Ranking Emeril Lagasse's Restaurants From Worst To Best

Before Guy, Bobby, Gordon, and Giada, there was Emeril. Raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, Emeril Lagasse took the New Orleans dining scene by storm in 1982, when at the age of only 23 he took over the kitchen of the renowned Commander's Palace.

By the early '90s Lagasse would find television stardom, showcasing his boisterous personality (cue the iconic "bam!" catchphrase) and culinary prowess on the hit cooking shows "How to Boil Water," "The Essence of Emeril," and "Emeril Live!." (The less said about his self-titled sitcom, the better.)

But unlike some Food Network personalities who are far more celebrity than chef, Lagasse is even more admired in the kitchen than he is in front of the camera. You may have kicked your ribeye up a notch with his Original Essence spice blend, or stocked your kitchen with his signature cookware, but to truly gain an understanding of Lagasse's culinary prowess, you need to dine in one of his restaurants.

While the Emeril's Restaurants portfolio is in constant flux (RIP Lagasse's Stadium), there are currently nine dining options in the collection that cover both casual and fine dining. Whether it's taking on the American steakhouse, redefining Creole and Cajun cuisine, or putting his stamp on a burger, Lagasse never fails to serve up big and bold flavors. Check out our ranking of his current restaurant offerings to get a true taste of what makes Emeril Lagasse so beloved. While none of them are really bad (we are talking about Emeril here), some are better than others. 

9. Burgers and More by Emeril

If you want to savor the essence of Emeril north of the Mason-Dixon line, a trip to Pennsylvania is required. At the Wind Creek Casino & Resort in Bethlehem (around 60 miles north of Philadelphia), a pair of eateries fall under the Emeril's Restaurants banner with Burgers and More by Emeril being the more casual of the two.

Though just to be clear, this isn't fast food and the prices reflect that. Burgers range between $13-$16 and while that may seem steep, be assured you're being served high quality beef — the patties are made from top tier USDA Prime chuck. You can stick with the Classic and all its familiar fixings, but since this is Emeril's house it's best to kick it up a notch.  Fans seem to favor the Black & Blue burger: a pepper crusted patty accompanied by blue cheese, smokehouse sauce, and fried onions. It gets a thumbs up from Yelper Kealii G. who notes the funky combo is "rich, zesty, juicy with a little kick."  

As for the "and more" portion of the menu, you can choose from a selection of pastas all day and Southern-inspired entrees which are only available during dinner service.

Regulars take note: Burgers and More recently moved to a larger location, taking over the space formerly occupied by Emeril's Fish House. There have also been some reports of growing pains. Folks on Yelp warn the quality has gone downhill since the expansion — hence the low ranking for this restaurant.

8. Emeril's New Orleans Fish House

When the celebrity chef boom first exploded across Las Vegas in the mid-'90s, harnessing Lagasse's high-wattage star power was an obvious choice. Impressively, Emeril's New Orleans Fish House is still swimming 26 years after opening at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, a testament to the kitchen's remarkable consistency.

It's no surprise that seafood is the main attraction and there are plenty of standouts, starting with Emeril's signature barbecue shrimp served with a freshly baked biscuit. For mains, Creole seared Hawaiian ahi gets the decadent Oscar treatment usually reserved for steaks. Turns out tuna is also suited to join in the fun especially when the crab is blue jumbo lump, the asparagus is tempura fried, and the béarnaise is accompanied by a smoked bordelaise sauce for a duel flavor explosion. 

Cocktails may be tempting, but vino is your best bet with Wine Spectator offering high praise of the bottle selection. (There's a reason the cellar is in full view of the dining room.) Highlighting over 1,300-plus entries, the wine list is nearly the size of a David Foster Wallace novel. 

And while you can certainly eat and drink like a Mardi Gras queen, the restaurant disappoints with a lackluster scene and dated décor that is more suited for an upscale buffet than a fine dining experience in Sin City. But if it's New Orleans cuisine you seek, this is the best game in town.

7. Emeril's Coastal

Emeril's Coastal may be Lagasse's first foray into Northwest Florida (on buzzy Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach to be exact) but the chef is well-acquainted with the aquatic riches of the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Though initially the menu took diners on a tour of Italy, a recent relaunch has shifted the focus to seafood.

For entrees, it's best to stay local. Gulf shrimp is paired with smoked cheddar grits, sizzled in a scampi, and served simply on the coastal seafood platter which is suitable for sharing. The squid ink-dyed Fettuccini Nero is a welcome holdover from the restaurant's Italian iteration. And remember to turn your attention toward the blackboard for the day's "fresh catch" which you can choose to have grilled, fried, broiled, or seared in a cast iron.

To end your meal on a festive note, the bananas foster martini offers a tipsy final exclamation. "If you're a fan of the traditional version, just see how delicious it is in a glass," Florida Panhandle writes of the sweet and boozy dessert cocktail.

But perhaps the greatest incentive to drop by is an encounter with the man himself. Miramar Beach is currently Lagasse's home turf and according to reports on Yelp, he's often in the building. Just remember to plan your visit for dinner or Sunday brunch (the now Insta-famous omelet served with a heaping portion of fried oysters is a must).

6. Emeril's Chop House

If you want to spend your winnings at the Wind Creek Bethlehem in style, this is the spot to celebrate your windfall. Lagasse may have an affinity toward seafood, but when it comes to land he definitely has chops.

The Chop House menu, which was rebooted in 2018 (the dining room also got a facelift), offers your typical steakhouse standards with a bit of French flare. This being an Emeril joint, you can expect some New Orleans flavor too (Creole seasoning on the shrimp cocktail and steaks; andouille intermingling with the oysters Rockefeller and the escargot).

The reason you're here is the steaks and The Morning Call deems them "stellar." They're particularly fond of the filet mignon "prepared perfectly medium rare, a stunning reddish pink with a crisscrossed char on the outside heightened by Creole seasoning." Steak options come with a trio of house made sauces (Worcestershire, béarnaise, and horseradish cream) but we recommend you use those sparingly and let that USDA Prime shine on its own. 

Since this is a steakhouse, you're going to order sides, and creamed spinach with white truffle herb bread crumb should be at the top of your list, though the mac and cheese gives the decadent greens a run for their money, especially with a king crab and lobster upgrade. 

Wine is the booze of choice here. If you thought the selection at Emeril's New Orleans Fish House was eye-popping, the Chop House cellar houses a jaw-to-the-floor 2,500 bottles.

5. NOLA Restaurant

A 2017 renovation brought new life into this nearly 30-year-old French Quarter charmer. NOLA offers perhaps the most interesting array of offerings than any restaurant in the Emeril empire. According to The Times-Picayune, the menu is "firmly centered on contemporary Creole and Cajun flavors, with a strong dose of southeast Asian," adding, "there's a playful edge across its 40-plus dishes."

Those whimsical touches show up everywhere on the menu. Whether it's local favorite Zapp's potato chips and frozen hot sauce that add crunch and cool heat to the Gulf tuna crudo; a fragrant pho broth with the smoked beef short rib; or the oh-so-sweet cane syrup marshmallow topping the sweet potato galette, this is food that's full of flavor and fun.

That extends to the cocktail selection, which includes classics such as a daiquiri and old fashioned, along with some more colorful creations like the Rose Colored Glasses prepared with gin, prosecco, and a liquor distilled with bergamot, the revered Italian citrus. If you're abstaining from alcohol, not to worry. There is also a selection of spirit-free "soft cocktails."

NOLA is open for lunch and dinner, but the best time to stop by is happy hour, which is offered daily from 3-6 p.m. Sip on the signature cocktail of the day while snacking on crispy Louisiana alligator (tastes like fried chicken!), New Orleans hot frog legs, and everything spiced boudin buns. With each selection costing only $5 a pop, it's one of the best bargains in town.

4. Meril

Opened in 2016 and named after Lagasse's youngest daughter, Meril is the newest member of the Emeril's Restaurants family. The eclectic, gently priced spot proves the celebrity chef is keeping up with the times without missing a step (no surprise the restaurant is located in the trendy New Orleans Warehouse District). "Fancy and formal have their place, but Meril is an affable contender and a welcome addition to Emeril's legacy," notes Country Roads magazine.

According to The New York Times, the atmosphere is "jovial" with a "modernist vibe." Grab a seat in front of the open kitchen and watch the culinary magic unfold.

Keeping with the on-trend theme, sharing is encouraged, so bring friends and swap bites of smoked Gulf fish dip, sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken wings, and a flatbread inspired by muffuletta, the 'Nawlins by-way-of Italy sandwich.

For imbibing, Frommers recommends the "creative cocktail program" which includes a new spin on an old fashioned and the No. 40, a tequila-based quencher that falls somewhere between a margarita and a mule. Day-drinkers should stop by for a boozy Sunday brunch which is "delicious from start to finish," according to Yelp contributor India R. She recommends the nicely priced Mimosa Table Service which includes a bottle of sparkling wine and three different juices for only $22. 

While Meril fits the bill for a low-key meal, Sarah J. on Yelp recommends a birthday visit. Prepare for fireworks (well, sparklers to be exact) and a cotton candy treat! 

3. Delmonico Steakhouse

Don't confuse this glitzy Las Vegas temple of beef with the similarly named, New Orleans-situated Emeril's Delmonico (which we'll get to in a bit). The popular steakhouse at The Venetian Resort bears a much closer resemblance to Emeril's Chop House, only with more of that Sin City swagger.

The dining room is sprawling and stylish and the steaks, sourced from the fabled Creekstone Farms, are among the best the Midwest has to offer. All the familiar cuts are on the menu but if you're not watching your wallet, you should splurge on the 20-ounce chateaubriand, a steak for two that's so special it's served tableside. You'll want sides, of course, and the fingerling potatoes (salt boiled with confit garlic and herbs) offer a fabulous spin on the fry. For fungi fans, the earthy, sautéed garlic mushrooms hits the spot. Finish with the fiery Bananas Foster, another tableside attraction.

The Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list is 2,650 bottles deep, but there is also some whiskey flexing here as well. Among the over 700 bottles are plenty of Scotch and bourbon rarities including the Pappy fam, plus some deeper cuts with a price of admission that will require a whole lotta luck at those Vegas slots.

If Delmonico Steakhouse was in any other city not named New York, it would be a steakhouse standout. And while it may not be at the top of the heap in Vegas, it's far from a crapshoot.

2. Emeril's

Before all the Food Network fame, there was Emeril's, which opened its doors back in 1990. The renovated pharmacy warehouse (located appropriately in the Warehouse District) was a hit right out of the gate. The Times-Picayune raved, "The thrills never seem to end in this, the most exciting restaurant to appear on the local scene in memory," and the instant hot spot earned the coveted Restaurant of the Year distinction from Esquire.

Thirty years later, the flagship is still going strong as it continues to offer the most complete distillation of Lagasse's soulful Southern cooking. "You don't come to Emeril's for weird and wonderful innovation or avant-garde food preparation," notes Condé Nast Traveler, "you come for classic flavors delivered with a slight swagger and complete self-confidence." And wow, does he deliver.

So where to begin? The now legendary barbecue shrimp makes for an excellent start. How about a sampling of homemade andouille and boudin sausages? Or perhaps a refreshing tuna and watermelon salad? Entrees are an ever tougher decision but you can't go wrong with the stunning sugar cane lacquered duck or a juicy pork chop that takes its cues from Asia and Latin America. And for dessert, the Grand Marnier chocolate soufflé truly rises above. 

To make things easier on you, simply order the tasting menu, sit back, relax, and enjoy the feast. Oh, and don't forget about the wine. Emeril's is yet another Lagasse restaurant to earn the Grand Award from Wine Spectator.  

1. Emeril's Delmonico

Just like it's current owner, Delmonico is a New Orleans icon steeped in the city's vibrant history. The beloved landmark opened its doors in 1895 and a little over a century later Lagasse took the reins, undertaking a multi-million dollar renovation with the upgrades. The results are, according to Gayot, "a fantasy of glitz and plush as befits his showman's legacy."

Just like the ambiance, the food bridges old and new. "If you are intrigued by the hip cooking style and ingredients of Chef Emeril Lagasse but your taste runs more to traditional Creole, Delmonico is the place for you," opines New Orleans City Business.

Thrilling throwbacks such as turtle soup au sherry and chicken bonne femme (cast iron roasted with cremini mushroom, potato, pearl onion, and house made bacon) share the stage with inventive creations that include foie gras-studded steak tartare and coriander crusted yellowfin tuna with a fragrant crab and coconut rice.

Cocktails are essential and the Sazerac, the French Quarter-birthed herbaceous fusion of rye, absinthe, and bitters, should be at the top of your list. And an elevated Hurricane Punch puts those wretched Bourbon Street concoctions to shame.

Your meal is bound to end on a high note, with the requisite tableside flambeed bananas foster, that old school stalwart baked Alaska with an orange creamsicle twist, or a crème brulee inspired by the flaming New Orleans cocktail Café Brûlot.

Whatever path you choose you're bound to embark on an unforgettable dining experience.