Food, Mardi Gras

Best brunch spots to avoid the Carnival crowd

From breakfast tacos to grit bowls, we’ve got you covered.

It’s here: The time of year that makes the rest of the months worth it. It’s the likely reason you transplants first set eyes on the city and one of the many reasons you locals stayed. It’s Carnival, y’all. A time to get out in the street with neighbors and strangers alike, cast aside dry January pledges and build up something to repent for come Lent.

Of course, the word has long been out about this thing of ours. Plenty of people travel down for a taste of it without having to suffer through crumbling transit, sunken roads, termite swarms or the August heat. They come from places with names like Des Moines and Cleveland to sample King Cakes, drop some much-needed outside cash and dip before the first spring deluges.

While this does help make the mix of Carnival something special, it can also gum up the works at some of the more widely known restaurants around town. Breakfast and brunch is an essential part of parade and ball recovery, making the long lines at outposts that have received nationwide press all the more interminable.

Luckily, one of the advantages of living here is knowing the spots that the sunburned masses don’t. If you’re looking to bury the results of a wild night under a stack of pancakes or a bowl of grits, these are the off-the-float-beaten path places where you can get served quick.

Wakin’ Bakin’

This early morning staple is tucked away just off one of the most built-up corners in largely residential Mid-City. Lovely twists on savory grits bowls, breakfast burritos and sandwiches loaded down with egg and cheese are all on offer here, with none of the sticker shock that can come along with more bougie brunches. Long picnic tables out front and counter service do a lot to alleviate wait times, even when the interior is crammed with hungry customers.

 

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WHERE: While they have recently opened an Uptown location, the original is at 4408 Banks St.
SPECIALTIES: Big John sandwich, grits bowls and daily specials displayed on the counter.
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., daily.

Wakin' Bakin'
$ $$$
Getting there
4408 Banks St, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Sun 8am–2pm
More Info
Website
Wakin' Bakin'
Getting there
3625 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA
More Info
Website

MORE: #BRUNCHFACED: Wakin’ Bakin’ makes eating your veggies totally worth it 

Tartine

A little bit closer to the center of the action is this French breakfast place with delicious brioche and egg bowls, daily specials and cost-effective lox spreads. Customers line up to order and find a seat after they’re done, moving quickly enough for those sunglasses-wearing mornings where the idea of waiting for some butter and bread feels inconceivable.

If that’s not enough to sell you, the location just off Broadway near Audobon Park makes it extra desirable for a pre-parade stop.

 

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WHERE: 7217 Perrier St.
SPECIALTIES: Baked eggs in Brioche, tartines.
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Tartine
$ $$$
Getting there
7217 Perrier St, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Sat 8am–3pm
Sun 9am–2pm
More Info
Website

Vessel

Vessel is perhaps the most surprising entry on this list. Where Wakin’ Bakin’ feels like a neighborhood joint and Tartine’s side street location does a lot to hide it, this newcomer to Mid-City feels tailor-made for cache-seeking brunch crowds.

The restaurant and cocktail spot is built into an old church with much of the stained glass and wood left intact. The weekend brunch menu echoes the high-end view of the bar program, crafting boudin Benedicts and waffles topped with whipped cream and lemon curd. Chock the lack of any wait time up to a central long table and a surplus of booths, allowing people to be seated the second the hostess spots them.

 

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WHERE: 3835 Iberville St.
SPECIALTIES: Boudin Benedict, shrimp and grits.
HOURS: Brunch is served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Vessel NOLA
$$ $$
Getting there
3835 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Thu 11am–10pm
Fri 11am–11pm
Sat 10am–11pm
Sun 10am–10pm
More Info
Website

Dot’s

Outside of a scrum for a Muses shoe, there are few places more chaotic than the diner chains around Mardi Gras. If you’re fiending for some cheap, rib-sticking breakfast, but dare not set foot in the IHOP or Waffle House on Canal, then Dot’s is for you. The suburban New Orleans institution is a bit of a hike, but one bite of the waffles will show you why it’s worth it.

 

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WHERE: Locations in Jefferson, Kenner and River Ridge.
SPECIALTIES: Pancakes and breakfast platters.
HOURS: 24 hours.

Vessel NOLA
$$ $$
Getting there
3835 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Thu 11am–10pm
Fri 11am–11pm
Sat 10am–11pm
Sun 10am–10pm
More Info
Website
Dots Diner - Williams Blvd.
$ $$$
Getting there
2239 Williams Blvd, Kenner, LA 70062, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Sun 6am–10pm
More Info
Website
Dots Diner - River Ridge
$ $$$
Getting there
10701 Jefferson Hwy, River Ridge, LA 70123, USA
Open Now
Mon-Sun 6am–10pm
More Info
Website

Luna Libre

Anyone who has waited on line at the 7th Ward staple Pagoda Cafe is no doubt dreading the upcoming influx of tourists. While weekdays are a breeze, the weekends are bound to be full of AirBnB-ers getting in between you and your breakfast tacos. That’s why this newcomer is on the list, throwing out breakfast tacos in a part of town that’s just far enough away from the action to avoid the rush. Click here to read our review on Luna Libre.

 

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WHERE: 3600 St. Claude Avenue.
SPECIALTIES: Well, tacos.
HOURS: Breakfast tacos are served from 8 a.m. to noon on weekends.

Luna Libre
Getting there
3600 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
Opening Hours
Mon-Tue Closed
Wed-Fri 4–8pm
Sat 8:30am–1pm, 4–8pm
Sun 8:30am–12pm
More Info
Website