Southern Fried Chicken & Breakfast has seen a 6.2% bump.

Two Chicks Cafe offers fresh juices and smoothies to drink, as well as a wide array of food options. Look for specific menu creations such as the Farmhouse Omelet with turkey, smoked gouda, diced tomato and green onions or barbecued shrimp and grits served with sliced baguettes.

Two Chicks Cafe is open from 7 a.m.–3 p.m. on Tuesday-Sunday. (It's closed on Monday.) According to SafeGraph, it's usually busiest at 10 a.m.-12 p.m., and people visit Two Chicks Cafe most on Thursdays and Wednesdays, with a slowdown on Tuesdays.


Photo: ziyan c./Yelp

The French Quarter's popular Sylvain is currently on the upswing in the New American category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as "American (New)" on Yelp saw a median 1.6% increase in new reviews over the past month, this gastropub and New American spot increased its new reviews by 0.7% — and kept its rating consistent at four stars. Visits to Sylvain increased by 50% over the same time frame, according to SafeGraph's foot traffic data.

Open for business at 625 Chartres St. since early 2011, Sylvain offers everything from pork shoulder and braised beef cheeks to Creole ratatouille and crab legs. 

Sylvain is open from 5:30–11 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.–midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m. on Sunday. According to SafeGraph, foot traffic is heaviest from 7-9 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays, with a slowdown on Wednesdays.

This story was created automatically using local business data, then reviewed and augmented by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.