Apr 13, 2023

A commoner dines at Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar, New Orleans, La.

If there’s one street outside of the French Quarter that serves as the cultural artery of New Orleans, it may be St. Charles Avenue.  Stretching from the Central Business District through the Garden District, past the universities of Tulane and Loyola and ending past Audubon Park at the intersection with Carrolton Avenue, St. Charles Avenue has it all, including plentiful businesses and residences of all shapes, sizes and condition.  And, everything’s easily accessible on the famous St. Charles streetcar line.   

It’s no wonder, then, that despite countless trips to New Orleans, I continue to discover new and amazing places on St. Charles Avenue almost every time I visit.  One of my most recent finds:  the Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar.    

Located in the Touro neighborhood where the Garden District meets Uptown, Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar sits on the intersection of St. Charles and Napoleon Avenue, which is perhaps the best corner real estate-wise on the entire streetcar line.  During Mardi Gras, its location is prime parade route viewing.  I had noticed the place countless times on previous visits but it never occurred to me to give it a shot for dinner until it happened to be within walking distance of the Airbnb we had rented on a recent trip.  After a long day of sightseeing, and constantly seeing dinner crowds in front of Superior Seafood throughout the week, we felt like we had to give the most popular place in our neighborhood a try.

Perhaps that popularity is fueled by the fact that Superior Seafood boasts having the only oyster bar on St Charles Avenue.  Whether that’s true or not, it is certainly a selling point for seafood lovers like myself, and they sure seem to know what they’re doing.  Unfortunately, we were far too late for half-price oysters they were advertising for happy hour …

… but because of our tardiness, we were willing to wait as long as it took for a table at dinner.  Maybe next time we’ll make that all-important reservation.  Still, having a server there to take drink orders outside certainly helped keep us quenched while the time went by, as well as the non-stop traffic.  Frozen pomegranate mojitos in go-cups?  Yes, please!

After a couple of drinks into our evening, we were seated very close to the entrance and even closer to the house piano player.  We were all impressed with this unexpected and welcome touch to our dining experience.  Trust me when I say this guy was really good at his craft and just as entertaining.  I can’t recall him not knowing a single request – his repertoire was that vast.  

We caught his attention almost immediately, and before the evening was over, he had insisted that we request a song.  Knowing it was one of Punky’s favorites, I politely asked if he could play “Mack the Knife.”  His response, with a grin, was, “What key would you like that in?”  Of course, he nailed it.

So, the service and atmosphere were superior as billed.  But what about the food?  Let’s start with the opening course.  

Needless to say, I’m not going to a restaurant with a classic New Orleans oyster bar and not get at least a half dozen on the half shell to start things out.  They were perhaps a little smaller than those “reserved” for the Quarter, but check out that one on the bottom left in the picture.  That one alone was worth getting the order.  They were obviously fabulously fresh and needed very little jazzing up with horseradish or cocktail sauce to be fully appreciated.

The reason I only ordered six oysters instead of a dozen was because Punky noticed they served beef carpaccio – a guilty pleasure of hers – and had to try it.  To her credit, it turned out to be an excellent choice.  Even the Kiddo had a slice on top of the warm French bread it was paired with.   

As for the main course … well, it is a seafood restaurant, after all.  If you insist on meat, stick to the burger and sandwich portion of the menu on the left.  The entrees, and even the dinner salads, here are all about the best and freshest fish and fruits de mer.  It can make ordering limited if you’re not prepared.

Punky selected the blackened catfish Napoleon, and it might have been my choice if she hadn’t.  Served on a bed of whipped mashed potatoes with a side of corn maque choux, then topped with a little crawfish etouffee, it really represented some of the best tastes of New Orleans all in one dish.  She was very pleased, as evidenced by her reluctance to share bites with my dish …    

… the pan-seared snapper.  It’s one of my favorite fish anyway, but combining it with a decadent blend of onions, mushrooms asparagus and fingerling potatoes really sold me on getting it.  A nice lemony sauce poured over the dish just put it over the top.  I could not have been happier with my choice of entrée. 

To top off our meal, we looked to Superior Seafood’s extensive drink menu.  We were fairly certain there’d be no room for dessert, so why not indulge in another frozen cocktail?

This time, I went with a frozen paloma – probably the best and perhaps the only way to blend tequila, champagne and grapefruit juice into a wonderfully refreshing drink.  April opted for a classic New Orleans choice –a Sazerac – and likewise had no regrets.  Needless to say, we walked back to our Airbnb fully satisfied with the entire experience. 

I would highly recommend Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar to anyone looking for a finer dining option in New Orleans that’s outside of the French Quarter or downtown area.  Again, it’s easy to get to and it earns its excellent ratings and reviews.  It also has the capacity to handle large crowds, so while reservations are a good idea, you can still probably get added to the dining list with little problem. 

Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar should not be confused, however, with the Superior Grill (unless you’re in the mood for great Mexican fare), a mere eight blocks east of Superior Seafood on St. Charles Avenue heading toward the rest of the Garden District and downtown.  It is worth noting that both restaurants come from the same restaurant lineage, which probably explains why both are so darn good.  Check one or both out when you get hungry in the Garden District. 

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