Shaya: Modern Israeli Food at its Finest

While we do realize that everyone and their mother are waxing lyrical about Shaya, we just can't help but jump on the bandwagon. After all, Shaya took home the 2016 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant and owner Alon Shaya is the undeniable creative force behind some of New Orleans' best cuisine. In a city renown for its culinary diversity, Shaya has given Mediterranean cuisine a rightful spot at the table. An homage to his Israeli homeland, the restaurant exceeds expected cultural depths of today's modern dining experience while remaining ever-so humble and grounded from small plate to entrée.

After taking an Israel tour, John Besh protége Shaya and his team blend the indigenous flavors of Israel with locally sourced ingredients and Louisiana culinary traditions, creating a modern Israeli cuisine with a New Orleans flare. Similar to Shaya's other New Orleans restaurants, the wood-fire oven is central to both the menu and the dining experience, from the incredible (and addicting) homemade, wood-fired pita to vegetable-centric small plates and heartier entrees.

Many of the dishes are meant to be shared and the more the merrier: creamy baba ghanoush, watermelon with Bulgarian feta, herby tabbouleh, and an exemplary falafel sandwich. But no meal would be complete without an order (or two, or three) of Shaya’s light, fluffy, and extravagantly-topped plates of hummus—think piquant lamb ragù with crispy chickpeas—and unlimited pita to swipe it all up. Having to pick and choose from the list of spreads, dips, and veggies for the table can be tough—we recommend ordering a variety items from the Salami and Small Plates menus. Be careful not to fill up on the pita beforehand! If you're still hungry, Shaya also offers an impressive array of hearty Large Plates, including slow cooked lamb, wagyu steak, and shakshouka. 

Located Uptown on Magazine Street, Shaya is a dreamy spot, somewhere in between the ultra-divey and swanky grandeur vibe of many New Orleans restaurants. Reservations are hard to snag, but the bar and the shady patio are the perfect spots to indulge in a long and lazy New Orleans lunch. 

Shaya forged a partnership John Besh, together opened Domenica, the award-winning Italian restaurant in New Orleans’ historic Roosevelt Hotel.  In 2012, 2013 and 2014, he was a finalist for a coveted James Beard Foundation Award, in the “Best Chef – South” category. In 2010, Esquire Magazine named Shaya one of four Chefs to Watch, and he was named “Chef of the Year” by Eater New Orleans. New Orleans Magazine honored him as “Chef of the Year” in 2012.

Alon opened Pizza Domenica, a casual spin-off of Domenica Restaurant, in uptown New Orleans in the spring of 2014. He continued to gain local and national acclaim, and in 2015 Shaya won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: South, for his work with Domenica. The following year he won yet another James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, with his his coveted menu at Shaya.

Put down the po-boys and pick up the falafel! Shaya is the hottest restaurant in the city and should be prioritized when making dining plans in the city. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #soloNOLA!