Picking the right restaurant for a business lunch is a fine art. It's hard to make a good impression when the menu (or decor, or service) doesn't. If you're in New Orleans for business, odds are good that you're staying in or near the Central Business District/Warehouse District (where most of the city's larger hotels and smaller conference centers, as well as the Convention Center, are found), so it'll make sense to pick a restaurant in that neighborhood for lunch.
Not coincidentally, the CBD and Warehouse District happen to be home to many of the city's finest restaurants, many of which are perfect for a business lunch meeting. Try one of these excellent establishments to impress your associates and make the best use of your expense account.
This flagship of the Emeril Lagasse restaurant empire is one of New Orleans' most famous and most beloved restaurants. The warehouse-chic decor and impeccable service are nothing compared to the outstanding food. If you're looking for some real name-brand pizzazz to impress your business associate, Emeril's is a great choice. Don't leave without trying the banana creme pie -- it's the best you'll ever eat.
800 Tchoupitoulas St. / (504) 528-9393 / emerilsrestaurants.com
The Grill Room
The Grill Room, in the refined Windsor Court Hotel, is the perfect lunch spot if you're looking for high-class charm -- it's very old-school, in the best possible way. The breezy, French Colonial decor makes for an upscale setting, and the simple but elegant menu is accompanied by one of the finest wine lists in the South. This is one of the most popular destinations for local business people on working lunches, so take your cue there.
300 Gravier St. / (504) 522-1992 / grillroomneworleans.com
7 on Fulton
A favorite among business travelers because of its ultra-convenient location in the Wyndham right next to the Convention Center, 7 on Fulton serves modern interpretations of New Orleans classics, and does so beautifully. There's also a nice bar menu on offer, so if your business meeting is one that's better taken care of over a small plate and some drinks, this is a good place to do it.
700 Fulton St. / (504) 525-7555 / 7onfulton.com
Tucked away on quiet Capdeville Street, this gastropub serves fine-dining interpretations of classic American bar food. If your group is mixed and there are some less-adventurous diners among you, Capdeville is ideal. The brave ones can dig into a duck confit club or shrimp and chorizo tacos, while those who prefer classics can choose from juicy burgers, Cobb salads, and other favorites. And everyone should try the truffled mac-and-cheese.
520 Capdeville St. / (504) 371-5161 / capdevillenola.com
Celebrity chef and local hero John Besh opened this restaurant in 2001, and the accolades (which include a Food and Wine Best New Chef Award and a James Beard Award) began to roll in immediately. It remains one of the city's top-rated restaurants and excels in food (classic French with new-world touches), ambience (warm and elegant), and service (exemplary). If you're planning a larger lunch meeting and would like a private room, August has a lovely one available by reservation.
301 Tchoupitoulas St. / (504) 299-9777 / restaurantaugust.com
Lüke is another John Besh restaurant, this one located in the Hilton St. Charles and modeled after a traditional Alsatian brasserie, a style of restaurant which was once quite popular in old Francophone New Orleans. It's more casual than August, but the slightly down-homier atmosphere and food (don't get me wrong, they're still impeccably classy) might be more appropriate for meetings that call for a bit less formality while still retaining the celebrity chef wow factor and a high level of service and cuisine.
333 St. Charles Ave. / (504) 378-2840 / lukeneworleans.com
Cochon is one of my favorite restaurants to send New Orleans first-timers to. With local culinary celeb Chef Donald Link at the helm, the food is spectacular, and leans toward the hearty, meaty Cajun side of things that is so easy to fall in love with. The atmosphere is trendy but jovial -- casual enough that you can wear jeans but chic enough that your associates will take it seriously. If you're trying to project an aura of "cool" with your restaurant selection, Cochon is an excellent choice.
930 Tchoupitoulas St. / (504) 588-2123 / cochonrestaurant.com
Run by the same branch of the Brennan family that owns and operates the legendary Commander's Palace restaurant, this cafe, located in the Loews New Orleans hotel, is a brunch favorite for locals, but it's also an excellent place for a business lunch. Not too noisy, with an excellent classic New Orleans menu and delicate, whimsical touches of decor, it's the kind of place that works well if you're looking for something high-end but quirky.
300 Poydras St. / (504) 595-3305 / cafeadelaide.com