These Are Emeril Lagasse's Favorite Restaurants In New Orleans - Exclusive

When you think of the New Orleans dining scene, Emeril Lagasse may be the first name to come to mind. The acclaimed celebrity chef, a pioneer of modern-day food media, was one of the first to put the city's storied cuisine on the map in a large-scale way (via Louisiana Travel). Today, most of us can say we've enjoyed a good bowl of gumbo or a shrimp po' boy, and you can find Cajun and Creole restaurants all over the country, not just in the Big Easy. You can largely thank Lagasse for that.

As someone who has both witnessed and had a huge hand in the evolution of New Orleans cuisine, Lagasse says he loves the way that the local fare is being elevated, while also staying true to its down-home roots. Speaking exclusively with Tasting Table, Lagasse said he's seeing Cajun and Creole food "getting modernized a bit more," while adding the same breath, "But the thing about Louisiana, it's one of the oldest cuisines in America, so there's only so much change that you can do before the barriers get totally broken." The mix of institutions that churn out the traditional classics decade after decade, along with up-and-coming chefs taking a more exploratory approach to the regional ingredients and techniques, make for an incredibly diverse, exciting, and delicious restaurant scene.

You better believe that Lagasse knows some of the best restaurants in town — outside of his own restaurants in New Orleans: Emeril's and Meril. The next time you're making a trip down to NOLA, look no further than Lagasse's recommendations for some of the best fine dining the Crescent City has to offer.

Emeril Lagasse loves the mix of old and new

When you're eating your way through New Orleans, there's no doubt that you should make your way to the tiny, hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop shops around the city for some of the tastiest and most authentic food you can get. However, you'd be remiss not to pay a visit to some of the more high-end restaurants, which take the local cuisine to a whole other level.

Emeril Lagasse says to start with the classics: "You have those New Orleans, I hate using the word institutions, but you have those places." First and foremost is "Commander's Palace, of course," the institution that launched his career. In 1982, at just 23 years old, the talented Lagasse was lured to New Orleans to run the kitchen at the notorious Commander's Palace, a nearly 130-year-old award-winning landmark. Beyond that, Lagasse mentioned "Antoine's and Galatoire's" as other must-visit establishments. The former is a world-renowned, fifth-generation family-run restaurant that happens to be credited with inventing oysters Rockefeller; the latter has been a staple of Bourbon Street since 1905.

Of course, Lagasse also acknowledges that it's not just the old-school establishments that are highlighting and elevating New Orleans cuisine today. There are plenty of relatively newer establishments "that are still growing strong" as they plant their roots and find their place in the city's culinary landscape. Specifically, Lagasse said, "I love Frank Brigtsen," who opened his namesake, Brigtsen's, in 1986, after an illustrious career that included time working at Commander's Palace. "I love Susan Spicer," Lagasse added. Her restaurant, Bayona, opened in 1990 and helped her earn the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southeast award by 1993.

Then, Lagasse mentioned that there are even newer "chefs that are coming up, like the chefs at Saint-Germain, and there's a lot of new things that are happening" — proving that dining in New Orleans will continue to be a dynamic, exciting, and craveable experience.

Watching Emeril Lagasse's newest shows, "Emeril Cooks," and "Emeril Tailgates," available exclusively on the Roku Channel. Visit Chef Lagasse's website to learn more about his restaurants.