Restaurant of the Year: Shaya
Shaya is a ground breaking new restaurant for New Orleans from the Besh Restaurant Group, one that embraces share plates over tasting menus and heritage over trends, and adds modern Israeli cuisine to the local — and national — dining lexicon. JBFA award-winning chef Alon Shaya pays homage to his Israeli roots and Middle Eastern influences at this chic stunner anchored by a custom-built wood-burning oven that fires the restaurant's signature pita bread, which is worth the trip alone.
Chef of the Year: Nina Compton
Though she's only lived in New Orleans for about a year, Nina Compton has not only managed to open one of the hottest restaurants in New Orleans — Compere Lapin — but has done so with grace and great reverence for the city, attracting numerous fans and pleasing critics along the way. Pulling from her St. Lucian heritage and time spent crafting Italian cuisine at Scarpetta in Miami, Compton breathes new life into the Warehouse District fine dining scene, proving that there is much room for new chefs to explore New Orleans cuisine and have fun with it.
Stone Cold Stunner: Brennan's
In the summer of 2013, French Quarter landmark Brennan's was at risk of disappearing forever. Then Ralph Brennan and partner Terry White stepped in and saved the icon along with a $20 million dollar revamp that made its official debut in December 2014. From the lush vibrant blue Queen's Room upstairs to the total overhaul of the bar area and sun-soaked Garden Patio Room, Brennan's is a stone cold stunner that truly captures the essence of the Vieux Carre's timeless grande dames.
Bartender of the Year: Nick Detrich
Nick Detrich, the man behind the beloved French Quarter bar Cane & Table, has played an influential role in the New Orleans tiki explosion and rum obsession in the past few years. Detrich's concept at Cane & Table is one of Colonial-era 'proto tiki' style cocktails, served in a bar both intimate and classy, as one would expect of any Cure Co. establishment, with a bevy of young bartenders eager to learn and put new spins on the menu. It's a spot that draws both locals and tourists in search of incredible drinks without any gaudiness despite the Decatur St. location and with incredible Caribbean-influenced bar food to match.
So Hot Right Now: Kin
Despite its location in a spot so tiny it's easy to drive right by without even noticing, Kin is the hottest restaurant in New Orleans right now. Don't be fooled by the unassuming Gert Town building with a billboard attached to its roof, this new restaurant is all abuzz with rave reviews—including three beans from Times-Pic critic Brett Anderson. Owners Hieu Than and Nat Nguyen's risk-taking approach to modern American cuisine make seats hard to get, but it's well worth it. Also worth it? The ramen lunch menu.
Best Bar Program: Latitude 29
Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29 is one of the best new bars in America, with a solid lineup of bartenders, dozens of tiki drinks resurrected from obscurity, and enough tiki kitsch to put a smile on anybody's face. Bring a friend and have a communal drink, and make sure to order from the killer food menu as well.
Best Pop-Up: Little Bird
Meauxbar's Kristen Essig and Coquette's Michael Stoltzfus took the New Orleans pop-up game by storm this year with the opening of their highly-acclaimed Little Bird inside Barrel Proof. Pretzels, fried chicken, and more bar food from the masterminds behind two of New Orleans' best fine-dining spots.