Traveling Table: New Orleans

Young guns shake things up in the Big Easy

New Orleans is full of reliable institutions, but right now, the city's most exciting meals are being cooked in upstart restaurants helmed by a new generation of chefs. Here are four to try.

Boucherie Rakish chef Nathanial Zimet funded his latest enterprise with the proceeds from his popular food truck, Que Crawl. Now, his stationary restaurant in a converted Carrollton cottage is a go-to spot for slightly-more-upscale food at reasonable prices (nothing on the menu is more than $15). The collard greens with grits fries ($6) are a must, as are the boudin balls with garlic aioli ($5). 8115 Jeannette St.; 504-862-5514 or boucherie-nola.com

Lüke Thirty-four year-old Steve McHugh has been working with chef John Besh since 2003–and now runs the kitchen at Besh's brasserie (pictured) in the Central Business District. McHugh is most proud of his house-made pâtés, sausages and terrines, but you can't go wrong with the hearty shrimp en cocotte with grits and andouille ($21) or the cheesy, bacon-studded flamenküche ($13), Alsace's take on pizza. 333 St. Charles Ave.; 504-378-2840 or lukeneworleans.com

MiLa After a brief stint in New York, Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing returned to NOLA to open this tribute to their respective home states of Mississippi and Louisiana. The husband-and-wife chefs are masters of vegetables, all sourced locally from Lujele Farms: Ribbons of zucchini are perfectly cooked in beurre blanc, while roasted eggplant is the highlight of a shrimp salad. And if it's on the menu, order the deconstructed Oysters Rockefeller ($12). 817 Common St.; 504-412-2580 or milaneworleans.com

Patois After working in some of the city's best kitchens, New Orleans-born chef Aaron Burgau opened this elegant Uptown spot, where menu favorites include fried rabbit with sausage gravy, biscuits and a poached egg ($16) and the darkest, deepest–and most delicious–gumbo we've ever tasted ($7). Cocktails are also excellent: We loved the frothy Orange Velvet ($9), reminiscent of a Creamsicle–but made with gin. 6078 Laurel St.; 504-895-9441 or patoisnola.com