Bam! … Beloved local and national chef Emeril Lagasse recently debuted his fourth local restaurant dubbed Meril, named after his daughter. Located in the Warehouse District a little over two blocks from his flagship restaurant on Tchoupitoulas, Meril is a casual spot with a menu chock full of different dishes, none of which break the $20 mark. Chef de Cuisine Wilfredo Avelar, New Orleans born and bred, has added his own Latin-American slant to some of the menu items like the “Puerto Rico-style” crispy turkey necks, Spanish-style Gulf shrimp and Mexican-style corn topped with chile, lime and lots of cotija cheese. Meril marks the fourth Lagasse restaurant in the area and features an open kitchen with a wood-burning stove. Plus, Lagasse sourced several ingredients from local purveyors like pasta from Esses Foods, flour from Bellegarde Bakery, and a wide cheese selection from St. James Cheese Company across the street. Meril is open daily for lunch and dinner.
424 Girod St., (504) 526-3745, emerilsrestaurants.com/meril
Toups Time Two … Taking over the space inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum which formerly was home to Purloo, Toups South opened with a bang … and possibly some envious whimpers. Owners Chef Isaac Toups and his wife, Amanda, are shaking things up at the new location, offering some of the same dishes found at Toups' Meatery, their Mid-City restaurant, but focusing most of the menu on plates inspired by all Southern cuisine. For example, how about a century-old sourdough starter used to create their super Sourdough Biscuits served with crab fat butter? Naturally, you couldn't have a Toups menu without their stellar cracklins, but you'll also find pork rinds, marinated Gulf snapper crudo, black-eyed peas and local greens salad, Heritage Pork boudin, and smoked foie gras terrine with fig jam and whipped buttermilk.
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 304-2147, toupssouth.com
Is that gelato in my coffee? … In the spot that once housed Haro Coffee & Chocolate comes Drip Affogatto Bar, a café specializing in affogatto. Partners Juley Le, Anh T. Vu and Justin Ramirez are the dream weavers behind this delicious destination offering French Truck Coffee and fabulous ice cream from Creole Creamery. A sneak peek at various ice cream flavors includes Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Sea Salt Caramel, Roasted Pistachio, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Earl Grey and more. Drip Affogatto Bar is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
703 Carondelet St., (504) 313-1611, dripaffogatobar.com
The whole yard … The family-friendly, funky and eclectic eatery The Shack has officially expanded into the great outdoors! Dubbed “The ShackYard,” this recently opened huge outdoor eating and play area is the perfect hangout for the whole family. So order up some Smoked Duck Quesadillas, Fried Louisiana Catfish or Carne Asada Tacos and dine “al fresco” while the kids play uninterrupted by curmudgeons or ne'er-do-wells. In addition to the new yard, The Shack just started serving Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering dishes like grits & grillades, breakfast burritos and Bananas Foster French Toast.
1204 W 21st Ave., Covington, (985) 888-6288, theshackcovington.com
Making a comeback … After shuttering and reopening multiple times over the past decade, Café Sbisa reopens in the French Quarter … hopefully for good this time. A city landmark that had been established in 1899 by the Sbisa family, Café Sbisa opens again under Chef Alfred Singleton and Owner Craig Napoli, a skilled team anxious for the legend to continue. The reopened restaurant looks much the same as it once did, serving classic Creole dishes like Courtbouillon, Turtle Soup, Wedge Salads and Oysters Sbisa—flash-fried Louisiana oysters served over Herbsaint creamed spinach and topped with Tobasco hollandaise. Café Sbisa is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
1011 Decatur St., (504) 522-5565, cafesbisanola.com
Dinner and a show … The American Sector Restaurant + Bar recently announced a special menu crafted explicitly for the latest show at The National WWII Museum. Running through Sunday, November 27, at the Stage Door Canteen, “Pictures of Marilyn” is a musical dedicated to Hollywood's most iconic starlet, Marilyn Monroe. Designed by Executive Chef Brooke Foster, the special three-course, prix fixe menu is available with the purchase of tickets to the show. The brunch menu includes dishes like sweet potato hash, grilled pork loin and caramel apple cheesecake.
945 Magazine St., (504) 528-1940, nationalww2museum.org/american-sector