Though she’s a native of Pennsylvania, Chef Sue Zemanick is a passionate resident of New Orleans, her hometown since 2003. “The food of New Orleans is my heart,” she says, “I find it an absolute privilege to be part of our city’s extensive, talented pool of culinary professionals.” She started out in The Big Easy at two legendary local restaurants, Commander’s Palace and Gautreau’s, and garnered accolades from industry stalwarts like Food and Wine Magazine and The James Beard Foundation in addition to being a contestant on seasons 3 and 5 of Top Chef Masters. In 2018, Zemanick opened Zasu, which she calls her “thank you to the city for providing non-stop inspiration.” Living in this Southern locale means participating in Mardi Gras, a holiday that Zemanick takes very seriously. “I am such a fan,” she says, “I love going to parades, dancing to marching bands, and the fact that all walks of life are on the streets enjoying the most inclusive, extravagant, free celebration on Earth.” In honor of the festivities, Zemanick shared with Furthermore some of her go-to New Orleans restaurants.
“[The owners] have created this amazing, casual spot in Mid-City, and I find myself eating there almost weekly,” says Zemanick. The menu at Marjie’s Grill changes daily, but look for options like spicy smashed cucumbers with sesame, jalapeño, and Meyer lemon and slow-grilled beef with fresh herb wraps. Zemanick’s must-haves include the smoked sweet potato, crispy chicken, and a cocktail called the Rad Jam.
“Chef Ryan Prewitt’s whole roasted fish is hands down one of my favorite dishes,” Zemanick says. She’s also a big fan of the beef tartare. “Truly, Pêche is one of the best places in town to get friends together for delicious, fresh, local seafood.”
“Since Pagoda Café opened, I have watched the whole neighborhood thrive,” says Zemanick. She and her family come in the morning for breakfast tacos, fresh baked goods, and coffee. “I really enjoy sitting outside in their open-air space with a mango lassi and taking in the cool vibe.”
“It’s not often that I get to the French Quarter, but when I do, I hit up the newly-opened Longway Tavern,” says Zemanick. “Robert LeBlanc and his team have done an amazing job of creating a hip spot for locals in a tourist-heavy area of the city. When the weather is right, I love to hang in their gorgeous, quintessentially New Orleans courtyard and share the English peas and chicken sandwich while sipping on something from their amazing cocktail list.” Sample their “chop salad” with raw, roasted, and pickled vegetables or the shrimp toast accompanied by tamarind, cilantro, basil, and fenugreek.