After January 2, 2024, La Belle Esplanade will no longer be serving breakfast.  Our neighborhood is so rich with options to experience, it is better that you get out and explore.  Build your own adventure.  New Orleans is beckoning outside our front door.  

Having spent 11 years visiting local bakeries, coffee shops, breakfast nooks, and diners within our neighborhood, I can provide you with a list of options for breakfast on Esplanade Ridge.  Tell them I sent you.  If they don’t know my name, they know me by sight.  

All times from our front door are given in walking time unless otherwise noted.

Degas House (30 sec.).  This is a small museum where the French painter Edgar Degas lived when he lived in New Orleans.  The Degas House serves a Creole breakfast in the houses dining room on weekends and on weekdays in season.

The Flagpole (1 min.). This is a coffee shop and sno-ball stand with outdoor seating.  There is usually live music on weekends.  The owner is Cuban.  He is very nice and he did an excellent job renovating this triangular building.

Old Road Coffee (1 1/2 min.).  Back in the day, this used to be a neighborhood grocery store.  After Katrina, it was a fence company.  Now it is a coffee shop that serves baked goods from Maple Street Patisserie.  I see the patisserie’s van pull up in the morning while I am walking the dog before the sun comes up.

Pagoda Café (3 min.).   This is a building that was originally built as a Chinese laundry in the 1920s.  It looks like a Chinese pagoda.  Prior to Katrina, it was a little reggea record store.  There is a big Jamacian Rasta population in this part of New Orleans.  A tree fell on the pagoda during Katrina.  Now it is a breakfast and lunch joint with outside seating.  It is run by socialists.

Leo’s Bread (3 min.).  Around about 2015AD, I met a young woman named Kate.  She is a baker.  I met her at the farmers’ market.  She has expanded her career and tried different endeavors over the years.  As fate would have it, her newest bakery is two blocks from our front door.  Kate bakes the best bread in New Orleans and everything else is good, too.  

Tastee (5 min.).  Home of the Kastleburger, which is a White Castle slider by another name.  You can get it as a po’ boy.  Tastee has the best apple fritters in New Orleans.  I have been in this business since 2012.  I don’t go to Tastee because it is just down the street.  I go for the pastry and camaraderie.

CC’s Coffee House (10 min.).  Another triangular shaped building with tables outside under the live oaks.  This used to be a florist shop. I know the lady who grew up in the apartment upstairs many, many years ago.  Her mother was the florist.  Motor scooter clubs have breakfast here on weekends, otherwise, it is the usual collection of neighborhood regulars, dog walkers, duffers, school kids, and ne’er do wells congregrating under the live oaks.  

L’il Dizzy’s (15 min).  There is no soul food in New Orleans.  What people outside New Orleans associate with soul food is black Creole cuisine.  It is distinctively different.  First, you make a roux.

Le Ponce (20 min.).  This place is not even open as I write this but I know it will be by the time you read this.  It is located behind Café Degas and it is owned by the people who own Café Degas.  They are hyperlocal and hyper-francophile.  I know it is going to be good.  Take my word for it.  I live here.   

Toast (20 min.).  This is the best hamburger you can have for breakfast.  There is no competition.  They serve breakfast food, too.  This is our neighborhood breakfast restaurant.

Betsy’s Pancake House (20 min.).  This place is so old-school you will be having breakfast with judges, cops, codgers, tradesmen, and shrimpmongers.  Betsy is dead due a tragic murder but the ladies who work there are an informal family who keep her legacy alive.  George W. Bush had breakfast here after Hurricane Katrina.  His signed letter thanking Betsy for her hospitality hangs next to her portrait in the dining room next to the TV.

Fatma’s Cozy Corner (20 min.). By Tuba Fats’ Square in the Historic Tremé.  Get acquainted with the backatown and learn where the Backstreet Cultural Museum, the Candlelight Lounge, the Little People’s Place, and the Tomb of the Unknown Slave are.  Get the Mediterranean breakfast plate and eat like a gypsy.

Café du Monde (30 min.).  I am talking about the one in City Park, not the one in the French Quarter.  Get wise.  There is no giant line of tourists waiting to get in and, instead of looking at the levee wall and the traffic on Decatur Street, you can look at the playground and the lagoon.  City Park is a gem.  Take the time to stroll up there.

Buffa’s (30 min.).  I am only recommending this for Sunday brunch, though Buffa’s does open 10:00AM-2:00AM every day.  It used to be a 24-hour bar.  I cannot wait for that to happen again.  For Sunday Brunch, which starts before 10:00, the Some Like it Hot Jazz Band plays Dixieland jazz standards.  The band members are all old ladies.  They’re tops.


This is not an exhaustive list.  There are more.  I am listing these restaurants in concentric circles on the map from our front door at 2216 Esplanade Avenue.  Everything is walkable, to one degree or another.  The furthest circle ends at 1.5 miles from our front door.  

Our nieighborhood is dense with things to look at and experience.  You never know what you will find when you turn a corner.  What is the worst that can happen?  Someone will say hello.


Dooky Chase’s.  A civil rights monument.  Chef Leah Chase (inspiration for the heroine in Disney’s Princess and the Frog), R.I.P., is a New Orleans icon.  The restaurant is still in the family.  This New Orleans institution is spread out over three buildings.  Enjoy the art collection.  Enjoy black Creole cooking at its finest.    Two U.S. presidents have eaten here.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  One block from Dooky Chase’s.  There is usually a line because Willie Mae’s has been declared “The Best Fried Chicken in America” by the Food Network.  The Food Network is right.

Gabrielle.  The roast duck had a two-page write-up in the New York Times—two full pages.  It is succulent.  Get the roast quail gumbo, which is as Cajun as a bowl of dark gravy.  The she-crab bisque is delicious.  Everything is.  Tell Gabby, after whom the restaurant is named, that I say hello.

Cajun Seafood.  Laughably inexpensive.  Do not expect frills.  This is a formica tabletop, cafeteria-style, boiled seafood joint that runs on the fumes of crawfish spices.  Get sweet corn on the side.  It is boiled in crawfish boil so it is both spicy and sweet.  This is the taste of a New Orleans summer spent sitting in the neutral ground in front of your friend’s momma’s house in the 8th Ward.

Kermit’s Mother-in-Law Lounge.  This is not a restaurant.  It is a bar with a long history.  I am not going to go into it.  Ernie K-Doe is part of the story.  So is Kermit Ruffins.  It is too long a story to tell here.  If you go, there will usually be food to go along with the show.  It will be pot luck, whatever someone brought from home to share with the room.  This is New Orleans.

Crescent City Steaks.  Broad Street used to be a steak house row.  Ruth’s Chris Steak house got started around the corner.  This part of New Orleans is where Ruth Fertel cut her chops.  Crescent City Steaks is still around in its original location.  Reserve a curtained booth.  A New Orleans mayor was conceived in one of them.  Steaks come served in a plate of sizzling butter, New Orleans-style.  Ruth’s Chris did not invent that.  Things are done better in New Orleans.

Thai’d Up.  Thai street food in a non-descript room that doesn’t merit description.  This restaurant is an immigrant labor of love.  This is the most authentic Thai food I have eaten in New Orleans.  Both Mrs. King and I have  been to Bangkok.  The dishes are sufficiently spicy and authentic at Thai’d Up and the service is amateur-personal, just the way that is easily forgiven.  Trying is the most rewarding part of doing.

Jockey Club.  This is not a restaurant.  This is just a bar located between Thai’d Up, which is open for lunch and dinner, and Toast, which is open for breakfast and lunch.  Both are good.  The Jockey Club is jut a neighborhood bar but they have an excellent and well-oiled foosball table in the back room.  If you are in that part of neighborhood, stop in and make some friends.

Buffa’s.  Buffa’s again.  Buffa’s used to be open 24 hours.  I wish that were the case again.  Buffa’s is currently open 10:00AM-2:00AM.  Go for dinner.  There is a barroom in the front of Buffa’s but you should go in the side door to the dining room.  Do not go and sit in the front and say, “Why did he send me to this crummy bar?”  I didn’t.  I sent you to the back, where the live bands play and the good times roll, acoustically.   

Port of Call.  Hamburgers and tropical rum drinks.  Do you have any other questions?  Get the Neptune’s Punch.  Keep the souvenir cup.  It will be a collector’s item someday.

Sweet Soulfood.  A vegan paradise in what used to be a convenience store, Sweet Soulfood used to be across the street.  That didn’t last long.  This chef has promise and she has a following.  The food is good.  It is probably the most surpirisingly good on North Broad Street.  Check it out and get a taste of New Orleans that you didn’t know existed.

Café Degas.  If you like snails, I have just the place for you.  A tree grows out of the dining room floor.  It is super-romantic, if you want to take someone you want to impress on a date.  The service can be very French but when Café Degas is good, it is trés bon!  My cocktail recommendation is a Streetcar to start your meal.

Santa Fe.  Sit outside and watch the world go by on Esplanade Avenue.  There is a parrot colony in the palm tree.  Creole Southwestern food.  Everything gets Creol-ized in New Orleans, so, yeah, it is tacos and burritos, but there is plenty of crawfish and plenty of Gulf seafood.  The owners are Portuguese so you never know what the special is going to be.  Home to the second-best sangria in New Orleans.

Lola’s.  The best sangria in New Orleans is at Lola’s.  Lola’s is also known for their paella.  The paella comes in many variations and many sizes to suit any taste.

Toups’ Meatery.  One time, I was at the airport in Charleston, SC, and I heard a voice on the television.  I looked up.  It was Isaac Toups on TV!  I knew I knew that voice.  Isaac Toups is a Cajun guy who taught himself charcuterie.  He is an excellent chef.  He has an excellent wife.  They are usually on site.

Blue Oak BBQ.  It’s the best barbecue in New Orleans.  Ask anyone.  They got it’s start in the kitchen at Chickie Wah Wah and it has only been word-of-mouth success ever since.  This ideal location on the streetcar line is popular.  Go next door to Parkview Tavern afterwards.  Nothing could be more local.

Ralph’s-on-the-Park.  A beautiful view of City Park accompanies fine dining.  The bar is top-notch.  Very popular with the Carnival crowd.  I have seen so many parties upstairs for Iris, Endymion, Muses…  Never mind, none of this probably makes any sense to you.  You have to experience New Orleans to really understand it.